Boating vacations, the best places to sail in northern Sicily

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Cape St. Vitus
A wild glimpse of the coastline surrounding Capo San Vito, the rugged promontory located at the western end of the wide Gulf of Castellammare.

Maps and GPS coordinates, routes, itineraries, ports, marinas and marinas, bays, landings and beaches, what to see ashore-a complete guide to planning your boating vacation.

Sicily is the largest island in the entire Mediterranean, with more than 1,500 km of coastline full of stunning beaches and coves that can only be reached by boat.

 

Boat vacations: from Capo San Vito to Milazzo

Long but very diverse and heterogeneous, the coastline from San Vito lo Capo to Milazzo encloses high cliffs and long, flat, straight beaches, stupendous cities such as Palermo and Cefalù, and four large gulfs in which it is always possible to find safe shelter.

Not to mention some naturalistic uniqueness that is truly not to be missed, such as the wild Zingaro Nature Reserve, nestled under Capo San Vito, or the Madonie Regional Park, in the immediate hinterland of magical Cefalù.

Sailing along the island’s northern coast means exploring unique gems such as Cefalù and Tindari, Capo Gallo and Mondello either by dropping anchor at one of the quiet, sheltered landings that leave even the most experienced seafarer speechless, or by docking at one of the many equipped and capacious ports to spend an evening feasting the palate at the table of a typical restaurant on Palermo’s Via Maqueda or on the seafront of Gioiosa Marea.

 

To navigate

Having passed eastbound Capo San Vito, you enter the wide Gulf of Castellamare. Here are the high cliffs of the Zingaro Nature Reserve, but also several convenient landing places in addition to the ports of San Vito and Castellamare. The gulf closes with Punta Raisi, while a few kilometers further east is the massive and rocky Capo Gallo, which together with the island of Femmine forms a small protected reserve frequented mainly by divers.

Beyond its tip more than 500 meters high is the Gulf of Palermo, which contains the entire city, Mondello and several private marinas.

Another high rocky outcrop called Capo Zafferano is the boundary between this gulf and the next, much wider and less protected one, which closes with the promontory on which the beautiful town of Cefalù is built.

Leaving the town’s marina, one heads along a wide stretch of low, sandy, straight coastline that ends only at Capo d’Orlando. There are no safe landings here, but you have to watch out for shallows and rocks coming out of the shallow water.

Having passed, however, the 100-meter-high rocky massif that bounds Capo d’Orlando and the smaller Capo Calavà, one enters the wide Gulf of Patti on the eastern end of which stands Capo Milazzo. It is a rocky, narrow strip of land more than three miles long at the end of which a large white lighthouse can be seen.

Just beyond then begins another low stretch of sand-rimmed coastline that leads up to Cape Peloro and the Strait of Messina. The sea here is often rough from the mistral blowing from offshore, and only on clear days is it possible to drop anchor without problems.

 

Don’t miss the other installments of Boat Holidays:

  • Boating vacations, the best places to sail in northern Sicily
  • Ports and marinas between San Vito and Castellammare
  • Ports and marinas between Castellammare and the ruins of Tindari
  • Bays and landings from the coves of Palermo to Cape Milazzo
  • Sights ashore: walking through the island’s history

 

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