Experience paradise on earth on a Mediterranean cruise

Friday, 17 February 2012 11:53 AM

Going sailing in the Mediterranean is one of the most glamorous holidays you will ever experience; spend your days on the water soaking up the sun and moor up at fascinating and beautiful islands. If you're looking for the perfect place to go, it is hard to beat Palermo.

The capital of Sicily, the city is a place where Greek, Roman, Arab and Norman customs have collided over the years to create the captivating melting pot of culture present today. The coastline on this part of the island is particularly striking and once you have spent time exploring the city you may be keen to embark on your yacht charter holiday right away.

Don't worry if you've never skippered such a vessel before as you can learn to sail in Palermo before casting off and beginning your journey - which will lead you through the Aegadean Islands into the Tyrrhenian Sea.

You may wish to begin by making your way to the open passage of water that will lead you to Ustica. This is an exhilarating journey, but once you arrive at your destination you are certain to be glad to slow the pace and enjoy this beautiful place.

Some believe Ustica is a true paradise on earth, and as well as being naturally stunning, it also has a rich history that dates back many thousands of years to pre-biblical times. Excavations have revealed ancient villages and relics, so this is sure to make for an interesting stop.

Once on dry land, you can set about exploring the island, which is formed from an extinct volcano and known locally as the Black Pearl due to the blackened rocks that litter the landscape. Measuring just 9 km across, the destination has much to offer walkers, who will be kept busy navigating the coastal path and admiring those amazing sea views.

The water itself is another point of interest. The sea in these parts is home to a large quantity of seaweed, which provides the oxygen needed for a diverse ecosystem to thrive. As a result, substantial areas have marine park status, which means their natural beauty has not been tampered with.

Before you set sail, find out where you are allowed to go swimming, as you can take a break in these parts to go snorkelling and admire the myriad marine life that lives within the crystal-clear waters - Secca Colombara at the north end of the island is a particularly good spot for this. If you are a diver, you may be tempted to head towards Punta Gavazzi, where nautical objects have been collected from the many vessels that have passed over the spot, including anchors left by Roman ships.

Another must-visit stop when on a yacht charter in the Mediterranean is the Egadi Islands to the west of Sicily. The three isles are home to around 5,000 inhabitants and so are relaxing places to enjoy the day. If you are keen for the same peace and quiet on dry land as you have been enjoying onboard your vessel, you will find it at some of the bays along the coast, along with the paths that curve around the mountains offering unbeatable views out to sea.

Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo all boast their own charms, but Favignana is arguably the most well-known - which may be due, in part, to its unusual butterfly shape. The warm and calm waters that surround it have helped to make the isle a popular holiday destination and the pretty main town of the same name is a lovely place to spend a few hours and grab a bite to eat.

Levanzo is quieter, so this is the place to come if you really want to escape the hustle and bustle. You may be content just to drop anchor off the shore and enjoy the views as you relax onboard with a chilled drink and soak up the sun for a few hours.

For something to eat, it is worth sailing further away from the mainland to Marettimo, which is home to few people but a couple of good restaurants, where you can tuck into some mouth-watering seafood that has been caught nearby.

Yet even when your time exploring these islands has come to an end, there is still so much more to see and do on a cruise around Palermo. For instance, you could pay a visit to Pantelleria in the Strait of Sicily, another volcanic isle.

Start planning your yacht charter in the Mediterranean, and you could soon be experiencing paradise for yourself.

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