Sicily boasts some of Europe’s most beautiful and pristine beaches, but since we live in San Diego, we usually don’t spend much, if any, time at the beach on our vacations– Hawaii being an exception. On our first visit to Sicily, we spent one lovely afternoon on a nearly deserted beach near Porto Paulo. The season was over, but the water was warm and beach was inviting.
This year, we opted for a more leisurely paced vacation and chose to spend some time enjoying the sand and surf. Our hotel in Taormina, the Villa Ducale, has arrangements with two local beach clubs—Lido La Pigna and La Caravella Lido. This is how it works—you reserve a place at the beach club through your hotel, the beach club sends a shuttle to collect you and takes you back to your hotel at a pre-agreed upon time at the end of the day. This is fairly typical. The fee for this was 8 Euro for Lido La Pigna and 12 Euro for La Caravella Lido. The beach club fees were about half the price of a round-trip taxi ride from our hotel into the town of Taormina and included reserved lounge chairs and umbrellas. Having a reserved lounge chair is a very good idea, especially during the busy summer season. Even in October when we visited, the weather was fantastic so the beach was crowded.
If you’d like to go to the beach after walking around town, as we did, you can also take the funicular down. Just outside the Porte Messina, the funicular is operated by ASM (same as bus line), and for 3 Euros, you can take a scenic one-way ride to the parking lot right across from La Pigna. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the same parking lot to La Caravella.
La Pigna was more crowded than La Caravella, probably due to the proximity of the funicular, but the water was pristine. There were paddle boats for rent, excursions to Isola Bella and that large rock you could swim out to and jump off—an activity many engaged in.
Taiwanese women (self-identified) walked up and down the beach at La Pigna offering massage from 20 to 40 Euros for outdoor treatments ranging from foot reflexology to full body massage. We followed our masseuse down the beach where she had a little area set aside and had our treatments on chaise lounges on beach—not at all private, but very relaxing.
There were also some souvenir sellers on the beach at La Pigna. There were neither masseuses nor vendors on the beach at La Caravella on the days that we were there.
Our hotel provided us with a handy tote bag and nice big towels. This is important—be sure to get towels from your hotel because otherwise you have to pay a hefty rental fee for towels at the beach–if they have any. We learned this lesson the hard way and wound up paying 12 Euros each, just to use towels at a beach club in the Southeast of Sicily. There were no free towels available at any of the beach clubs we visited in Sicily. Remember to bring your own towels!
All of the beach clubs we visited had changing facilities and showers –but not the kind I imagined. In my mind, they would be like those at the fitness clubs and beach clubs I have visited or belonged to in the U.S.—comfortable locker rooms, all amenities (including hair dryers) provided, private, etc. The changing rooms at the beach clubs we visited in Sicily ranged from a portable unit, not unlike a large port-a-potty, to a permanent cement structure attached to the beach club’s restaurant. These changing rooms are utilitarian at best, but better than going home in a wet, sandy swimsuit.
The showers were outdoors at both Taormina beach clubs we visited. In fact, the showers were outdoors at all the Sicilian beach clubs we went to. No soap or shampoo was provided and the showers are completely public— in other words, there is no privacy at all. The good news is that you are able to rinse off and even wash your hair after swimming—if you bring your own toiletries.
Both beach clubs had attentive chair-side beverage service as well as full- service restaurants on the property. We enjoyed a nice pizza and salad for lunch at Lido La Pigna but only had drinks at La Caravella since we had already had lunch in town.
There are other beach clubs in Taormina besides the two we visited and some hotels have their own. Wherever you choose to enjoy the beaches in Sicily, relax , unwind and have a wonderful time.