Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Italy, the island of Elba is the emerald jewel of the Tuscan Archipelago. When Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty was born from the foam of the sea, 7 precious stones fell from her headband, forming the 7 enchanting islands of Gorgona, Capraia, Pianosa, Montecristo, Giglio, Giannutri and Elba.
Why sail around Elba?
Elba offers a versatility that can be enjoyed not only by less experienced sailors and families with children alike, but also by more adventurous sailors. A longer trip can be made to Corsica in a little over four hours. Sailing parties frequently encounter pods of dolphins whilst making the trip from Capraia to Corsica.
Beautifully pristine and with a stunning turquoise colour, the waters around Elba are perfect for scuba diving and swimming. Sandy coves vie with rocky cliffs and untouched, picturesque bays to provide a veritable haven for one to anchor their boat.
What else is there to discover around Elba?
- The wreckage of the Elviscot freighter, frequented by shoals of fish, is easily accessible for snorkelling.
- Small family pubs and trattorias offer local delicacies.
- Ancient harbours and monuments recall the spirit of Napoleon himself.
- Breathtaking view of the surrounding islands and the emerald sea abound.
- Former mines and forgotten deposits of semi-precious stones.
- Crystal clear waters with an abundance of sea life, including tuna and dolphins.
Where to sail around Elba: we recommend these 2 routes
Sail around the island or explore the other charming islands nearby. Sailing to Corsica or Sardinia are simply unforgettable experiences. Here are our top tips for making the most out of a voyage around Elba:
Route 1: from Elba via Capraia and Corsica, and back
Elba – Marciana Marina (northwest, by Monte Capanne, Elba’s highest peak)´ – Capraia (Porto Bay) – Corsica (Maccinagio) – back to Elba and then circle around Elba – the Elviscot shipwreck southwest of Elba (the Scoglio dell'Ogliera near Fetovaia Bay) – Marina Di Campo and back
Route 2: from Elba via Giglio, Monte Cristo, Corsica and back
Elba – to the island of Giglio (southeast of Elba – where lies the shipwreck of Concordia) – around the island of Monte Cristo (NOTE: this is a nature reserve, you can pass by but no mooring, snorkelling or swimming) – Corsica (Bastia) – Elba (southern coast) – the Elviscot shipwreck southwest of Elba (the Scoglio dell'Ogliera near Fetovaia Bay) – Marina di Campo – Porto Azzurro – and back.
Quality of services and sailing conditions around Elba
The yachting infrastructure is excellent here. The numerous marinas, charter companies, ancient harbours, fields of buoys and sheltered bays all make for comfortable and hassle-free sailing. However, compared to Croatia there are fewer marinas and it can be more expensive. On Elba, the harbours tend to get very busy due to ferry services and tourism, so it’s necessary to be punctual or reserve your place there ahead of schedule.
What can’t you do?
In Italy, the boat can’t be left anchored unattended. Going for a day trip and leaving the boat unattended might result in it being “rescued” and brought to harbour. As a result, you’d have to pay a “reward” for getting it back. When leaving your boat for a long time, do so only in the harbour, marina or attached to a buoy.
Prices and availability of marinas around Elba
In high season it is difficult to find a place to anchor. If you want to moor at a pier (in the marina or city ports), it’s best to do so by 4 pm. If everywhere is occupied, in an emergency it is possible to moor at a refuelling station after 8 pm, but only until 8 am. In addition to marinas, water can also be purchased at the pier from the local manager or by filling a canister from the local water supply.
Marciana Marina 70 to 120 EUR (docking at the city pier) – Portoferraio 90 EUR (docking to a buoy in the bay in front of the harbour) – Porto Azzurro 80 EUR – Cavo 80 EUR
Prices vary significantly in marinas depending on the season. There are also a small number of other town ports on Elba, most of them free, along with smaller ports without water and electricity, though these can often be purchased for a supplementary charge.
Tips for anchoring
We highly recommend the beautiful little sandy bay of Fetovaia, where you will be moored at about 10 metres. The Elviscot wreck is but a short way away. In addition, Lacona Bay is also a perfect place to moor in winds of up to 25 knots. There is, however, limited protection against stronger winds and waves. Particularly good spots for mooring can be found in the northeast corner of the bay by the buoys; anchoring here allows for the opportunity to swim in the eastern bays that tend not to be so busy.
What to watch out for around Elba
When arriving in Portoferraio, be sure to pay attention to the ferries. It is a very busy ferry lane. It is best to cross the ferry lane as quickly as possible and by the shortest possible route. Once you have crossed the lane, do not attempt to interfere with the ferries' passage.
Furthermore, it is forbidden to leave the boat without a crew member on board. If you do want to leave the boat, one person must remain aboard at all times (it can be anyone). Naval police regularly check vessels, so make sure you follow this rule.
Wind conditions around Elba
Prevailing winds are from the west and northwest, and in this weather, it is preferable to moor on the southern and eastern sides of the island. The waters around Elba are relatively open and winds can pick up quickly, so it's important to pay close attention to weather forecasts, to ensure that the wind and waves don't catch you out in an unsuitable bay at night. In the summer months, the winds you will most often encounter here are the Sirocco and the Mistral. The Sirocco blows from the south to southeast, so it's best to visit the bays in the north of the island when this is the case. On the other hand, if the Mistral is blowing from the north to northwest, head for southern Elba.
Weather forecasts are updated 24 hours a day on Channel 68 in English, German and Italian. They are divided into three parts: general weather situation, weather warnings and forecasts by area.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Weather forecasts, navigation, anchoring... nowadays you'll find mobile apps out there to help you with almost everything. So before you set sail, check out the 10 best sailing apps you should install on your smartphone to make your voyage and life on board that bit easier.
Points of interest on the route
- Bar Schiabattica Di Antonella in the enchanting, small bay of Margidore close to the town of Lacona. If you're lucky, the owner's mother will be there to cook for you — perhaps a delectable spaghetti with swordfish or scallops. In the morning, you can enjoy your coffee with a croissant and marvel as the sea bass swim by.
- Marciana Marina and the approach to the highest peak on Elba, Monte Capanne. It is best to leave the harbour at 6 am (on foot or by bus to the village of Marciana). An old cable car, which looks like a collection of metal baskets, winds its way uphill. At noon, you can return to the village at your leisure.
- Porto Azzurro has a stonemason's workshop with an exhibition of its works and also a shop where you can buy gifts. There is a wide range of original jewellery work which will dazzle any woman. The workshop can be found near the harbour in the near-left corner of the port square. You'll find it on the first alleyway on the left.
- At Marina di Campo, you'll find an underwater aquarium and the largest sandy beach, situated near a small airport.
- The wreckage of the Elviscot, home to schools of fish — around 60 m long, this wreckage of a cargo ship lies between 2 and 13 metres underwater and is easily visible while snorkelling. The best time to visit the wreckage is in the morning until midday, when the winds usually strengthen and the waves become more disruptive.
When should you go sailing around Elba?
- The autumn, from mid-September to mid-October, is the best time to visit. During this time of the year, you'll find calm weather, mild winds and warm seas. In addition, ports and restaurants are already at low season and there are fewer tourists.
- In spring, during May and early June, you'll encounter delightful sailing conditions as the whole world blooms and the islands resemble a fragrant botanical garden.
- The least advisable time to visit is during the last week of July and the first three weeks of August when an Italian holiday called the ferragosto takes place. During this time, boats are expensive, ports full, and the prices of all services tend to be exorbitant.
Take advantage of the different boat deals around Elba and choose a yacht for your autumn cruise. There is an abundance of boats available, so you'll be sure to find the one that's ready to help you fulfil your dream.