Sailing in the Tuscan Archipelago: Elba and Capraia islands

Sailing in the Tuscan Archipelago: Explore idyllic Elba and Capraia islands

Experience the magic of the Mediterranean with our week-long sailing itinerary that takes you through the enchanting italian islands and offers a charming stopover in Corsica.

Summer in the Mediterranean is in full swing: clear skies, mild temperatures, and the vibrant fragrances of Mediterranean flora fill the air. Every day, the calm sea dazzles with its stunning colour. What better time to embark on a sailing adventure? Our route, beginning from the well-equipped Marina di Scarlino in Italy, is perfect for both seasoned sailors and newcomers, offering the perfect blend of relaxation, discovery, and unforgettable moments. 

Over seven days, you'll explore idyllic islands such as Elba, Capraia, and Giglio, each offering unique landscapes, a wealth of history, and peaceful anchorages. 

Difficulty: Easy

Route: Marina di Scarlino — Portoferraio — Capraia — Macinaggio (Corsica) — southern Elba (to be explored) — Isola del Giglio — Scarlino

Distance: 170 nm

In our opinion, this itinerary is a great choice — it’s a fairly simple route that is accessible to everyone. The only challenge during the summer might be finding a berth in the evening at a marina, but you can easily sort this out by booking in advance. Plus, you’ll find numerous bays where you can anchor and shelter for the night.

Day 1: Scarlino — Portoferraio (25 nm, 4h)

Our starting base is the Marina di Scarlino, a modern marina equipped with excellent services, located right in the centre of the Gulf of Follonica. It is strategically positioned for visiting the Mediterranean, nestled in the Tuscan coastal landscape, among splendid beaches and wonderful cliffs. In this area, there is always enough wind to sail in any season with a sailing yacht.

As soon as you leave the marina, set sail and - if the wind is favourable - head 270° towards the Island of Elba.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Before departure, ensure you have checked the weather, checked the boat, and conducted a briefing on manoeuvres and safety with your crewmates. Always remember: safety first. 

Normally, in this gulf (Gulf of Follonica), there is a generally light breeze from the south. Although the navigation covers about 15 nm before you start coasting along the Island of Elba, this route doesn't present major difficulties and can be undertaken without requiring extensive sailing experience.  

Arriving at Elba Island

Once you have passed Capo della Vita, set a course of 220° towards Portoferraio, the destination of your first overnight stop. Here, you can choose between a relaxing dinner on the boat or exploring the town and its excellent restaurants.

Portoferraio – the capital of Elba Island

Portoferraio – the capital of Elba Island

Portoferraio was originally little more than a collection of fortifications (still visitable and well-preserved today), including the three forts: Forte Stella, Forte Falcone, and La Linguella, as well as the beautiful city walls. The remains of these walls, still in good condition and made habitable, surround the historic town centre.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Why is it a good idea to set sail from Marina di Scarlino? Read about our client's favourite Italian marinas. 

Day 2: Portoferraio — Isola di Capraia (24 nm)

The next morning, early at dawn, set a course for the Island of Capraia, a true gem of the Tuscan archipelago. The navigation is simple and straightforward, heading 300°. The island stands out in the distance on the sea, making it possible to navigate by sight. 

Step into history

The small port has been enhanced with an elegant promenade, small but refined shops, and delightful trattorias offering local cuisine. It is only 800 metres to reach the village on the hill, which can be done on foot or by taking the municipal bus that provides a shuttle service. You will see very few cars here, and only on this short stretch of road. After that, you’ll be completely immersed in the island's intimate atmosphere.

What to discover in Isola di Capraia?

There are no crowded tourist beaches here; the small village accommodates at most a thousand guests, with the rest being wild countryside, cliffs plunging into the sea, caves diving into the depths of the ancient volcano, and extraordinary geological formations. While exploring the sea by boat is preferred, swimming can also be enjoyed by taking short walks along narrow, sometimes steep paths. Most of these paths start from the village and lead to small rocky coves that, apart from Grotta beach, are all on the east side: bathed in morning sun and shaded in the afternoon.

Tuscan Archipelago National Park

Tuscan Archipelago National Park

In Capraia, taking a coastal tour by boat is a must. The vibrant colours reflecting in the sea and the dramatic rocky walls create a scene straight out of an animated film. This tour is essential for truly understanding the island, allowing you to mentally map its unique profile and uncover the secrets of its crystal-clear waters. The island's landscape is a mix of rugged rocks, cliffs, inlets, caves, coves, and small bays, each telling a story of its natural and human history. From the sea, Capraia reveals its full charm, showcasing the mysterious allure of its ancient volcano and its stunning array of colours and rocky formations, all gently touched by the waters of the Mediterranean.

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Day 3: Isola di Capraia — Macinaggio (18 nm): A hop to Corsica

On the third day, you're making a hop to Corsica. Leaving the port of Capraia, head north, pass Punta della Teglia, and then steer 247° towards the port of Macinaggio. Along the route, you will be able to admire the legendary Giraglia rock not too far away, a key feature in one of the most prestigious regattas in the Mediterranean.

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Macinaggio is considered the most lively and bustling centre of the Cap Corse peninsula, frequented mainly by boaters and sailors who use its marina for refuelling and stopping along the Italy-Côte d'Azur route. Traditional old fishing boats still dock here, and a small auction takes place in the morning where fresh fish is sold. The village is especially famous for one of the region's most precious gems, Tamarone beach. This long strip of fine white sand encloses a magnificent Caribbean-like sea, clear and crystalline, perfect for total relaxation and tranquillity. In the evening, Macinaggio offers a few small, characteristic restaurants, though, to be completely honest, nightlife is not the main attraction of this stop.

Beautiful sail boat

Day 4: Macinaggio — Marina di Campo (35 nm): visiting Elba

This section is a bit longer, although not too demanding. You'll embark on a short crossing to return to the Island of Elba, this time exploring the southern coast.

Marina di Campo is the only port along this stretch of coast and has a very limited number of berths. Fortunately, its bay offers secure anchorage. Before reaching your evening destination, you can make a stop at the famous Fetovaia beach, located on the southwest tip of the island.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Get to know everything about Elba and its surrounding. We have tips on yachting routes, conditions and places to visit.

Day 5: Exploring south of Elba Island (12 nm)

Next stop is short and purely for relaxation... Depart from the bay of Marina di Campo and set course eastward along the southern coast of the Island of Elba. The goal is to explore the surrounding beaches such as Laconella and Golfo Stella. Laconella beach, in the Gulf of Lacona, offers turquoise and crystalline water, with sandy beds gently sloping down to the beach. This will be a perfect stop diving, swimming, and relaxation, making you feel like you're anchored in a vast swimming pool.

Italian island of Elba

Italian island of Elba

After Laconella, it's time to head towards your evening destination in Golfo Stella. Here, the prevailing NW winds often strengthen but without generating waves. It will be enjoyable to beat upwind until finding shelter at one of the beautiful beaches at the end of the gulf, where you can spend the night immersed in natural beauty beneath a sea of stars.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Are you a snorkelling or diving enthusiast? Find out how to combine diving and sailing and where to find the top 50 spots to discover underwater life.

Day 6: Isola d’Elba — Isola del Giglio (30 nm): Beautiful as a flower

In recent times, the Island of Giglio became sadly famous due to the Costa Concordia shipwreck. However, turning that tragic page, the island — beautiful and lush — offers many reasons to visit. Arriving from the north, your first stop will be Campese.

Isola del Giglio

Isola del Giglio

The Giglio Campese beach is on the northwestern side of Giglio and is the largest on the island. Situated in the centre of a vast bay, it is framed on the western end by the striking sea stack, a rocky peak of about 20 metres, and at the other end by the Medici Tower

The wide crescent-shaped shore is about 500 metres long and is divided in the middle by a rocky stretch. It has granular reddish sand. From the beach, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the entire Campese bay, where the reddish sand contrasts with the intense, crystal-clear, and transparent turquoise sea.

In the late afternoon, set a course for the island's port, the final sheltered stop of your voyage.

Giglio Porto and Giglio Castello (the panoramic point of the island) are certainly worth a visit. The small and picturesque port, with its multi-coloured houses, is bathed in crystal-clear waters, which is an absolute rarity for port areas. Its lively alleys are filled with numerous shops of all kinds interspersed with restaurants, bars, and ice cream parlours. The charming village of Giglio Castello stands atop the heights of Giglio Island and is an ancient medieval village whose atmosphere has remained unchanged over time.

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Day 7: Isola di Giglio — Marina di Scarlino (30 nm): The last leg

From a sailing perspective, this is perhaps the most exciting day. The wind typically makes its presence known, lending energy to the open sea ahead and adding to the dynamic final leg along the Tuscan Maremma coast. The varied and green coastline offers stunning views as you skirt the Gulf of Talamone, pass Cala di Forno with its white beaches, the Formiche di Grosseto, the mouth of the Ombrone River, and the Tombolo Pine Forest. Finally, you will reach the famous Punta Ala. After rounding the cape, you will return to the Gulf of Follonica and land at the port of Scarlino, where your trip will come to an end.

What will you bring home from this voyage?

The pleasure of sailing these distances offers a real sense of what it means to live on board and "earn" each day's destination. This journey isn’t just for experts; while some stretches are a bit lengthy, they are generally straightforward. It’s a perfect adventure for sailing enthusiasts and those who love the sea. 

Boat holidays

There is a true pleasure in leaving behind the traditional hotel or apartment holidays and discovering the freedom that only a boat can offer. Setting off for a yachting holiday means being able to choose where to go, when to go, without limits imposed by roads or trails. Sailing provides the opportunity to discover beautiful coastal spots from a unique perspective, allowing you to explore enchanting, hidden, and unspoiled places.

So, pack your bags and start looking for a boat to set sail. 

Let us help you choose the best boat for your italian sailing adventure!