Tremiti Islands: mini guide for a breathtaking spot in Southern Italy

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We always dream of foreign lands, caribbean beaches and paradise lost since we realize that it’s not necessary to go beyond the boundaries to discover them. They are closer than we think and Italy is full of hidden gems that must be highlighted. Tremiti Islands are one of these pearls.

The Tremiti are five bite-size islands very close together. It’s an archipelago in the Adriatic Sea, in front of the Gargano Peninsula. A truly natural paradise that can be reached by ferry on daily trip from Apulian coastline.
According to the legend, on these shores the Greek hero Diomedes was buried after his wanderings in the Adriatic Sea at the end of the Troyan War and that’s the reason why Tremiti are called “Diomedee Islands”.

Tremiti Islands: enchanted land in Apulia

We felt in love with this little corner of “Belpaese” during a summer trip to Apulia. We were based in Gargano – in the city of Rodi Garganico – and we reached the Tremiti on a daily trip by ferryboat.
Once we landed there, we were be entirely fascinated by the slow rhythm of nature that their inhabitants seem to follow either. Scent of wild nature, blossom and crystalline water. Everywhere.

The atmosphere here is always calm, genuine and extremely romantic. We guarantee that even families with kids will be bewitched by these islands. Tremiti have nothing to envy to furthest atolls.

Tremiti Islands are five rocky islands with cliffs, sea caves and coves that appear in the Adriatic Sea a few miles from the Gargano promontory. Tremiti look like “the three mountains that emerge from the water along the horizon”. San Domino, San Nicola, Caprara, Cretaccio and Pianosa.
A handful of green and white. Shrubs, brooms and trees here and there on the rocks. Intense blue sky and pure sea.

Forget you car, motor vehicles are not permitted on the islands. Totally useless since you will mainly explore them by boat or if you are planning an overnight there, you’ll take a local taxi. On these islands the rule of silence dominates. Nature, earth and sea speak. Open your eyes, mind, hears and especially heart to new emotions.

After landing, tourists will be overwhelmed by the intense scent of Aleppo pines that cover the islands until the shores. It’s hard to forget the feelings we felt there.

The best beaches for kids at the Tremiti are Cala delle Arene & Cala Matana on the island of San Domino

The inhabited islands are two: San Domino, the widest, the greenest and the one with the highest number of hotels and restaurants, and San Nicola where you breathe a sort of mystic atmosphere. While San Nicola transports visitors back in ancient time, San Domino impresses with its overwhelming nature with coves and lush pine forest. San Nicola is the historical heart of the islands and it charms for silence that surrounds the entire island. The wild and the mystic.

Tremiti Islands: how to get there and where to buy the ferry tickets

Leave your car at the harbour in a parking lot, buy the ferry tickets and prepare the backpack with all the stuff you need for a daily trip to Tremiti Islands.
The Tremiti can be reached by ferryboat with daily departures from Apulia (from the city of Rodi Garganico and Vieste),  from the harbours of Pescara and Vasto in Abruzzo, and also from the city of Termoli in Molise region.
From Termoli daily excursions are arranged during summer season only.
There are different sailing or ferry companies that cover the trip from Gargano Promontory and even tickets fares are different but, on average, it will take about 50 minutes to get there.

Boarding is between 8.30 and 9.30 and daily trip ends from 16.15 to 17.30. The ferry boat will arrive alternatively to San Domino and to San Nicola. Be careful because in the evening, at the end of the daily trip, you must leave Tremiti from the same dock you land. Seats are numbered, so you can not change ferry.
Tickets fare can change according to the city of departure and high season. We bought our tickets from Rodi Garganico at the cost of 72€ (25€ per adult and 12€ per kids aged from 3 to 12 years old). Kids under 3 YO travel for free. In this fare a circumnavigation tour by motorboat was even inlcuded.

Please consider that rates are subjected to seasonal variations and must be verified on site.

For online tickets refer to Navigazione Libera del Golfo.

Daily trip at Tremiti Islands: what you must see

A weekend could be the best solution to enjoy, relax and visit the Tremiti, but even a daily trip worth the ferry tickets.There are plenty things to see and you can live Tremiti Island the fullest even in a day.
So, what you must see in daily trip to Tremiti Islands?

  • First thing to do: the circumnavigation of the islands! It’s only by motorboat or paddling that you will enjoy Tremiti the most! There are many tours departing every day from the marina of San Domino and San Nicola, sailing along the beautiful shore of Caprara, San Nicola, San Domino and Cretaccio. Circumnavigation takes at least one hour and a half and it includes two diving stops.
    Tickets from 15€ per adult and 7,5€ kids aged 3.
  • On the island of San Nicola, visitors should stop at the Fortress and to St. Mary’s Abbey to discover more about the history of Tremiti. In fact the history of this island is closely related to the arrival of Benedictine monks on the archipelago, as they founded the Abbey and built much of the town. Here there is an archaeological site that dates back many centuries: visitors can admire a large tank that was used to collect rain water – the Vasca di San Nicola – and the grave of the Greek hero Diomedes, who fiercely battle during the Trojan War and came to Tremiti to die in peace.

  • A dive at Padre Pio: N 42° 07′ 947 – E 15° 30′ 835  this is the precise position for a plunge in the beautiful sea of Tremiti. Apulia in general, but Gargano in particular is devoted to St. Pio of Pietrelcina and on his honor a huge statue was place in 1998 asking for protection. The statue is 3 metres high and was set at 14 metres deep.
  • Explore sea caves: San Domino is a sequence of cliffs and sea caves accessibile by sea only. The Elephant rock, the Violet cave, the Sea Ox cave, the Swallow cave are the most famous caves that tourist can admire during a trip to Tremiti.

Can you see the Elephant of Tremiti Islands?

  • Hiking in the green of San Domino to admire the islands by another point of view. Go exploring the “Diamonds wood” lush of pinewoods and local greenery.
  • Sun bathing in the warm shore of San Domino at Cala delle Arene and Cala Matana where you can even rent sunbed and beach umbrella. Tremiti’s beaches are mainly achievable by boat, but among the rocky bays, these are two superb sandy beaches ideal for kids as the sea wane gently.

Where to eat at Tremiti Islands

In the height of summer, the Tremiti aren’t exactly a bargain, so the cheapest way is to bring a packed lunch. Eating a sandwich at the beach is a good way to save money also, but the kiosks at Cala delle Arene or Cala Matana beaches increase the prices during high season. Close to Cala Matana there is also a pretty restaurant with a view on the bay.
If you can’t help eating at the restaurant, tasting some excellent fish dishes, you can either choose Architiello Restaurant or Nonna Sisina’s Restaurant on the island of San Nicola. Nonna Sisina is a “local granny” that will charm tourists with legends and tales of Tremiti Islands. The restaurant of Nonna Sisina is close to the fortress.

Where to sleep at Tremiti Islands

We went to the Tremiti on a daily trip, so we did not test any hotel on site, but we can recommend Punta del Diamante house renting or the Touring Club camping village both on the island of San Domino.

How to visit Tremiti Islands with kids

Your kids will love Tremiti!! But before getting there you must prepare all their stuff. First of all, forget the stroller, preferring baby carriers. Tremiti are rocky islands full of slippery steps or stairs and when you are not walking, you will probably be on a boat.
On site there are no baby chairs nor changing tables, so you have to throw together diapers change. But do not despair, the Tremiti are so beautiful that they will worth the efforts!
On the island of San Nicola there is a small palyground too, ideal for a break.
We visited the Tremiti when Federico was 4 YO and he was totally enthusiastic about our journey there. He had so much fun that he felt asleep on the ferry back to Rodi Garganico.

What to bring with you

Sun, wind and marine salt. Your daily trip will be marked out by these three elements, so it’s very important to protect kids, and adults too… sun cream, sun glasses and bottles of water are mandatory.
To avoid sea sickness remember to eat something like bread, crackers or a snack before get on the boat.

You should wear swimsuit, shorts and a T-shirt. Do not forget a windproof jacket for the ferry. Hiking boots are not necessary, but bring slippery and sneakers.

If you love to snorkel, bring your equipment!

 

The fortress at San Nicola

Best time to visit Tremiti Islands

As many other Italian destinations, summer season is the hottest, but we highly recommend you to avoid August. The Tremiti islands’ tourist season runs from May to October, though a handful of hotels and restaurants are open year-round. From May to June the weather is gorgeous but you’ll probably find fresh or water (according to our Italian standard of course 🙂 ). September and October are our favorite months: prices are lower in comparison to August, beaches are empty and no traffic jam at the marina.
If you are looking for silence, quiet and a romantic atmosphere, winter and spring are the one we recommend, as these are extraordinary months to discover Tremiti Islands.

For more information visit Apulia Tourism Board website

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Vieste: 41.882476, 16.176749
Foce Varano: 41.920663, 15.807226
San Menaio: 41.934246, 15.933741
Baia delle zagare: 41.746002, 16.135014
Tremiti Islands: 42.124200, 15.510900
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I was a convinced single & traveller, then I met a Toad and we packed together…now we travel in 4, as a toddler & a pet joined the team!