Islands and beaches near Rome
As a Roman, it’s kind of embarrassing (and I probably shouldn’t be admitting this) that it took me this long to visit Ponza, the largest of the three Pontine Islands, just off the coast of the Lazio Region. This island is truly sensational. Makes me just want to move there all summer long!
As you arrive with your ferryboat, your eyes will be glued to the the green landscape, the fascinating rock incisions and the charming colors of the island’s characteristic port. Once you’ve docked, you dive into this festive and holiday-like atmosphere. And that’s when the fun (and relaxation) begins.
If you arrive from the port of San Felice Circeo, your ferry will have arrived by 9.50am. So you’re awake before lots of people, meaning you should head first to your hotel/apartment to leave your luggage, and then go straight to rent your boat for the day!
Just keep in mind that Ponza is an island that must be explored by boat. There are some beaches, but they require lots of going up and down stairs under the sun! Plus, with a boat you get a totally different vibe and can explore the jaw-dropping beach coves.
Where to rent your boat? The island is filled with places where you can rent boats, usually the port is where you’ll be charged the most (€70 – €80) . Personally, I rented my boats at the port of Santa Maria (just a 10-minute walk from the port). There are two different boat rentals, GMM (GianMaria Maltese) and Albatross.
Just to let you know, at GMM, the classic Ponza-style wooded boat – gozzo – costs from €50 for the day (until 6pm), but they also have dinghies that you can rent at 120€ for the day. Of course all gas costs are not included.
Another great place where you can rent your boat is Achille and Lucia, on the other side of the island, in the stunning Cala dell’Acqua. Here the classic Ponza-style wooded boat costs €60 for the day (until 6pm), and the dinghies are 150€ for the day.
Keep in mind that the wooden boats are either for a max of 4 or 5 people. If you’re staying on the island for more than a day, reserve your boat for the next day as (especially on the weekend) there are more people than boats! So after you’ve rented your boat, and the guys have given you a short tutorial on how to use it (no need for a boat license), it’s time to discover Ponza’s stunning coves.
My favorite places to go are:
Cala Lucia Rosa (on the Western side of the island)
Cala dell’Acqua (Western side of the island)
Chiaia di Luna (Western side of the island)
Cala Fonte (North-Western side of the island)
Palmarola (7 miles East)
Bagno Vecchio (Eastern side of the island)
Cala Parata (Eastern side of the island)
Cala Gaetano (Eastern side of the island)
But this all depends on your personal tastes. Anywhere you go is jaw-dropping! The sea here is really spectacular. The water is crystal clear, the sea bed is sandy or rocky depending on where you go, and there are beautiful fish swimming around! Oh, and when in Ponza, you can’t not go to the nearby island of Palmarola for the day, it’s amazing, and truly worth the trip!
After your day on the boat, there is one place you have to go to. We all know that summer vacation days are counted by the amount of sunsets you see, and to admire the most beautiful sunset of the island you have to go to Chiaia di Luna (5 – 10 minutes from the port).
Here, you can either look at the sunset from the beautiful street terrace, or (if you want to accompany the sunset with a drink), head to Grand Hotel Chiaia di Luna’s Le Terrazze – the coolest bar on the island where amazing music, yummy cocktails, food, and a romantic atmosphere will cuddle you up.
Time for dinner?
The island is full of amazing restaurants for you to try. If you want a dinner with an unforgettable view, go to Il Tramonto, and if you want yummy food at an accessible price, go to Oresteria at the port. ALWAYS make a reservation!
After dinner, a walk around the port stopping by its charming boutiques, or a drink in one of the island’s characteristic bars is a must. It will only take you a second to fall in love with Ponza. Make every second count!