This tiny island floats alone almost 60km north of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Part of the Aeolian volcanic chain, the land mass is actually the tip of a submerged volcano. Its black volcanic-rock landscape is sprinkled with blazing pink-and-red hibiscus flowers and prickly green cacti, the shoreline is littered with dramatic grottoes and the surrounding waters – protected within Area Marina Protetta Isola di Ustica (Island of Ustica Protected Marine Area) – are kept sparklingly clean by an Atlantic current and are thus replete with fish and coral.
Palermitans flock here in July and August for their summer holidays – consider visiting in June and September to appreciate the dramatic coastline and grottoes without the crowds. Note that between October and Easter most of the island's restaurants and accommodation options close down during the week and ferry services from the mainland can be cancelled in bad weather.