Feature: Elba's Finest Beaches
Given the wide range of bays on Elba's 147km-long coast it pays to know your spiagge (beaches). You'll find sandy strands on the south coast and in the Golfo della Biodola, on the western side of Capo d'Enfola; La Biodola has the nearest sandy beach to Portoferraio. The quietest, prettiest beaches are tucked in bijou rocky coves and often involve a steep clamber down. Parking is invariably roadside and scant.
Colle d'Orano & Fetovaia
The standout highlight of these two beach destinations on Elba's western coast is the dramatic 9km-long drive between the two along the SP25. Legend has it Napoleon frequented Colle d'Orano to sit and swoon over his native Corsica, which is visible across the water. Its rocky pebble beach, Spiaggia di Patresi, is a beautiful and wild spot to watch the sun set. Heading south, a heavenly scented promontory covered in maquis (herbal scrubland) protects the brilliant golden sands of Spiaggia di Fetovaia, popular with families for its beach restaurant and canoe/pedalo/boat rentals on the sand. Not far away, nudists flop on granite rocks known as Le Piscine.
Just 6km west of Portoferraio, it's not so much the grey pebbles as the outdoor action that lures crowds to this tiny fishing port. There are pedalos to rent, a beachside diving school, and a family-friendly 2.5km-long circular hiking trail around the green cape.
Morcone, Pareti & Innamorata
Find this trio of charming sandy-pebble coves framed by sweet-smelling pine trees some 5km south of Capoliveri in southeast Elba. Rent a kayak and paddle out to sea from Cala dell'Innamorata, the wildest of the three; or fine-dine and overnight on Pareti beach at Hotel Stella Maris, one of the few three-star hotels to be found on the sand.
Sansone & Sorgente
This twinset of cliff-ensnared, white-shingle and pebble beaches stands out for its crystal-clear, turquoise waters just made for snorkelling and kayaking. A footpath crosses the small rocky promontory dividing Spiaggia La Sorgente (east) from Spiaggia di Sansone (west). By car from Portoferraio, follow the SP24 for 5km towards Enfola. Parking is challenging.
Procchio & La Biodola
Just 10km west of Portoferraio, the beach town of Procchio and adjoining resort area of La Biodola draw the summer-time crowds thanks to one of Elba's longest stretches of golden sand. West from Procchio, the road hugs cliffs above Spiaggia di Spartaia and Spiaggia della Paolina, beautiful little beaches requiring a steep clamber down.
Worth a Trip: Rio dell'Elba & Rio Marina
Mountainous and relatively remote, northeast Elba was the heart of the island’s mining operation, and heritage attractions here bring that industrial history to life vividly. The two main towns, hill-top Rio dell'Elba (population 1212) and coastal Rio Marina (population 2233), sit amid a network of plunging, twisting roads that will test your nerve and driving skills.