On the island's southern coast, down a sinuous, narrow paved road, Gelso is a minuscule but picturesque port with a pair of family-run restaurants and a couple of black-sand beaches that rarely get very crowded. In summer there's a bus service to get there, but you'll be much better off hiring a car or scooter, as services are limited and it's a 15km walk back if you get stranded.

West of the port a trail runs a few hundred metres to the 18th-century church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and an abandoned lighthouse. Just uphill (north) from the port, a steep dirt track (pedestrians only) branches off to Spiaggia dell'Asino, a crescent of black sand giving onto inviting waters. A second beach, Spiaggia Cannitello, is surrounded by lush, almost tropical greenery. Both beaches have rudimentary bar-cafes in summer, where you can hire sun loungers and umbrellas.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Vulcano attractions

1. Spiaggia dell’Asino

0.34 MILES

One of two small black-sand beaches on the island's southern side near Gelso, this crescent of black sand gives onto inviting waters.

2. Spiaggia Cannitello

0.54 MILES

This beach, one of two small black-sand stretches on the island's southern side near Gelso, is surrounded by lush, almost tropical greenery.

3. Capo Grillo

1.93 MILES

For spectacular sea and island views without the physical exertion of climbing Fossa di Vulcano, follow the signposted road to Capo Grillo, about 7km…

4. Spiaggia Sabbie Nere

4.04 MILES

Vulcano's beach scene is centred on this smooth strip of black sand at Porto di Ponente, about 10 minutes' walk beyond the mud pools on the western side…

5. L'Osservatorio

5.85 MILES

Down near Lipari's southwesternmost tip, this high perch commands unparalleled views south to Vulcano (backed by Mt Etna on a clear day), and west into a…