Ustica's compact size makes it ideal for walking, with a number of walking trails available.
For a grand tour of the coastline, start by following the signposted Sentiero del Mezzogiorno south from town. The trail soon curves west, skirting high bluffs and traversing occasional patches of pine forest before eventually rejoining the coast at Ustica's western lighthouse (simply called Faro on local maps). From the lighthouse, continue north on foot or by local bus to Cappella della Madonna della Croce, an 18th-century white adobe church high on the hillside. Here another footpath splits off, following the northern coastal bluffs to the Villaggio Preistorico, a rather poorly maintained remnant of a Bronze Age village. Finish the loop by following the main road back into town. The whole circuit takes between three and four hours.
Another scenic trail passes through pine woods to the summit of Guardia di Mezzo (248m), before descending to the best part of the coast at Spalmatore, where it's possible to swim in natural rock pools.
Closer to town, shorter walking paths lead to the Rocca della Falconiera, a defensive tower above the church; to the lookout point above the lighthouse at Punta Omo Morto; and to the Torre Santa Maria, a Bourbon-era tower just south of the town centre. Ask at the tourist office for directions.
Scuba Diving & Snorkelling
Divers from all over the world come to Ustica between May and October to explore its magnificent underwater sites. Highlights include the underwater archaeological trail off Punta Cavazzi, where artefacts such as anchors and Roman amphorae can be admired. Other popular dive sites are the Scoglio del Medico, an outcrop of basalt riddled with caves and gorges that plunge to great depths; and Secca di Colombara, a magnificent rainbow-coloured display of sponges and gorgonias.
There are numerous dive centres that offer dive itineraries and hire equipment. Among them, Diving Center Ustica – affiliated with Hotel Diana – stands out as the lone operator managed by local residents born and raised on Ustica.
Area Marina Protetta Isola di Ustica (Island of Ustica Protected Marine Area) is divided into three zones. Zone A extends along the west flank of the island from the promontory north of Punta Spalmatore to Punta Megna and as far as 350m offshore. You can swim within its boundaries at designated spots, but fishing and boating are prohibited. Two of the island's most beautiful natural grottoes – the Grotta Segreta (Secret Grotto) and the Grotta Rosata (Pink Grotto) – are located here.
Zone B extends beyond Zone A from Punta Gavazzi to Punta Omo Morto and as far as 4.8km offshore; swimming and underwater photography are permitted within its boundaries, as is hook-and-line fishing. Zone C applies to the rest of the coast; swimming and boating are allowed and national fishing regulations apply. Always check your itinerary with a dive centre or the marine national park headquarters before you dive.