Every island in this Archipelago has a different landscape: Favignana is flat on the eastern side and has lots of beaches and inlets while to the west the coastline has high, rocky cliffs. The Marettimo and Levanzo islands are mountainous with high cliffs and step ravines: they are called the Dolomites in the blue sea. Vegetation in the archipelago is typically Mediterranean. Over 500 species of trees and shrubs including Mediterranean oak, tree heather, cistus, groundsel and a small forest of Aleppo pines along with a large number of native and rare plants such as Brassica macrocarpa, Bupleurum dianthifolium, Scilla hughii and rock carnations (Dianthus rupicola) can be found here.Thanks to the area’s special currents and diverse seabed, the waters are amongst the cleanest and richest in sea life in all of the Med. The compact rocks at Levanzo and Marettimo let light-loving algae and sea grasses like Cystoseira grow at depths of 30 to 40m while the sandy seabed at Favignana is ideal for Posidonia which you’ll find at depths of over 40m. The area is also favourable for fan mussels (Pinna nobilis) the largest species of bivalve in the Med. You’ll find coralligenous colonies at depths of 30-40m, and in darker areas close to the surface you’ll find colourful species of sponges and algae, colonies of anthozoa and false coral (Myriapora truncata).The archipelago has lots of excellent spots for diving where you can explore the entire range of submerged environments from underwater caves covered in sponges and yellow cluster anemones along their vertical walls, to submarine landslides where groupers, conger fish and lobsters hide and a vast and varied series of archaeological sites including the remains of ships that sunk during the famous Battle of the Egades fought in 241 A.C. between Romans and Phoenicians. The fisherman’s cooperative organises guided tours to the hundreds of caves that are both above and below water in Marettimo and Levanzo, and they can also organise fishing tours.

Marine Area Protected

Founded in 1991, this is Italy’s largest Marine Protected Area covering 53.992 hectares, 1.067 of which are a zone A integral reserve. The archipelago, located 8km off the west coast of Sicily, includes the limestone islands of Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo, the small island of Formica, and the outcrops called Maraone and Porcelli.The reserve is currently encountering some administrative difficulties and there may be a change in direction shortly.Le zone A integral reserve in the Marine Protected Area is signalled by yellow delimitation buoys and by yellow top marks on the shore. New rules and regulations are about to be approved.

Useful Contacts

Ente Gestore: Comune di Favignana
Palazzo Florio
via Florio, 1 – 91023 Favignana
tel. 0923/922585
Centro visite di Levanzo
tel. 0923/924089
Centro visite di Marettimo
Capitaneria di Porto di Trapani
tel. 0923/28900

By Boat

Located halfway between the islands of Ustica and Pantelleria, this Marine Protected Area is an ideal stopping spot before heading off to explore the southern Mediterranean.

The three main islands, some rocky outcrops and beautifully clean waters are the area’s main attractions. Levanzo is the first island you arrive at sailing south and is also the least known. The entire western coast is a zone A integral reserve and you may not sail through it. The only place to drop anchor is along the southern coast. There are berths for a couple of boats at the top of the pier in the small port of Cala Dogana, or you can stop nearby at Cala Fredda.

The smaller islands Maraone and Formica are between Levanzo and Favignana and there you’ll find an old tonnara, tuna fishing corral, which has been restored. The port on the largest of the islands is really just a bay that has been partially closed off by a pier where the ship that serves the locals docks. There are not very many berths and it may be better just to drop anchor off the beach. There are several inlets along the coast where it’s nice to swim or spend the night. The most famous is Cala Rossa, whose crystal clear turquoise waters are framed by steep cliffs over the sea. The inlets gets its name from one of the cruellest sea battles in the first Punic war, won by Lutezio Catulo in 241 A.C.: the water was red, rossa, with blood for days after the battle.

In southerly winds it’s better to head for Calazza, just west of Punta Faraglione, in northerly winds the best spots are off the Preveto Island or at Cala Azzurra.

Marittimo is the westernmost island of the archipelago, and is exposed to winds from all directions that gain speed against its steep sides and accelerate in gusts down to the water. Most of the area around the island is off-limits to non-residents but you can rent a boat to explore this very interesting area. Scalo Vecchio faces north and has shallow waters that are almost entirely free of fishing boats. Scalo Nuovo, to the south, is an excellent place to stop when the weather is good. Punta Troia, that you can spot easily because of an ancient Spanish fortress there, is the best spot to drop anchor and take a swim. At noon you can enter the nearby Grotta del Cammello to see the sunlight that shines on the crystalline water through a crack in the rock.