The best places to surf, scuba dive and snorkel in Italy

The best places to do water sports in Italy
19 August 2021, Eleonora Passetto

Italy has a lot to offer for water sport lovers, especially those who want to have a go at surfing, scuba diving or snorkelling in the Mediterranean. Whether you're a beginner and just want to have some fun, or serious about your water sport, Italy has a scuba diving, snorkelling or surfing beach for you

Today we’re looking at the best destinations for diving, snorkelling and surfing in Italy, a country which, perhaps surprisingly, has many incredible places for lovers of such sea-related activities. End the summer holidays in style and get ready to discover a whole new side of Italy, with our selection of the best places to surf, scuba dive and snorkel in Italy.

The best surfing beaches in Italy

There's no need to move to California or Australia to surf, as there are a number of great beaches for surfing in Italy. The waves of the Mediterranean on some of the country's beaches will provide you with a great surfing experience.

The best beaches for surfing in Italy are found in Sardinia, especially the south of the island. Thanks to the constant winds that make waves up to 9 feet (3 metres) high the whole year round, Sardinia is undoubtedly the best destination for surfing in Italy. We particularly recommend the famous Capo Mannu which is located 30 km from Oristano. Also on the south coast of the island, the charming Cala Cipolla is a paradise of waves and landscapes.

Another well-known destination is Levanto in Liguria, famous for its strong waves, the different types of seabed and for the variety of winds (Libeccio, Maestrale and Scirocco) which is music to the ears of any surfing enthusiast.

Cala Cipolla

Another great place for surfing in Italy is found in the region of Lazio, where we recommend heading to Santa Marinella, the country’s most internationally known surfing beach which is widely known as the surfing capital of Italy. Head to Banzai surf school and get some tips for riding Italy's waves. 

The best beaches in Italy for scuba diving

The Italian peninsula is full of charming places for scuba divers, making it a difficult task to recommend the best destination to go scuba diving in Italy. Italian waters have something for everyone, including shipwrecks, caves, sunken walls and beautiful sea life. 

The region of Liguria, and in particular the protected marine natural area of Portofino, just a few miles from Genoa, is undoubtedly one of the unmissable destinations for diving lovers, thanks to the wealth of corals, barracudas and natural beauty on offer. There are also manmade beauties to discover underwater there, like the world-famous “Christ of the Abyss” in San Fruttuoso.

"Christ of the Abyss" in San Fruttuoso

Another great scuba diving destination in Italy can be found by visiting Elba Island in Tuscany. Here, you can pay an underwater visit to Punta della Madonna, while another must-see is Lampedusa, thanks to its crystal-clear waters and the wide variety of fish. These Italian waters truly hold their own with many of the most popular scuba diving destinations in the world.

The best places to snorkel in Italy

Unlike scuba diving, snorkelling requires shallow, clear waters. Fortunately for avid snorkelling enthusiasts, Italy offers some unique and fascinating places to visit.

These include the Miramare Protected Marine Reserve in Trieste (in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia) where you can see a wide range of wildlife consisting of molluscs, crustaceans and bony fish.

Back to Elba Island, with its rocky sea floor, clear Tyrrhenian waters, countless species of fish and a kaleidoscope of colours. This island is also one of the best places for snorkelling in Italy.

Heading to Naples, you can't afford to miss the fascinating underwater archaeological park of Baia di Pozzuoli. Experience a truly unique underwater world and visit a sunken Roman city with villas, statues and buildings of enormous archaeological value.

Finally, we also recommend snorkelling in the Aeolian Islands, whose biosphere has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. You will be amazed by the wonderfully colourful world under the waves populated by mysterious creatures that will leave you breathless, including starfish, thousands of fish and coral reefs.  

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