One month land-bound Part 4: Boat Days in Lampedusa and Linosa

In this post, I want to tell you all about my Italian escapade’s grand finale, the time I spent hopping between the islands of Lampedusa and Sardinia. As you know, at the end of the summer, I spent about a month land-bound. During this time I road-tripped from Switzerland to Germany and then spent 2 weeks in Italy. The first week, I traveled through Sicily and its surrounding islands and this post is all about the 3 days I spent in Lampedusa.

My time on the island began with some hurdles. Nothing crazy. I actually ended up finding humor in the whole situation. You see, I checked in online, as I always do, and then once I was at the airport in Cania, the airline wouldn’t allow me to fly with the mask I had. It’s a mask my mom made for me, and I had used it for many months and many flights with no issues… until now.

Supposedly, the mask wasn’t good enough to protect me from Corona. Little did they know, I don’t really want to be protected from Corona. In the end, they stood firm and didn’t accept it; the first airline ever to not allow my mom’s handmade mask.

To get on the flight, I ended up having to buy a local “corona safe” mask, which they conveniently sold at the airport. The silly mask cost me 20 euros; totally bullshit if you ask me, just on principle alone.

I also had other problems with the flight and this particular airline. I bought my ticket online, as always; it turns out I somehow bought the fare, which is only for Lampedusa residents. I was about to board, and they wouldn’t accept my ticket. I then had to rebook and pay a high exchange fee PLUS the fare difference.

It was all very amusing and a little bit annoying, but I really wanted to get to Lampedusa. In the end, I was just happy to be sitting on this tiny propeller plane, which took us from Cania to Lampedusa in the span of about 2 hours.

Lampedusa: First Impressions

I spent 2.5 full days in Lampedusa. The first day, I arrived in the evening and immediately set out to explore. I enjoyed a delightful dinner and after, a lovely stroll through town.

Quite nice here. Tons of tourists. No sight of refugees.

Very early on, I got the impression that Lampedusa is totally a hidden gem. Especially when you consider it is well known for being a safe passage for African refugees into Europe. It is no secret that refugees from Libya and Tunisia often come and go through this island. However, in the 2.5 days, I was there, I didn’t see a single refugee.

I did see that there were still many Italians visiting on holidays, probably because all the corona restrictions were pretty laid back on the island.

Boat days ahead

I booked half-day boat trips for the two full days I was in town. On the morning of the first trip, I forgot to set my alarm. I still don’t know how I managed to do that; maybe I set my phone to silent? Regardless, my phone didn’t make a sound. 🤦‍♂️ I ended up being late for the trip, and everyone had to wait for me; I was thankful they did, and I could make it!

I was also very pleasantly surprised to find out the Italian tour guide was fluent in German. It turns out he’d lived in Germany for many years, working and studying. He told me that he would be going back to Germany permanently eventually. We actually became good friends during our tour, but especially the next day, when I hired him for a private tour, but more on that later!

On the first boat trip, I went with a tour group to Linosa, a sister island of Lampedusa, about 25 miles away – halfway between Lampedusa and Malta. Its landscape is slightly different from Lampedusa; for instance, the latter is a very rocky island with high cliffs; while Linosa is a volcanic island with much more greenery, lush bushes, and such.

Refugees or tourists? On the way to Linosa. Tunisia is just double the distance in the other direction.

We jetted to Linosa on a speed-boat and got to see some dolphins on the way. As you can imagine, everyone’s spirits were high by the time we reached the island. For our time there, we had a small bus take us on a little tour.

Linosa is a very welcoming island.

Linosa is a tiny volcanic island with basically three main hills (volcanic cones). It has a sweetwater lake about 30 feet from the shore, lovely to swim in, a volcanic rock formation filled with fresh water. 😍

We also visited a lighthouse on the northwest coast and got to see some high cliffs along the shore. After we basically saw the entire island, we had lunch at some local place and went back to the boat. We began to navigate away from the island slowly, allowing us to take in the shoreline from the water. On the way back to Lampedusa, we had some nice swimming stops.

Great time in Linosa today. Sweet little Mediterranean Island, who knew?

All in all, it was a great excursion and a charming little island. I actually had never heard of Linosa before going to Lampedusa. But now you know there is this quaint little island between Sicily, Malta, and Lampedusa. The island actually has about 200 people living on it, allowing for a very relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere; I would definitely come back.

As mentioned before, the next day, I chartered the captain to myself. I have the licenses actually to charter a boat myself and drive it myself, but I find it’s much easier to have someone who knows the waters taking you around. This way, you also learn about the path less traveled and all the hidden gems only the locals know about.

Chartering my own boat to explore the graveyard of the Mediterranean. Refugees welcome…

We basically spent the morning navigating around Lampedusa, hitting all the best spots on the island. Sadly, it was just a half-day endeavor because I had some consulting calls in the afternoon, but we still managed to have a really nice time.

He took me to some nice bays, and I got to snorkel over some cool shipwrecks. We also went into some cool caves, seeing the super impressive high cliffs of Lampedusa from the water.

Exploring Lampedusa once all around

There were massive waves on the south coast, so we stuck mostly to the north shore. He still took me on a quick ride over to the south, so I still got to see some of the areas. It was a really nice day. I had some great conversations with the captain, and he invited me to dinner with his family that same night.

Yes, I am a cynic. Otherwise, reality would be too hard to bear. Come all to wonderful Lampedusa – not much fuss about the harmless flu here with most people ignoring mask restrictions.

It turns out, he and his wife were leaving to go to Germany the next day. He basically skips the summers in Germany and spends them in Lampedusa running his boat and touring company. I talked to him a lot about remote jobs and the kind of things he could do to work on-line and be even more location independent.

We got along great, and that evening we ended up going to a pizzeria with his wife and some friends. It was something like four families, with 12 kids and me. Almost no one spoke English, which is generally a problem in Sicily and Lampedusa; almost everyone speaks only Italian.

Thankfully, my friend translated a lot for me, from Italian to German. We had a really wonderful dinner, and I really enjoyed the evening. The whole day was pretty awesome, a perfect last day on the island. A few hours after I got home from the dinner, I was already on my way to catch my, very early (6 am), flight to Palermo and continuing to Sardinia.

I left the island with great memories; I can really see myself coming back soon. From stunning beaches to fine restaurants and a fantastic style of living and infrastructure overall. Most people think it’s a little island where only refugees land, but that’s not the case at all. I really enjoyed my time there and would have stayed longer, but Sardinia was waiting…

Rough seas in Northern Sicily. On my way to Palermo en route to Cagliari. The Staatenlos holds out just 10 miles away from here in a protected port.