The European island that’s dubbed the ‘pearl of the Mediterranean’ – and flights are just £17

The waves splash rhythmically under the net at the bow of our catamaran, where we laze all afternoon.

We drove relaxed along the coast of Sicily and this is really, as they say in Italian, la dolce vita – the sweet life.

Explore Sicily by boat and explore the Mediterranean island's peaceful, tranquil marinas


Explore Sicily by boat and explore the Mediterranean island’s peaceful, tranquil marinasPhoto credit: Getty
Stay on a luxury catamaran and avoid expensive hotel room rates


Stay on a luxury catamaran and avoid expensive hotel room ratesCredit:

I was never a boat person until I started watching the reality TV series Below Deck. In the process, I realized that there’s a lot more to getting sea legs than just the hedonistic booze cruises of my late teens.

Now, just a few hours into my 3-day adventure aboard a luxurious Lagoon 42 catamaran, the life of a sailor really is… . . Well, my boat floats.

This brand new 42ft vessel is available for hire for a fraction of the £450,000 price thanks to the maritime world’s Airbnb,

It’s just one of thousands of sailboats, yachts, motorboats and catamarans worldwide that can be rented online for hours, days or even weeks.

Our floating rental home, named Lotus, is a modern double decker boat that sleeps eight plus the skipper in four double cabins Mini Hotel room with private bathroom.

Two small flights of stairs are even equipped with vitreous glass, so you can observe the underwater wildlife.

The interior lounge upstairs has a dining table and seating and a fully equipped kitchen, whilst on deck there is another table with plenty of shaded lounging areas.

And like real yachties, our supplies were all freshly bought and chilled that morning.

If you have a license you can steer yourself, but handling the oars while taking my children on a rowboat does not qualify me for captaincy, so we have a skipper on board for the long term.

Salvatore, aka Toto, guides our journey around the volcanic Aeolian Islands after departing from Marina di Portorosa on Sicily’s north coast, about an hour’s drive from Catania Airport.

We spend the first afternoon on board snacking, ice-cold Italian beer, sunbathing and snoozing before arriving in Lipari, an island north of Sicily.

A free shuttle taxi takes us to Marina Corta, a scenic bay full of classic Italian restaurants, cafes (a cannoli-creme flavored ice cream might be one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten) and tourist shops.

We return to the boat and spend our first night on board. Completely silent in the marina, with a gentle, gentle rocking motion, I slept like a bambino, as they say in Italian.

With so much demand for hotel rooms in Sicily this summer thanks to the TV series The White Lotus, I can understand why staying at sea in a docked floating hotel like ours is being touted as the new way of vacationing.

Another day on board takes us to Vulcano, a small island north of Sicily, where we stop at various spots to swim and snorkel in the crystal clear, almost lukewarm waters before mooring at Marina di Portorosa, Sicily.

A short stroll into the local town of Tonnarella takes us to a quaint beachfront restaurant, where the food once again draws us in to exquisite Italian cuisine.

We’re too fed up for karaoke night at the marina bar, so instead we relax in the cool night air on our catamaran, which occupies a prime spot on the water.

If you’re in this area, it’s worth taking the 90-minute taxi ride to the ancient municipality of Taormina on Sicily’s east coast.

It overlooks the Ionian Sea and has a charming main street – built of slate straight from the river’s foot Smoke The Etna volcano – that leads to winding medieval streets full of restaurants, cafes and shops.

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After a bruschetta, gnocchi, and fresh seafood lunch, there’s just enough time to download Below Deck’s new series for the flight home.

As they say in Italian: alla prossima – until next Time.

GO: Sicily

GET THERE: Ryanair flies from Stansted to Catania in Sicily from £17.17 each way. See

STAY THERE: The 12 person Lagoon 42 catamaran costs from £340 per day for the boat (£28.33 per person) plus £150 per day for the skipper. See

GETTING THERE: A half-day walking tour of Taormina with Salvina costs around £214.49 for eight people (£26.81 per person). See

Sicily has many picturesque places to visit, including the church in the center of Taormina


Sicily has many picturesque places to visit, including the church in the center of TaorminaPhoto credit: Getty
The ancient theater of Taormina with the famous Etna volcano at sunset


The ancient theater of Taormina with the famous Etna volcano at sunsetPhoto credit: Getty

Emma James

Emma James is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma James joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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