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Elba is an often-overlooked destination, but it shouldn’t be. Charming, yet authentic and down-to-earth, with delightful coves and lots to see and eat on land. Yacht charter is an exceptional way to get to know this corner of the Med, and Elba offers more than enough to keep you busy for a week, though its location in the Tuscan archipelago offers temptations galore to take two weeks.
From the UK, fly into Pisa, and from there you can get to Punta Ala or Puntone di Scarlino to meet up with your charter. You could also take a ferry from the mainland and pick up your boat in Portoferraio. There is limited air service as well, on Silver Air, from Milan or Pisa. On Elba, you can orientate yourself in the main town of Portoferraio, a great spot to refresh your provisions and while away a day. Don’t include dessert in your provisions – the gelato shops are like a siren’s call to go ashore every evening – but do include the local limoncello.
Napoleon spent 300 days in exile here in 1815, and you no doubt would not mind being exiled here yourself. Up on a hill above Portoferraio, the gardens and views make for a lovely afternoon visit, and you can check the culture box off for this trip.
Sail west and don’t miss Marciana Marina, a lovely town with a beach and great restaurants (Jamie Oliver loves the pizzeria La Scaletta and the more upscale Ristorante Affrichella). Even if you don’t eat in town, go ashore for a stroll with the locals through the piazza and along the sea wall in the evening. A sunset and a serving of blood orange sorbet will cure what ails you. The marina offers 115 berths and services, and you can book a spot online, advisable if you are going in summer.
Elba is full of secret coves with tiny beaches and plentiful marine life, particularly around Capo Sant’Andrea, which also features lovely walking paths through lush flora. In the waters, you’ll see colourful fish that reside in the fields of sea grass called posidonia. The rock formations also house lobster. The waters are clear but, as in much of the Med, not always warm, so go prepared if you aren’t a fan of chilly water.