In the central Adriatic Sea, just above the Italian Apulian peninsula of Gargano you can find an archipelago that consist of five small Italian islands. A group of islands you probably have never heard of yet. The Tremiti Islands, or in Italian 'Isole Tremiti'. A name that refers to the strong seismic activity that once took place here in this archipelago. Tremiti comes from the Italian 'tremalante' which means trembling. Nowadays these islands are an ideal environment for a short discovery trip on foot or a couple of days of relaxation.
The Tremiti islands belongs to the Gargano National Park and has the status of a maritime nature reserve since 1989 because of its beautiful underwater world. The best way to reach the islands is by boat which runs daily from the ports of Termoli, Vasto and Ortona. Do you want to visit the islands during high season? In that case you even have more choices. In these times you are also able to take a boat from Manfredonia, Vieste and Rodi Garganico. But the boat is not the only option, as a helicopter flies back and forth to the island every day. Of course this costs a little extra, but the views of the archipelago are breathtaking.
Upon arrival on the Tremiti islands you will first visit San Domino or San Nicola. San Domino is the largest and greenest of these two and the entire Tremiti archipelago. This island is ideal for relaxation but also for a beautiful hike. San Domino is not permanently inhabited and of all islands focuses most on tourism. The hiking trails are therefore clearly marked. The island, like all other islands, consists of jagged and rocky coasts that are surrounded by crystal clear and azure blue waters. During a hike around the islands you will encountered many dead-end paths that lead to panoramic viewpoints or caves. This makes the route unique.
The hike starts in the harbour of the island and at the foot of the small and only sand beach that can be found in the archipelago. San Domino is very green, so for most of the route you walk through a forest in which the salamander is the most commonly seen resident. The reptiles literally jump in all directions at your feet. The forests consist of orange trees, pine trees and fig trees. This means that there is always some shade to be found, which makes the hike attractive even in very hot weather. Halfway through the route you arrive at the lighthouse, which is located in a forest-poor part of the island. This is followed by a climb to the top where you can enjoy a view of the other islands.
At least, three of the other four Tremiti islands are visible from the highest point on San Domino. Pianosa, the smallest island that is scarcely overgrown and relatively flat, is not visible. This island is very small and located around 22 kilometers away. On the island which is inhabited is only a lighthouse located called 'il faor'. It is even so small that some of it disappears into the seawater in severe weather.
The other three are close to San Domino and are therefore clearly visible from the highest point on this island. San Nicola is the only island that is inhabited all year round. The island is the historical, religious and administrative center of the archipelago. Most people live on this island, mainly on the southern part. Here you will also find the boat connections from Ortona, Termoli and Vasto. If you have arrived in the archipelago by boat, it would be better to discover this island first prior to a hike on San Domino. San Nicola was provided with defence works in the 7th century. The Benedictines who arrived later converted the fortress into a monastery. These can still be admired on the island today.
San Nicola is a popular diving paradise. Divers encounter beautiful fish species in the crystal clear waters on their way to the special underwater caves. A true paradise for diving enthusiasts. This is in stark contrast to the function of a penal colony that this island had in World War II for political opponents of Mussolini. From San Nicola there is a regular ferry to San Domino so that you can easily discover both islands.
The other two islands are best known for their rugged coastline and are popular with divers. Capraia is bare and flat with only two buildings on it. The lighthouse and the 'Casa dei Coatti', initially built as a prison, later turned into a farm. The small Cretaccio is also bare and is also very sensitive to erosion and therefore doomed to one day disappear into the sea. This island would have been inhabited in prehistoric times. Besides the views that these two islands give from San Domino and San Nicola, it is not very worthwhile to go too. But the Tremiti islands as a whole are beautiful and have a lot to offer.