This island, sandwiched between Rome and Naples off Italy’s western coast, was long considered one of the Tyrrhenian Sea’s best-kept secrets. These days, however, the secret’s out: Visitors can’t stay away from Ponza’s dramatic coastal cliffs, crystal-clear water, and sea grottoes.
Part of of the Pontine Islands Archipelago, Ponza is famous for its blue grottoes, as well as its swimming- and snorkeling-friendly beaches (Chiaia di Luna, Cala Feola, and Frontone) and Piscine Naturali (saltwater pools formed by ancient volcanic activity). Cobblestone roads wind through a pretty town center that’s filled with charming shops and excellent restaurants, and colorful homes and villas dot the hills overlooking the sea.
The best way to see Ponza is from the Mediterranean; daylong boat tours usually include a cruise along the coastline to admire jagged cliffs, the Arco Naturale stone arch, and sea grottoes, plus free time to explore on land. Your excursion may also stop at Palmarola, a picturesque island nearby.
Things to Know Before You Go
Boat tours may include beach towels and water-sports gear, but bring your own hat and sunblock.
Some boats may be wheelchair accessible—always confirm ahead of time.
Boat tours are family friendly; they’re a perfect way to spend the day with kids.
Other popular island destinations along Italy's southern coast are Capri, Ischia, and Ventotene.
How to Get There
Ponza is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, 21 miles (34 kilometers) off the Italian coast. Ferries bound for the island leave from Naples, Terracina, Formia, and Anzio; you can also book a private boat tour.
When to Get There
Due to choppy seas and inclement weather, ferry and boat crossings are often suspended in winter. The best time to visit Ponza is between April and October.
Ponza is fabled to be the island home of the sorceress Circe, who makes an appearance in Homer’s The Odyssey.