Portovenere is a charming village that sits on the point connecting the spectacular Cinque Terre to the inspirational Gulf of the Poets, and it has been a destination for elite tourism for over a century. Despite its seafront location, it is not an actual beach resort like other towns in Liguria, but it does offer some lovely beaches and bays where you can sunbathe from either the land or a boat. Let’s have a look at the best beaches in Portovenere and surroundings!
Bathing spots in town
As you enter the village of Portovenere, you will find a pebbly cove where you can sunbathe and swim in front of the typical ‘mitili’ (mussels) plantations of the Gulf of La Spezia. You have a choice of free beach or beach clubs like Royal Sporting Club and Arenella (scroll to the end of the article to learn more about the difference between free vs. paid beaches).
In town, along the seashore you cannot miss the pier that extends opposite the colorful buildings that characterize the historic center. Many people choose the jetty for sunbathing, while for a swim you can opt for the rocky area around Byron’s Grotto.
During the month of July and/or August, the channel that separates Portovenere from Palmaria Island usually becomes a “natural swimming pool” for one day. In fact, Le Bocche – the channel that is usually crossed by boats – is closed to traffic and open only for swimmers and divers! The channel is also closed on special occasions like Portovenere Triathlon or other sports events.
Map of the best beaches in Portovenere and Palmaria Island
Beaches on Palmaria Island
Palmaria hosts the best beaches in Portovenere. A quick boat ride using public transport or a taxi boat allows you to reach this paradise on Earth.
The first beach you will find upon arrival is right opposite Portovenere: Spiaggia di Palmaria (or Spiaggia del Secco) is the main beach of the island. Rocks that emerge from the sea dot this beautiful pebbly beach, where you can stay free of charge or choose the available beach club services. The clear and turquoise sea is ideal for bathing, although you should enter the water carefully watching out for rocks in the shallow initial part. You can reach the beach by walking along a path that you find on your right once you disembark in the village of Terrizzo, or reach it directly with a boat service to Punta del Secco.
Cala del Pozzale, also known as Spiaggia dei Gabbiani, is located on the south-eastern shore of Palmaria Island. It features smooth pebbles and a breathtaking natural panorama with cliffs and hills covered in Aleppo pines, myrtles, holm oaks and broom. There is a bar-restaurant here, and direct maritime connections are available. If you are already on the island, you can reach the beach by walking along a quite steep path.
Cala della Fornace can be reached only by sea. It is a small and evocative cove fringed by a cliff that is covered by Mediterranean vegetation. If you rent a boat, you can either enjoy the crystal-clear waters once you drop anchor or you can swim to the small pebbly beach on land. If you plant to visit it, keep in mind that the sun does not hit Cala Fornace all day long due to the tall rocks that border the inlet and its position on the eastern shore.
Interested in learning about the diving spots and grottos in and around Portovenere? Read the article “A plunge in the Protected Marine Area of Portovenere”
DID YOU KNOW? Free Beaches vs. Private Beach Clubs in Liguria (and Italy in general)
A free beach (spiaggia libera) is usually identifiable by the absence of beach infrastructure and by the presence of clusters of sunbathers lying on towels. There may be a bar nearby, or a stall selling cold drinks. Some free beaches are provided with showers and public toilets.
There are also private beaches or beach clubs, where you can hire sun beds and parasols. Most have a bar and/or restaurant, and some provide parking too.
Grand Hotel Portovenere is located on the most panoramic point of Portovenere, directly overlooking the sea and Palmaria Island. In the XVI century, the structure was home to a Franciscan monastery or ‘convento’ and was transformed into a hotel in 1970. After careful renovations with special attention to maintaining the original architectural features, revisiting them in a modern way to provide guests with maximum comfort, Grand Hotel Portovenere has reopened its doors in 2014 with its new design and understated elegance. It offers sea-view suites (see: Portovenere’s Top Suite on “A Luxury Travel Blog”), a partnserhsip with a nearby beach club, and was voted Best Hotel by Richard Bangs of the Huffington Post. Finally, Grand Hotel Portovenere also offers you the opportunity to rent your private motorboat or other types of yachts and boats to discover the Gulf of Poets in an exclusive way.
Photo credit: Main image above from www.incinqueterre.com