The Aeolian Island of Stromboli

For outdoor enthusiasts and those working through an adventurous bucket list, the fairytale-like, fire-forged island of Stromboli should be on the itinerary. This imposing peak, an active volcano, surges skywards from the calm, blue Mediterranean sea. The white houses clustered on the lower slopes by the shore are mirrored in the white of the cloud that often rests upon its point summit. This island is often visited on a day trip from the hub of the Aeolian Islands, Lipari, or from one of the other islands nearby. But for a certain chance of seeing the volcanic activity at its best and up close, and a relaxing holiday with friendly people in timeless villages, a stay actually on this island is a very good idea.

Most people will witness the pyrotechnic displays from an evening beat ride around the island. The volcano will sometimes deliver a firework-like display that will have boat passengers oohing and gasping, applauding one of nature’s most dramatic sights. But volcanic activity is fickle and from a boat, while you will enjoy the views of the geological formations of Stromboli and the nearby rock fortress island of Strombolicchio, views of a lava eruption are far from guaranteed.

For the best views of the eruption and the best chances of witnessing a fiery show, visitors should really stay on the island for at least a few days. Those who are fit enough to attempt the summit should do so. A little training to make sure you are in tiptop condition for this fairly strenuous hike would be a good idea and the temperature should not be underestimated. Be sure to wear sensible footwear and the right clothing and bring plenty of water with you. Though it can be very warm on the ascent, be warned that it can sometimes get a little chilly on the summit, so bring a jumper or jacket. The climb up to the crater, the Vancori volcano is 924m, should only be undertaken with a guide. There are many companies who offer these tours.

Those who do make the ascent will be rewarded with views of the explosive power of the Asceta crater from only a few hundred meters away. The displays are particularly good at night, so for the best experience, walkers are recommended to ascend in late afternoon and walk back down at night. The whole trip usually takes around 4 hours for experienced walkers.

The crater climb is not the only walk that will appeal to keen hikers. There are several other walks, including one to the observatory, which is the most accessible point from which to see the Sciara del Fuoco. This steep, boulder strewn slope is where fragments and large chunks of debris thrown from the volcano roll down towards the sea. A more gentle walk is possible along the nature trail which links S. Vincenzo to Punta Labronzo. Take a picnic at one of the scenic spots along the route and enjoy the breathtaking panoramas.

Best Beaches in Corsica

The gorgeous Mediterranean island of Corsica is well-known for its beaches. Some of them become extremely busy during peak season, but there are so many beaches on Corsica, it is usually fairly easy to escape the worst of the crowds. Here are a few of the best places to do so:

Capo di Feno

This beach, a wide open bay with nothing all around but mountains, rocks, maquis shrubs, sea and sky. It is a favourite with locals. It is a scenic and beautiful spot accessed via a winding mountain road from Ajaccio. Even in the summer, this beach remains uncrowded. It is also a good place for surfing because it has sand banks and a reef around 100 m out from the beach which make for some good breaks. This is a good place for sunsets too – why not wait around and watch the sun go down in this picture perfect spot?

Saleccia and Lodu

These two beaches are situated close to one another and are widely considered to be two of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Both are long stretches of white sand surrounded by dunes, which look out over the most stunning turquoise waters. The best thing about this beach is that it takes a long walk of 12km to reach it unless you have a 4×4, and this helps keep visitor numbers right down for most of the year. The only other way to get to Saleccia is by boat from the harbour of St. Florent.

Pinarellu

This bay has a unique and enchanting feel. The Genovese tower on a small island situated in the bay and the dense pine forest around are like something from a fairytale. What is more, you may feel that the whole thing is too good to be true when you see the clear, shallow water stretching far out over pure white sand. The only problem is other people. In the summer, this is a popular beach with visitors staying in nearby Porto Vecchio.

Rondinara

While Palombaggia is often described as the most beautiful beach in Corsica, it is also one of the busiest, especially during the summer peak season. It is easily accessible by car and the signposts that point to it are clear. By all means go there and snap your postcard-perfect pictures but then perhaps you could spend the day instead at the less developed but almost as lovely little round bay of Rondinara. This small picturesque bay is known as Palombaggia’s ‘little sister’. Like at Palombaggia, the colour of the sea is astounding, and you may find it a little easier to relax.

Barcaggiu

This remote and wind swept stretch at the North of the Island calls for a little off-road driving but nothing that a normal car could not handle. It could be a good spot if you are looking to escape to a natural setting without the massing crowd.

Alternatives to Mass Tourism

Mass tourism is not sustainable. It is bad for the planet and bad for people. It perpetuates a system of unfair shares, greed and laziness and at some point it will not be able to continue. So even if you are not yet convinced that you should give up traditional package holidays for the sake of yourself and the Earth on which you live, you will probably find that mass tourism will go the way of the dodo. So, what alternatives are there? Here is a brief guide to alternative travel options:

Active Adventure:

There are many ways to get out there and enjoy our wonderful and varied landscapes. Why not consider a walking, hiking or mountain climbing holiday? There are options to suit all fitness levels and abilities. If shank’s pony is a little too slow for your liking then why not consider a cycling tour, horse riding, or even something really adventurous like off-piste ski mountaineering? Why not take to the rivers, lakes or oceans to try some traditional sailing, kayaking or rafting? Snorkel or dive to see the wonderful sub-marine world. There are many options for active adventure that can minimise your impact on the natural world.

Exploration:

Try leaving the mass tourism bubble and head out to explore the cultures, history and unique attributes of the country or countries you are visiting. You will find infinite variety in our beautiful and amazing world that is rarely hinted at on package holidays. Though it can be a little scary at times, getting out there and exploring and engaging with locals and the real world is what travel should really be all about.

Ecotourism:

Seek out ecotourism options. Ecotourism is a small-scale alternative to mass travel which tries to minimise the impact of visitors on the pristine natural world and has a social conscience element too. By taking ecotours to scenic natural locations you will be ensuring that these areas survive and can be enjoyed by future generations.

Volunteerism:

Why not become a volunteer abroad? You could experience a culture and setting while also helping people or the planet. There are a wide range of ethical volunteer options out there that will allow you to have a completely different travel experience.

Working Holidays:

If you truly want to be part of the antidote to an all-taking attitude to travel then why not consider a working holiday? Whether you are paid in money or food and board, there are many options for travelling abroad that involve some work. Often there is still plenty of time to explore the place you are in as well as helping out.

So, next time you think about planning a holiday, consider an alternative to mass travel. You may be surprised by just how much fun you can have and how relaxing it can be. Break out of the confines of the package holiday, stop being a dinosaur – the planet and local people will thank you for it.