Visit Isola Bella and Mazzaro
Isola Bella, and the Mazzaro district, are the sea-facing part of Taormina, on the east coast of Sicily.
Explore Isola Bella and Mazzaro beaches
Italy This Way comment: no visit to Taormina would be complete without a trip to see the lovely coast around Isola Bella, one of the prettiest coastlines in Sicily.
To reach the coast in Taormina from the town centre you need to descend from about 200 metres above sea level, which is either a long hot walk through a not very interesting part of the town, or a five minute cable car ride across a steep wooded valley. You can guess which we chose!
The cable car leaves from Via Pirandello, about 250 metres east of Porta Messina, does not cost very much, and has lovely views en route.
There are two parts to the coast east of Taormina: the north part with a sandy beach is Mazzaro, and the southern part is the area around the island of Isola Bella.
The cable car from Taormina town arrives in the centre of Mazzaro, about 200 metres from the seafront. There are various cafes and shops along the seafront, and a few cafes actually on the beach itself.
There is a subway that passes under the road to reach the beach: we didn't notice the subway and spend quite a long time searching for a way to cross the road. In fact if you walk straight towards the sea from the cable car it is obvious but we didn't realise we were looking for it...
The beach, called the Lido il Delfino, is not very long and mostly taken over by bars that charge for you to have a parasol and sunchairs, but there is also a small free section at the northern end of the beach. It is a pleasant sandy beach. At the ends of the beach there are small rocky peninsulas that make a pretty backdrop.
Beyond the peninsula at the southern end of Mazzaro beach you can reach Isola Bella, either on foot or by hiring a canoe in Mazzaro and going around the peninsula in a boat. This area, between Capo Taormina and Capo San Andrea, is classified as a nature reserve.
The island was bought by Florence Trevelyan, granddaughter to Queen Victoria, in 1890 and it was she who built the house and started planting exotic plants on Isola Bella.
Although it is only a small island, perhaps 250 metres across, the setting with the rocks in the water, the blue sea and the forested island make a very beautiful environment - among the most impressive sections of coast we saw in Sicily so well worth taking the cable car down from Taormina to see Isola Bella even if you are not interested in spending time on the beach.
The narrow strip of beach that leads to the island is sometimes submerged so you might get wet feet if you want to actually explore Isola Bella. Entrance to explore the island costs a few euros but is not really necessary, it is the views from the main beach that are the highlight of your visit.
There is also a section of beach here, which is rather rocky and has less facilities than the beach at Mazzaro. The stones are rather sharp so bring lots of towels if you plan to lie on the beach and sandals if you want to walk on the beach. Neither of these issues deters visitors from coming to the beach at Isola Bella in large numbers in summer.
From the beach area at Mazzaro you can organise a boat tour to see the Grotta Azzurra, a blue cave around the back of the Capo Taormina as well as see the coast nearby.
Taormina is one of our favourite towns in Sicily: it has a large historic centre with lots to see and exceptional views so if you are staying near the beach allow lots of time to visit Taormina old town. See our Taormina guide.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.