The Mediterranean is an undisputed haven for island hopping. But while the waters off Greece and Croatia might be increasingly familiar to travellers, Italy is arguably still king when it comes to offshore escapes — and nowhere is this more evident than the cluster of islands sprinkled across the Bay of Naples.
While yachts, piazzas and boutiques add the glamour for which this part of Italy is known, its natural charms often go undiscovered by visitors. A wealth of secluded coves, sleepy coastal trails and candy-coloured villages reward those who choose to venture further into these incredible isles.
But with all these walking routes waiting to be found, you’ll need help to ensure you get off on the right foot. This is where Exodus Travels comes in, boasting over 40 years of experience organising guided small-group adventures. Now you can let the experts organise the navigating, coordinate the accommodation and the deal with the luggage, letting you focus on the experience.
Exodus Travels now offers over 500 trips to more than 100 countries. From walking the Camino de Santiago to pedalling through Vietnam; whale-watching in Atlantic Canada and spotting the rare wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, there are few patches of the globe that they don’t cover.
Exodus’s island Hopping in the Bay of Naples trip takes advantage of all those decades of tour-planning experience to create an off-the-radar gem. This seven-night trip combines lush walking trails with a millennia of history; limestone sea coves with pastel-coloured villages; and volcanic islands with charming old towns. No stone — or island — of the Bay of Naples is left undiscovered as you explore its rippling waters.
Before you take to the islands, first grab a quick glimpse of what’s to come from the clifftop town of Sorrento, gazing out over panoramic views of the bay. And as the home of the aperitif limoncello, it would be rude not to sample the citric liqueur — the perfect toast for your trip ahead.
From here, the island of Capri is next. Often seen as just a summer playground for the rich and famous, it’s also a fine spot for adventurous trekkers, with a dense web of walking trails cutting through the island’s lush interior.
Track your way to a chain of 19th-century fortresses built by French and British forces,while Capri’s fringes are laced with saltwater-hewn coves and inlets — perfect for a cooling dip. The Blue Grotto is its iconic cavern, with piercing sunlight causing the sea to glow an electric blue. And elsewhere, explore limestone Grotta di Matromania, which hosted pagan worship ceremonies for hundreds of years.
Capri’s signature trail is the Terrazza di Tragara, a looping walk that passes the flower-adorned gardens and Roman villas that bespeckle the island. Keep your eyes peeled for the Faraglioni, three rocky stacks rising out of the Med like jagged teeth, before circling up to Monte Solaro (589m), Capri’s highest point, for a rewarding glimpse of the island’s greenery below.
End with a stroll through the narrow lanes of Capri town, enjoying a tipple or two in its piazzetta.
Zip across the bay on a hydrofoil to your next stop, the lava-formed island of Ischia. This geological wonder is an alluring mix of picturesque towns, bubbling beaches and hidden necropolises. You’ll likely have most of it to yourself, too, as the island attracts a fraction of the visitors Capri receives.
Tread Ischia’s coastline for views of vibrant Naples across the bay and pit-stop at the car-free fishing village of Sant’Angelo to roam its sleepy harbour and building-stacked hillside.
Nearby, head to the pristine sands of Maronti beach, while a short walk away are the hot springs of Cavascura and Sant’Angelo’s Le Fumarole, a geothermal beach where jets of steam spit from the rocks.
Locals even take advantage of its hot sands (said to be above 100°C in places) by burying food to cook.
It’s not just Ischia’s natural sights that are worth heading to. Walk along the causeway to the rock-perched medieval Aragonese Castle, where a cloak of mystery shrouds the ancient building’s past, left behind by its many previous inhabitants, including Romans and Basilian monks.
Before heading back to the mainland, you’ll visit the Bay of Naples’ smallest island, and arguably its best-kept secret.
Procida is a real treat for the eyes, with its lemon groves and pale-hued houses making the isle appear like it’s been showered by an artist’s paint palette. Such is its appeal, its rainbow streets have attracted the film crews of movies ranging from!! Postino to The Talented Mr Ripley.
Procida’s harlequin hamlets are perfect for walking, with the oldest being the 17th-century fishing village Corricella. Its tangle of arches, terraces and domes make for a charming stroll, while its car-free streets offer a quiet escape.
Climb up to fortified medieval wall district Terra Murata, with its dominating castle affording spectacular views of Corricella and beyond.
Finish your Exodus Travels adventure back on the mainland in the historic city of Naples. Peruse its array of churches, palaces and castles, exploring the Spaccanapoli, a straight road that bisects the ancient centre, and Toledo Street, which overlooks Mount Vesuvius.
Then head to the shore and cast one last gaze out to sea, at the trio of isles you’ve just explored, guided by those who know it best.