If I had to name the place in Sicily that impressed me the most, it would definitely be the Zingaro Reserve. For me, it is the No. 1 attraction on the island and a must-see place that everyone should visit. If you are going to Trapani or Palermo, then be sure to reserve at least one day to visit this beautiful place.
A visit to the Zingaro reserve was the perfect break from the crowds of tourists encountered in Taormina, among other places, the ubiquitous souvenir stalls or vendors and solicitors. Simply nature itself, amazing landscapes, and some of the most beautiful coves and beaches in Sicily.
Information about Zingaro Reserve
The Zingaro Reserve is the first reserve in Sicily, formally established in 1981. It was established on the initiative of the local community, which opposed the construction of a road between Scopello and San Vito lo Capo. In the reserve one will encounter a great wealth of flora and fauna, including with more than 30. species of birds that are found there. The spectacacutalrna cave Grotta dell'Uzzo was one of the first settlements in Sicily. All of this makes the Zingaro reserve a must-see on a trip to Sicily! If that hasn't convinced you yet, take a look at the photos of the place. You can find them below, later in the article.
One of the biggest attractions of the reserve are the 6 small bays, which are also beaches. You can find the names and photos of each of them below.
The reserve can only be explored on foot, although of course you can also swim to it. There are two entrances to the Zingaro Reserve: from Scopello, and from San Vito lo Capo. They are marked on the map as ingresso nord and ingresso sud. There are large parking lots at both sites, which fill up fairly quickly (especially in high season). The reserve is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. An entrance ticket costs only €5.
Map of the Zingaro reserve
At the entrance, at the ticket offices, you will get a map of the entire reserve, with marked trails and all important points. Below you will find this map, so that you can prepare to visit the Zingaro reserve beforehand 🙂
Hiking trails and beaches
A minimum of 3 hours should be allotted for a tour of the reserve, i.e. going from one entrance to another. For me, that's how long the tour took: including taking photos, resting, a second breakfast and an obligatory swim in one of the coves.
There are 6 trails available to visitors, of varying length and difficulty. The most popular, easiest and also the shortest is the one right at the shoreline. On the map it is marked as Sentiero Costiero. The length of this trail is about 7 km. It was this trail that I followed during my trip to the Zingaro Reserve. From this trail you will get directly over each of the coves of the reserve.
I started my tour of the reserve from the south side (Scopello), and I will also describe the reserve in that order.
Cala della Capreria beach
After buying a ticket and starting along the coastal trail after walking more than 1 km. We will encounter the first of the beaches: Cala della Capreria. This one, as well as the last one, are the most crowded, due to their proximity to the entrance (or exit :-)).
Punta Leone viewpoint
Another beach is located more than 2 km. from the first one. On the way we pass an impressive viewpoint Punta Leone.
Cala della Disa beach
One of my favorites when it comes to beaches in the Zingaro Reserve. The cove is quite wide (for coves in the reserve), divided into two parts. The first part with gentle, rounded pebbles on the very shore, and the second with already larger boulders.
Cala Berretta beach
Right next to the previous bay is another bay: Cala Beretta. This beach is quite small, however, you will find a little shade here.
Cala Marinella beach
A kilometer farther on, we encounter a railroad of bays named Cala Marinella. Before descending over the cove you will find a building and trees that provide shade. This can be a good opportunity for a small stop, recovery and a second breakfast. The beach itself is not gentle and friendly in terms of descent and access to the water, but very impressive! Anyway, see for yourself!
Despite the fact that access to the water is difficult, this beach probably impressed me the most.
We return to the trail and continue walking. After about 1.5 km. We come to a spectacular cave, which I have already mentioned. It is Grotta dell'Uzzo - A place where traces of human existence in the Stone Age have been found, including stone tools from that period.
Cala beach dell'Uzzo
Near the cave is the descent to another beach: Cala dell'Uzzo. The cove is very impressive and probably the most ships and boats arrive here, from which you can hear perfectly the atmosphere of Italian laid-back music and singing.
The beach itself is quite large for beaches found in Zingaro, and the shore itself is gentle and friendly. Perfect for taking a dip after a rather exhausting hike in the reserve. I did just that, too. I also had a second breakfast and moved on.
Cala Tonnarella dell'Uzzo beach
To get here, we do not have to return to the main trail. Being on the previous beach, Cala dell'Uzzo, you should just continue trekking along the path close to the sea. After a little over a kilometer you will reach the beach Cala Tonnarella dell'Uzzo. This is the last beach in the Zingaro Reserve. The beach is located near the entrance from San Vito lo Capo. It is quite large, wide and gentle. It is ideal for relaxing with children.
This is almost the end of the tour. One last glimpse of the Cala Tonnarella dell'Uzzo reserve and beach.
Only a few hundred more meters of trekking and we reach the exit. In a nearby bar you can buy chilled drinks. After such a tour, an ice-cold cola is perfectly refreshing, almost as much as a swim in one of the coves 🙂
You should prepare in advance for a visit to the reserve. First, bear in mind that the length of the shortest trail is 7 km. Secondly, if you intend to walk to San Vito lo Capo, you need to add another 12 km(!!!). If we intend to walk along the trail to the end of the reserve and return, that's a total of 14 kilometers. Before setting out, we should be aware of this and prepare accordingly.
The most important thing is adequate provisions. It is necessary to take an adequate amount of waters, the minimum is 1 liter. It is worth preparing plate, such as sandwiches. We can buy both water and sandwiches next to the cash registers, in nearby "bars" (de facto trailers).
Proper clothing will also be important. The basics are hat and sunglasses to protect from the sun and relevant footwear. As during the trip to Sicily I also went to Etna, so I took with me typical mountain footwear, which worked perfectly both on the volcano and in Zingaro.
And let's not forget towel. I guarantee that after a long hike you will want to take a refreshing swim on one of the beaches of the reserve. Even if you don't plan on beachcombing, a towel is worth taking.
Getting to the Zingaro Reserve
The best way to get to the reserve is by rental car. This is by far the best option for visiting the reserve. We can drive to the Scopello entrance, or to the northern entrance. We will then have the opportunity to drive along the scenic route along the coast.
It is possible to reach the southern entrance by bus from Castellammare del Golfo. As far as I know, there is no bus service to the northern entrance. However, I have read that it is possible to transfer there via a carrier https://www.astatransfer.it/ - However, I have not used this option myself, so this is information to be verified.
Keep in mind that if we leave the car, we have to return for it. Wanting to visit the entire reserve, we are facing a 2×7 km hike, for a total of as much as 14 km of trekking! I had an easier task. My wife left me at the Scopello entrance and picked me up 3 hours later on the other side.