13 - 04 - 2022

Boat holidays and protected marine areas: discovering the lesser known.

There are many Protected Marine Areas in the Mediterranean: know them to approach the sea world with respect.

Take a boat holiday is a beautiful experience, you can discover new beaches every day, hidden coves, small and large seaside villages. You might fall asleep lulled by the waves and wake up immersed in nature. No time to be respected and no stress from a crowded place: an experience that recharge and bright you up!

To be able to take a boat holiday in the Mediterranean is certainly a privilege, and it is even more if you have beautiful ports where you can rent a boat, within a few hours of navigation or flight.


But you must always approach the sea world and its ecosystem with respect and it’s important to find out about the sea in which you want to sail.

In the whole area of the Mediterranean Sea the Protected Marine Areas or stretches of coast and sea where human activities are limited in various ways, depending on the type of protection.

As we said, in Italy and throughout the Mediterranean, we have several protected marine areas, established to protect the fauna and the environment, parts of both sea and coast, in which human activities are limited in various measures. The marine areas and the respective zones are delimited by very precise points, always indicated on the nautical charts.

There are basically three types:

  • Zone A (which is usually indicated by the red colour) which is an integral reserve, that tends to be the maximum level of protection and consists on an area of great environmental value, because, for example, there are nursery or are habitats of animal and/or plant species endangered.  All human activities, including bathing, are prohibited in Type A areas.
  • Zone B (which is generally indicated with the yellow color) which is general reserve, that is, it is subject to a less intense level of protection and therefore some activities such as bathing or rowing are allowed, sailing, electric motor and possibly mooring in the prepared areas.
  • Zone C (which is generally indicated with the blue color) which is a partial reserve, that is subject to a low level of protection and which acts as a buffer between the marine protected area and the rest of the sea: they are regulated but normally almost all activities are allowed, including motor boating, fishing and anchoring.

There are 27 protected marine areas in Italy, as well as 2 submerged parks and the International Marine Mammal Sanctuary, the famous Cetacean Sanctuary.

Among these 27 marine areas there are some that are lesser known but hide breathtaking sea areas, not only beautiful landscapes but rare and fragile flora and fauna.

Let’s set sail to discover these areas!


Abruzzo - protected marine area Torre del Cerrano.


Rent a boat in Torre del Cerrano ("File:Pineto - Torre di Cerrano 03.jpg" by Pietro is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Abruzzo is one of the green regions of Europe with over 30% of the territory under environmental protection. In the province of Teramo, between the municipalities of Silvi and Pineto, in 2010 was born this marine protected area that protects about 7 km of coastline.

The history of this area is very fascinating, although it isn’t well known. Here stood the Roman port of Atri, center of the dynamics of maritime trade of the Adriatic Sea and that, for its importance, was destroyed by the Republic of Venice, like almost all Adriatic ports. In the '500, as part of the efficient system of watchtowers in order to defend from the Saracens, wanted by Emperor Charles V. In the area of the Roman port, was built Torre del Cerrano, which gave its name to the marine protected area. Nowadays, the Tower is completely restored, it is the home of the center of marine biology and to get information and know the rules to visit this area here the link

Dunes and pine forests that surround the crystal-clear sea, a not crowded beauty to be known by boat.

Here the link to see the boats for rent in Abruzzo to discover the hidden treasures.


Calabria - natural marine protected area Capo Rizzuto.


Capo Rizzuto Island boat rental ("Castello di Le Castella" by Revolweb is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

The largest marine area in Italy is in Calabria, in the province of Crotone. Established in 1991, the protected marine natural area of Capo Rizzuto is divided into two zones:

  • Zone A which is an integral reserve, 6 km of coastline where access, bathing and navigation are prohibited and visits are regulated and guided;
  • Zone B, between the Castella and Crotone, general reserve: 30 km of coast where the limitations are less binding. To inquire and request permission:

Incredible wealthy fauna and flora, white beaches and crystal-clear waters make this area beautiful; see the archaeological park of Capo Colonna from the sea is wonderful, with the only imposing column of the Temple of Hera Lacinia to witness what was one of the greatest periods of Magna Graecia. And what about the view of the Aragonese castle of Le Castella that seems levitate in the water.

Renting a boat in Isola Capo Rizzuto will allow you to know this beautiful stretch of coast of Calabria, coves, hidden beaches, small and charming villages.

Compare the boats to rent in Calabria, here the link of the offers.


Campania - marine protected area Santa Maria di Castellabate.


Santa Maria Di Castellabate boat rental ("P9040583fscr" by pollobarca2 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Campania has several protected marine areas, such as Punta Campanella, the Costa degli Infreschi, but also the two submerged parks such as Baia and Gaiola. Maybe the least known, even if every year is a destination for tourists from all over the world, is Santa Maria di Castellabate, in the province of Salerno.

Established in 2009 includes the coastal strip between Punta Tresino and Punta Licosa and it is divided into three zones:

  • Zone A, integral reserve, between Punta Tresino and Punta Pagliarola.
  • Zone B, general reserve, the external part of the stretch between Punta Tresino and Punta Ogliastro.
  • Zone C, partial reserve.

To inquire here the link of the marine protected area.

The birth of this protected area dates back in 1972, under the coordination of Pietro Dohrn that was the first project of this kind in Italy, although it took 30 years to see its official birth. Legend and history are intertwined in this beautiful stretch of coast that every year is chosen by Caretta Caretta turtles to lay eggs, full of archaeological finds, rare animals, and unique plants. Quite unique is the islet of Licosa with its Mediterranean lighthouse.

For boat rental in Salerno here the link with the offers of Boatsandgo to get to know the Cilento.


Friuli Venezia Giulia - Marine Nature Reserve of Miramare in the Gulf of Trieste.


Trieste boat rental ("Trieste, Schloss Miramar (1860)" by liakada-web is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

The AMP Miramare focuses on the promontory of Miramare and the homonymous castle. Established in 1986 it was the first Italian marine park. Here too a subdivision between 30 hectares of sea, area A, surrounded by 90 in zone B to protect the rich biodiversity. The management of the reserve is entrusted to the WWF: sea turtles, cetaceans, rare mollusks, and crustaceans, but also very rare algae such as the slobbering peacock which is also the symbol of the protected marine area. For info on visits and limitations:

on Boatsandgo, with a click, you can easily rent a boat to get to know Trieste!

Click here


Lazio - natural marine protected area Secche di Tor Paterno.


Dries of Tor Paterno ("File:Leptogorgia sarmentosa a Tor Paterno.jpg" by Filippo Fratini is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Established in 2000, its management is entrusted to the regional agency Roma Natura ( between Ostia and Torvaianica, the only Italian marine protected area completely submerged.

The Dries of Tor Paterno are formed by rocks covered by an incredible amount of animal and vegetable organisms that, over the centuries, building their own burrows, have changed its shape: an island on the seabed in a desert of sand and mud.

A very special environment that you can appreciate and admire from the sea; here the link with tips for renting a boat in Lazio.


Liguria - Island of Bergeggi, protected marine area.


Boat rental Liguria ("File:Bergeggi Panorama.jpg" by Jonathan Pellicano is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

In the province of Savona, in front of the town of Bargeggi, the homonymous marine area was officially established in 2007, and it’s divided into three safeguard zones. A combination of biodiversity, history, and myths. A small cone of rock covered in the emerging part of the Mediterranean maquis in front of a coast that sees caves and creeks, sandy coves and cliffs overlooking the clear sea.

For info on the allowed activities and for the permissions:

And to rent a boat in Liguria click here.


Puglia - Torre Guaceto marine nature Reserve.


Boat rental Salento ("File:Torre Guaceto a settembre.jpg" by Carovale3 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

In the upper Salento, in the province of Brindisi, the Torre Guaceto Marine Nature Reserve includes a stretch of coastline, about 8 km, very diversified and is divided into three areas of protection.

A landscape characterized by dunes and Mediterranean scrub, a very varied coast with small coves that are only reachable by sea and low and sandy beach) and rocky bottoms that alternate with sandy bottoms.


Sardinia - marine protected area Capo Carbonara.


Boat rental Sardinia ("Aerial view of the rocky beach of Capo Carbonara in Sardinia, Italy" by dronepicr is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

This protected marine area is in south-eastern Sardinia, in the stretch of the Tyrrhenian Sea that goes from Capo Boi to the island of Serpentara. Pinnacles and bastions that sprout from the transparent water, wonderful colors, and fish not intimidated by human presence. A pristine paradise populated by an incredible variety of marine fauna and flora that can be fully appreciated by renting a boat, here the link with our suggestions.

For permits and information contact the authority of the marine protected area of Capo Carbonara:


Sicily - Protected marine area Cyclops Islands.


Catania boat rental ("Islands of the Cyclops at Dawn Sicily Italy - Creative Commons by gnuckx" by gnuckx is marked with CC0 1.0. To view the terms, visit

AMP Isole Ciclopi extends in the stretch of sea in front of Acitrezza, in the province of Catania, and includes the small archipelago of the Islands of the Cyclops, generated by the ancient lava flows of Etna. Homeric legend tells that the archipelago was formed when Polyphemus betrayed by Odysseus detached the top of a mountain and threw it into the sea.

Crystal clear sea and hundreds of animal and plant species make it a small natural paradise.

To compare yacht charter offers in Catania, click here.


Marine protected area Plemmirio.


Syracuse boat rental ("File:La Pillirina.jpg" by massimo distefano is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Just 10 km from Syracuse, established in 2004, the protected marine area of Plemmirio is a small paradise of 14 km. Sea and beautiful beaches and an area rich in flora and fauna very diverse divided into three areas at different levels of interdiction, for info and access:

Compare the offer of boats for rent in Syracuse here.


Tuscany - protected marine area Secche della Meloria.


Rent boats Tuscany ("File:Primo bagno della stagione.jpg" by Filippo Gini is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

One of the most peculiar marine areas of the Mediterranean, in front of the port of Livorno, three miles from the coast, the AMP Secche Meloria represented a mosaic of marine habitats very varied. The Tower and the Lighthouse are real marine monuments and then rocky formations, expanses of sand, corals and poseidonia and an incredible amount of animal species. Also, the basins are very peculiar, circular depressions that were formed due to the erosion of the rocky bottom.

For information and permits visit the site:

Rent a boat to know this area, here the link.


Translated by Biagio Vitolo.