Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taormina and Giardini Naxos: a classic destination for tourists, a super one for paddlers!

Another wonderful family, this time from Hungary, asked for a paddling day along the Taormina coast. It was a new starting point for me but at the end I reached their hotel in Giardini Naxos and I was able to found a place for the truck in this always crowded touristic place.


The huge hotels builded close to the pebbles' beach are in strong contrast with the nearby wild lava flows that reached the sea here. These lavas have been not generated from Mt. Etna but from a small volcanic vent, a single eruption, at just few kilometers north of the highest active volcano of Europe. Over the solid rocks of the lava flow there are the ruins of one of the first Greek settlement. 

After this rocky point there is the harbour of Giardini Naxos and then a 3 km long beach closed on the north side by the limestones cliffs of Taormina Cape.
With the "sporty" family, who paddle for years racing kayaks and canoes at home, we reach the cape in a very short time if considering that we were going against the current. Being just the day after the full Moon the current of the Messina Strait was almost at the highest speed so when we reached the cape we had to fight a little bit against a small tidal race to turn the cape between a shallow water and small rocks. But... No problem! :-)

We enter the Taormina Bay, contoured by many rocks, cliffs and caves. In the middle of the bay there is a small island, called "Isola Bella". The island is mostly private property and there is a thiny sandy bar who connect the island to the mainland. Since the sand is totally occupied by people, we decide to land over slippery rounded rocks, just the time to eat the fresh orange melon that I was carrying into my kayak.

The turn-back point of our trip is the cave on the north side of the bay called "Grotta Azzurra". This was our target, our destination, and it is hard to describe the feeling you have after paddling into the cave and turning your eyes back to the entrance and see the deep bright blue color of the water.

With the current that push us we paddle back to the beach in a very short time, just in time for lunch, for a dish of pasta or, why not, a good pizza!