If you want to know more about the best beaches of Sicily and Italy, you must absolutely visit the one known as Rabbit Beach in Lampedusa. Also called Conigli Island (see the image), it is located in the Pelagie islands, an archipelago in the Mediterranean sea. As the entire island of Lampedusa, also Rabbit Beach belongs to the province of Agrigento, namely the beautiful capital of The Valley of the Temples. Lampedusa and Rabbit beach are hence fully Sicilian and for this reason, I can’t help but discussing about this Sicilian beautiful beach in this travel guide. Truth to tell, Rabbit Beach is regarded as one among the most beautiful beaches in the world. Indeed, its landscape resembles the one of The Caribbean and Seychelles, but it is more evocative and charming. To discover why, I invite you to read the following paragraphs.
Rabbit Beach ( see the image), also called Conigli Island, is a charming place that lies in the South western zone of the island of Lampedusa. That is a little islet rising amid a large bay with about 4.4 hectares of surface and a height of 26 meters. This islet is the natural habitat of the royal gull, which counts a population of about 100 specimens. These nest just there. Furthermore, they only live on the rock (in addition to the African zones where they come from). The islet is also the favorite habitat of a particular species of lizard called: psammodromus algirus. Rabbit beach is near Africa and Sicily. Overall, Lampedusa is nearer Tunisia than Sicily and for this reason has also been affected by an impressive migration tide from the nearby African continent. Fortunately, rabbit beach has not been hit by this phenomenon because lies in one among the most untouched parts of the island. Moreover, Rabbit Beach is also a nature reserve protected by the Italian government. This protection is due to the massive presence of loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs on the rabbit beach in April. The eggs hatch in the summer, offering you a spectacular natural view. Just for this phenomenon, it is forbidden fishing at the rabbit beach, you can only sunbath and swim. Indeed, the beach splits in two parts, one where you can use the umbrella and another where you can’t because it is occupied by the eggs of the turtles. Here, the sea is characterized by white sand and crystal waters that give you the effect to be in a sort of earthly paradise.
Origin of the name
The origin of the current name of the beach and the island, namely rabbit or conigli is fairly controversial. In a paper of admiral Smith dating back 1824, it reads rabit island. In subsequent papers, such name was improperly translated from English into rabbit, while it is probable it comes from the Arab name rabit that means connection . Maybe this name relates to the isthmus that sometimes is formed between the islet and the coast. However, it is also possible the name rabbit comes from the fact that many years ago, a colony of rabbits arrived in the isle just at the moment in which it was linked to the mainland. The sand bridge disappeared and the rabbits, trapped in it, gave birth to a so many specimens that to lead scholars to call the place as rabbit island. Every explanation is anyway linked to a strange and charming phenomenon that made the islet (Conigli island) join to piece of coast that formed Rabbit beach. This phenomenon happened for still unclear scientific reasons.
How to get to Rabbit Beach in Lampedusa
Before reaching rabbit beach, you must reach Conigli Island, the beach is the piece of land connected to the islet. It is very easy to get to the beach from the downtown of Lampedusa. From there, you must ride the street that arrives in Capo Ponente, by car, scooter or local bus. Capo Ponente ( see the image) is the panoramic point of Lampedusa, the extreme Western tip of the island. Once, it was a reference point for sailors. From there, you can admire the lighthouse, rocky cliffs and spectacular sunsets. A few kms before reaching the highest point of the Island, you’ll see a small summerhouse, more similar to a bar. Sometimes, there, you can rent a beach umbrella. The ticket for renting it is 10 euros, but five euros will be given you back when you return the umbrella. You can drink and eat at this summerhouse, I advise that you do these things before reaching the beach. Indeed, from that point, you must park the car and go on foot.
After walking for over half of the trail, that is made of clay ground and stones embed on a soil surrounded by thymes plants, you’ll reach a natural terrace. From there, you’ll enjoy a stunning view. On the left you can admire the unique colours of Tabaccara (see the image), another wonderful bay which is near Rabbit Beach, on the southern side. It is much more than a simple bay. Thanks to its clear waters, it is also defined as a salt water pool. Indeed, the sensation you feel when you dive into it is the one of diving into a pool. You can reach Tabaccara bay only by sea. At the centre, in front of your eyes, you’ll admire the islet which gave the name to Conigli Island and on the right, Rabbit Beach.
From there, the trail is in a downhill. Walking along it, with small steps in order to admire the stunning landscape, you’ll reach the beautiful Rabbit Beach, filled with thin and white sand where turtles love reproducing. You’ll see two zones with signals where you can put your umbrella. Unfortunately, if you visit this beach in August it is hard to find a place to plant a beach umbrella. The beach is fairly crowded in summer. I advise that you visit it in June or September. If you visit this beach in August, start your journey to reach Rabbit Beach in the morning, at 8,00 am, so that you can find a place to sunbath. Check wind, also, because to admire the entire beauty of this beach you must visit it during mistral and not sirocco. On the side of rabbit beach, you can also see a trail getting up to the nearby Cala Pulcino ( see the image). That is one of the most beautiful bays in Lampedusa and has clear waters and a white and thin sand, pebbled with stone smoothed by the sea. This trail lets you reach this bay easily instead of by sea.
How to reach Rabbit Beach in Lampedusa from Sicily
As you know and as I said at the beginning of this travel guide, Rabbit Beach and the island of Lampedusa are included in the province of Agrigento. From the port of the city, namely Porto Empedocle, you can take a ferry leading you to Lampedusa. You find more information about tickets and hours to this link: http://www.ferriesonline.com/. Before booking the ferry, take advantage to visit Agrigento, above all the cathedral and the stunning Valley of the Temples. To reach Agrigento, take a flight from the airport of your city to Catania or Palermo airport. From here, rent a car to Agrigento. To book flights and rent a car, check this page.
Hotels and accommodations near Rabbit beach
To find hotels and accommodations near Rabbit Beach you have two options, find the ones that are in the downtown of Lampedusa or the ones that are straight near the beach. The second option is particularly helpful to those who can’t move on long distance during a vacation. Hotels and accommodations near Rabbit Beach are usually 1,8 – 2,5 kms from Conigli Island. They have a favourable position letting you reach the beach in a few minutes of walk.
Here are accommodations I selected for you and which are near Rabbit Beach.
Luna di Ponente Hotel, 2,1 km from Conigli Island
Apartament Il Girasole , 2,3 kms from Conigli Island
Villa La Perla, 1,8 kms from the above mentioned island
Casa Iris, 2 kms from the rabbit island
Camping La Roccia, 2,4 kms from Conigli Island. The latter is only two minutes walk from Rabbit Beach.
To check other options, you can also see here.
Photocredits in order of appearance of the images
Silvia Albini Flickr
Marco Molino Flickr
Claudio Licciardello Flickr