Hiker on the GR20 hiking path in Corsica
Hiker on the GR20 hiking path in Corsica via Shutterstock

What are the best Mediterranean island escapes?

I’ve some vacation time coming, and I’d like to escape to a Mediterranean island for some adventure. Where should I go?

Hiker on the GR20 hiking path in Corsica
Greg Melville

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A lot of Americans skip the Mediterranean simply because it’s not as easy to access from the States as the Caribbean. On top of that, the Mediterranean gets its best weather from late spring through early fall, when Yankees aren’t usually thinking of beachy escapes. But if you do go, you’ll find that the Mediterranean islands are as awe-inspiring for their culture and food as they are for their beaches and weather. There’s also plenty of outdoor excitement to be had, with the right guidance. Here are four outdoor adventures that I’d recommend in the Mediterranean islands.

Divers in Malta
Divers in Malta via Shutterstock (Liliya Krasnova)

Diving in Malta
Located in the middle of the Mediterranean between Italy and Libya, Malta’s clear water, reefs, and many wrecks attract droves of European divers. On dry land, you’ll find a country influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and French. Maltaqua has been providing dive services on the island for more than four decades.

Mountain peaks from the GR 20 via Shutterstock (Dominik Michalek)

Backpacking in Corsica, France
Why travel all the way to an island off of France to go backpacking? Because of the GR20, a 110-mile trek traversing the length of Corsica. The GR20 follows the north-south fin of mountains running up the remote spine of the almond-shaped 50-mile-wide island, with a series of 16 refuges (where you can sleep and buy food) lining the path. If you hike it end to end (which takes about 10 days), you’ll be climbing more than 35,000 vertical feet, but the spectacular vantages of the Mediterranean on both coasts are worth it.

Naxos via Shutterstock (Maugli)

Kitesurfing in Naxos, Greece
Sleepy little Naxos—the boyhood home of Zeus in Greek legends—is so far off the tourist map that its economy is based more on growing olives than catering to camera-toting tourists. But it enjoys a little more fame among windsurfers and kitesurfers. The island’s location in the center of the Cyclades archipelago exposes it to steady winds, and its sheltered, shallow inlets make for ideal launching points. Get lessons and rentals at the Naxos Surf Club.

Formentera beach via Shutterstock (Holbox)

Beachgoing in Formentera, Spain
Getting to this 12-mile-long stretch of sand, an hour-long ferry ride from Ibiza, is an adventure in and of itself. The payoff is an endless stretch of undeveloped sugary sand lining the southern shore. If and when you feel like separating yourself from your beach towel, Formentera has excellent diving, windsurfing, and kayaking. Stay at the surprisingly upscale hostel Sa Volta (rooms from $110 per night).

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