If you love the idea of Capri, but hate that it is so touristy, the neighboring island of Ischia will leave you in awe and yearning to return time and time again. Ischia is not for the tourist – it is for the traveler.

If you have the opportunity, rent a Gozzo Sorentino and hire a captain for the day, to take you around the island by boat. We met at a dock in Casamicciola Terme at 10am, our Captain was a young man, 25 years old, born on Ischia, he was amazing, and really made the experience unforgettable for us. I brought an infant life jacket all the way from America for my daughter, being in the open sea on a little boat, I found this necessary.

We left port and headed counter clockwise around the Island, we passed the Fungo Mushroom Rock, in the town of Lacco Ameno. Saw the most beautiful white church in Forio, called Chiesa del Soccorso, perched up high on a cliff. Then stopped for a swim in a cove by Negombo thermals. The water was a bit rough rounding Forio and Panza, the boss actually radioed the captain to check in, most people were turning around, we choose not to, the swell was nothing. It actually rocked my baby girl to sleep.

The captain drove the boat into a grotta (a large cave). The island is just stunning, the coast is dramatic and filled with treasures. The coast was filled with dramatic rock formations, Dorio our captain pointed out formations that looked like a foot, a camel, Dumbo and a lion. We stopped for another swim by Sant’Angelo, I even got my daughter in the water with me. We stopped in port at San’ Angelo, had some Gelato and explored town for a bit, then headed off by boat to the most breathtaking restaurant for lunch.

Nido del Falco, “The Falcons Nest”, is only accessible by boat. We moored the boat off short, and a small tender came and took us to dock, climbed 300 steps to the best view a lunch could offer.

From Nido del Falco, we continued on our way around the Island, we stopped in another lovely cove for a swim, and swam inside a cave, “The Green Cave”. The entrance was tiny and tight, but further in the cave opened up into a larger cave with a beach inside! The swell lifted me up each time, I had to hold onto the roof of the cave for stability!

From here we traveled to the cove by Castello Aragonese, and swam with masks & snorkels. There were bubbles coming up from the sponge like bottom, it was actually thermal water coming up! The day came to an end at 5:30, when we arrived back to port, we made our way back to the Hotel to clean up, change and regroup for dinner.

Negombo Thermal Park was another activity that I would highly recommend. Ischia is full of thermals, and you must experience the thermals at one point in your stay. The park was huge and not very crowded, there was seating all over, we found a nice spot with some shade for my baby and set up camp for the day. There was a lovely cafe close to where we sat, the lunch was simply divine!

The thermals were so interesting, there were all different water temperatures, and thermal pools offering different restorative benefits. I brought my little girl swimming in the sea, as the thermal waters were much too hot for her.

Sant’Angelo is one town you must take a day to explore. We took the bus around the island, the ride was wild, the roads are narrow, and the bus drivers drive at a break neck speed. The roads were so narrow, it was impossible for two cars to get past at most locations. The town of Sant’Angelo is a walking town only, dotted with golf carts doing deliveries. We grabbed gelato then hit the beach for the day. Two lounge chairs and one umbrella was 30 Euro. We spent the day longing and enjoying the quaint town. We had lunch at a cafe with tables alongside the marina. Sant’Angelo is a tiny town, wonder the streets, pop in and out of shops, and just enjoy the slow pace of this stunning undiscovered town.

Where to eat: Ischia is known for it’s amazing seafood, and boy did it deliver. We were blown away by our dinners.

Cantinando, in Casamicciola was a hidden gem. It was recommended to us by our Hotel, and they were lovely enough to make us a reservation. The restaurant was down a set of stairs, in a tiny room, with maybe 10 tables. The food was so fresh, and simply amazing. I had the ‘insalata di polpo’, followed by ‘spaghetti vongole’, and tiramisu and limoncello, the staff offered an after dinner drink called ‘rocket aragula’.

I Ricci, in Ischia Porto, offered amazing seafood and a great view of the yachts.

Ristorante Da Coco, in Ischia Ponte, at the base of Castello Aragonese offered the most beautiful view of the Castle all lit up. Truly a beautiful site. The food and service was amazing. The calamari was so good, I ordered a second! Italians eat dinner late, so I got in the habit of feeding my daughter dinner while we had our appetizers, then while waiting for our main courses, I would walk her in the stroller, she would fall asleep, and we would enjoy the rest of dinner with a sleeping baby. There were so many moms walking, we must have had the same idea. We loved this restaurant so much we came back again!

Getting to Ischia: Ferry services, otherwise known as Hydrofoils, run daily from Naples. There are multiple ferry companies, offering services between Ischia and the main land. There are fast ferries that takes an hour (operated by Alilauroro & Caremar) and the slow ferry (Medmar and Caremar) that takes an hour and a half.

Getting around Ischia: There is a great bus service that runs on the island. We relied on the buses during the day, and used taxi’ at night. Some hotels offer shuttles, ours did, but if the timing was off we would just hop in a taxi. Beware the taxi’s can be expensive, so for longer distances, I would definitely rely on a bus. If you don’t have an adorable baby with you, I would highly recommend exploring on a moped!

Where to stay: We stayed at Hotel Grifo, it was perfect for what we needed. The staff at the Hotel was lovely, they spoke English and were super helpful with any and all questions. There was a pool, with a little bar, a lovely lobby which offered breakfast, the rooms were nothing fancy, but it was perfect for what we needed. There was also a spa at Hotel Grifo, but traveling with an 8 month old, I was not able to take advantage of the services.

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