During my first days in Sicily last September, I opted for a day trip from Palermo to dive paradise Ustica. I wanted to dive in the morning and walk on the little island in the afternoon. It’s a common day trip for divers on a budget. Still, staying at least one night might be the more reasonable option.
Getting from Palermo to Ustica
I left Palermo’s port by ferry at 7 am. Depending on where you’re staying, the timing might not be a problem. You just mustn’t enter the port from the wrong side, like Google Maps suggests. In my view, it is not self-explanatory at all how to reach the right port location.
In order to save travellers from stress, I created a downloadable map. It better shows how to enter the port at the right place (A) and reach the ferry in time, for example Liberty Lines (B).
My dive experience in Ustica
Let’s be honest about diving: It requires your best health and mental condition. If your body or mind is not in a good state, you’ll have a hard time or even risk your health. That day, my stomach just wasn’t up for it. It was probably suffering from the high amount of fried street food and heavy sweets after my first discoveries in food heaven Sicily (read more about tasty Sicilian food here).
After an agonizing 1.5-hour ferry ride between Palermo and Ustica, which would surely not have caused any issues any other day, I was reminded of what sea sickness felt like on the little diving boat. Although I was able to proceed with the beautiful first dive where I saw barracudas, parts of a little shipwreck from above, walls and other underwater beauties, the strong current twirled me aside a couple of times. Back at the surface, my stomach just couldn’t handle the waves anymore. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my second dive.
Daytrip vs. overnight stay in Ustica
Most people probably travel to Ustica for diving. And it’s absolutely worth the effort. But you need to consider the ferry schedule and don’t really get to see the island if you wanna dive at least twice. That’s why I would eventually opt for at least two days with one night in Ustica. It’s simply more relaxed and leaves room for more island discoveries. But It’s surely not the most budget-friendly option.
Avoid advance-payments for diving
During my two-week trip to Sicily i dived twice, in front of Ustica and near Syracuse. I experienced different kinds of reservation requirements. After these dives, I would recommend getting to know the dive club beforehand, see if you feel comfortable with them and, if possible, not to pay in advance.