Cala Marinella (Marinella Beach) is a lovely bay in the Zingaro Nature Reserve in Sicily, Italy. In this guide, we’re going to talk about all of the essentials for visiting Cala Marinella in Zingaro. This will include information about the beach itself and the epic coastal walk to reach it. We’ll also cover practical details such as how to get there and where to stay nearby.
We hope you find this guide helpful. If you want more in-depth information about other beaches at the Zingaro Nature Reserve other than just Cala Marinella, then you should read our guides about Cala Capreria, Cala della Disa and Cala dell’Uzzo.
Table of Contents
About Cala Marinella
There are many outstanding beaches to visit in Sicily. In particular, the Zingaro Nature Reserve on the northwest coast of Sicily is home to many gorgeous beaches. Cala Marinella is just one of these stunning beaches in the nature reserve. It’s only a small bay, but it’s packed to the brim with beauty.
Drawfed by the surrounding mountains, Cala Marinella is sensationally located in the nature reserve. Surrounded by rock walls and tropical trees, Cala Marinella oozes a natural ambience and rugged remoteness that popular town beaches lack.
So, exactly where in the Zingaro Nature Reserve is Cala Marinella located? Let’s check out a map below!
FYI – Zingaro Nature Reserve (translates in Italian to Riserva dello Zingaro) goes by many similar names. These include Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro, La Riserva dello Zingaro, Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve, Zingaro Reserve and Zingaro National Park.
Cala Marinella Map
To help you get your bearings, feel free to click on the image below to access an interactive map on Google Maps.
Now you know where Cala Marinella is located, let’s look at how to visit this dazzling beach.
How to Visit Cala Marinella in the Zingaro Nature Reserve
To visit Cala Marinella, you’ll need to enter the Zingaro Nature Reserve. The nature reserve has a north and south entrance. From either entrance, it’s possible to reach Cala Marinella. But, which entrance should you go to if your main goal is to reach Cala Marinella?
Well, from the northern entrance, Cala Marinella is around 3.2km away. From the southern entrance, the beach is around 4.5km away. So, accessing Cala Marinella from the northern entrance seems to make the most sense if you’re after the quickest route to the beach. But, the ideal starting location may also depend on where you’re travelling from and what else you have planned for the day!
Personally, Beck and I explored Cala Marinella as part of doing Sentiero Costiero (Coastal Walk), which is Zingaro Nature Reserve’s most popular hiking trail. Because we were travelling from Trapani and were visiting Tonnara di Scopello afterwards, it made sense for us to start at the southern entrance. But, if you’re not planning on doing the entire coastal walk and just want to simply visit the beach, then starting from the northern entrance makes sense.
Entrance Fee and Opening Hours For the Zingaro Nature Reserve
It’s not possible to access Cala Marinella for free. The entrance fee for the Zingaro Nature Reserve is €5 per person.
Between October and March, the nature reserve is open from 8am to 4pm. From April to September, the opening hours are extended from 7am to 7pm.
The Northern Entrance to Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo
Below, we’ll tell you about the coastal trail you’ll take from the northern entrance to reach Cala Marinella. We’ll also cover details about beaches and other attractions you’ll pass on the way. Indeed, walking along Sentiero Costiero is just as much part of the experience as reaching and swimming at Cala Marinella itself.
From the northern entrance, you have two trails to choose from. If you strictly follow the Sentiero Costiero route, you can bypass Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo and Cala dell’Uzzo. This way, you can head straight to Cala Marinella via Grotta dell’Uzzo – an epic cave.
But, whilst you’re at the Zingaro Nature Reserve, we highly recommend checking out the other beautiful beaches along the way. To do so, when you arrive at the fork in the trail near the northern entrance, follow the side trail to the left. That way, you’ll pass a museum with toilets and then you can descend a trail to the sensational Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo.
Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo is the largest beach at the Zingaro Nature Reserve. This makes this beach one of the most popular and easiest to swim at in the reserve. Surrounded by cliff walls on either side, this beach feels secluded and hidden. Given its closeness to the northern entrance, Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo can get much busier than Cala Marinella.
Once you’ve finished exploring Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo, it’s time to head to Cala dell’Uzzo.
Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo to Cala dell’Uzzo
As mentioned, it’s possible to bypass Cala dell’Uzzo if you want to head straight to Cala Marinella. But, we highly recommend going to Cala dell’Uzzo as it’s another stunning beach. Indeed, Cala dell’Uzzo is one of the best beaches in the Zingaro Nature Reserve.
Compared with Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo, Cala dell’Uzzo isn’t immediately surrounded or protected by high cliff walls. It’s surrounded by rocks, tropical plants and trees. This beach has a real tropical island vibe to it. Certainly, it’s worthwhile setting foot on Cala dell’Uzzo.
After visiting Cala dell’Uzzo, the trail briefly heads inland towards Grotta dell’Uzzo. It’s a truly immense cave and a highlight of visiting the Zingaro Nature Reserve. After seeing Grotta dell’Uzzo, you’ll continue south, with your end goal in sight – Cala Marinella!
Cala dell’Uzzo to Cala Marinella
You’ve finally made it! Cala Marinella is a glorious bay with crystal-clear water. Indeed, we found the water at Cala Marinella to be super turquoise. You’ll find steps carved into the orange-coloured rock platforms that lead you down to the water.
The tide will determine your ease of access to the water. When we visited, the tide was fairly high, meaning accessing the water wasn’t straightforward. It would require a plunge or scramble down off the edge of the rock platform to go for a swim. Certainly, if you’re an inexperienced sea swimmer, then accessing the water at Cala Marinella may be unsafe during high tide.
Otherwise, we’ve seen photos during a lower tide, when the water level has dropped, there is more of a pebble beach to access, next to the rock platform. This means, during low tide, it’s very likely easier to go for a swim. But, outside of low tide, the water level is higher, so accessing the pebble beach is difficult. The waves are constantly rolling in and splashing onto the rock platform. So, most people will hang out on the large rock platform rather than setting up a towel on the small pebble beach section.
Even if swimming is out of the question, simply stopping and relaxing at Cala Marinella is worth the trip. From the rock platform, you’ll enjoy stellar views of the northern parts of the Zingaro Nature Reserve.
We hope you’ve enjoyed your trip to this immense beach. Below, we’ll look at other beaches at the Zingaro Nature Reserve that are possible to visit.
Other Beaches at the Zingaro Nature Reserve
As mentioned, the Zingaro Nature Reserve is home to many amazing beaches. After seeing Cala Marinella, if you continue south along the coastal path, you’ll find four other beaches.
- Cala Berretta: this is one of the smallest beaches at Zingaro Nature Reserve. Admittedly, Beck and I didn’t stop at this beach for long.
- Cala della Disa: this pebble beach is one of the best beaches in Zingaro. You’ll enjoy a well-protected beach, surrounded by incredible orange-coloured cliff walls and sea caves.
- Cala del Varo: this beach is so small that it isn’t acknowledged on the official Zingaro Nature Reserve map that you’ll be given at the entrance. So, we simply passed by this beach.
- Cala Capreria: this beach is located near the southern entrance, which makes it one of the easiest beaches to visit at the Zingaro Nature Reserve. As a result, this beach tends to be one of the busier beaches at the reserve. But, it’s definitely one of the most beautiful beaches dotted along the Zingaro coastline.
How to Get to the Zingaro Nature Reserve
The easiest and quickest way to get to the northern entrance of the Zingaro Nature Reserve is to drive there yourself. You’ll find a decent-sized car park at the northern entrance. Although it does fill quickly, particularly in summer during the peak season. So, make sure to arrive early to ensure getting a spot.
If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars, which are super easy to book online.
Personally, Beck and I picked up our car hire from Catania International Airport. For an automatic car, we only paid around €7 ($7USD) per day! Of course, with all car hire companies in Sicily, and Italy, make sure you’re fully aware of the rules and conditions of the car hire. That way, you won’t get stitched up with an unexpected fee when you return the car.
You won’t find much in the way of public transport options to the northern entrance of the Zingaro Nature Reserve. There are some private shuttle services running to the northern entrance from San Vito lo Capo. But, these only tend to run during the peak season in summer.
Otherwise, it’s possible to reach the southern entrance of the Zingaro Nature Reserve by using public transport. During the peak season, there is a bus service running from Scopello and Castellammare del Golfo. Although, in the off-season, there are no public transport options running to either the northern or southern entrance. So, during the off-season, it’s likely you’ll have to drive to either entrance yourself unless you want to pay for a taxi.
If you don’t have a car, are visiting during peak season and want the cheapest way to get to Zingaro to access Cala Marinella, then your best option is to go to the southern entrance. This just means a longer walk to reach Cala Marinella (approx. 4.5km instead of 3.2km). But, the coastal walk is sensational, so it certainly isn’t a burden.
- Scopello: from the village centre, the bus takes 15–20 minutes and usually costs around €1.90 per person one-way. During the peak season, there are usually half a dozen departures per day, starting at around 7:55am.
- Castellammare del Golfo: from the bus stop at Piazza della Repubblica, the bus takes approx. 45 minutes and costs around €3.20 per person one-way. On average, during peak season, there are three to four departures a day, ranging from roughly 7:30am to 6pm.
For more information regarding departure times, frequency and pricing or to even book tickets in advance, click here.
Where to Stay Near Cala Marinella
Most people visiting Zingaro Nature Reserve will do so from the two nearest biggest cities – Palermo or Trapani. But, there are some quieter and more idyllic towns located near Zingaro, such as Scopello, Castellammare del Golfo and San Vito lo Capo.
If you’re visiting Zingaro via the southern entrance, it makes more sense to stay at either Scopello or Castellammare del Golfo. If you’re visiting Zingaro via the northern entrance, it’s quicker and simpler to visit from San Vito lo Capo.
Because it’s quickest to reach Cala Marinella from the northern entrance, basing yourself at San Vito lo Capo seems logical. With that said, we’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury hotels in San Vito lo Capo.
San Vito lo Capo Accommodation
San Vito lo Capo is a beautiful coastal town in the northwest of Sicily. From San Vito lo Capo, it’s an approx. 30 minute drive to the northern entrance of the Zingaro Nature Reserve.
- Budget – Baglio del Mulino a Vento: if you’re looking for the most highly-rated and most highly-renowned budget stay in San Vito lo Capo, then look no further than Baglio del Mulino a Vento.
- Mid-range – Ninni e Fede: this is one of the best mid-range accommodation options in the area. Ninni e Fede is a beautifully decorated guesthouse, featuring a garden, terrace and shared kitchen. If you’re looking for a slightly more luxurious mid-range hotel option, then consider Hotel Sikania.
- Luxury – B&B Le Biciclette: this lovely bed and breakfast is a great option for a finer stay in San Vito lo Capo. Guests love the fantastic breakfast, location near the beach and modern decor at B&B Le Biciclette.
Zingaro Nature Reserve Boat Tours
Other than beach hopping on foot, it’s possible to explore the Zingaro Nature Reserve by boat. Seeing the Zingaro coastline and mountains from the water is another great way to explore the nature reserve. GetYourGuide offers very affordable Zingaro boat tours. These include the Zingaro Nature Reserve and Scopello Cruise From San Vito lo Capo and San Vito Lo Capo and Zingaro Reserve Tour From Castellammare. On both tours, you’ll explore Zingaro’s coastline, stopping at some of the best beaches along the way.
These are our gear essentials for visiting the Zingaro Nature Reserve.
- Swimming gear
- Water shoes (aqua shoes): to help protect your feet when exploring pebble beaches.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for adventurers, which has plenty of space to store your hiking and swimming gear.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof jacket that is great if you’re exploring the coast during the off-season.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: if you’re doing Sentiero Costiero, a decent pair of footwear is recommended.
Particularly, in summer, you’ll need to pack plenty of water for your trip to the Zingaro Nature Reserve. You won’t find shops in the nature reserve. So, make sure to have supplies such as water and food. Also, make sure you’re sun safe – if you’re not, you’ll easily get sunburnt! So, apply sunscreen, wear a hat and cover your skin.
- Take cash: there are card machines at the Zingaro Nature Reserve entrances. From personal experience, the card machine didn’t work, likely owing to the remote location. Take cash just in case.
- Visit Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo: if you’re staying in San Vito lo Capo, then, undoubtedly, you’ll visit this spectacular beach.
- Hike the nearby Monte Monaco: you’ll find Monte Monaco north of Zingaro. To enjoy the best views of San Vito lo Capo and its beach, you’ll want to do the underrated Monte Monaco walk.
That’s a wrap on our guide about Cala Marinella in Riserva dello Zingaro. Please leave us a comment below if you have any questions. We’d love to help.