Thermal hot springs are some of the most enchanting phenomena found in nature, but unfortunately many of them have been claimed and taken over by commercial entities.
If, like us, you love hot springs but chafe at the notion of paying a swanky day spa for access to something that emerges naturally from the ground, Ischia Island just might be the place for you.
The largest island in the Bay of Naples, Ischia is also considered by many to be the most beautiful (although it is often overshadowed by its famous sister-island, Capri). It's the island's natural volcanic activity that makes it so unique, though; Ischia has been a sought-after destination for centuries due to the perceived medicinal properties of its many thermal hot springs.
The Sorgeto Hot Springs, perhaps the most well-known of Ischias many volcanic attractions, offers a unique view of thermal water gushing into the sea. Small rocks and stones form a variety of pools where the waters meet, providing a range of natural "spas" to choose from. Be careful here, as the temperature is (literally) scalding in some areas, but the warm waters in other pools afford pleasant bathing even in winter months.
The springs, located at the base of the cliffs along the Forio coastline (just west of Sant’Angelo), are only accessible by a steep set of stone stairs. At the bottom of the cliffs you'll find the springs, plenty of bathers (some swimming au naturel), and a small cafe that is only sporadically open. But no worries if they cafe is closed -- some bathers bring potatoes and eggs to boil in the hotter pools.
It isn't just at Sorgeto that you can enjoy free access to the thermal hot springs, though; many of the island's beaches have their own hidden pockets of warm water along the shore. For instance, at Citara Beach in Forio (one of the most popular on the island) the thermal water mixes with the sea, allowing you to swim in the comfortably-warm salinity while also, if ancient lore is to believed, reaping the health benefits of the thermal water.
Our favorite location, however, was on Cartaromana Beach near the famous Aragonese Castle. Here we discovered little sitting holes against the cliff walls which held just enough warm thermal water to fit us comfortably - perfect for chasing away the chill of swimming in the sea! And as an added bonus, while luxuriating in our own private spas we were able to enjoy one of the best views on the entire island.
This is what Ischia Island is known for: it's beauty, sweeping vistas, and relaxing thermal hot springs that please almost every visitor. If you're looking for a less-traveled alternative to Capri to explore and unwind, consider this little gem of an island off the coast of Naples.
Written and contributed by Christy