Kayak Elba – Your Next Destination?

by Nancy Soares on November 23, 2015

By Barbara Kossy

Editor’s Note: Barbara Kossy has been kayaking the Mediterranean since 1996. She has been to Elba a number of times and it’s one of her favorite kayak destinations.

Find the end of your rainbow in Elba!

Find the end of your rainbow in Elba!

I set up my life so I could travel, and when I travel to paddle I kayak in Italy, paddling the Island of Elba since 1996.

Barbara in Elba, 2006

Barbara in Elba, 2006

Elba is a Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Italy. It is the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago. It is also part of the Arcipelago Toscano National Park. Elba has a total population of around 30,000, which increases considerably in summer. It is the largest remaining stretch of land from the ancient tract that once connected the Italian peninsula to Corsica.

They have caves!

They have caves!

The north coast faces the Ligurian Sea, the east coast the Piombino Channel, the south coast the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the Corsica Channel divides the western tip of the island from neighboring Corsica. Elba has warm temperatures during the months from May to September, from the mid 60’s to the low 80’s.

 think I could be exiled to Elba for 300 days...

I think I could be exiled to Elba for 300 days…

One of the best known facts about Elba is that it was used as the “prison” for French Emperor Napoleon I. Following the Treaty of Fontainebleau, Napoleon was exiled there after his forced abdication in 1814. He remained on the island for 300 days, guarded by the British Royal Navy.

Adventure beckons the kayaker in Elba

Adventure beckons the kayaker in Elba

In September I stepped from the stout metal of the ferry to the cement of the dock and Harriet and Gaudenzio stood smiling and waving, the late afternoon sun lighting them from behind, white shirts fluttering in the breeze, sunglasses glinting. I’d known Harriet since 1980 in Berkeley and Gau since 1996.

Gaudenzio Cotelli 1997

Gaudenzio Cotelli, 1997

The sea air smelled warm and sunny. Terra cotta roofs, and dark asphalt heat the shimmering blue sky.

Terra cotta roofs...

Terra cotta roofs…

Then Sea Kayak Italy had been named Sea Kayak Adventures. It was a group of avid kayakers starting Italy’s first kayak touring company and school.
During that first visit they asked me if I could bring American kayakers to Italy, to Elba Island, to kayak with them. Yes, of course I can.  At least I can try because at that time Italy was known for food and art and architecture, not as a kayak destination.

Barbara has been bringing kayakers to Elba for years

Barbara has been bringing kayakers to Elba for years

The kayaks were there, lined up on the beach. I chose my familiar favorite the 516 by Sea Kayak Design. On our second day the winds were coming up. We did a bit of skill building in the marina. Learning to scull and roll with the Greenland paddles.

Skill building with competent instructors

Skill building with competent instructors

To stretch out a bit a few of us paddled the length of the harbor. Just below the red brick Pisan watch tower were a few red and blue painted fishing boats docked by the rough cement boat ramp. It was here we landed after my first Elba paddle in 1996. My first view of Marciana Marina had been by sea. The ramp, the fishing boats. And the watchtower. The church bells ringing at noon. Intoxicating. Addicting.

Kayaks for your pleasure at Marciana Marina

Kayaks for your pleasure at Marciana Marina

Here’s the webcam for a view of the Marciana Marina harbor from the Marinella Hotel:
http://www.elbahotelmarinella.it/hotel-elba/webcam-marciana-marina.php

Marciana Marina complete with crenellated battlements

Marciana Marina complete with battlements

In June I’ll be returning to kayak and explore the north east and northwest coastal areas. You can join me. See www.barbarakossy.com for more information.

Questions? Comments? Want to set up a trip? Contact Barbara at the web address above!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Scandella November 24, 2015 at 11:03 pm

Superbe merci beaucoup !

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Nancy Soares November 28, 2015 at 7:56 am

De rien! Thank you so much for reading and commenting 🙂

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Tony Moore December 4, 2015 at 8:47 am

Sounds like a great place to kayak…and just as we’re just starting to get into the cold stuff out here in New England!(Don’t get me wrong, I love the cold weather kayaking, but there is much more planning and equipment involved.)
Thank you, Barbara and Nancy!

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Nancy Soares December 4, 2015 at 8:57 am

Hey, Tony, good to hear from you. We’re having cold, wet weather here in Oregon as well. But I went scouting to Crescent City on the border between California and Oregon last weekend and it was a pretty nice day on the coast. Found a couple of good put ins and some fun looking rock gardens and a nice surf spot to check out in future. Interestingly, the weather on the coast here is often warmer and sunnier in winter – there’s less fog for one thing. When I left Ashland it was in the low 30’s. At the coast it was mid-50’s. I can live with that. I plan on checking out the new places in the next couple of months as time permits, and luckily it won’t take any more planning or equipment than it ever does in the PNW 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!

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