Giglio has only four main beaches; consequently, in high season, don't expect to have much peace, quiet, or room on the sand for your arsenal of magazines and sun products. In July and August, it's far better to rent a boat and go exploring the lesser coves that dot the perimeter of Giglio, where you're likely to have a bit more privacy and beautiful cerulean waters for swimming. Spiaggia di Campese is the largest beach, located in the eponymous tourist development on Giglio's western coast. This is the only real beach on the ponente (sunset) side of the island and has spectacular sunsets over its reddish-tinged sand. Campese has beach clubs as well as free public access stretches. Cala delle Cannelle is the best beach on the eastern side of Giglio and is the second largest after Campese. Accessible via a 20-minute walk south from Giglio Porto, or by sea on one of the taxi boats bobbing in the harbor there, Cannelle is renowned for its clear, practically Caribbean-turquoise water. Portions of Cannelle have free beach access; the rest is taken over by beach clubs and their snack bars. A bit farther south from Cannelle (10 min. by foot; or take a water taxi from Cannelle or Porto), Caldane is a small cove of variegated greens and blues and usually less crowded than Campese or Cannelle. Arenella is a small beach with fine, reflective golden sand (made from granite particles) north of the port. Arenella is a bit of a trek on foot (and you have to walk on the side of a road that gets heavy car traffic in summer); instead, take a taxi or barcaiolo (water taxi) from Porto. Note that in peak season, tiny Arenella is taken over by the blue beach chairs and umbrellas of the stabilimento here, which tranquillity-seekers should avoid at all costs.
Blessed with the same pure and clean waters as nearby Giannutri and Elba, Giglio has about a dozen dive sites all around its perimeter. From rock walls crawling with lobsters and wriggling with eels to beds of vivid coral, sea sponges, all have great visibility. Other creatures you're likely to encounter while diving off Giglio are dentex (dentice), scorpionfish (scorfano), barracuda, and larger pelagic fish like tuna, which can reach 3m (10 ft.) in length even close to shore! In spring and summer, whether underwater or on a boat, it's not uncommon to spy passing dolphins and sperm whales. In Giglio Porto, International Diving, Via del Saraceno 60 (tel. 347/2461704; www.internationaldiving.it), and Max Shark, Via San Lorenzo 13 (tel. 329/8022737; www.maxshark.it), rent equipment and organize diving excursions; in Campese, try Giglio Diving Club, Via della Torre Campese (tel. 0564/804065). Prices (which always include basic equipment) start at 30€ for a single dive, 75€ for a full-day excursion to Giannutri or to the interesting rock islets to the north known as the Formiche di Grosseto.
The Pro Loco office publishes a map of Giglio's 12 hiking paths (ask for the cartina sentieri per trekking), some of which are dirt trails, while others are paved-but-narrow roads, so be careful of vehicular traffic. The longest hike (6km/3.75 miles, up and over the central, panoramic ridge of the island) goes along the asphalt road from Castello, in the center of Giglio, to Punta del Capel Rosso, the southern extremity of the island. From Campese, a great picnic hike is the short 30-minute walk to the Faraglione (offshore rock stack), a few kilometers to the south. The other trails on Giglio are mostly easy- or medium-level hikes varying in length from 1.5km to 4.5km (1-2.75 miles). As always in the Italian islands, bring plenty of water and sun protection.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.