Mountainous Marettimo is the most far-flung and difficult to reach of the Egadi, but don't let this put you off. Its very isolation, combined with stunning unspoiled nature, makes Marettimo the real jewel of the archipelago. Time truly has stood still on this authentic island, where fishermen still make a living off the sea, and where there's still only one hotel."Activities" on Marettimo are few but include the simple pleasures of boating around the island's perimeter, which is riddled with extraordinary grottoes and swimming coves, hiking over the rugged interior, or hanging out in the island's one village, which is a picturesque collection of whitewashed, blue-shuttered houses and narrow streets. In fact, some visitors never even make it past the village, where it's quite possible to pass hours in a bar or trattoria getting to know Marettimo through conversation with locals.

In summer, Marettimo is popular as a day trip from Favignana, and in August it's really too crowded here to find that quietness so unique to Marettimo. Visit in the off-peak months of June and September and stay overnight, several days if possible.

Respect Thy Elders -- Although tourists have become more commonplace on Marettimo in recent years, and the majority of locals will welcome you heartily, there is still a certain hostility among elderly marettimare (women) toward mainlanders and city-folk. I've heard stories about female tourists in beach attire or jeans being spat at or receiving harsh Sicilian oaths for their "vulgarity." Since outsiders were unknown on this island for decades, discreet behavior and dress are the best policies when off the beach.