The legend of the Argonauts in the Portoferraio sea is alive and well. Every day it touches the white gravel of the clear water on the western coast.
Ghiaie, Cala dei Frati, Padulella, Capo Bianco, Sottobomba, Seccione, Acquaviva, Sorgente, and Sansone are beaches and white reefs that pop up in succession from Portoferraio onward, one behind the other, until you reach the striking Enfola promontory.
From afar, explorers from every era observed the white of this part of Elba, shining among the Mediterranean shrubbery, and its iridescent colors, from green to the blue of the crystalline sea.
The Greek Jason saw it too, as he was exploring the Mediterranean heading up the Golden fleece mission—the fleece was the skin of a winged ram that could cure injuries. Possessing the fleece meant being invincible and governing the populations of the entire known world. A desire for power. And for immortality, too.
Attracted by the white cliffs, Jason steered the Argo ship toward Aethalia (the ancient name for Elba), getting off. Stones lined the banks—or white gravel, really. Total silence all around.
With his friends on the beach, he observed his surroundings, feeling enchanted and thinking about how the gods had played a part in their journey. They muttered, fumbled a bit and then decided to organize some sporting games. During the competitions, the argonauts’ sweat stained the white stones for eternity – they call the place Porto Argo; today the beach is known as Le Ghiaie.
It might have been those very gods themselves who ensured that the Ghiaie beach would go on to become part of the biological marine reserve, which has as its borders the Viste beach, the sea surrounding the small island of Scoglietto and the beach of Capobianco.
In this area, professional and underwater fishing are both prohibited. What’s instead allowed is on-land fishing, from sunset to sunrise. Once protected, marine wildlife has multiplied uninterrupted between the rough sea bottoms sandy seagrass “rugs.”
There are numerous diving centers that have qualified staff, allowing visitors to enjoy secret sea gem with safe, guided underwater excursions.
From the shore you can admire the transparency of the Portoferraio western coast’s waters.
Diverse sea colors might surprise you, appearing according to whatever a given sea floor is like. White gravel, mixed sand and sea grass, combining on the surface of the water, create greens, turquoises, blues in every shade; there are clear bits that gleam so much that entire schools of fish are visible to the naked eye. This scene is often compared to those of the Caribbean because swimmers find themselves among fish of all varieties.
This holds true in every gravel beach dotted with black: Le Ghiaie, Cala dei Frati, Padulella, Capo Bianco, Sottobomba, Seccione, Acquaviva, Sorgente, and Sansone. With the Viste beach right under Portoferraio, they are spaced out among themselves in a way that forms natural pools – quite a mythical scene, indeed.