Kayaking Italy – Cinque Terre and Sardinia

Our Cinque Terre and Sardinia trip combines the Mediterranean’s best kayaking, scenery and food. Starting in Genoa, the birthplace of Columbus, this trip takes you through the brilliant blue water of the Italian Riviera to Cinque Terre National Park. You’ll paddle the dramatic coastline of the five villages, stopping to sample classic local cuisine like warm focaccia bread with pesto and, of course, vino delle Cinque Terre. Short hikes take you through hills covered with vineyards and scented with wild oregano where you’ll visit local food producers and enjoy the very best of Ligurian cuisine in rustic villages. The beauty of Cinque Terre can’t be overstated and our pace allows you to enjoy the vistas and savor the subtle details.


Kayaking Cinque Terre village of Vernazza

Returning to Genoa we board the overnight ferry to Sardinia for the start of your exploration of the Maddalena Archipelago, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Paddling island to island through La Maddelena’s warm crystal clear water, you’ll explore the many small coves framed by surreal rock formations, hike to ancient ruins of a history that goes back to the Phoenicians, and visit small villages to sample artisanal food and wine. Sardinia blends spectacular beaches and seascapes with distinctive culture and character that is all its own. Returning by night ferry to Genoa, we stay in the city’s labyrinthine old quarter that dates back to the Middle Ages. You’ll explore the Porto Antico that resonates with the history of Genoa’s pivotal role in the Mediterranean world.

Kayaking Sardinia Maddalena Archipelago

Kayaking Sardinia Maddalena Archipelago

This is a remarkable paddling trip that spans two different regions of Italy with scenery to rival anything else in the world. Everyday ends in a gorgeous boutique hotel or guesthouse where you can sit and enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine and a meal of the finest local Mediterranean cuisine. Definitely la dolce vita…

Note: Most departures of this trip are led by Tofino Expeditions founder Grant Thompson.

Kayaking Cinque Terre -Lunch stop in Vernazza

Kayaking Cinque Terre -Lunch stop in Vernazza


Day 1 – Arrival in Genoa
Your guides will meet the group at 5:30 PM in the lobby of our chosen boutique hotel in Genoa’s Port Anticio historical district. We will enjoy the Italian tradition of aperitivo (wine and a light snack) while receiving an orientation on trip details. Once completed, we’ll walk through the laneways of the fascinating Porto Antico that dates back well over 1000 years. Our destination is a local Genovese restaurant for the first of a series of memorable meals on this trip. (D)

Day 2 – Monterosso al Mar and Cinque Terre  
Packing our luggage into the support van, we’ll walk to Principe station and board the train along the Levanto coast of the Italian Riviera to our launch point at the town of Monterosso al Mar at the western end of the Cinque Terre National Park. After getting set up in the kayaks, we’ll head out for our first paddle along this spectacular coastline. After a stop at beautiful Vernazza, we land at our destination – the village of Corniglia. A ten-minute walk takes us up through the village past unfolding views of the famous terraced vineyards. Tonight we stay at a charming family run hotel and enjoy a glass of local wine on the terrace before a dinner of typical Ligurian cuisine (gastronomic delights of the Italian Riviera). (B, L, D)

Cinque Terre kayaking tour Riomaggiore

Kayaking into Riomaggiore.

Day 3 – Cinque Terre – Manarola and Riomaggiore
With an early start, we paddle east along the cliffs of Cinque Terre amidst an unfolding tableau of scenic vineyard topped hills and almost impossibly beautiful villages set on the edge of the blue Mediterranean Sea. We’ll stop to explore the beautiful and iconic villages of Riomaggiore and Manorola before paddling back to our home base in Corniglia in time to enjoy a swim before changing for dinner. Returning to Riomaggiore by train, we’ll dine on some of the best seafood in Italy at the harbor side restaurant of Luca Giaccio’s, a young rising-star chef devoted to the freshest of locally sourced ingredients and classic Ligurian cuisine. (B, L, D)

 Day 4 –  Cinque Terre to Monterosso
Setting off early with a stop for espresso in Vernazza, we paddle along the coast en route to Monterosso. The morning light reveals colors and details missed on the previous day’s paddle. Moving at a leisurely pace, we explore the villages we passed by earlier and have a change to fully appreciate Cinque Terra’s combination of ancient culture and grandly dynamic natural setting. Arriving in Monterosso al Mar, we’ll stay at a boutique hotel inn and there will be time to wander the town before dinner at an open-air restaurant on the shore.  (B, L, D)

Day 5 – Genoa and Departure for Sardinia
After a leisurely morning, we return to Genoa by train. Upon arrival, we’ll take a brief tour of the Old City, the heart of medieval Genoa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before heading to the Terminal Traghetti to board our overnight ferry to Sardinia. After checking into our staterooms, we’ll meet for food, wine, and sunset views of Genoa as we sail out of the port.  (B, L, D)

Kayaking the La Maddalena Archipelago

Kayaking the La Maddalena Archipelago

Days 6 – 8  La Maddalena Archipelago
We explore the sparsely inhabited La Maddalena Archipelago National Park. With crystal clear water, surreal rock formations, and picture perfect coves, the Archipelago is widely regarded as the Mediterranean’s best kayaking. We visit isolated islands, swim in warm turquoise water, stay at a tranquil guesthouse, and dine on Sardinian cuisine at small restaurants. Short walks take us to ruins that tell the story of a long and varied history. A relaxed pace allows us to experience the life of the “Pastori” and to fully appreciate how Sardinia’s unique blend of land, sea, and culture makes it a world apart. (B, L, D)

Day 9 – Sardinian Interior and Ferry to Genoa
Departing the town of La Maddalena on Isola Maddalena, we take the ferry to the town of Palau and start a journey through the fragrant hills of northern Sardinia, stopping to visit a Nuragic tower, one of the island’s many Bronze Age archeological sites. Arriving in Olbia, we board our ferry for the return sailing to Genoa. (B, L, D)

Day 10 
- Genoa
Arriving in the morning, we’ll have a sumptuous breakfast at our hotel, a restored Palazzo located at the edge of the Old City. The balance of the morning is a free day to explore some of the many facets of this “City of Culture”. In the afternoon we’ll have a walking tour conducted by an expert in Genoa’s history and architecture. This evening we have a special dinner planned at a waterfront restaurant. A great meal and, of course, one final gelato to wrap up this remarkable trip. (B, D)

Day 11 – Departure  Transfers to the airport (GOA) or the Principe  train station. Arrivederci

Kayaking Cinque Terre - Arrival in Vernezza

Guest Comments 

“It was the best trip we have ever taken. Cannot wait to go on another one! Have been telling everyone how great it was and recommending it. You may get some people I referred next year on your trips.”— Barbara Konikow, Mercer Island, WA
Cinque Terre and Sardinia June 2014

“Great Trip!  I would definitely go with your organization again. Great guides:  helpful, patient, knowledgeable, good sense of humor Good equipment Good drivers and good vans/transportation. Dinners were over the top!  Good food and plenty of it.  Good wine.”
—Marlee Chamberlain Nevada City CA
Cinque Terre and Sardinia, September 2013

“The Italy trip was even better than we expected and I want to thank you again for a wonderful vacation!”
— CJ Long, Woodinville WA
Cinque Terre and Sardinia, June 2013

“It really was such a lovely experience, Grant — everything about the trip was memorable. and we are committed to future trips because of it!”
— Ellen Jo Ljung, Geneva IL
Cinque Terre and Sardinia, June 2013

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Thanks a lot for spectacular trip, and all the good-spirited and thoughtful support.

Peter Strauss, New York, NY

Tofino was the best. Food outstanding, Guides outstanding, equipment top notch.

Ina Gris, Los Angeles, CA