Dino Island – Praia A Mare, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Praia A Mare, Italy

Dino Island

The abandoned ruins of a failed resort hide on this verdant, picture-perfect island. 

Just off the coast near Praia a Mare, in the Southern Italian region of Calabria, lies the small Dino Island, which was once connected to the mainland until erosion ate away the land bridge. A sparse collection of buildings stands among the verdant foliage, hinting at one chapter of the island’s long human history.

In the 1950s, Dino Island was sold to a private group that wanted to turn the island into a tourist attraction. Plans were made to construct a luxury resort on the little island, but this plan failed and the island was abandoned. All that remains of this once-great endeavor are some Trulli-like structures and a now-abandoned restaurant.

The resort owners weren’t the first people to take an interest in Dino Island. Pirates once stopped here, and later, Islamic and Ottoman ships frequented the little piece of land. The Normans built a tower on the island, and the area was later used by the Kingdom of Naples. During World War I, the British streamer Umballa was sunk by a German submarine near the island.

Dino Island’s natural beauty is just as impressive as its history. You’ll find cliffs over 260 feet high, at the base of which, both below and above sea level, the erosion on the limestone rocks has given life to many natural seashore grottoes. The largest one is the Blue Grotto, which has beautiful light blue water. The Monk Grotto is named after a nearby rock that resembles a praying monk, and the Sardines Grotto hosts many stalagmites. The Lion Grotto takes his name from a rock resembling a lion lying down. The most interesting cave on the island, although only accessible to experienced divers, is the Gargiulo Grotto, which opens 60 feet below sea level and extends into the depths of the island for some tens of feet.

Know Before You Go

Often small boats approach the nearby beaches offering guided tours around the island, with the possibility of swimming in some of the grottoes.

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