Praia a Mare is a nice beach resort town in the Calabria region of Italy. This village of 6800 people stands in front of Dino island, surrounded by the stunning Policastro gulf. During the summer months, its beach is divided into about 50 lidos, although intermittently there are unprotected slivers of beach open to the public at no cost.
Italy's Treneitalia rail network serves Praia a Mare with trains running approximately every two hours. The station can be easily missed, as it is a hub for two other nearby villages as well: look for Praja, not Praia a Mare, when preparing to alight the train.
It is possible to rent small watercraft on the beaches adjacent to the promenade 1-2km south of the village center. Avoid berthing boats in the area just south of Dino island, especially in the summer--that area is reserved for swimmers.
To visit Dino island, the most complete experience would be to join one of the tours departing from Capodarena, either on smaller or larger boats, taking you around the island as well as to the Arcomagno bay, further south.
- Dino Island The crystal colour of the water surrounding the Dino Island is worth the trip this little pearl of Mediterranean Sea. The island, 3km long, offers three marine caves to explore: the Waterfalls cave, the Lion Cave and the more popular Blue Grotto, the largest cave, where the water appears lit up from bottom. The coastline runs for 6km, assuming several different looks, from sandy beaches to black rocks.
- Sanctuary Madonna Della Grotta If you are visiting Praja is a must to see the Cave Sanctuary, where is kept the sacred statue of the Maria the virgin, protector of town. The religious parade is held on august the 14th until the 18th, when the whole town celebrates the anniversary of the arrival of the statue, brought hundreds of years ago by a Spanish captain via sea.
- Pollino National Park Praia lies right on the edge of Calabria's northernmost range of Pollino Mountains with the highest peak reaching around 2250m (7500 feet). The Pollino National Park is located in both Calabria and neighbouring Basilicata between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas. In this park you'll find beech trees, rare plant and animal species such as the Loricato Pine and the Royal Eagle, Dolomite-like rock formations, glacial deposits, and countless cave systems. Within its borders, the Pollino National Park hosts many palaeontology and archaeology sites, including the Romito Caves and the Mercure Valley, as well as sanctuaries, convents, castles, and historical centres of the original Albanian settlers from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Pollino National Park peak above Praia, with view of Dino Island on the horizon
The 22m (65 ft) cliff jumping from the Arcomagno Arch
In Praja there's really no time to get bored!
You can just relax on the beach, cuddled by the breeze while laying back on a deckchair, or you can make your time simply extreme!
- Paragliding The take off is westfaced, at about 600m above sea level. Thermals start around 10:00 during summer. If you are planning to do a solo flight, you should contact the local pilots who will help you all year around to reach the take-offs. If you are first-timer prepare yourself to have a lot of fun and a breathtaking view. Tandem flights requires no experience whatsoever, when signing up your instructor will give you a briefing to make sure you know everything you need to do, before your feet gets off the ground!
One happy traveller experiencing a paragliding flight over Dino Island
- White Water Rafting on Lao river in spectacular Pollino National Park. This is probably the best way to visit the national park itself. It has the richest repository of flora and fauna in the south, and covers 1960km². There are three river courses of varying levels and durations, with one suitable for children as young as age 10. Spring is the best time to raft the Lao river; the current is stronger, and the water is fresh. The river is karstic in nature; providing an adventure-seekers playground for rafting, canyoning, and kayaking. Most of which are based in-and-around the picturesque town of Papasidero. Every rafting company will provide you with free transportation to/from Praia a Mare.
- Cliff Jumping The highlight for travellers who enjoy having butterflies in their stomachs is cliff jumping off Arcomagno Rock, a 22m (67 ft) natural bridge over a hidden crystal bay. For less brave divers, lower jumps can be found on the Dino island coast.
- Scuba Diving. You don't need to be a professional diver to enjoy the coral gardens or the ancient relics lying not far from Dino island. Various scuba diving companies can assist you to make your experience underwater safe and unforgettable. You can pick among 10 different itineraries, including wrack dive and night dive, depending by your scuba diving level. For more info: Deep Inside Diving Center, ☎ +39 033 8726-7651, .
- Trekking Not many places offer the diversity of mountains meeting the ocean. Praja does, leading the beauty of Pollino National parks to the clearness of the Tirrenian Sea. Praia will be your optimal base camp for doing a different trekking/hiking trip every day. You can go visit the Raganello Gorge (80km east), or Trecchina hills and the Soccorso Sanctuary (20km north-easth), Aietas Old Village (11km east), just to mention a few.
- OndaRoad Beach Hostel, ☎ +39 034 7073-6169, . Family run hostel (or homestay, as they consider themselves) a few metres from the beach. Rates start from €16 in a mixed dorm, €25 (per person) for an en-suite double room. In very high season you can enquire for tents rental, equipped with mattress and linen, for a more rural accommodation!! Free breakfast (pancakes or omelettes or French toast), home-made lunch, and pick up from the train station are included.