No less than 156 beaches dot Elba’s rocky coast, from little-visited shingly coves to broad white-sand stretches. The island’s best-known beaches can get suffocatingly packed in high season, but if you don’t mind negotiating the ranks of baking bodies on sunloungers, they offer all the facilities you could wish for, from snack bars to diving centres. The big five are fine-sand Procchio; Fetovaia, with its crystal-clear water; beautiful Cavoli, a sandy arc in a sheltered bay where you can swim well out of season; Marina di Campo, a full-blown resort; and Biodola, occupying an idyllic sweeping bay near Portoferraio. To avoid the worst of the crowds, however, head to one of the beaches below.

Acquavivetta

Not far from Sansone, this shingly beach is backed by high rocks. The gently sloping seashore makes it a good spot for swimming, especially if you have kids in tow.

Cotoncello

Reachable from the beach at Sant’Andrea, this small patch of sandy beach has a natural pool of clear, shallow water formed by two tongues of rock.

Forno

In the bay of Biodola, sandy Forno is less busy than Biodola beach itself, set in a lovely little bay, surrounded by villas and dense vegetation. There’s a restaurant here (though it’s the island’s most expensive), as well as snack bars.

La Guardia

Also known as La Polveraia, this sheltered shingly beach on the island’s western coast is always fairly quiet, even in high season. The dark rocks here plunge sheer to the transparent water below.

Sansone

A dazzling stretch of shingle, enclosed by sheer white cliffs and lapped by clear water.

Sant’Andrea

A lovely, fine-sand beach, well set up with sun loungers, parasols and beach bars. A natural rocky barrier keeps the water shallow, and you can rent boats, windsurf and dive here too.

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