On the Venetian shore of Lake Garda, you can spot a small island still considered “wild”. In front of Malcesine, in fact, this rock stands out, which for many represents a nautical reference.
Yes, because it is considered a rocky outcrop covered with vegetation and, given its size, it is used as a turning point for sailing races or regattas – such as the Centomiglia. Is this small but important Isle of Olives really so small? And why is it called that?
An olive tree emerging from the waters of Lake Garda
Its smooth and inclined rocks stand out in the middle of the lake, and being small and covered with greenery, the Isle of Olives stimulates landing for a definitely regenerating break. You can dock in several places, get off and lie down to enjoy the sun and the much sought-after (by all of us) relaxation.
This rocky spur extends for about 98 meters in length and 40 meters in width, and is certainly named after the presence of olive trees on its land – in fact, it is called both Isle of Olives and Isle of Olive Trees. It doesn’t change much. It is located near other small islands around Malcesine such as the Dream Island and the Trimelone Island.
It seems to emerge out of nowhere, mysterious and abandoned, this island that intrigues many who arrive on the shores of the Malcesine area. Nature has remained uncontaminated, being a small and uninhabitable place, and this fascinates those looking for a truly “wild” corner of Garda.
The islet is also a well-known destination for divers who arrive here by boat and then immerse themselves with pleasure – there are also several video shots on the net of this area loved by divers. Because the seabed around the Isle of Olives hides some nice surprises: at about 13 meters deep, there is a small cave, full of fish and underwater vegetation. A beautiful enchanted oasis, with incredible views, that goes down to 30 meters below the level of Lake Garda’s waters.
In addition, in the northern part of the islet, a wreck on the seabed can be glimpsed, which with its 10 meters, has become an excellent refuge for fish. Especially, schools of perch, aole and varoni. This is a very popular dive because it is bright and lends itself to photos and videos.
Reaching the Isle of Olives by boat
Usually, the boats’ route starts from the North and arrives keeping the island on the right, to reach the cave comfortably. You will have no trouble finding a place to dock the boat and, in coincidence with some nautical events, you can watch the sailing races that use the Isle of Olives as a reference point due to its ideal position.
The most famous sailing race is the Centomiglia, which takes place on the first Sunday of September every year. From the Isle of Olives, you will have a privileged observation point to watch the race, which represents the largest sailing regatta in Europe.
The island could also be reached by swimming being close to the Malcesine coast, but only from certain points. For example, from the pier of the Club Hotel Olivi opposite; in this case, the path, about 300 meters, is reserved only for truly expert swimmers, given the many currents on the lake in this area.
A loved and “clean” Garda islet, even in the depths
As we said, several divers frequent the Isle and for this reason, it often happens that they also take care of it, through some associations.
As happened on the occasion of some surveys and then clean-ups of the seabed. Sometimes materials thrown into the lake are removed, sometimes the Isle of Olives is directly cleaned from weeds and bushes.
The seabeds of the Isle are often used to deposit the eggs of typical lake fish, such as perch, and for this reason, they must be monitored and protected periodically. A feature that makes this island even more unique, definitely worth visiting if you are in this part of the lake by boat!