Ustica and Pantelleria are both volcanic islands rising in splendid solitude from the sea. Both have some of the best diving in the Mediterranean, with the limpid, pristine waters characteristic of volcanic islands (no sand to cloud the water) and both are important marine reserves. The islands are, however, very different in feel. Ustica, close enough to Palermo for a day or weekend trip, has a refreshing unpretentiousness and simplicity. Pantelleria, closer to North Africa than the Sicilian mainland, peppered with Arabian Nights style whitewashed domed dammusi (and with its own airport) is a far more sophisticated place, attracting a rather exclusive international crowd.