Summer is extremely busy - in July and August you'll be lucky to find a room on any island as they get booked up months in advance. It's also very hot. Much better to come in spring (April to early June) or autumn (September and October) if you can: temperatures are balmy (both swimming and hiking are comfortable), and prices are much more reasonable. You'll also have the islands almost to yourself. Bear in mind that October can bring storms and suspended boat services, so allow extra time for sea crossings or avoid this month if your sea legs aren’t well established.
NB, please do not rely on this information for your travel planning.
AEOLIAN ISLANDS:BY AIR
The nearest airports are Palermo and Catania on Sicily. You'll then need to take a ferry, hydrofoil, hydroplane or helicopter to the islands.
AEOLIAN ISLANDS: BY BOAT
There are 3 hydrofoil / ferry companies operating in the Aeolian Islands (navi means ferries, aliscafi are hydrofoils): Ustica Lines, Siremar and SNAV (Naples-Salina). The hydrofoil takes 90 mins from Milazzo, the ferry takes 3-4 hours.
AEOLIAN ISLANDS: BY HYDROPLANE OR HELICOPTER
There is a hydroplane service from Palermo and Catania several times a week - see EOLNET. Alternatively, you can charter a private helicopter to any of the islands with Air Panarea, or join a scheduled flight from Reggio di Calabria (mainland Italy) on certain days of the week.
On Lipari and Salina, there are reliable bus services and scooters for hire, whilst all the other islands (except Alicudi) have taxi firms. Your hotel will be able to assist with arranging boats to explore the coastline. Hydrafoils depart daily from Salina to various neighbouring islands and Bluestone Sicily offers mini-cruises around the archipelago.