Amazing Day Trips to Take Around Corsica by Boat

Corsica is home to plenty of exceptional beaches
Corsica is home to plenty of exceptional beaches | © Luigi Mura / Alamy
Celia Topping

Corsica is a fascinating island to explore by boat. The western coast offers some of the most dramatic scenery in the Mediterranean along with the capital of Ajaccio, not to mention strange rock formations and hundreds of quiet coves. You’ll be spoilt for choice with long stretches of perfect white beaches on the west and the lesser-travelled east coast. Cruising around the island, you’ll spot the resident dolphins and seals, but when you’re ready for a bit of human interaction, Corsica’s marinas, charming old ports, and quaint villages offer a warm welcome.

Cruise the coastal delights with the unique Culture Trip’s Sailing Trips.

Bastia around Cap Corse to Saint-Florent

The old Genoese capital, Bastia, is a good starting point for your westerly cruise around the north of the island to the chic port town of Saint-Florent. The Cap Corse peninsula is dotted with small fishing villages set against a mountainous backdrop, and, as you pass close to Barcaggio beach at the northernmost tip, you’ll see cows lazing on the warm sand. Saint-Florent port is in the heart of the town, so it’s a short stroll to find lunch and discover the town’s many charms.

Calvi to the Agriates Desert

The northern coastline of Corsica, known as the Désert des Agriates, is remote and rugged yet home to some of the island’s most spectacular beaches, largely inaccessible by land. Our favourites are the ever-popular Saleccia and the quieter, more isolated Ghignu. Just a short walk behind Saleccia beach, surrounded by forest, you can relax with a beer among the aromatic maquis and tall pines at A Piniccia di Saleccia.

Calvi to the Scandola Nature Reserve

Leave Calvi’s sweeping crescent bay and ancient citadel for a cruise down the western coast to the startlingly red granite cliffs of the Scandola Nature Reserve Unesco-listed site. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise, with cormorants, giant gulls, and ospreys all swooping around the rocky precipes. The red of the rock contrasting with the turquoise of the ocean is something quite special. We bet you won’t be able to resist a plunge in the sparkling water looking out for dolphins and seals!

Calvi to Girolata

The small, protected port of Girolata is only accessible by boat – unless you fancy a very long walk – and, as such, offers excellent anchorage. A Genoese tower stands watchful over the small village below, with its houses clinging to the steep cliffs. Out of peak season, it’s still very peaceful here, and because it’s within the nature reserve, further development is, happily, impossible. Swimming in the warm, clear waters here is heavenly before you climb back on board for a glass of chilled wine.

Ajaccio to Propriano

Ajaccio is the birthplace of Napolean Bonaparte, and almost 250 years later, he’s still very much a part of the town’s identity. Soak up the atmosphere before sailing along the west coast to admire the unusual rock formations, jagged mountains, and towering cliffs to Propriano. Navigate your way through the narrowest section of the Valinco Gulf to Propriano’s thriving port and fishing harbour. Plage du Lido is the beach to bronze on, or try a spot of canyoning in the nearby Canyon Baracci.

Ajaccio to the Iles Sanguinaires (Bloody Islands)

Sailing from Ajaccio, look out for the 16th-century Genoese tower on the tip of the Parata headland to your right. The four islands are directly in line with it at the entrance of the Gulf de Ajaccio. Their rather grisly name probably only originates from the blood-red colour of the rocks when bathed in the golden light of sunset, but let your imagination run wild as you tour around the rocky crags or disembark to walk up to the lighthouse or the old watchtower.

Ajaccio to Calanques de Piana

This impressive volcanic site towers 300m (984ft) above sea level at its highest. This area close to Piana is rich with marine life as well as seabirds, so pack your binoculars and your swimsuit. The soft pink volcanic rock has been shaped by the weather and the sea for thousands of years, creating fantastical shapes, which transform at sunset. So be sure to time your trip just right.

Bonifacio to La Maddalena National Park

From the southern tip of the island, you can sail the Strait of Bonifacio to Sardinia. But you may want to reroute slightly to navigate the splendid La Maddalena National Park. Over 60 islands and islets offer countless secret coves to explore. Don’t miss the pink Budelli beach, and remember your snorkel. Just keep an eye out for the multitude of dolphins and turtles who are lucky enough to call this home.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

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