Calanque de Sormiou

The Calanque de Sormiou is the widest, and probably one of Marseille's most beautiful calanques (rocky inlet). Its shades of blue, the fishermen's houses and pine trees on the cliffs all charm thousands of visitors each year. Under the water, you can explore one of the most beautiful snorkeling spots in the region, where a large number of fish swim between the sea grass, the rocky reef drop-off and the pure white sandy sea bed.
How to get there?

The Calanque de Sormiou is in the 9th arrondissement of Marseille. From the city centre, head for Mazargues, then Sormiou. From Cassis, the quickest route is to take the D559 and the Col de la Gineste, then to follow the signs for Mazargues/Baumettes until you reach Sormiou. Access to the calanque by car is restricted, and reserved for residents every day in summer, and on weekends in spring and autumn. In most cases, you need to leave your car at the car park before the barrier, then walk for about an hour along the asphalt road to get to the beach.

You will need to prepare your visit: in spring and summer, access to the calanques is sometimes only allowed from 6 to 11 a.m., or sometimes completely forbidden if there is a high risk of fire. See the Calanques National Park website for updates.

Water entrance

A large bathing zone is marked out by buoys. Enter the water wherever you like from the beach.

Aerial view


The area to explore is relatively large. While many people will be happy to stay in the bathing area, it would be pity to leave the spot without visiting the rocky reef drop-off bordering the beach. In this case, be careful, and make your presence visible since canoes and speed boats use these border areas to get to the beach. In any event, you should not go beyond the line of buoys towards the open sea, because of the danger from the many boats in the area.

The central part of the spot, at the centre of the bathing area, contains a reef combining sea grass and rock. This is a refuge for many species (shoals of salema porgy, different species of sargo, gilt-head bream, thicklip grey mullet), and the fish are easy to get close to, as they seem used to human presence. All around, the dazzling white sandy areas, which are however poor in marine life, also provide a fine spectacle.

Snorkeling Report Calanque Sormiou Marseille
School of salema porgy at Calanque de Sormiou

On either side of the calanque, the rocky shores also have interesting ecosystems. It is quite easy to see wrasse, rockfish and sea urchins.

Visibility is generally excellent at this spot, and the shallow waters near the beach make it an ideal place for beginners.

Restaurants and accommodation

You should take plenty of water with you, as there is none on site. There is a small restaurant on the beach. Otherwise, you can take a picnic.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Level of difficulty
  • Maximum depth
    25ft (8m)
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential Dangers
    Usual precautions
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
  • Access costs
  • Restaurants nearby
    Yes, moderately expensive
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling Calanque de Sormiou

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Diplodus sargus Common
Saddled seabream
Oblada melanura Common
Salema porgy
Sarpa salpa Abundant in grassy seabed
Thicklip grey mullet
Chelon labrosus Abundant, mainly in sandy areas
Common two-banded seabream
Diplodus vulgaris Common
Black sea urchin
Arbacia lixula Common
Neptune grass
Posidonia oceanica Abundant
You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?