This page have been written in collaboration with aurelie (5 spots)

The Lavezzi Islands are a small archipelago made of a main island and many islets located about ten kilometers south-west of Bonifacio. Their picture-perfect landscapes complete with granite blocks, white sand, many small coves and intense blue water are worth any tropical destination. The area has been included in a marine preserve for about 40 years: no surprise the islands now boast the most pristine waterscapes and thriving sea life in Corsica.

Located on the main island’s west coast, Cala Achiarina is one of the three snorkel spots on the Lavezzi Islands, together with Cala di u Grecu (east coast) and Cala della Chiesa (north coast). Its natural pool just in front of a beautiful (though often packed) beach makes it a perfect place for beginners. It is also a great place to get close to wildlife: fish are particularly friendly here.

Cala Achiarina, Lavezzi Islands

How to get there?

The easiest (and cheapest) way to get to the Lavezzi Islands is to take the maritime shuttle leaving from Bonifacio harbor (round trip: 37€/adult). Departure times are flexible (several round trips per day, expect even more boats during summer) and you will be free to explore the islands the way you like. The crossing to the islands is direct and takes about 30 minutes, but the retour trip takes one hour, as the boat makes several stops at touristic points of view (Cavallo Island, Bonifacio cliffs…).

Many operators also offer cruises to the islands from Bonifacio and Porto Vecchio. They include a meal onboard, stops to bathe in the sea and even sometimes an aperitif drink at sunset (prices from 60€/adult for a day). Finally, you can rent a boat, or drive your own boat, to the islands.

Once on the island, walking is the only means of transportation. A few paths lead to the beaches and creeks. Cala Achiarina is located on the island’s west coast, about 800 meters from the eastern jetty (walking distance: 20 minutes) and 1 500 meters from the western jetty (walking distance: 35 minutes). Tags will guide you down the paths. Excursion boats can sometimes drop customers directly in the bay, next to the beach.

Cala Achiarina snorkeling map, Lavezzi Islands

Water entrance

We advise to enter the water on the beach’s western side, from the sandy strip in front of the marine cemetery. This way you will quickly reach the natural pool while staying close to the rocky areas (see map).

Exploration

The best area for snorkeling in Cala Achiarina is in the bay’s west side. It is closed by the beach at one side and rocks at the other one, making it a perfectly sheltered natural pool. Starting from the beach, the sandy seabed steadily lowers until you reach a deeper area (↕2-4m/6-12ft) that ends when meeting a rocky barrier.

Gilt head bream at Cala Achiarina

Cala Achiarina is the most frequented beach on the Lavezzi islands and fish are accustomed to human presence, making the place a true aquarium. Fish will come to you from your very entrance in the water, perhaps because they are used to be fed. Over sandy areas you will mostly spot saddled seabreams and mullets, often right underneath the water surface. Most other species prefer the deeper areas, especially where the first rocks are to be seen (about 10-15 meters from the beach).

So many different fish species in such a small area is a rare thing. You will notably meet schools of common two-banded seabreams, sometimes about thirty fish big; sargo, peacock wrasses, striped red mullets and painted combers. Gorgeous gilt-head breams, sometimes 50 cm big, so hard to spot elsewhere, come and go over the seabed and sometimes come to meet snorkelers. But the most inquisitive of all fish undoubtedly are Mediterranean rainbow wrasses, who sometimes even come examine snorkelers’ diving masks. The vivid red stripe running along their body makes them easy to identify.

Bullhead at Cala Achiarina

If the sea is calm, those willing to visit further can go explore Neptune seagrass and rocky areas located further from the beach (see map). Depending on the season, jellyfish can sometimes be present in the bay. If you have enough time, consider combining this spot with a visit to Cala di u Grecu (about 500 meters from Cala Achiarina, close to the eastern jetty), or to Cala della Chiesa (about 1000 meters to the north).

Restaurants & accommodation

The Lavezzi Islands are included in a nature preserve, where you won’t find any drinking water or food. Most visitors bring their lunch and have a picnic (bring your waste back with you as there are no garbage bins). Bring a lot of water: the island is barren, and shade is rare. Beach umbrella day rental is possible at the maritime shuttle counter in Bonifacio.

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaRéserve naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree (excepted boat trip, €37pp.)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

This reference identification guide includes all the 860 marine fish species that may be encountered while snorkeling in coastal Western Europe and the Mediterranean.

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.