Plage de la Palud is located in Port Cros National Park (the oldest National Marine Park in the Mediterranean, first opened in 1963) and is one of the top snorkeling spots on the Mediterranean coast. Hundreds of relatively sociable fish, who have long been used to human presence, crisscross the calm, crystal-clear waters. Visitors can also explore the diversity of the marine world thanks to the snorkel trail that has been laid down in the bay. It is one of the very rare spots in France where you can spot brown meagre and dusky grouper at snorkeling depth.
Visitors arrive in Port Cros mainly from Hyères. 5 to 15 trips (depending on the period of the year) are run every day from the Port of Hyères/Port Saint-Pierre. An adult round-trip ticket costs €28.10 per person. You can also get to Port Cros from Ile de Porquerolles or Le Lavandou. The TLV-TVM company takes care of public transport towards the island (see here for details). When you arrive in Port Cros, you need to walk north for about 40 minutes to reach Plage de la Palud. The path is shaded but stony (wear some good shoes), and well marked out.
Once at the beach, you will have no trouble locating the snorkeling spot, which is marked out by two lines of buoys extending as far as the Rocher du Rascas (the small island you can see across from the beach). Get into the water wherever you wish inside the swimming area.
The area to explore is triangular in shape and covers the seabeds between the beach and the Rocher du Rascas. You can leave this area and explore the areas near the Rocher du Rascas, but you should signal your presence.
The easiest and most enjoyable way to explore the spot is to follow the underwater path that has been laid down in the bay and is shown by six yellow buoys. Each buoy indicates a particular environment (a sandy seabed, a posidonia seagrass bed, a rocky rift, rocks beaten by the waves, etc.) and includes an information notice to be read underwater.
The most interesting environments are probably the Neptune grass seabeds. Large shoals (20 to 40 fish) of salema porgy are found here, as well as sea bream, several species of sargo, and East Atlantic peacock wrasses. But in the rocky areas it is easier to come across the highly colorful Mediterranean rainbow wrasse and ornate wrasse, and the painted comber. Explore the small crevices to find a red starfish, which are quite common in this spot.
In the northwestern tip of the swimming area marked with buoys (close to Rocher du Rascas), you may also spot dusky groupers and brown meagre, two iconic mediterranean species almost impossible to see elsewhere in France. You’ll mostly find these two fantastic fish in the vicinity of caves or large crevices where they can shelter. Have a look under the rocks, 2 to 4 meters deep.
It is easy to observe and get close to the fish. Since you will certainly spend more time in the water than scheduled, don’t forget your rash guard to keep out the cold outside the hot summer months. Lastly, watch out for other visitors, as the spot is very popular, particularly with school groups.
There are no restaurants or accommodation on site. In the village, a 40-minute walk away by the shortest path, you will find several restaurants.
Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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.
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