Some of the most spectacular coastlines in the Mediterranean – both above and below the water

Corsica has a huge selection of snorkeling regions, each of them special for different reasons. From sandy lagoons awash with schooling breams to dramatic drop-offs with a spectacular selection of marine life, here are some of the best snorkeling spots that Corsica has to offer.

Snorkeling in Bonifacio and the Lavezzi Islands

At the Southern tip of Corsica, a few miles from Sardinia, the Lavezzi Islands offer some of the best snorkeling in the Mediterranean. This collection of rocky islands, protected by a marine reserve since 1982, sits off the coast of Bonifacio.

A Mediterranean rainbow wrasse in the Lavezzi Islands
The Mediterranean rainbow wrasse (here, a male, recognizable by its bright-red stripe) is one of Corsica’s most beautiful fish (here, in Cala Achiarina).

The Lavezzi Islands provide a maze of boulders and seagrass to wind through, and since the area has been protected for more than 40 years, it is a fantastic location to discover the Mediterranean underwater life.

There are three snorkeling spots that are particularly recommended in the Lavezzi Islands: Cala Achiarina‘s “natural pool”, awash with breams, wrasse and salema, Cala della Chiesa and Cala di u Grecu. The Lavezzi Islands are easily reached by a shuttle boat from Bonifacio.

Aerial view of the Lavezzi Islands.
Cala Achiarina, Cala di u Grecu and Cala della Chiesa are three snorkeling spots located around the Lavezzi Islands, which may be the best in Corsica.

Bonifacio’s area includes a huge number of secluded beaches with good shore access to snorkeling locations. Plage de Paraguan and Plage de Fazzio, west of the city, or spectacular Plage des Trois Pointes, on the road to Cape Pertusato, all offer great settings for exploring the underwater world.

Just a 15-minute drive from the old city, you can also snorkel at Plage du Petit Sperone, Plage du Grand Sperone and Plage de Piantarella, although the seabed here is mainly sandy.

School of Sargo over seagrass meadow at Palombaggia
A school of Sargo over seagrass meadow at Palombaggia.

Snorkeling in Porto-Vecchio Beaches

Visit the Porto Vecchio region and you’ll find idyllic beaches surrounded by extraordinary marine creatures. Plage de Santa Giulia, Plage de la Folaca, Plage d’Acciaju, Plage de Porto Novo and the iconic seashell-shaped Baie de Rondinara all offer great snorkeling in crystal-clear waters.

Palombaggia Beach
Palombaggia Beach.

However, it is at the northern tip of Plage de Palombaggia, protected by a small marine reserve, that the best snorkeling in the area is found. Here, there are frequent sightings of cuttlefish, octopus, seabream and shoals of salema.

Flying gurnard in Rondinara
The flying gurnard is not a usual sighting in Corsica, but it is occasionally encountered all around the island. Here, in Rondinara.

The coastline that stretches from Solenzara to Bastia, lined with ponds and long sandy beaches, offers few options for snorkeling.

Snorkeling in Cap Corse and the Northern Coast

North of Bastia begins Cap Corse, a wild rocky peninsula with rugged coasts, that marks the northern tip of the island. This region is home to many snorkeling spots easily accessible from the coast, such as Centuri, Plage de Tamarone, Punta Vecchia, Capu Sagru and Anse d’Aliso.

A Mediterranean moray in Cap Corse
If you are lucky, you may encounter some small Mediterranean morays in the rocky areas. Here, in Centuri.

More secluded, and reserved for good swimmers, is Marine de Negru.   Spearfishing here is prohibited, along with the drop-off.  Marine de Giottani and Marine d’Albo also allow beautiful underwater sights.

Stingray in Cap Corse
Snorkeling in Cap Corse sometimes offers unforgettable memories, such as this encounter with a huge roughtail stingray in Marine de Negru.

Between St Florent and L’Ostriconi is the Desert des Agriates, a wild and rugged area making up one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Corsica. Two beaches, reachable by shuttle boat, on a 4×4 or by hiking, are recommended for snorkeling in the area: Plage du Lotu and Plage de Saleccia.

If you are staying in Calvi or Ile Rousse, there are also good spots for snorkeling nearby. A few miles west of Calvi the Revelatta peninsula offers great options. Plage de l’Alga and, even better, Plage de l’Oscellucia are the best places to go.  Accessible on foot from the port of Île Rousse, the small Île de la Pietra is another nice spot.

Broadnosed pipefish at Ile Rousse
The broadnosed pipefish mimics a dead leaf of Posidonia, making it hard to spot. Here, at Ile de la Pietra.

Snorkeling in Galeria, Piana and Cargese

On the west coast of the island the Scandola Reserve is one of Corsica’s natural gems. Its steep cliffs and rocky peaks overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean make it an exceptional site, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Its snorkeling spots are only accessible by sea, during boat trips and Galeria is the closest starting point.

Another fascinating landscape on the west coast, the Calanques de Piana, is a must-see if you are visiting this part of the island. Only a few beaches of the massif are accessible from the shore. The best beach among them for snorkeling is Marine de Ficaghjola, nestled in pink granite cliffs.

Capo Rosso, Corsica
Capo Rosso, Piana.

Snorkeling in Ajaccio and Propriano

There are plenty of interesting snorkel spots in the Ajaccio and Porticcio regions. The western shore of Ajaccio Bay, which ends at Pointe de la Parata, is particularly recommended.

When snorkeling there, you will have the choice between tropical-like sandy beaches, such as Plage Ajaccio and Plage Moorea, or pristine coves like Cala di Reta. At Pointe de la Parata, you can also embark on a boat to discover the Sanguinaires Islands.

Cala di Reta, Corsica
Cala di Reta, near Ajaccio.

One of the most spectacular spots in the region is a cove called Cala d’Orzu, nestled on the rugged coast between Ajaccio and Propriano. If you’re lucky, you might come across the small stingrays that occasionally visit its extensive sandy beds.

In Plage de la Stagnola, Pietrosella, a unique experience awaits: snorkeling over the Mario Wreck, a tugboat sunk some 26 ft/8 meters deep off the beach.

What will I see while snorkeling Corsica?

Corsica is in the Mediterranean, a relatively small and enclosed sea, containing 1% of the world’s ocean surface,  that represents a major source of biodiversity. It is estimated that the Mediterranean contains 8% of the world’s sea life, with a rate of endemic species at nearly 30%.

An octopus hiding under an anchor in Corsica
An octopus hiding under an anchor in Plage du Lotu.

The Posidonia seagrass (or Neptune Grass), in particular, provides a remarkable environment that is easy to explore from the coast. Although it is common to come across wrasse, bream, and starfish in the Corsican waters, it is also possible to see (if you select your spots carefully and have a little luck), moray eels, cuttlefish, dentex, gilt-head bream, small groupers, and stingrays.

If you are planning a snorkeling trip to Corsica, we recommend you to take with you the Europe and Mediterranean Marine Fish identification guide, a comprehensive guide that includes all the marine fish species that may be encountered in the Mediterranean up to a three foot depth.

School of two-banded seabream in Corsica
A school of two-banded seabream in Solenzara.

What is the best time of the year to snorkel Corsica?

The climate in Corsica is mild and sunny, and the temperatures are almost always higher than in continental France. On the coast, average temperatures are between 70 to 80°F (20 to 25°C) from June to September, and from 55 to 70°F (14 to 20°C) the rest of the year. July/August is the peak period for tourists in Corsica, and you can expect high visitor numbers on some parts of the coast.

Water temperature varies between 75 and 80°F (24 and 26°C) from July to September and around 70°F (20°C) in June and October. Outside these months, snorkeling is limited by the cooler water temperatures, unless you have an adapted wetsuit.

Aerial view of Rondinara
Aerial view of shell-shaped Rondinara Beach.

Even during summer, we recommend wearing a rashguard, which will protect your back and shoulders from the strong UV radiations that occur in the Mediterranean. Our selection of the best rashguards and wetsuits for snorkeling may help you to make your choice!

Each year in Corsica there is an “Indian summer” in September and October when the water temperature hovers around 80°F (25°C) at the surface. Most tourists have already left the island, and this is usually the ideal period for a visit.

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