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 north coast, Cala della chiesa is one of the three snorkel spots on the Lavezzi Islands, together with Cala Achiarina (west coast) and Cala di u Grecu (east coast). This spot is located further north than the others, and the distance to the pontoons is greater. Logically, its rocky islets are also less frequented.

Cala della Chiesa

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 della Chiesa is located on the island’s north coast, about 900 meters from the eastern jetty (walking distance: 30 minutes) and 1600 meters from the western jetty (walking distance: 35 minutes). Tags will guide you down the paths.

Cala della Chiesa snorkeling map, Lavezzi Islands

Water entrance

You can enter the water either from the beach, or from the rocks on its eastern side. The latter are closer to the recommended snorkeling area (see map).

Exploration

The exploration area covers the whole bay, made of a maze of rocks and islets. Rocky areas, Posidonia meadows and sandy patches make the waterscape heterogeneous, and water depth is variable. Just like all the spots around the Lavezzi Islands, this one boasts slightly bigger fish than Corsica’s unprotected areas.

Mediterranean rainbow wrasse at Cala della Chiesa

Exploring the rocky areas (↕0,5-2m/2-6ft), you will see Mediterranean rainbow wrasses and colorful ornate wrasse darting over the granite blocks. Peacock wrasses are also common there (the males have blue fins, making them easier to recognize). Look for painted combers, with their flashes of blue and yellow. Those cousins to the Mediterranean grouper are shyer but just as elegant.

Water is deeper over Posidonia meadows (↕2-3m/6-10ft). Big sargos and large groups of salema porgy glide over the seabed. You might also spot a red starfish or a noble pen shell in this area. The sandy areas, notably the channel located on the northernmost part of the spot, attracts saddled seabream in numbers: you might observe schools of dozens of them.

Peacock wrasse at Cala della Chiesa

The spot indicated on the map is quite large: it stretches over about 300 meters from north to south. If you are not a good swimmer, or not used to fin, consider remaining close to the place where you entered the water. Mind the boats sometimes mooring in the area. Depending on the time of year, jellyfish can be present in the bay.

If you have enough time, consider combining this spot with a visit to Cala Achiarina’s natural pool (located 1 000 meters to the south) or to Cala di u Grecu (located 500 meters to the east).

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 Intermediary
  • Protected areaRéserve naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m
  • Water entranceEasy, from small sandy beaches or rocks
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • 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 spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

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.