The Calanque de Sormiou is the widest, and probably one of Marseille’s most beautiful calanques. 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.

Gilt-head bream at Calanque de Sormiou

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.

Water entrance

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

Calanque de Sormiou snorkeling map, Calanques National Park

Exploration

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.

Salema porgy at Calanque de Sormiou

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.

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

View of Calanque de Sormiou, Marseille

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.



Species you may spot while snorkeling Calanque de Sormiou
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Sargo Diplodus sargus  
Saddled seabream Oblada melanura  
Salema porgy Sarpa salpa  
Thicklip grey mullet Chelon labrosus  
Common two-banded seabream Diplodus vulgaris  
Black sea urchin Arbacia lixula  
Neptune grass Posidonia oceanica  

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaParc National des Calanques
  • Maximum depth25ft/8m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • 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.