Anse du Petit Mugel (Petit Mugel Cove in English) is a famous diving and freediving spot located at the eastern extremity of the Calanques National Park. To be true, there are not a lot of spots in the Mediterranean Sea where so many environments and species can be met in one place. While exploring Anse du Petit Mugel’s gorgeous drop-off and sea meadows you will most likely meet moray eels, octopuses and cuttlefish, but also admire yellow gorgonian, a coral species rare to snorkelers.

Threefin blennie at Anse du Petit Mugel

How to get there?

Anse du Petit Mugel is located at La Ciotat city and harbor’s edge, at the foot of Cap de l’Aigle mountain. The cove is bordered by Le Parc du Mugel, a famous botanical garden. It has two neighbors: Anse du Grand Mugel (to the north) and Anse du Sec (to the south).

You can access the spot from Marseille (about 35 km away, 1-hour drive) or from Cassis (11 km away, 25-minute drive). Once in La Ciotat, follow Parc du Mugel/Calanques signs. Parking Le Mugel fee-paying car park is the best option to park nearby. From there, a path offering gorgeous views over Anse du Grand Mugel leads to the spot (about 400m from the parking lot to the cove). You can also walk or take public transportation from La Ciotat city center, only 1km away.

Anse du Petit Mugel snorkeling map, La Ciotat

Water entrance

Enter the water from the pebble beach, next to the rocky cliff bordering the southern side of the cove (on your right when facing the sea).

Exploration

The spot is famous for its drop-off extending over 250m along the rocky point separating Anse du Petit Mugel from Anse du Sec. The point is easy to spot from the beach, on your right.

Cuttlefish at Anse du Petit Mugel

Leaving from the shoreline, follow the drop-off towards the rocky point. Rocky next to the cliffs, the seabed turns into Posidonia meadows towards the center of the cove (2-4 m). Numerous species can be spotted on the rock drop-off: rock fish such as threefin blennies, Mediterranean red sea stars, small octopuses, sea anemones, shrimps and (sometimes) small nudibranchs. Many snorkelers have reported spotting moray eels here, on the drop-off as well as in Posidonia. Caves and cavities dug in the cliff can also shelter sea sponges and yellow cluster anemones which colonies spread over the rocks.

When you get at the point’s end, take a look at the foot of the underwater cliffs. You will see small yellow gorgonian scattered over the rocky bed, 7 to 10 meters deep. This coral species usually settles much deeper: being able to spot it from the water surface is quite exceptional.

Yellow gorgonian at Anse du Petit Mugel

If the drop-off is the most interesting snorkel area, don’t miss the central part of the bay: Schools of salema, sargos and mullets appreciate this environment dominated by Posidonia meadows. And surprises await: small cuttlefish can also be seen, especially during spring, and some snorkelers have reported spotting long-snouted seahorses, even if this remains very rare for snorkelers as compared to scuba divers.

This spot is quite busy: expect swimmers, scuba divers, fishers (even though the bay is located inside the Calanques National Park, fishing is sadly still allowed in this gorgeous cove) and of course other snorkelers. Pay special attention to people jumping in the water from the rocks just above the drop-off.

Restaurants and accommodation

Settled in neighboring Anse du Grand Mugel, Restaurant Le Mugel is the only restaurant close to the spot. There are no other food nor accommodation options in the area, but you can bring your picnic with you.

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaParc National des Calanques
  • Maximum depth30ft/10m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a pebble beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium to high
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes, at Anse du Grand Mugel

MAP Spot

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.