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Corsica : What is your kind of boat?

Corsica - our advices for your cruise



By Anaïs BEDE 

Managing Editor of Filovent magazine. "As a travel enthusiast, my holidays always equate to boat trips!"

 

8 November 2021

 

Reading time: 6 minutes

 

 

In a nutshell

 

Unmissable: the Calanques de Piana and the Scandola Nature Reserve

Special features : translucent waters, sun, and red porphyry: welcome to the island of beauty! Beware, however, of the fast-changing wind. 

The most beautiful anchorages : the anchorage at Girolata, at Rondinara beach, and in the Lavezzi islands

 

 

Maps of sailing areas in Corsica
Map of navigation areas in Corsica (clickable map)

 

 

Contents

 

  1. Practical information for your boat rental in Corsica
  2. Why go to Corsica?
  3. What are the main sailing areas?
  4. The best anchorages in Corsica
  5. Which itineraries to follow for your rental?
  6. What are the weather conditions?

 

 

 

 

"I don't know of any other place, except Corsica, where there are such beautiful landscapes, such beautiful islands in a row". These are the words of José who sailed with Filovent from Ajaccio on-board a Bali 4.1.

Corsica, rough diamond of the Mediterranean, attracts many boaters every year in search of magnificent and varied landscapes. Coastal sailing under the sun to admire the steep coasts, sporty sailing in the Bouches de Bonifacio, a sea trip in the calanques of Piana, or anchorage in Girolata: you will no doubt find your corner of paradise! Boat rental in the Mediterranean and Corsica therefore form a major duo in the European nautical tourism sector.

 

Stéphane at the helm on a Dufour 460 GL
Stéphane at the helm of a Dufour 360 GL (photo by Stéphane Espa-Morin)

 

 

1. Practical information for your boat rental in Corsica

 

The different starting bases

 

In Corsica, there are many starting bases. You will have the choice of discovering the different sailing areas. Nevertheless, it is more strategic to start from certain bases according to your itinerary, accessibility, the number of boats offered for rent....

Therefore, choose:

  • to start from Ajaccio as it is the most important departure base in Corsica. It is central and will allow you to discover either the South-West or the North-West of the island of beauty according to the weather conditions and your preferences;
  • from Calvi to sail in the middle of the Reserve of Scandola, the Gulf of Porto and Sagone;
  • to depart from Macinaggio to explore the Corsica Cape and the Agriates Desert;
  • to depart from Porto-Vecchio to discover the South of Corsica, the Lavezzi Islands and Sardinia.

 

Which licence is required?

 

To skipper a boat in France, no licence is required. However, you will need to provide your nautical CV which lists all of your experience as a skipper. It will show whether or not you are able to take on the responsibility of skipper.

Of course, if you have opted for boat rental with skipper, the nautical CV will not be necessary.

 

Average rental prices depending on the boat model and season

 

You will find below, an order of magnitude of the average prices of a mono-hull or catamaran sailing boat rental in Corsica. These prices may avolve according to the season, the availability, the model, and the age of the boat…

 

Type of boat High Season
July and August
Mid-Season
May, June and September
Low Season
April and October
Mono-hull (2 cabins) €2,500 €1,800 €1,200
Mono-hull (3 cabins) €3,000 €2,100 €1,600
Mono-hull (4 cabins) €4,000 €3,000 €2,200
Catamaran (40 feet) €7,000 €6,000 €5,000
Catamaran (50 feet) €15,000 €12,000 €9,000

 

 

2. Why go to Corsica?

 

Closer to Sardinia than to France, Corsica attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world every year. Between historical heritage, unspoiled nature, magnificent landscapes and a distinct identity, the island of beauty has everything for you to have a good holiday.

Occupations, invasions, fights, revolutions, alternately Genoese, then French… Corsica has experienced many torments that have enabled it to forge a distinct identity. The Genoese occupation began as early as the 18th century with the aim of lessening the power of the Pisans who controlled the island at that time. The Genoese left traces of their five centuries of occupation as the many Genoese towers that line the Corsican coast attest. It was at this time that Saint-Florent, Bastia, Calvi, Porto-Vecchio, Bonifacio, and Ajaccio emerged. Pascal Paoli, a leading figure in Corsican history, managed to regain control of Corsica and give it 14 years of independence. Following the Treaty of Versailles of 1768, and then the decisive battle of Ponte Novu in 1769, the island of beauty became French under the reign of Louis XV. Finally, Corsica is inseparable from a famous historical figure Napoleon, who was born in Ajaccio, and who remained proud of his native island throughout his life.

Corsica seduces not only history lovers but also nature lovers. With its 200 beaches, its 1,000 kilometres of coastline , and its land sheltering scrubland, this island is a real natural oasis. It's easy to juggle a day at the beach, hiking in the mountains, and walking in the forests. The Corsican coastline is a combination of white sand bays and pebble coves, so you're bound to find something to suit you! The beaches all offer, without exception, lovely swimming, and for the more adventurous, there are many opportunities for water sports such as kayaking, paddling and snorkelling.

 

Ajaccio, its port, and its old town
View of the harbour and the old town of Ajaccio in the background (Adobe Stock photo)

 

3. What are the main sailing areas?

 

The Corsica Cape and the Agriates Desert

"Sailing in the North of Corsica will enable you to encounter various landscapes: the Corsica Cape with steep grey rocks, the area stretching from Saint-Florent to Ile Rousse which has very rugged terrain, and finally the Gulf of Porto, comprised of porphyry, the emblematic stone of the island of beauty" Philippe Raimondo, who works for our local partner Nauticorse Location, told me. So there is no shortage of points of interest!

Saint-Florent and the village of Centuri will immerse you in the atmosphere of typical small Corsican villages. Overflowing with charm, Saint-Florent is nestled in the hollow of a gulf. Its old port is enlivened by bars, shops and restaurants that line the quays, reminding us that Saint-Florent is, above all, a fishing village.

 

View of the village of Saint-Florent
View of the village of Saint-Florent (photo by the Saint-Florent Tourist Office)

 

 

Your discovery of the Corsica Cape continues with the Desert of Agriates. Sailing along the rugged coast with your boat, we recommend that you go to Saleccia beach, or Lotu beach. Turquoise waters, fine sand and typical Mediterranean scrubland: this is what awaits you on these beaches!

 

Saleccia beach
Saleccia beach (photo by the Saint-Florent Tourist Office)

 

 

Balagne and the gulfs of Northern Corsica

This is the sailing area that boaters visit the most. The reason for sailing in this area is to be able to discover the different gulfs which are all home to real pearls.

The Gulf of Porto will enable you to discover the Scandola Nature Reserve and the Calanques de Piana, classified as a Unesco World Heritage Sitesince 1983.

 

Scandola nature reserve
Scandola nature reserve (Adobe Stock photo)

 

 

The Gulf of Sagone extends from Cargèse to Capo di Feno. The coastline is full of small sandy beaches that are ideal for family swimming. As soon as you move away from the shore, the terrain rises, and you go deeper into thick scrubland that hides small villages. Cargèse, to the North of the Gulf of Sagone, "is a pretty little port village, typically Corsican" Laurent, who sailed with Filovent on a Sun Odyssey 36l, told me. The Punta di Cargèse, to the West of the village, will offer you a breathtaking view from the Punta d'Omigna to Capo di Feno, that is to say of the entire Gulf of Sagone.

 

View of Cargèse
View of Cargèse while sipping a local beer (photo by Laurent Soubeyroux)

 

 

Finally, the Gulf of Ajaccio will hold some lovely surprises: "While crossing it, we sailed next to a whale. I was at the helm and tried to get as close as possible so we could see her better. It was truly an unforgettable and unique moment that can only happen in Corsica!" Gilles, who skippered a Dufour 382, told me. The two main points of interest in the Gulf of Ajaccio are Ajaccio, and the Sanguinaires Islands. Despite its modern districts, Ajaccio has retained its charm of yesteryear thanks to its old town. Stroll through the winding, shady streets and squares with their colourful facades until you reach the harbour, where you can stroll along the quays. This city is inseparable from Napoleon, who came from Ajaccio. The memory of the emperor still lives on in the city, as shown by the museum dedicated to him, and the statue of him near the Place Foch. The Sanguinaires Islands form an archipelago comprised of 4 islands: the Grande Sanguinaire, Cormorans, Cala d'Alga and Porri. These islands reveal multiple facets every time you look at them thanks to the mixture of dark rock, diorite, and light rock, a monzonite granite.

 

The Sanguinaires Islands
View of the Sanguinaires islands (photo by Thomas Fulconis)

 

 

South Corsica and the Lavezzi Islands

When sailing in the South of Corsica, we advise you to stop at Bonifacio, and Porto-Vecchio. Bonifacio will seduce you with its white limestone cliffs where the old town is perched, and with its lively port thanks to the bars, shops, and restaurants that line the quay. Porto-Vecchio, the third largest city in Corsica, overlooks a bay from the top of the rock where it is located. Finally, the Lavezzi Islands, comprised of 23 islands and islets, must be part of your itinerary in Southern Corsica. Turquoise water and granite rock dotted with sparse vegetation are the main characteristics of the landscape of this archipelago. The Lavezzi Islands encapsulate a dramatic past because they were the scene of the sinking of the Semillante ship in the mid-19th century.

 

The Lavezzi Islands
Aerial view of the Lavezzi islands (photo by the Tourist Office of Bonifacio - Salina Boukhezar)

 

 

Sardinia

If your navigation starts in the South of Corsica, especially from Porto-Vecchio, it is quite possible to head for Italy. The archipelago of the Maddalena is a possible stopover. It is comprised of 7 islands and about 60 rocky islets. Sailing in this archipelago will enable you to admire the richness of its biodiversity: granite rocks sculpted by the wind, luxuriant scrubland and heavenly beaches with waters that change from turquoise blue to emerald green.

 

4. The best anchorages in Corsica

 

Anchorage at Rondinara beach

Between Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio, the rounded shape of Rondinara beach makes it one-of-a-kind. Fine white sand and turquoise water, a true paradise of colours! For boaters, this anchorage is well-protected from southerly and northerly winds, and the sandy bottoms enable a good hold.

 

Aerial view of Rondinara beach
Aerial view of Rondinara beach (photo by the Tourist Office of Bonifacio - Salina Boukhezar)

 

 

Anchorage in Campomoro

This anchorage is located to the South-East of Ajaccio. It's one of Stéphane's favourites, who sailed with Filovent on-board a Dufour 360 GL: "this anchorage is well-sheltered, with quite a bit of room, and the 20 metres of depth enable stable mooring. The setting is really beautiful because this cove forms a small overhang that overlooks a Genoese tower. And as if this place could not be more perfect, the icing on the cake was the surprise visit from dolphins who came to rub against the boat's anchor. It was magical!"

 

Anchorage in the Calanques de Piana

"The Calanques de Piana are one of the wonders of Corsica; you could say, I think, one of the wonders of the world". These are the words of Guy de Maupassant in The Monastery of Corbara who completely fell under the spell of the Calanques de Piana. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, these rocky inlets are a true wonder of nature as Mr Cardi, who works for our local partner, Union Nautique Insulaire, told me: "this volcanic rock that juts out into the water is spectacular. No postcard can replace the feeling you get when you are in the middle of these rocky inlets".

 

The Calanques de Piana
The Calanques of Piana (photo by Gilles Croyère)

 

Anchorage in Girolata

Philippe Raimondo, who works for our local partner, Nauticorse Location, advised me to anchor. What makes Girolata so charming is the fact that this small village is only accessible by the sea. The landscape is typically Corsican: a Genoese tower dating from the 16th century, and landscape combining scrubland and red porphyry, the emblematic stone of the island of beauty.

 

View from the beach of the bay of Girolata
View from the beach of Girolata bay (Adobe Stock photo)

 

 

Anchorage at the Arana cove near Sartène

It is one of Thomas's favourites, who sailed in the South of Corsica on-board a Sun Odyssey 469. "This cove is wild and well-sheltered from the winds. We were practically the only ones to anchor there. The coastal path is very pleasant for walking, and always away from the crowds".

 

View of Arana cove from the beach
View of Arana cove from the beach (photo by Thomas Fulconis)

 

 

5. Which itineraries to follow for your navigation?

 

Itinerary 1, for one week: Discovery of the Corsica Cape - Total distance covered: 133 nautical miles

  • Day 1: Macinaggio → port and village of Centuri (20 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
  • Day 2: Centuri → Saint-Florent (20 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Saint-Florent → Île Rousse (24 nautical miles - 4 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Ile Rousse → Calvi (12 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Calvi → Saleccia beach in the Agriates Desert (26 nautical miles - 4 hours' sailing)
  • Day 6: Saleccia beach → Macinaggio (31 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)

 

Itinerary 2, for one week : Discovery of the North-West coast of Corsica - Total distance covered: 138 nautical miles

  • Day 1: Ajaccio → Cargèse (37 nautical miles - 6 hours' sailing)
  • Day 2: Cargèse → Girolata (27 nautical miles - 4 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Girolata → Calvi and the Calanques de Piana (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Calanques de Piana → Île Rousse (12 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Île Rousse → Cargèse (60 nautical miles - 10 hours' sailing)
  • Day 6: Cargèse → Ajaccio (37 nautical miles - 6 hours' sailing)

 

Thomas and his crew on-board a Sun Odyssey
Thomas and his crew on-board a Sun Odyssey (photo by Thomas Fulconis)

 

 

Itinerary 3, for one week : Discovery of places of interest between Ajaccio and Propriano - Total distance covered: 138 nautical miles

  • Day 1: Ajaccio → the Sanguinaires Islands (10 nautical miles - 1.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 2: Sanguinaires Islands → Cupabia Bay (24 nautical miles - 4 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Cupabia Bay → Campomoro (15 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Campomoro → Bonifacio (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Bonifacio → Propriano port (40 nautical miles - 6 hours' sailing)
  • Day 6: Propriano → Ajaccio (31 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)

 

Itinerary 4, for one week: Discovery of South Corsica and Italy - Total distance covered: 133 nautical miles

  • Day 1: Porto-Vecchio → Rondinara beach (20 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
  • Day 2: Rondinara beach → Lavezzi Islands (10 nautical miles - 1.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Lavezzi Islands → Maddalena archipelago (15 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Maddalena archipelago → Bonifacio (15 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Bonifacio → Piantarella beach (6 nautical miles - 1 hour sailing)
  • Day 6: Piantarella beach → Porto-Vecchio (22 nautical miles - 3.5 hours' sailing)

 

6. What are the weather conditions?

 

Corsica is an ideal playground for lovely sailing. Nevertheless, because of its topography, the wind changes direction quickly which can make your sailing rather athletic. In order not to be surprised by the Mistral and the Libeccio, the main Mediterranean winds that blow in Corsica, we advise you to always check the wind conditions with applications like Windy or Météo Consult. As Thomas told me : "to sail in Corsica, you need to have a general idea of the itinerary you want to do and obtain information locally, depending on the wind".

 

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank all the Filovent customers who, through their testimonials and photos, helped me greatly in the writing of this article. A big thank you also to our Corsican rental partners and to the Tourist Offices of Bonifacio and Saint-Florent for their advice.

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