The north of Sardinia and the south of Corsica are separated by the narrow strait of Bonifacio, and the coast and islands of this strait are true pearls of the Mediterranean. The islands of La Maddalena, Caprera, Budeli, Santa Maria, Razzoli and Lavezzi are full of romantic sandy beaches in enclosed rocky coves. You won't be bored here. Corsica will grab you and won't let go!
Yachting in Corsica
Corsica is a French island and is the fourth largest in the Mediterranean. Its coastline is 1,047 km long. The official language is French, but Corsican is also spoken. The original dialect was long banned, but is now commonly taught and there is a strong movement in Corsica for greater autonomy. The island's history has been turbulent, including the birth of Napoleon Bonaparte. Corsica boasts unspoilt landscapes and many glacial lakes. Parts of the island are even listed by UNESCO.
When to sail to Corsica?
The best time to cruise to Corsica is May and early June, when everything is in bloom and smells intoxicating. You can also enjoy a calm cruise from mid-September and October, but it's likely to be windier. But from mid-July to mid-August, when Italy is on holiday, you can forget the deserted coves. Italian holidays culminate on August 15, when the great feast of Ferragosto (Assumption) begins.
Where to sail to Corsica from?
For a cruise to see the beauty of Corsica, we recommend sailing from Italy, specifically from the port of Sardinia. Among other reasons, most sailors have a better experience with renting boats in Sardinia from Italian charter companies than they do in Corsica from French companies.
Choose marinas on the northeast coast. If you're coming to Olbia, the Portisco marina is an ideal starting point. You will then also enjoy a cruise along the Sardinian coast, which is also very beautiful. You can also sail from the marinas of Palau, Santa Teresa di Gallura and others.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Northern Sardinia will absorb you with its beautiful beaches, mysterious islands, ancient fortresses and navigational adventures. Experience it for yourself! Along the northern coast, you will discover a huge number of interesting islands, which are further surrounded by a multitude of rocks and reefs, which will delight especially adventurers and lovers of maritime navigation. However, a lot of caution is needed here. The shallows on the water are often unmarked. The area offers beautiful towns, fishing villages, first-class gastronomy, attractive anchorages and safe harbours. Read the article 10 best places to visit in Northern Sardinia to find out what you need to see in this area!
What is the Strait of Bonifacio and where does it lie
The Strait of Bonifacio, officially the Strait of Bonifacio (Bouches de Bonifacio in French, bocche di Bonifacio in Italian, bucchi di Bunifaziu in Gallurian), is located in the Mediterranean Sea between Corsica and Sardinia. It takes its name from the Corsican town of Bonifacio. The strait is about 12 kilometres wide and reaches a maximum depth of 89 metres. It is known among sailors for its changeable and often windy weather, strong sea currents, frequent shoals and other obstacles. Sailing here is therefore recommended only for the most experienced. However, it is this area that attracts them like a magnet.
YACHTING.COM TIP: The climate of Corsica and its surroundings is greatly influenced by the wind and its sudden changes. Beware especially of the Mistral, a strong cold wind that enters the Mediterranean from the northwest via France. It is a wind of contradictions. On the one hand, a friend of experienced sailors, on the other a terror for beginners. A destroyer of crops and a source of fabulous sunny days in Provence. Find out how it can ruin or improve your sailing in this article: The Master: Turbo-drive for experienced sailors.
Islands of the Strait of Bonifacio
Charming islands with many coves, bizarre rock formations and white beaches in the Strait of Bonifacio are mostly part of the La Maddalena National Park, so there is a charge for anchoring here.
Usually it's 2 to 3 Euros per metre of boat length per day (current charges for La Maddalena islands). Boats from the nature reserve rangers go around the bays and collect the parking fees, often arriving between 11 am and 2 pm when the bays are at their busiest. But some charter companies already have an entrance fee included in the price of the charter.
The islands, made up of red granite, are devoid of vegetation except for a scrubby growth called maquis. Most of these islands are surrounded by visible and underwater rocks and reefs, so very careful navigation is in order. The sea here goes from turquoise to sky blue and is completely clear.
In no or light winds, snorkelling on all sorts of rocks and small islands is therefore beautiful. Pack a thin wetsuit to enjoy the underwater world longer and more intensely. Then you can find the most interesting spot with lots of fish, octopus, caves, and more.
On Razzoli Island, there is a beautiful stop in a cove with Caribbean turquoise water called Cala Lunga. Watch out for the westerly winds and the inconspicuous rocks that dot the estuary and especially the south side of the bay. Here you can drop anchor in 3 to 4 metres on the sandy-rock bottom or tie up to a buoy. You can also stand in the bay of Cala Giorgio Marino. There are some bizarre rock formations jutting out of the sea that will delight the kids, but again, be careful of them as you swim in.
With a catamaran, you can navigate the strait between the island of Santa Maria and Budelli with the utmost caution, in no wind and good visibility (but be really careful, not for nothing is this strait called Secco di Morto, the bay of death). In the north of the island there is a 19th century lighthouse which will make night navigation easier. And it has a magnificent view of Corsica and Sardinia.
There is good anchoring on the east coast of Budelli Island. Worth a visit is the beautiful pink beach of Spiaggia Rosa, which owes its colour to to its colour thanks to tiny fragments of coral and shells, as well as the beaches of the Seca di Morto.
The island of Santa Maria
Santa Maria Island has good anchorages in the bay of Cala St. Maria with a nice beach and in the bay of Cala Muro. And be sure to take a nice walk around the island to the lighthouse.
The island of Spargi
Spargi Island offers three nice anchorages — Cala d'Alga, Cala Corsara and Calla Ferigno. Cala d'Alga has a really nice beach.
The island of Caprera
But the real gem is the two beaches on Caprera Island in Cala Coticcio Bay on the east coast. This magnificent bay is called Tahiti and is definitely worth a visit. In the south of the island there is a safe anchorage in Porto Palma Bay. History buffs will appreciate the fact that Giusseppe Garibaldi was exiled on the island and died here.
If you want to visit a restaurant on the islands, you can do so on La Maddalena Island in the marina of Porto Massimo or in the bay of Cala Spalmarole. There you can take an interesting walk to the cliff high above the sea with the remains of a military fortification. There are also restaurants in the main port of La Maddalena and in Marina del Ponte.
Looking for more adventure? Then sail on to the northwest side of the Corsican coast to more islands. Because even the French islands of Lavezzi and Cavallo have their charms.
The islands of Lavezzi and Cavallo
Lovers of blue lagoons and white sand, beware. You'll enjoy the most romantic swimming and a beautiful island walk among the white rocks. On Lavezzi, there are beautiful anchorages in the lagoon of Cala Lazarina in the south of the island and in the bay of Cala di u Grecu.
Beware, however, of the many reefs as you come in. Therefore, sail only during the day and in good visibility. The winds that can blow here are strengthened by the nearby islands, accelerating them.
YACHTING TIP.COM: The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most popular destinations for sailors to go on a yachting holiday, to compare the power of theor with other sailors in one of the many regattas that are held here. Whether you are a leisure or competitive sailor, you should have a basic understanding of everything that affects sailing. This means being able to read the clouds and predict the weather based on them, knowing what type of winds are blowing in the area at different times of the year and, importantly, knowing the sea currents and how they affect sailing. These can be both a hindrance and a pleasant propulsion.
The island of Corsica: the port of Bonifacio will keep you warm
The long narrow fjord of Bonifacio harbour is well hidden among the high rocks and can be recognised from the immediate vicinity by the entrance lighthouse and the busy traffic. The little town on the cliffs is beautiful and best enjoyed if you combine a visit with lunch or dinner up in the citadel. Bonifacio is very well protected and definitely the prettiest harbour in Corsica. According to the head-shaped rock that juts out of the sea on the south side below the walls, Corsica has its own flag.
As you sail from the Maddonetta lighthouse to Anse de Fazziuol, there are caves in the rocks (you may recognise the footage from the film The Count of Monte Cristo). Sail the boat close to the rocks and the crew in the boat can sail to the caves and back. The captain should stay on the boat.
If you don't want to spend the night in the busy harbour, you can stand in the romantic bay of Anse de Fazziuolu in calm weather. But beware of the waves from passing boats. It's a good idea to use longer ropes to pull yourself ashore.
West coast of Corsica: only for experienced crews
From the south, you can also head along the western coast of Corsica, which is one of the wildest. However, sailing conditions are more challenging here and we recommend this cruise only for experienced crews. The entire west coast offers few shelters in westerly winds, so you'll need to keep an eye on the forecast and take shelter if necessary.
But between Bonifacio and Propriano there are a huge number of incredibly romantic anchorages. The jagged rocks, Caribbean blue water and beautiful sandy beaches combined with the desert character of the coastline create a stunning scenery. However, even here you have to be careful because the large number of underwater reefs makes it difficult to approach the shore.
There is a not very big marina in Proprian, where you will probably look for a place in vain. Originally a sleepy fishing village, it has become a major resort in the last half century. Campomoro Bay offers a relatively well-protected anchorage. The surrounding coastline is criss-crossed with trails that invite more challenging walks. The area is also home to Corsican wild boar.
What other places are still waiting on the route? For example, Port de Tizziano, a beautiful place with the possibility of a trip to the nearby Dolmens. Or Golfe de Roccapina, a sandy bay with stunning scenery. Or the rocky bay of Cala Grande with its sandy beach and more rugged desert character, or the small marina of Pianottoli in Baie de Figari. Most of these places can only be enjoyed, however, if there's no westerly wind, which blows really hard here.
The island of Sardinia
On the Sardinian coast, you can visit the famous millionaire's port of Porto Cervo. However, you can pay € 300 for a berth in Porto Cervo marina in high season and € 120 for a buoy, plus electricity and water charges.
We therefore recommend sailing further afield; if you need to shop or find a cheaper marina, visit Palau, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Porto Pollo (a very nice, well-protected anchorage) or Porto Pozzo.
About 2 Nm east of Palau is Capo d'Orso with its bear-shaped rock. The view from the bear is really worth the somewhat strenuous climb.
Specialities of Corsican cuisine
- Chestnuts play an indispensable role in Corsican cuisine. You can find them in almost everything, for example as a side dish in the form of porridge (similar to corn polenta).
- Chestnuts are also eaten by the local wild boar (sanglier), whose meat, in various preparations, is also a popular dish. Boar meat is also used to make many delicious sausages and ham.
- Cheese lovers will appreciate the sheep's cheese 'brocciu' or its summer cow's milk equivalent.
- By the sea, of course, you will find fish and seafood.
- You can also enjoy the famous fig or chestnut jams or honey.
- And be sure to try the local wine, earthy and spicy, full of flavour.