The north of Sardinia and the south of Corsica are separated by the narrow Strait of Bonifacio. The coast and islands here are the true pearls of the Mediterranean. The islands of La Maddalena, Caprera, Budeli, Santa Maria, Razzoli and Lavezzi are magical places full of romantic sandy beaches in enclosed rocky coves.
The Straitof Bonifacio is simply a dream yachting destination. The unbridled coastline with tall white cliffs is surrounded by a deep turquoise sea. And because there's always a steady wind and rocks lurking beneath the surface, it will challenge every sailor. You definitely won't get bored here. Corsica will take a hold of you and never let you go!
Corsica is a French island and the fourth largest in the Mediterranean. French is the official language, but Corsican is also spoken here. The original dialect had been banned for a long time, but today it is commonly taught in schools and there is a strong movement in Corsica seeking greater autonomy. This island has had a turbulent history.
Napoleon Bonaparte was actually born on Corsica, an island boasting untouched landscapes and numerous glacial lakes, parts of which are protected under UNESCO. The coast is 1047km long.
Access to most bays is only possible from the sea, so you won’t come across many people here.
When to sail to Corsica?
The best sailing season is May and the beginning of June, when everything is in bloom, filling the air with an intoxicating fragrance. You can enjoy a quieter cruise from mid-September and October. From mid-July to mid-August, when there are holidays in Italy, you can forget about the deserted bays. Italian holidays culminate on the 15th of August, when the national holiday of Ferragosto begins.
Fortunately, the Italians are very predictable and arrive between 11am and 6pm. At around 2pm the surface of the bay resembles an anthill, but you're almost alone there by the late afternoon. By then the Italians have already headed off to the ports and restaurants.
The restaurants on the islands are not that busy in the bays and their season is very short-lived. Therefore head to the harbours or marinas for food out of season.
Where to sail to Corsica from?
For a journey to see the full beauty of Corsica, we recommend leaving from Sardinia. Plus, as sailing boats in Sardinia are provided by Italian charter companies, most sailors have a better experience than renting them in Corsica from French companies.
And where exactly to set sail? Choose marinas on the northeast coast. If you going to Olbia, an ideal starting point is Portisco. You'll get to enjoy a cruise along the coast of Sardinia, which is also very beautiful. You can also set off from the marina of Palau, Santa Teresa di Gallura and other locations.
Islands of the Bonifacio Straits
In the Bonifacio Straits, the most charming islands full of coves, bizarre rock formations and white beaches are largely to be found in the La Maddalena National Park, so pay to moor here.
Usually, it costs 2 to 3 euros per metre of boat length per day (current charges to La Maddalena Islands). The bays are circled by guards of the nature reserve on small boats who collect for mooring, often arriving between 11 am and 2 pm, when the most boats are in the bays. However, some charter companies already have this cost included in the rental price.
Except for the bush-like maquis, these islands of red granite are without vegetation. Most of them are surrounded by visible or more hidden underwater rocks and reefs, so precise navigation is necessary. The sea moves from turquoise to heavenly blue and is completely transparent.
As a result, when it’s calm or in low winds, snorkelling is absolutely breath-taking whilst exploring the various rocks and small islets. Pack a thin neoprene suit to take in and explore the underwater world for even longer. In the calm, you’ll find the most interesting places with numerous fish, octopuses, caves…
On the island of Razzoli there is the beautiful bay of Cala Lunga with its a Caribbean-like turquoise water. Beware of the westerly winds and the hidden rocks, which extend from the mouth and especially on the south side of the bay. You can drop anchor at 3 to 4 metres on the sandy-rocky sea floor or tie up to a buoy.
You can also stay in the bay of Cala Giorgio Marino. The strange rock formations that emerge from the sea will delight the kids, but beware of them again when sailing.
With utmost caution, in calm waters and with good visibility, you’re able to pass through the strait between Santa Maria and Budelli with a catamaran (but really cautiously, the Strait of Secco di Morto isn’t known as the Bay of Death for nothing).
In the north of the island there’s a lighthouse from the 19th century, which makes navigation at night much easier. Plus, there is a wonderful view of Corsica and Sardinia.
There is good mooring on the east coast of Budelli. Visit the beautiful pink beach of Spiaggia Rosa, which owes its colour to tiny fragments of corals and shells, and the beaches of the Seca di Morto Strait.
Santa Maria Island
There are great places to anchor on the island of Santa Maria in the bay of Cala St. Maria with its stunning beach, and in the bay of Cala Muro. Be sure to take a nice stroll through the island to the lighthouse.
Spargi Island offers three nice berths - Cala d'Alga, Cala Corsara and Calla Ferigno. There is a really beautiful beach in the bay of Cala d'Alga.
The two beaches on the east coast of Caprera in the bay of Cala Coticcio are absolute gems. This magnificent bay, also known as Tahiti, is definitely worth a visit. To the south of the island there is a safe berth in the bay of Porto Palma. History lovers will appreciate the fact that Giusseppe Garibaldi was in exile on the island, where he later died.
If you want to visit a restaurant on the islands, you can do so on the island of La Maddalena in Porto Massimo marina or Cala Spalmarole Bay. Take an interesting walk on the cliff high above the sea where there are remnants of military fortifications. Restaurants are also in La Maddalena's main port and del Ponte marina.
Do you long for further adventures? Then sail further to the northwest side of the Corsican coast to the other islands. The French islands of Lavezzi and Cavallo are charming.
Lavezzi a Cavallo Islands
If you love blue lagoons and white sand, this spot is perfect. Enjoy a romantic swim and walk around the beautiful island among the white rocks. On the island of Lavezzi there is a place to moor in the lagoon of Cala Lazarina in the south of the island and in the bay of Cala di u Grecu.
When approaching, be careful of the numerous reefs. Therefore, just sail during the day and with good visibility. The wind here is intensified and accelerated by the nearby islands.
Long narrow fjord of Bonifacio is well hidden among the high rocks but you’ll recognise it by the entrance lighthouse and lively traffic in the immediate vicinity. The town on the rock is wonderful and is best enjoyed when you combine a visit with lunch or dinner at the top of the citadel. Bonifacio is very well protected and definitely the most beautiful harbour in Corsica.
Corsica’s own flag based on the head-shaped rock that protrudes from the sea on the southern side below the walls..
While cruising from the Madonnetta lighthouse to Anse de Fazziuolu, there are caves in the rocks (you might recognise it from The Count of Monte Cristo). Sail the boat close to the rocks and the crew can go to the cave and back in the dinghy. The captain should stay on board the ship.
If you don’t want to spend the night in a busy harbour, try the romantic bay of Anse de Fazziuolu in calmer weather. But watch out for the waves from passing ships. It’s best to moor with longer ropes to the shore.
West coast of Corsica
From the south you can continue along the west coast of Corsica, one of the wildest. Yachting conditions, however, are more demanding and we only recommend this journey for more experienced crews. Indeed, the entire west coast provides only a few sanctuaries from the westerly wind, so it is necessary to follow the forecast and possibly find shelter.
However, there are a tremendous number of incredibly romantic berths between Bonifacio and Proprian. The scenery is breath-taking thanks to the jagged rocks, Caribbean-like blue water and beautiful sandy beaches coupled with the desert-like nature of the coast. But here too you must be careful because a large number of underwater reefs make it difficult to approach the shore.
There is a no large marina in Propriano where you will probably end up looking for a space in vain. This originally sleepy fishing village has become a big resort in the last half century. Campomoro Bay offers a relatively well-protected berth. The coastline is interwoven with trails that are attractive for a more challenging walk. The area is also home to Corsican wild boars.
What other places are there en route? For example, Port de Tiziano is a wonderful place and can be combined with a trip to the nearby dolmen. Or Golfe de Roccapina, a sandy bay with amazing scenery. Or the rocky bay of Cala Grande with its sandy beach and rough desert nature or the small marina of Pianottoli in Baie de Figari.
Most of these places can be enjoyed only if the westerly wind isn’t blowing, because here it really can blow hard.
On the coast of Sardinia, you can visit the renowned millionaire port of Porto Cervo. For mooring in Porto Cervo, however, you can pay €300 for the season and €120 for a buoy, plus electricity and water.
Therefore, we recommend that you go further afield, if you need to buy something or find a cheaper port, visit Palau, Santa Teresa Gallura, Porto Pollo (very nice, well-protected mooring) or Porto Pozzo.
About 2 NM east of Palau is Capo d´Orso with a rock in the shape of a bear. The view from the bear is really worth the strenuous climb.
Where is Corsica?
What to watch out for when sailing in Corsica?
What to watch out for when sailing in Corsica?
- Shallows and reefs, the sea here does not fall so deeply into the depths and you should remain cautious and navigate carefully. It is better to use paper maps where shallows are well marked rather than relying on GPS.
- Wind and changes in wind, especially on the west coast of Corsica.
- On the leeward side of the La Maddalena Park, beware of strong gusts even in moderate winds.
- Chestnuts play a vital role in Corsican cuisine. They can be found in almost everything, even as a side dish in the form of mash (similar to corn polenta).
- The local wild boars (sanglier) also consume the chestnuts, the meat of which in various forms is also a favourite dish. Boar meat also provides plenty of delicious sausages and ham.
- Cheese lovers will definitely appreciate “brocciu” sheep cheese or its cow milk summer equivalent
- Of course, you will find fish and seafood on the coast.
- You will also enjoy the renowned fig or chestnut jams or honey.
- And certainly taste the local wine, earthy and spicy, with a full flavour.
Note, when ordering by the end of June, we’ll add a special extra discount on the boat you sail there with. Thanks to this Last Minute discount, you can rent a boat for a really great price. It applies to all boats that you rent in Sardinia with voyage dates from 1. 6. to 30. 9. 2021