Corsican Beaches

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Corsican Beaches
Corsican Beaches
Almost everyone asks about beaches. Of course, it depends what you like: what
kind of sand, pebbles or rocks, beach restaurants (many or few) or not,
accessibility, popularity, waves or not, life guards or not, shelving quickly or
gently sloping, availability of water sports... So I have been resistant in the past to
make any comments. But now I have given in and so here's this list.
Don't forget, though, that Corsica has 1000 kms of coast, hence this listing is
hardly a gazetteer. Bear in mind that in the summer, only 25% of recognised
beaches have life guards. This may be a factor for your choice. The Sunday
Times list of Europe's Top 20 beaches includes three in Corsica, which may give
you an indication of what's in store for you.
Corsica's beaches come in all shapes and sizes, and since there is such a huge
distance of coast accessible on foot, the walking is great too! A superb book has
recently appeared – called Par les Chemins du Littoral Corse, by Alain Gautier
and published by Albiana, a Corsican publisher. Though beautifully illustrated,
this book is not very portable. However, the book gives 60 walks, detailled by
their flora, fauna, access, architecture (Genoese towers for example) and itinerary
with exellent maps. Some of the walks are for serious walkers, but you can just
pick section; you'll also get a good idea of the beaches.
If you want naturist beaches, try naturisme.com. There is a UK naturist holiday
specialist – Chalfont – they do holidays in Corsica. If you are interested in the
work of the Conservatoire du Littoral in Corsica, then you can visit their website.
They publish Balades entre terre et mer, sur les sites du Conservatoire du littoral
and you can get a copy of this guide of their Corsican properties here.
Algajola (Balagne - NW) - Algajola is one of few seaside villages; it had an
important past under the Genoese and has an ancient small citadel. The beach, or
rather beaches, are mainly coarse sand, but at the far northerly end (actually in the
commune of Aregno) is finer. It has water sports and some beach restaurants and
snack bars, as well as a few hotels with direct beach access. The climatic
conditions are such that it's popular with fun boarders (short boards with which
stunts can be performed with a strong wind).
Argentella (between Calvi
not be everyone's cup of tea!
trillions of small washed
conceivable colour. If you
& Galeria - NW) - this may
I like it because is has
granite pebbles of every
are into making jewellery
Corsican Beaches 08/05 © 2005 William Keyser – www.corsica-isula.com
1
or just stone collecting (light enough for the flight home), this remote beach will
thrill you. The clear water shelves deeply, so you can get to swim quickly. It is
easy of access (though parking on the roadside may entail you walking quite a
way) and has a hotel and restaurant at the south end (where of course parking is
easier) – see my Calinzana site for more details.
Arinella (Bastia - NE) - this is Bastia's main beach, only about a kilometre from
the centre of the city. There is a water sports centre and recent improvements in
sewage plants as well as daily cleaning of the beach make this urban resort a good
place for locals and those who want a last swim before catching the ferry. There
is a lot of space – you could walk for miles in the sand.
Arone (Piana - W) - this is a lovely beach, 15 or so kms from the village of Piana;
there's lovely sand and it's reasonably quiet, though some development is taking
place round about. The scenery is spectacular. There is a beach restaurant. I really
like this one. Piana is a beautiful village, with a few good small restaurants,
though the road from north (Calvi) is arduous and much of it perched high about
the sea, and from the south is quite hard work too, but less 'cliff-perched'. This
spot is famous for being the landing place used by the submarine Casabianca to
land the first cargo of arms for the members of the 'Pearl Harbour' mission in
December 1942.
Bodri (Balagne – NE) – just south of Ile Rousse; this sandy beach backed by
shrubby land is in the country, but very accessible to local resorts. The northerly
end is the one I prefer. It has coarsish sand (that is easy to get rid of after a
sweltering day there. There used to be a nudist section, but that's all past and no
one bothers if you are clothed or unclothed – both groups seem relaxed.
Next door to Bodri to the east is Giunchetu Bay; there's a similar paying car park
run by the Commune of Corbara. Here's a report from Chris Quinsee (who
nonetheless prefers Bodri): "The beach itself is lovely - quite long, thick sand, a
basic cafe at the western end. It can get pretty busy but if you walk a couple of
hundred yards up the sand the numbers seem to thin out quickly. On a breezy day
the waves can be big, but on calm days I would say it is especially good for
children as the water stays very shallow for a long way out from the beach."
Cala di Cupabia (Serra di Ferro near Propriano – SE) – this is a
beautiful small and quite remote beach with good sand and
crystalline water in a C-shape. Behind it is a very relaxed
campsite, not really visible from the beach, and a beach café. You
need a car to get there and the car park is small, so I imagine in
full season, you could have a bit of a problem.
Calvi (Balagne - NE) the town: for those who like
(there are many with sun
and water sports of all kinds.
winter storms and has been the
to restore the sand, to build
dunes. The bathing is very
kilometres of sand right from
beach cafés & restaurants
loungers and waiter service)
The beach suffers badly in
subject of massive investment
breakwaters and to replant the
safe, even for toddlers; there
Corsican Beaches 08/05 © 2005 William Keyser – www.corsica-isula.com
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are life guards in summer. Quite a lot of the Pinède (pinewoods) behind the beach
have been fenced off to allow regeneration. Train access.
Campomoro (Valinco - SW) - this long beach is one's Corsica's finest. It's fringed
with restaurants and bars, though none actually on the beach. It is near Propriano
and has many exclusive villas nearby. It has a magnificent Genoese Tower at its
southern end and much fine coastal walking. There is a lot of boating from the
fine sand in the crystal blue water, but this is one of the beaches being closely
monitored for erosion.
Capo di Feno (Ajaccio - SW) - well, it's actually 14 kms west of the city on the
southern end of the Gulf of Sagone. It is a bit exposed so has good (or bad,
depending upon one's point of view) surf. There are three paillotes (temporary
beach restaurants), so although it's out in the country, you can enjoy good
informal eating.
Girolata (Gulf of Porto – NW) – on the edge of the Scandola nature reserve and
only accessible by boat (from Porto or Calvi – day trips) or one and a half hours
on foot from the Bocca à a Croce on the D81 (Calvi-Porto road), or from the Col
di Palmarella (also on the D81) – easier on the way down than on the climb back
up (!). It gets very crowded in high summer despite these constraints, but it's a
dramtic place.
Folaca (Porto Vecchio – SE)
(see below), but in my opinion
has more interest and a lagoon
restaurant.
– just SW of Palombaggia
much nicer, the smaller beach
behind it; there is a beach
La Liscia (Gulf of Sagone - W) - the gulf is magnificent; it's a beach that is well
supplied with bars and restaurants and nearby hotels. Most water sports are
available and the good sand is well maintained. It is a very popular beach, but
because of its countryside location it is very relaxed and beautiful.
Lozari (Balagne - NW) - this pebbly beach is at the mouth of the Reginu valley. It
is one of the most relaxed (it's very decontracté, as the French say) places to go
and there are some water sports as well as a couple of beach establishments.
Lumio (Balagne - NW) - an attractive beach with stunning views across the bay
to Calvi's citadel. It is in easy walking distance of two ruined Genoese towers
(Caldanu and Spanu). It is small and has a beach restaurant (fabulous at night),
but it is expensive for what it is. There are many small creeks and great rock
bathing nearby. Accessible by train.
Malfacu (Agriates - NE) - like Saleccia (see below) this is difficult of access
except by boat; it's in the middle of 5 000 hectares that belong to the
Conservatoire du Littoral. Access (four to five hours) by the coastal path or you
can take the track from the Col de Vezzo on the St Florent-Ile Rousse road, but
you'd need a 4x4 or good legs - this remote spot has 10 restored stone pagliaghji,
in which you can stay for up to 4 (primitive) nights if you bring a sleeping bag
and all your victuals (advice and bookings available from the Syndicat des
Corsican Beaches 08/05 © 2005 William Keyser – www.corsica-isula.com
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Agriates - 04 95 37 09 86. You can hire 4x4 vehicles from the Garage St Flo (04
95 37 06 42) or Quads from the Shell Service Station (06 18 66 10 94) - both in St
Florent. 4x4 Raid Balagne operates in the Agriates as well - email them ([email protected]).
Mare e Sole (Ajaccio -SW) - this beach is on the south side of the Gulf of Ajaccio
and about 10 minutes from the resort of Porticcio. It's one of the busiest beaches
of the island, given it's proximity to the city. It's easy to get to and well serviced.
It's got fine white sand and very clear water.
Moriani Plage (East Coast) – I'm not a fan of the East Coast, but many love it's
wildness. Moriani Plage (actually part of the commune of San Nicolao) is a
recent agglomeration round the cross roads on the main Bastia-Porto Vecchio
road. However the beach is part of a 50 kilometre stretch of sand (mostly not too
wide) and the 'village' has quite a number of restaurants strung along the beach.
You can gain access to the beaches of the East Coast at many points off the N198;
it may look pretty unpreposessing between the main road and the sea, but don't let
that put you off, if you like really relaxed seaside days.
Ostriconi (northern Balagne - NW) - this is one of my favourites, especially since
the new main road has been built meaning that access is from a dead end (getting
down to the beach is a bit hazardous). However, the nearby camping site (a
quarter of an hour's walk) has a good restaurant and there are two very good
traditional ferme auberges only a few minutes by car – towards Ponte Leccia. The
wild site has a meandering river and stunning vegetation (nature reserve). It's on
the southern end of the Desert des Agriates. It has no life guards and can be
dangerous in bad weather. It is big enough to have privacy and peace. Nobody is
likely to object to nudie bathing.
Pain de Sucre (Balagne - NW) - this one, like many on the stretch between Calvi
and Ile Rousse, is accessible by train; from the main road look for the signposted
dirt track, just after the Mobis furniture shop). It is small, with good thick sand
and some rocky bits. It has an attractive beach restaurant and can be a bit
dangerous in bad weather. We saw a (harmless) baby shark there a couple of
years ago!
Palombaggia (Porto
9kms from the town (bus
pines and has red granite
beach itself is sandy.
establishments and water
(in season) and is cleaned
attractive, it's very popular
considered by the Sunday
Top 20 beaches.
Vecchio - SE) - it's about
service) is fringed by
rocks behind, though the
There are three beach
sports. It has life guards
regularly. Because it so
in season. Palombaggia is
Times as one Europe's
Piantaredda (Bonifacio – S) – Here's a small sandy beach, a visit to which you
can combine with a bit of history, for right by it is the Roman ruins of
Piantaredda. See also Sperone (below).
Corsican Beaches 08/05 © 2005 William Keyser – www.corsica-isula.com
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Pietracorbara (Cap Corse - N) - One of the Cap's rare sandy beaches and its 800
metres are frequented by locals as much as tourists. There are no establishments
actually on the beach (but there are nearby). It has a safe zone marked by buoys,
but in any event it's known as one of the safest on the island. The beach is some
way from the village - about half way up the east coast of the Cap.
Plage du Loto (Agriates - NW) - a hearty four hours walk from St Florent, or take
the boat Popeye II from town. It makes five trips a day in season. The Plage du
Loto is considered by the Sunday Times as one Europe's Top 20 beaches. If you
are on the way to Malfacu (see above), it'd be a good place to stop. Beware camping is permitted nowhere other than at designated sites.
Porto Pollo (Propriano - SW) - is a nice sandy beach with easy access, from the
road (a dead end) and its holiday houses are strung along behind it; this does not
make it unpleasant and it's well situated for the holiday town of Propriano and
sites like the prehistoric standing stones of Filitosa.
Punta di Spanu (Balagne – NW) – very special, I think. Right at the northerly
point of the Bay of Calvi, there is one small sandy beach in a rocky inlet (you can
come over from Calvi by boat, if you have one) and a very excellent restaurant –
Le Rocher – tel 04 95 60 68 74 (great in the day time for they have loungers and
will serve you next to the beach and thrilling at night with the lights of the town
over the bay).
Ricanto (Ajaccio - SW) - only 5 kms from the city centre, this is a family beach.
It is cleaned daily, has guards, parking and toilets. There's sailing here. It has just
been the subject of rehabilitation, planting and protection. Its very special
ecosystem is preserved (not least for helix ceratina - the Corsican snail), while
ensuring good access and pleasure for visitors.
Rocapina (between Sartène and Bonifacio - SW) - superbly dominated by the socalled Lion of Rocapina, a huge rock formation, this beach is in wild (though the
beach is cleaned regularly) and protected country, largely free of any
development. It has fine sand and crystalline water. It is easy of access and yet
has plenty of space. In winter it is one of the most stunning bits of coastal scenery
and even with holidaymakers, it loses none of its grandeur.
Rondinara (between Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio - SE) - is one of Corsica's
most photographed beaches. It is an almost closed circle of sand and has many
boats moored there in season. Its water is turquoise and is very safe for kids as it
has a very gentle slope. There is a parking fee. It is also the base of the Nature
Reserve of the Bouches de Bonifacio.
Santa Giulia (Porto Vecchio - SE) - is about 6 kms from town. It has a lagoon
behind and from the beach there are lots of activities including jet ski and quad
biking. It's a kilometre long and has bars and restaurants (and a hotel) and plenty
of supervised parking.
Corsican Beaches 08/05 © 2005 William Keyser – www.corsica-isula.com
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Saint-Cyprien (Porto Vecchio - SE) - is further from town - about 12 kms. It's
guarded has all facilities both on shore and in the water. Fine sand and clear
water.
Saleccia (Agriates - NW) - this magnificent place is a UNESCO protected site
and is difficult to access by land, but all too easy by sea (especially from St
Florent) and the yachts’ occupants often seem to leave their debris ashore,
unfortunately. It is deserted enough to have been used as the scene of the
Normandy landings in the film 'The Longest Day'. You can take a boat from St
Florent to the Lodo beach, but you'll still have an hour's walk to get there. This
beach has been eroded by 100 metres since 1948 - a preoccupying situation.
Saleccia is considered by the Sunday Times as one Europe's Top 20 beaches.
Sperone (Bonifacio - S) - not my kind of place: it could be Sardinia or other racy
tourist spots; it has a major golf course and the villas to go with it, but it's a fine
beach with beach establishments and of course, it's beautiful; it's access is
difficult and only on foot. See Piantaredda (above).
Tizzano (Sartène - SW) - you have to mean to go here, but it's worth it; a good
sandy beach in a narrow bay; there are now beginning to be a few villas, but it's
quite remote and you pass near by (for me) the most amazing Neolithic sites of
Corsica the two rows of standing stones at Palaggiu
Vignale (Ghisonaccia - E) - the long east coast I find unremarkable, given all the
other wonderful beaches in Corsica; however this one is clean and has water
sports; there are several holiday camps where you can get refreshments.
Remember, there are so many more beaches than those I list here, so don't be
surprised if you fall on some gems that I have not listed. So there you are. I
would be very grateful (and perhaps later readers would be, too) to receive your
comments or additional personal recommendations.
William Keyser
Corsica Isula
August 2005.
mailto:[email protected]
Corsican Beaches 08/05 © 2005 William Keyser – www.corsica-isula.com
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