What to do in the Gulf of Porto - Nature Reserve of Scandola and the Creeks of Piana - Corsica

The Reserve of Scandola, one of the wonders of Corsica, is located in the Gulf of Porto. It is part of the regional park of the Island of Beauty and is located on the peninsula of the same name, offering the visitor a beautiful maquis landscape where there are gulls, sea eagles, cormorants and Mediterranean vegetation. All around, there are numerous islets and the inaccessible caves add to the charm of the site and the creeks of Piana seduce all vacationers! However, swimming areas are quite rare. There is only one beach in Porto, two beaches in Piana, one beach in Serriera north of Porto, one beach in Partinello and four beaches in the Gulf of Girolata (only accessible on foot via the coastal footpath).

Map of the Gulf of Porto and  the Reserve of Scandola in Corsica

Map of the Gulf of Porto, the Reserve of Scandola and the Creeks of Piana

Scandola and Girolata: two must-see areas in the Gulf of Porto

Lava flow in the reserve of Scandola in Corsica

Lava flow in the reserve of Scandola

The Nature Reserve of Scandola is an ecological treasure stretching 2,000 acres between the peninsula of Capo Rosso and the Gulf of Galéria. The fauna is rich and rare and one can really appreciate it during a boat trip from Porto or Galeria (shuttles are rare from the latter) and by going through Girolata, one has the opportunity to admire unique landscapes like striated volcanic organs, a Genoese tower on the rock of Gargalo or small paradisiacal creeks, sublime at sunset.

Island of Gargalo

The Island of Gargalo with its Genoese tower and lighthouse

Love Cove in Scandola

Love Cove in Scandola - only accessible by boat

Note that it is not possible to access by land the reserve of Scandola (it is forbidden – it is only possible by boat). During the ride, it is not uncommon to see dolphins or whales.

Dolphin in the Reserve of Scandola

Dolphin in the Reserve of Scandola

Rocks of Scandola

Rocks in Scandola. What do you recognize?

Nest of Balbuzard in Scandola

Osprey nest (sea eagle)

The different maritime shuttles stop about 20 minutes in Girolata to visit this ancient shepherd village (one mistakenly believes that this is a former fishing village) converted into a tourist center. It is difficult to access (impossible to come by car); many tourists favour the boat. Yet the path starting from the pass of the Croix leads to a 1h45 ride to enjoy the tranquility and stunning scenery of the Gulf of Girolata. One can also make a stop to swim in Tuara Beach where it is not uncommon to have cows or wild boars as neighbours (45 minutes on foot from the pass). Then one can reach Girolata by one of two paths (along the coastline and the other, which is faster, cuts through the maquis). One thus arrives on Focaghia Beach, which is adjacent to the port of Girolata. The hilltop village, located opposite the Genoese tower, is very well restored and there are many shops and seaside resorts.

The port and the village of Girolata in Corsica

The port and the village of Girolata - On the beach, tourist establishments

Calanches de Piana

Calanche of Piana at sunset

Calanche of Piana at sunset

The creeks (or coves) of Pianaare listed as World Heritage by UNESCO since 1983. The red rock meets the turquoise of the sea, much to the delight of visitors who enjoy the long days of tranquility even if in summer the dense traffic mars the enjoyment. Better to wait until the last rays of the sun are gone to survey the road along the sea and enjoy the beautiful vistas and having fun recognizing shapes in the rocks sculpted by wind and sea spray. The quickest way to discover these coves is to use the boat (shuttles from Porto - 1h30 visit). Please note that those coves are not the coves that can be found in the south of France (like in Marseille, Cassis or the Esterel).

Calanque of Ficajola in Piana

The cove of Ficajola, the unique cove accessible on foot in Piana

In Piana, it is rare to find beaches in the latter; those are the shapes of high cliffs, which are remarkable. To swim, there is only Ficajola Beach with old fishermen huts bringing a certain charm.

Cave in Piana - Corsica

A cave in Piana only accessible from the sea

A cave with a pebble beach - Calanche of Piana

A cave with a pebble beach

What to do around Porto

Piana - Corsica

Aerial view of Piana

Alley in the village of Piana - Corse

Alley in the village of Piana

Hikers enjoy discovering Piana, one of the most beautiful villages in France and the starting point of many trails accessible to the whole family. Early in the morning, to avoid the intense heat, the circuit of the "castle" is pretty easy and one can walk along the ridgeline rocks in a gallery. The view of the coves and the Gulf of Porto reward the efforts of the day! One can also opt for the old mule track, which connects Piana to Ota or paths winding through the forest, near the chestnut orchard of Palani. The tower of Capo Rosso leads straight to the peninsula and the "pool". To enjoy it, just take the boat and there only remains to observe the clear seabed, which is not more than 4 meters deep.

Wild Arone beach south of Piana

The wild Arone beach south of Piana

One can also choose to visit the beautiful Arone Beach, which translucent water invites everyone to swim or visit the small villages of the Gulf of Porto to soak in Corsican traditions and rest on the terrace of cafes. Ota is located on a mountainside and streams and valleys make up the landscape, less than five kilometres from the coast. The green gorges of Spelunca deserve a stop, and Evisa is the perfect place to discover the Corsican polyphony echoing in churches!

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