One of the many joys of chartering a yacht around the south of France is the chance to explore its varied islands, and to take advantage of the different water sports available. Of course, Corsica is a popular charter destination, but other smaller islands include the Iles d’Or, or Golden Islands, off Hyères, and the Iles de Lérins, which lie just opposite Cannes.
Corsica is easily one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean, with a rugged coastline that lends itself to diving and sea kayaking.
The best sea kayaking can be found on Corsica’s west coast, particularly in the waters around Piana and Cargese. Two striking sea caves, Saint Antoine and Sdragonato, can be found in the south, near Bonifacio.
Corsica is also renowned for its diving, with an underwater landscape of mountains, canyons, needles and rocky masses. Highlights include the breathtaking rock formations, or Cathédrales, just off the coast of Porto Pollo, south of Ajaccio, while to the south of Bonafacio, the Lavezzi Islands are home to more than 40 dive sites, with the strong currents providing the perfect habitat for marine life.
For wreck diving, head to Calvi’s harbour to see a crashed US B-17 Flying Fortress, or to Bastia for the remains of a US P47 fighter plane. In the bay of Porto-Vecchio lies the wreck of a large cruiser that was apparently sunk by a drunken crew.
The Iles d’Or, or Golden Islands, are made up of Port-Cros, Le Levant and the largest island of Porquerolles, which offers a huge choice of water sports. There, enthusiasts can try their hands at kayaking, wakeboarding, water skiing, paddle boarding or jet skiing, while the conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing are excellent.
Anyone keen on sport fishing will relish the challenge of catching barracudas, rainbow wrasse, red porgy and amberjacks.
Diving is popular in the protected National Park of Port-Cros, where dolphins, turtles, fin whales, sperm whales and pilot whales may be spotted. Famous shipwrecks include Le Donator and Le Grec, two cargo ships that struck mines and sank in 1945, and Le Ville de Grasse, a steamboat that sank in 1851.
Just opposite Cannes, the Lérins islands of Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat are surprisingly unspoilt and now boast an exciting new underwater attraction, ideal for snorkelers.
Opened in 2021, the Cannes Underwater Eco-Museum near Sainte-Marguerite is where divers and snorkelers can discover six statues of faces, created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor and submerged at a depth of four metres. They refer to the ‘Man in the Iron Mask’, a famous prisoner on the island of Sainte-Marguerite from 1687 to 1698.
There are also four famous wall dives around Sainte-Marguerite that range in depth, while sport fishing is popular in these waters, with an abundance of amberjacks, swordfish, mahi-mahi and bluefin tuna.
If you’d like to enjoy these beautiful islands and all they have to offer, a French Riviera yacht charter will provide unparalleled access in style and comfort.