To the exception of the east coast sand stretch between Aleria and Bastia, there are interesting diving sites located all over the island. Large rocks, flat stones, canyons and a few shipwrecks constitute the basis of the diving environment in Corsica. The best site will generally be found in the four natural reserves of the island: Iles Cerbicales (south, off the coast of Porto-Vecchio), Iles Lavezzi (south of Bonifacio), the Finocchiarolo Archipelago and the Scandola reserve (on the west coast). Those sites offer great scenic underwater sights but also a higher concentration of fishes due to their status. Grouper, barracuda, cervina, murena, forkbeard will be some of the most popular fishes that you will be given to discover.
Les Iles Cerbicales/Porto-Vecchio - located off the coast, 4km form the coast, the Cerbicales offer several excellent diving sites. In general, the interest of the Cerbicales site is that of rocks reaching very near the surface and spiraling down to, in some places, 50m of depth. this creates a very dramatic scenery with large protruding rocks and canyons in which lots of fishes roam around. The “Danger de la Cava” is probably of the most popular of the Cerbicales sites with its famouds “arches”. The “Danger du Toro” is the deepest and very popular for the large groupers living there.
Two shipwrecks also lie at the bottom of the Porto-vecchio gulf with, notably, the Pecorella located between 5 and 12m of depth – a great spot for beginners and for taking pictures.
To dive in Porto-Vecchio:
Les Iles Lavezzi/Bonifacio – The most popular area for diving on the island, the natural protected reserve of the Lavezzi offers a fabulously rich aquatic fauna and flora. of C’est le secteur le plus “plongé” de Corse. The most famous site is called “Merouville” (“Grouper city”), located east of the archipelago, a large block of rocks surrounded by sand is the habitat of a large group of brown grouper. Some of them can measure up to 1.20m long and they are used to seeing divers roaming around. The other site is a vast rock stone that starts 5m deep and spiral down to 50m. The scenery is fabulous and the habitat of many species of fishes.
To dive in Bonifacio:
Many of the clubs in Porto-Vecchio also offer dives in the Lavezzi reserve.
Scandola/Bay of Porto – The bay of Porto and the Scandola reserve (although it is forbidden to dive with bottles in Scandola itself) offer several scenic dives, between Capo Rosso in the south and the Punta Mucchilina in the north: Vardiola, Ficajola, Sec du Chateau, Scopa, Monterosso, Castagne, Cenino and Punta Micchilina. Vardiola is a large rock in the shape of a sugar loaf that reaches the surface and split by a Canyon whose depth ranges between -10 and -30m. Red corals cover the faces and a rich fauna of groupers, rock lobsters, forkbeards and dentis lives in the canyon. The Punta Mucchilina is the only site that accesses Scandola and its beauties, at its extreme south limits. Certainly the most impressive site of the area, with a bowl spiraling down from -1 to -50m. To dive in Porto: http://www.plongeeporto.com
There are many other interesting locations to dive, form south to north on the west coast: Gulf of Valinco (from Porto-pollo or Propriano), Gulf of Ajaccio, Gulf of Sagone and Gulf of Lava and also around the Cap Corse.
More information about Corsica diving sites.
Hiking and trekking
It is the renowned “GR20″ (Grande Radonnee 20) that has brought to Corsica hikers from around the world. This well-signposted trail runs from the south east of the island, starting in the village of Conca, to the north west, in Calenzana. It is 180km long and bears the reputation of being one of the harshest trails in Europe; up and down variations in height across the trail add up to 10,000 metres. One should plan for a good 15 days to complete the full trail. Casual hikers should however restrain from attempting to complete the full hike and focus on the most scenic parts (which are often not the most difficult ones). The GR20 is neatly divided into different one-day “etapes”, so it is easy to pick some of the best hikes without too much planning. The trail is also not only famous for its difficulty but for the beauty and the variety of the landscapes it crosses, giving a good sample of Corsica’s rich and stuning nature. It is possible to walk the GR20 by yourself (that is with, at least, one hiking partner) or with a guide. For more details: corsica.forhikers.com/gr20
The popularity of the GR20 should not however overshadow the many other hiking trails in Corsica. From almost any location on the island, you will find access to good walking trails. Some of them are well-signposted, such as the “mare a mare” (sea to sea) along the coast or “mare e monti” (sea to mountain) or the populaire “sentier des douaniers” at the far north. However, if you are looking for a little more solace, they are plenty of more isolated paths to explore: most of the old paths that corsican villagers use to take to travel from one village to another are still walkable and only used by a few shepherds. If you want to explore those, one option is to buy the “IGN” maps “serie verte” that provide an extensive view of all the trails, region by region. Another option is to speak with some locals and ask them for the contact of the local shepherd. If he likes you , he might agree to take you with him on an early morning hike.
A popular hiking event in Corsica is the “Restonica Trail”. There are actually two races, the classic one takes place in July and a “trail blanc” is organised in January. More information: restonica-trail.fr/
Kite and windsurf
Corsica offer a vast array of great locations for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The south, especially around Bonifacio, is most popular as the wind gets accelerated by a couple of beauforts in the “bouches de bonifacio”. Piantarella at the far south offers a flat easy to ride lagoon and is the place that might work when no other does. For wave conditions, look further up north on the west coast in places like Santa Manza.
Beyond those provileged locations, there are many places where you can practice and rent, all along both coasts. They just won’t work as consistently as the Great South does.
Generally conditions will be better from April to October.
for more information, there is a quite informative site with a map of the main locations, weather conditions, kite schools:
Though less popular and with less consistent conditions than for kitesurfing, surfing remains a well-known activity on the island. It is mostly practiced on the West coast where multiple bays, rocky points and underwater flat stones provides good varied wave conditions during mediterranean storms, on multiple the swell directions. The bay of Ajaccio and nearby was probably the first place surfed in Corsica, notably at the scenic beach of Capo di Feno, or at the Ruppione past Porticcio on the other side of the Ajaccio bay. Later on, the now somewhat overcrowded “wave of the graveyard” grew in popularity: the wave breaks on a flat stone in front of Ajaccio’s main graveyard. Multiple other locations further up north can be found, in the gulf of Sagone, on the beaches of the Desert des Agriates, at Algajola and, on the east coast, Pinarellu.
Conditions will generally be much more consistent in Winter and Autumn. The water never gets really cold (min 13-14 Celsius) so you will rarely need more than a spring wetsuit. Do not expect much in summer apart from the traditional “storm of August 15″ time.
Although a good map of the locations is missing, go check out the following site for more info:
Canyoning and Rafting
Ski and snowboard
It is possible to practice both Alpine and cross-country skiing in Corsica. February and March are usually the best months to find snow on the slopes of Corsican mountains but, in recent times, there has been consistent extensions of the season, up to early October in some cases, enabling the existing stations more financial revenue, popularity and therefore thoughts of expansion. To date, Alpine ski and snowboard can be practiced in two stations:
Ese – located 15km from the village of Bastelica – in the south of the island, 40km from Ajaccio – is now the largest station on the island, with skiing between 1620m ad 1750m. The recent addition of two “red” ranked slopes brings the 20ha station to a total of 6 slopes – one green, one blue and four red. the station now also has a snow park and the French Ski School. Equipment can be rented and there is a restaurant and a hotel near the station. For more information, check on opening, price, etc… go to: http://www.ski-bastelica.com
Ghisoni – the second station is located 17km away from the village of Ghisoni itself and offers five slopes – two green, one blue and two red – articulated around three ski lifts, from an altitude of 1580m to 1870m. Ghisoni is also in the south of the island, but closer to Corte and to the east coast. The station also offers rentals, a ski school and a restaurant. It is also possible to stay over in Ghisoni. Ghisoni doe snot have its dedicated website but information can be found on: http://www.skiinfo.fr/station-ski/Ghisoni
Finally, the station fo Vergio, approximately 1h30 from Ajaccio and 1h15 from Bastia, located near the town of Evisa ahd the majestic forest of Aitone, at the Vergio mountain pass, also has some Alpine ski capabilities with seven slopes available but is more popular with cross-country skiing. to our knowledge, it does not yet have any rental facilities. No dedicated site is available for the station but more information can be found on: http://corse.evous.fr/Station-de-ski-de-Vergio