Boating the Azure Waters of Corsica and the Scandola Reserve
We love a boat ride. Wherever we go, we like to take boats or ferries. We’ve ridden electric boats through canals, cruised down the river on a jungle safari, went puffin viewing in the Faroes, ferried around the Baltic, down the Nile, really all over. It’s a great way to get a different perspective of a city or country. So, getting on a boat for a two hour tour of the Scandola Nature Reserve off the coast of Corsica was a no brainer. We couldn’t wait.
We booked the first outing, hoping that the morning light would still be golden. This is the problem with hiring tour boats, you are completely limited to the announced sailings and most tourists don’t want to be up and out of the hotel until after breakfast.
We headed down to the tiny dock in Porto Ota where you can pick a tour from a few companies with smaller boats. Our boat held ten passengers which gave everyone plenty of access for taking photos. When the captain was ready for us to board, all ten of us clambered to be first in line. This is one of the reasons I’m not a fan of tours, but sometimes, like in this case, it’s what you have to do to see a spectacular sight.
Since the Scandola Reserve was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, access to it has been strictly monitored. Only the controlled and approved boats may go into the reserve, and if you rent your own boat, you still cannot land or swim. We found that going with the captain and his one mate was not only informative, but he knew all the caves, arches, and hidden gems that really made the ride that much more special. We didn’t see any of the rental boats in the harder to navigate areas, and I have to assume they are forbidden from them for safety reasons.
Once boarded, we sat back and relaxed for a few minutes as the boat traveled to the heart of the reserve. The light was wonderful bouncing golden off of the red pinnacles of rock that we maneuvered around and through. The scrubland and dwarfed trees were bent and gnarled as you would expect from a windy, deserted island.
For the next couple of hours, we enjoyed the spectacular cliffs, sea birds, and even a fishing boat here and there. For lunch, the boat pulled into Girolata where we could climb to the ruined fortress, sit on the beach petting cows, or enjoy a bite to eat and cool, icy drink. We chose the latter, but oh what a view!
We climbed back on the boat and headed to the dock with still the majority of the afternoon ahead of us to enjoy more beaches, cliffs, and views.