The Stunning Scandola Nature Reserve, Corsica

One of the most beautiful places on Earth, the Scandola Nature Reserve, Corsica is a must-do destination for families, boat lovers, and photographers. Bask in the sun as you motor past stunning rock formations in this world heritage site.

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 half day tour of the Scandola Nature Reserve off the coast of Corsica was a no brainer.  We couldn’t wait.

Boating the Scandola Nature Reserve

A castle sits on a hill above the harbor.

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.

Red stone climbs high to the sky.

We headed down to the tiny dock in Porto Ota, just Porto for short, 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.

Corsica Scandola Reserve has a variety of rock formations to gawk at.

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.

At an angle, the rocks show some windows.

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 rhyolite 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.

A tunnel in the rock formation.

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!

Everywhere you look are stunning views of rocks and water.
Corsica Scandola Reserve is a world heritage location.

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.

Rock formations protrude.

Have you been to Corsica and the Scandola Nature Reserve?

The French island of Corsica holds the secret of the Scandola Reserve. Now you've got to go!

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17 thoughts on “The Stunning Scandola Nature Reserve, Corsica”

  1. Stunning scenery – we were sailing in Sardinia last year but on too big a boat to really explore (and we were racing) – your photos have me wanting to go back!

  2. Those rock formations are so cool! I do hate having to book tours in advance when I don’t know what the weather/conditions will be like – but it can definitely be worth it.

  3. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

    Absolutely gorgeous! I love Corsica and wish I could get there more often, something I think about every time I watch the ferries leave Nice port. When did you go Corinne? I see you published this only yesterday. I’ve never been to Scandola, but certainly hope to soon. Thanks for linking this to #AllAboutFrance!

  4. Absolutely gorgeous!! I’ve never been here, but would love to visit and explore one day. It reminds me a lot of the Gozo coastline in Malta. :-)

  5. You don’t say anything about le Canal du Midi in France in your introduction. If you like boat rides then I’m telling you you’ll kick yourself if you don’t do it. It’s on the WHS list too for the impressive pieces of engineering that are the locks on the canal. I means it’s quite famous you can just Google it and book a ticket to France. I’m sure you’ll want to, the scenery the views the bird life… totally unique experience and 100% relax

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