Heading to South Corsica? Don't miss a visit to the fascinating Lavezzi islands Corsica and their giant boulders. Below is my guide with plenty of pictures and tips to plan your excursion: boat tours, walking paths, conditions, beaches and many many rocks.
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Why visit the Lavezzi islands Corsica?
The Lavezzi archipelago is a series of small granite islands and reefs.
Only 30min by boat from Bonifacio, you can explore a land full of giant boulders of different colors and shapes.
It is sometimes referred to as the 'Seychelles of the Mediterranean Sea' (but at a much smaller scale of course).
Before sharing my tips to plan your visit and more photos, below is a short video to give you an idea of what the boat trip and island visit look like:
Corsica really has some fascinating geological elements. Want to see more? Check out the Gulf of Porto with Piana and Scandola
How to get to the Lavezzi islands?
Lavezzi islands location
Here is a maps of South Corsica to give you an idea of where the Lavezzi islands are located just South of the island.
They emerge in the strait of Bonifacio between Sardinia and Corsica, just 4km from the Corsican mainland.
It is a 10km boat ride from Bonifacio.
The island you can visit is the main one on the reserve: Lavezzu.
Note: a few departures are possible to get to the Lavezzi islands from Porto-Vecchio but they are less frequent and the sail time in longer.
How to get to the Lavezzi islands - boat tours
If you don't have your own boat, your best options is to take one of the navette-boats from Bonifacio.
- They depart and return from the marina several times a day. This way you can decide how long you want to stay: 2h for a snapshot or the whole day with time to relax at the beach
- The ride to and from the island is magnificent along the Bonifacio cliffs - One way will be direct 30min and the return will be longer so that you can see the coast better and get explanations
- You can purchase your ticket at the booths around the marina
- In Summer I recommend booking in advance
- The main service provider is SPMB
- Note that in case of bas weather conditions, boat rides may be cancelled
The boats have a protected section and open seating.
Boat to Lavezzi islands
Before I tell you more about being on the islands itself, below are a few pictures of the great boat trip from Bonifacio to the Lavezzi islands Corsica.
It starts in the marina with view of the fortifications:
Then you leave the port protected by the peninsula. And you discover the magnificent cliffs with the houses right on top. On the way to the island, we sailed away from the cliffs to go straight to our destination. However as yo will see later in the article, the return boat trip from the Lavezzi took us up-close to the cliffs.
Notice the famous Aragon staircase that allows you to get down inside the cliff!
Then you approach the Lavezzi islands.
One of the first things you see is the small monument; the team explains that it is in memory of the biggest shipwreck in the French naval history. In 1855 the Sémillante crashed on those giant boulders that cover the Strait.
Not the most reassuring thing to know when you are on a boat...LOL but the local pilots know very well the area and the boat it smaller 🙂
There are 2 docking wharf that are accessible only to the approved companies. The islands have been a protected reserve since 1982.
Normally in Summer you land on the East coast of the island, ut off season, the preservation council may make the bateau land on the West coast like we did here:
In both case going on land is easy.
Visiting the Lavezzi islands - Map & Tips
And then you can start walking and exploring.
Lavezzi islands Map and what to do:
- If you stay only a couple of hours, you will cover only a section. The views and rocks are fascinating and you stop all the time
- On the Map you can see both wharves (Débarcadère in French)
- Respect the walking paths to preserve the environment
- The longest beach is on the East coast at the end of the North path
- Walking on the island is not too difficult
- There is not high hills just very small ones
- Sometimes the paths are a bit more narrow but it is not difficult
- Wear proper shoes to explore easily
- There can be mosquitoes in some parts of the island
- There is no fresh water source and no facilities at all. Bring all you need with you
- Plus there is no shade at all, so bring plenty of water!
- Some website indicates that the walking circuit can be done in 1h30. That is true if you never stop. But if you wan to explore, admire the rock formations, take pictures, find the best angles, and simply appreciate... you need much longer.
There is not enough indication to my taste, but sometimes you do get small poles with direction.
However the island is not that big and in the middle (between the wharves) you have the cemetery which makes it easy to find out where you are.
It is a fascinating place to hike. You never know what it will look like after each rock.
I have found the East coast quite different to the West coast, despite the small size of the main island...
Beaches on Lavezzi islands
There are a few coves with beaches on the main island. Most of them are quite small with not much sand.
But on the West coast, you can find 2 larger areas of sand.
Most people who want to spend the day at the beach head to the longest one. This is also where most private boats head to.
I did not have enough time on the island, and decided not to walk all the way there. But you can guess its beauty with the picture below taken from the boat.
The mountains in the background are on Corsica's mainland.
The second largest, just South of the one before is easy to access.
And then you have small coves here and there.
Note: the brown stuff you can see on the beach are dead leaves of sea grass. This is very common in the Mediterranean Sea. They are not the prettiest, but they are very important to the environment. Learn more on my article about the Corsica beaches.
If you have time, bring your snorkeling equipment. With the abundant granit blocks underwater, there is much to see around the island.
Lavezzi island - Pictures
The Lavezzi archipelago is fascinating. The water is turquoise and there are boulders everywhere with different shapes, size and colors. Below are some fascinating pictures that should convince you to visit them:
Those islands and reefs are emerged part of the granite base between Corsica and Sardinia.
Both islands used to be connected. So those magnificent rocks are also present underwater and the depth is less that 20m.
Actually 7000 years ago Lavezzu must have been accessible on foot from mainland Corsica.
They are shaped by erosion creating shapes where you can imagine creatures and stories.
This section in the picture below, looked to me like a man-made seawall but it this 'construction' is all natural!
Want more ideas of things to do in Corsica? Check out my eBooks:
Return Boat trip - Sperone & Bonifacio cliffs
On the return boat trip from the Lavezzi islands, the pilot took us near Cavallo the other main island that is inhabitated (only expensive villas...)
We then sailed to the coast and along the cliffs all the way to Bonifacio.
Our first view was of the little beach of Sperone:
Then we admire the white limestone layers at Capo Pertusato. This area can also be reached on foot and it is fascinating. Check out my article about visiting Bonifacio.
In the picture below you can see the cape from the other side with the lighthouse at the top.
One of the sea stack looks like a shipwreck.
Then we sailed under the cliffs of Bonifacio.
It i a very impressive to see the medieval town built right on the edge.
Plus the erosion makes the houses hang above nothing: Fascinating and scary at the same time.
The Aragon staircase is really impressive. I recommend visiting it!
If you are very lucky, and the sea is really really calm, you might get to enter in a cave with an opening shaped like Corsica at the top.
Then you head back to port.
Lavezzi islands Hotels
If you are fascinated by those boulders you might want to stay around it.
However Lavezzu and most of the islands are protected as a reserve.
However the neighbour island of Cavallo is inhabited and has those giant boulders. There are just a few accommodations for tourists.
For example you can stay at Hotel and Spa des pêcheurs by the water. Check out photos and availability.
But your best options is to spend a couple of Night in bonifacio to explore the town and the cliffs. Here are my suggestions:
- I stayed at the Hotel Santateresa. I loved the location at the end of the peninsula with free parking included, modern rooms and fantastic staff!
Check out photos and availability
- BY THE MARINA - Hotel Centre Nautique has great reviews - Check out photos and availability
- OLD TOWN - Hotel Genovese is another option inside the old town with lots of charm - Check out photos and availability
- BOAT - For a unique night, stay on a boat at Hotel Jade - Check out photos and availability
- LUXURY - for a 5 star stay not far from the marina, check out the spacious beautiful design of Hotel Version Maquis Citadelle - Check out photos and availability
- CAMPING - the closest campsite is L'Araguina - They also rent little lodges - Check out photos and availability
Want to see more of CORSICA?
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