While on our Corsica vacation, our favorite outing was the boat tour of the sea cliffs near Porto, Calanche di Piana and Scandola Nature Reserve. This is an expensive outing but well worth the money in my opinion. The cliffs are spectacular and it’ great to be on the This was our favorite outing of the trip. There are many boat operators, all with similar prices. You have two main decisions: tour length and boat size.
There are two main areas that the boats visit: Calanche di Piana to the south and the Scandola Girolata to the north. You can visit either one or both. I highly recommend doing the grand tour, which visits both, lasting about 4 hrs. I wondered it would be just more of the same, but each area has a different character and we loved seeing it all and spending more time on the boat. But if you can only do one area for budget or time concerns, do Calanche di Piana.
You can go on a big boat that seats 40+ people, some inside with obstructed views. The big boats are less expensive and offer discounts for children. Or you can go on a 12 person speed boat, which offers better visibility and a more personal experience. Small boats are more expensive, no discounts for children.
A sample fare for a grand tour on the big boat would be 45€/adult, 25€/child for the grand tour vs 55€/per person for the small boat. Children under 4 that can sit on your lap are free on some boats. So for our family of four, it cost 220€ for the small boat vs 140€ on a big boat. Yikes! That’s a lot of money. But this was the only activity we paid for during the trip, since all other days we spent hiking or lazing on the beach.
Our small boat with Alpana.
One of the big boats, though we saw bigger.
I recommend making a reservation. Even off season, a couple operators were booked several days in advance for bus tour groups. We reserved the day before for a small boat. The boat operators have stands setup all around Porto, where you can reserve.
Not all boats are the same. You might want to walk down to the harbor and looking at the boat before booking. Some boats have an indoor area, important if you want shelter from the sun and wind, but it can also block your view.
We went with Alpana, which we liked though I can’t compare. Our driver gave the commentary in French. He offered to translate but it was clear that his English wasn’t very good and we didn’t care that much about the info. So we focused on enjoying the scenery. If English is a priority, ask before booking.
Lastly, we went on the morning tour, which meant that many of the cliffs were in shadow. If we were to do it again, I would have done the late afternoon tour, where all the cliffs would be lit up by the sun in the west. Also note that rough seas can cancel the boat tours. After a rain storms, it was sunny but huge waves were crashing into the harbor and no boats were going out that day.
Some other boat operators in Porto:
On the water
Now some pics of what you’ll see.
The Porto harbor where you pick up the boat.
Starting in the Calanche di Piana and Capo Rosso section to the south.
Driving into one of the tiny caves. The boat drivers are very skilled to not the walls which are inches away.
The boat went slow around the cliffs but fast between the different areas that we explored. My kids love the speed and bouncing over the waves. I was a little nervous about the kids flopping out of the boat so we held on tight.
Now in the Scandola Reserve to the north.
The boat briefly stopped in the tiny hamlet of Girolata before heading back to Porto. Not much to see here.