With so much to do in Palombaggia, Porto-Vecchio and the surrounding area, take a look at our activity guide for all that’s on offer!
Water based activities
Boats can be hired in most seaside towns or we can arrange to charter a yacht, complete with a skipper and crew, or arrange a boat trip from the port. A boat trip as a passenger is a more relaxing introduction to the best of the coastline. Vedettes; pleasure boats that also operate as ferries are offered by many different companies, which means there is plenty of choice when it comes to exploring Corsica from the sea. No trip to Bonifacio is complete without a boat trip around its impressive coastline. Here you will notice the extraordinary position of the town on top of the magnificent chalky cliffs, not to mention the stunning, secluded bays.
The bigger bays of the west coast and southeast are the main centers for dinghy or small catamaran sailing. You can usually hire equipment, from an hour upwards, from fully licensed sailing clubs and many centers offer tuition. Please be aware that without the appropriate license, you will only be able to rent a motorboat with an engine up to 6cv. If you wish to enroll on a course, we recommend you book early during your stay, especially at the height of the season.
Diving and Snorkelling
The best dive sites on the island are predominately on the West coast and the Lavezzi islands (near Bonifacio). Bonifacio area is the most dived waters in Corsica, mainly because of the marine nature reserve (Reserve Naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio). Diving here is a treasured experience with depths of up to 800m. Beginners can take advantage of the small inlets whilst the more experienced divers have the chance to visit the more renowned sites.
For those who are unqualified, an initiation dive (bapteme) can be done with most of the clubs listed below. Those who are PADI qualified can go on organised dives and rent equipment, and includes a number of world-renowned sites. Most of the dive shops on the island provide nitrox recharge facilities and sell a range of accessories and dive guides.
The ‘Cathedrales’ off the coast at Porto Pollo in the Valinco, the water around Bonifacio, Scandola, Ajaccio, Cargese and Propriano are particularly well renowned for being prime diving spots. The dramatically rugged landscape on the dry side of the shoreline continues underwater - in the form of yet more mountain and canyons, needles, sharp peaks, rocky masses and scree. The onshore maquis scrub meanwhile transforms water into a handsome carpet of yellow flowering anemone, red coral and gorgonian. Underwater inhabitants on the island include barracuda, grouper, octopus, brown meagre and dentex. There are also a number of easily accessible wrecks to explore. Corsica’s superb underwater kingdom has been impressively well preserved, thanks to the careful management of two internationally renowned marine nature reserves, the absence of an intensive commercial fishing industry and an almost total lack of polluters and pollutants.
Sea Kayaking, SUP, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing
All of these sports are weather dependent, so it is best to book these activities well in advance, by contacting the clubs, who will inform you of the availability and weather forecast. Often early in the mornings or early evenings are best
There are various sites in the area where you can practice, or have instruction with any of these activities. The constant presence of wind attracts windsurfers to Corsica, and the strong winds that whistle through the straits of Bonifacio are some of the best in the Mediterranean for expert windsurfing. The island’s Mediterranean climate and varied bays and beaches also offer superb opportunities for swimming, rock swimming and snorkelling.
Land based activities
There are several companies that offer horse riding near to Palombaggia. Early morning canters along the beach, swimming with the horses in the sea, a leisurely stroll in the evening in the eucalyptus and pine forests or a more challenging hack into the mountains. These can typically arranged during your stay. Private or group horse riding lessons can also be arranged, although group lessons, particularly for children, are best booked prior to your arrival.
Canyoning and Via Ferrata
Constant erosion of granite by raging torrents over the millennia has formed beautiful canyons in southern Corsica in the mountainous area of Alta Rocca. Canyoning is a popular sport involving traveling down creeks or streams within a canyon by a variety of means including walking, scrambling, climbing, abseiling and swimming. It requires skills in navigation, rope-work and climbing.
Canyoning is dependent on appropriate weather conditions and the level of water in the river. Therefore, it may be possible that the activity is not operational at times of particularly high (or low) water and, accordingly, we suggest you contact the operator earlier in your holiday rather than later, in order to avoid disappointment. Companies have qualified guides and the necessary equipment but you should have a reasonable level of fitness and be a competent swimmer.
Via Ferrata is a mix of walking and rock climbing, using a combination of ladders, metal brackets, chiselled footholds and even bridges to allow you to traverse steep, vertical cliffs. Steel cables, acting a both a handhold and security, are bolted to the rock at waist level, with walkers clipping onto it with a dynamic rope and a karabiner system. Via Ferrata is Italian and translates as ‘iron road’.
Mountain Biking and Quad Bikes
Due to Corsica’s mountainous terrain, cycling is not an easy option but fairly active and experienced cyclists will find the challenging climbs and winding routes enjoyable.
For those with enough determination and stamina, the views from some of the coastal roads and mountain tracks are breathtaking. Because of the rough terrain, mountain bike (velos tous terrains or VVTs) are preferable over other types of bicycles and can be hired in Porto-Vecchio.
The best time for cycling is during mid-season: May-June and September-October, when the weather is slightly cooler and the roads quieter. To escape the traffic completely there are numerous footpaths, woodland trails and 1,900 kilometres of bridleways, which will enable you to discover more of the island’s natural beauty, the best of which are near Foret de l’Ospedale, Bavella and the Coscione Plateau in the south. The Mare e Monti Sud hiking path which runs between Propriano and Porticcio is one of the island’s best opportunities for cycling, as are the tracks of coastal Sartenais.
A beautifully scenic, mountainous area to the north of Porto Vecchio, with stunning views over Porto Vecchio, the valley and the Gulf. Offering canyoning, tree top adventuring - featuring high rope courses, zip wires, tree-walking and hiking, with 3 different levels of difficulty starting with children over the age of 3 - mountain biking and quad biking for the more adventurous. Or just take a walk through the forest or alongside the vast mountain lake of the Barrage de L’Ospedale and take in the wonderful views and enjoy the nature. There is also a more challenging 90 minute hike to an impressive 60 meter waterfall, Piscia di Gallo. Allow 50 minutes to driving time from the villa.
Spérone Golf Course
Try a round of golf at the magnificent Spérone Golf Course, about an hour's drive from the villa. Designed by the great Robert Trent Jones Senior, he described the 12th tee as the most beautiful in the world and the 16th hole has a nautical challenge not to be missed. The course is often referred to as the ‘Pebble Beach of Europe’ and is a test for the best. Those that play this course will have one of the most unforgettable experiences of their golfing lives!
There are some absolutely stunning walks you can do from the Foret de l’Ospedale. If your fancy escaping the heat of the coast, then its worth the trip. The Foret de l’Ospedale is 20km away from Porto-Vecchio, which takes around 45 minutes. The route up has some of the most breathtaking views of Porto-Vecchio, but beware the road is not for the faint hearted.
It is a walkers' paradise with excellent hiking for all abilities. There are many clearly marked paths in this vast forest, set amongst laricio pines, interspersed with huge, granite boulders. There are easy, flat walks along the Sentiers des Rochers (Rock Path), also known as Sentier des Tafoni. A lot of the forest was destroyed by fires earlier this century, however the scenery (especially on the higher slopes) is still stunning.
Cliff-top Walk & Marine Cemetery – Bonifacio
Witness superb views from the cliff top walk. Steps from the old town lead down to a tiny beach from where you can start the walk and visit the marine cemetery at the end – People often visit the cemetery to take in its extraordinarily elaborate mausoleums. Also a good spot for a quick swim to cool off and witness the outstanding white cliffs and rock formations from the turquoise blue sea.
Pertusato Lighthouse – Bonifacio
Walk along the cliffs of Bonifacio to the Pertusato lighthouse and admire the stunning views back towards the town and out over the Straits towards Sardinia.
Col de Bavella
Driving inland and climbing more than 1200m up to the spectacular Col de Bavella, one of the most dramatic passes in Corsica, with stunning views across extensive forest, ocean and mountains. Also visit the surrounding mountain villages in the area. Try canyoning or take a dip in a rock pool in the rivers of the Bavella massif. There are many walks through the forests to the hidden waterfalls of the Alta Rocca, including Piscia di Gallo, or Cockerall falls. About 30 minutes' drive from Ospedale Forest and worth taking in in the same day if you start early!
For more information, please visit the website of the tourist office: www.ot-portovecchio.com