Cruising Corsica and Sardinia is the perfect way to experience the best of France and Italy in one holiday.
Corsica is French and Sardinia is Italian and both have their own language, cuisine and cultural nuances, but shared is their oh so stylish resorts, beach clubs and fine dining. The distance between the Strait of Bonifacio in the south of Corsica and Sardinia is just 12km and can be easily sailed in 1 day.
Corsica 8,680km² – Corsica is covered in large mountains and has an average altitude of 568 metres. Ajaccio is the capital and is on the south west coast. The south east coast has the most ports, marinas and safe anchorages, whilst the west coast has less protected places to stop, but the splendor of the red cliffs from the sea should not be missed.
Ancient cliff-top towns and pretty fishing villages are scattered all around the island. Local delicacies are wild boar, suckling pig, foie gras, cheeses and of course, being an island, the daily catch from the sea.
The geography of the Strait of Bonifacio makes for idyllic sailing conditions providing constant sailing winds. Admire the towering white cliffs and explore the rocky coves.
Sardinia has a mountainous interior surrounded by a coastline of glorious beaches and attracts hordes of holiday makers every year. The 3 international airports and numerous ferry services make Sardinia accessible to all. The capital of Sardinia is Cagliari on the south coast and is a lively city with museums, bars and a variety of restaurants. Local delicacies are spit-roasted suckling pig, Malloreddus pasta, which is made of semolina and saffron in a conch shape to hold a sausage sauce and the inevitable Pecorino cheese and spaghetti dressed with salted, dried fish eggs of tuna and artichokes.
Whilst Sardinia certainly has its share of glitzy places, the island has miles of unspoiled coastline and plenty of traditional towns. If you venture off the beaten track you may be lucky enough to see flamingoes, golden eagles and wild white donkeys.
If you are sailing from Corsica you are likely to be drawn into perhaps one of the most exclusive yachting areas, the Costa Smeralda. Developed by wealthy investors in the 1960s it is particularly famous because Aga Khan was one of the investors. This part of Sardinia has some of the Mediterraneans’s finest beaches with close by some of the most sophisticated marinas, memorable hotels and buzzing nightclubs.
Off the north coast, the Maddalene Archipelago marine reserve is worth visiting. The islands of Lavezzi, Monaci, Bruzzi and Cerbicale have beautiful bays and white, sandy beaches.
Corsica and Sardinia make an unforgettable combination. Whatever you do, don’t go home without visiting both islands.
Embark your yacht in the famous port of Bonifacio with its imposing landscape and fortress town set up on the hill. Wind eroded limestone cliffs create the western Mediterranean’s most dramatic and memorable natural harbours. Bonifaico is famous for this, its fish soup and the views from the citadel atop the cliffs.
From here set sail to the Lavezzi Islands, which are now classified as a national reserve. Stunning rocks, crystalline waters, reefs and white beaches make for a perfect day of swimming, snorkelling and leisurely picnicking. Come the evening, take a warm sail to the next island along – Cavallo – an exclusive private resort with air-strip, villas and small central piazza. Or slip into Santa Manza Bay for peace and privacy and a peaceful night at anchor.
By now you’ll be ready for a morning cruise to Porto Vecchio. Charming and steeped in history there are some excellent little restaurants for lunch ashore before heading back to the boat for the afternoon. The beautiful white beach of Palombaggia, shaded by a parasol of pine trees with water of deep shades of blues and greens beckons those who like to laze ashore while for those feeling active, there’s some excellent diving and a chance to try out some water sports.
Next day skim down and anchor for lunch at one of the Maddalena islands off Sardinia. Crystal clear water and an idyllic shoreline await. Maybe have lunch at Cala Cotticio (Caprera) or Porto Lungo (Maddalena) followed by an afternoon sail, sundowners on deck and a trip ashore for dinner.
Cruising further around Sardinia, there are wonderful places like Golfe de Pevero, Porto Cervo, Isla Mortorio and the exquisite bay of Cala Di Volpe. Laid back and sophisticated it’s a great place for a spot of night life and some wonderful restaurants.
Or cruise over to the island of Caprera and anchor in Tahiti Bay with its beautiful tiny beach, clear deep water and high cliffs. Venturing further on is the island of Budelli with perfect shallow waters for swimming with the little ones.
Time to turn back to Corsica’s west coast.
Wild and untamed with many areas still untouched, Corsica is exceptional. Cruise up the northwest coast to the Gulf of Valinco – perhaps one the most beautiful gulfs on the west coast of the island. To the north of the bay is Cappiciolo – with picturesque coves of golden sand fringed by rocks, and Porto Pollo, a sheltered little port which is wonderful for building sandcastles and watching the wind and kite surfers fly across the bay. Corsica’s origins can be traced to this small region with its large number of pre-historic sites and castle remains that date back to the time of the lords. Anchor overnight in the deep curl of the peaceful bay on the other side of the sand strip.
Next day, visit the Gulf of Porto and take a trip into the charming old village of Porto itself. In the late afternoon explore the stunning coastline around the Cap Rossu to Ajaccio, the bustling capital of Corsica and the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. Set in a sunny bay surrounded by citrus groves, olive trees, and vineyards, Ajaccio is bursting with history and cultural diversity. At the heart of the city, Place Foch is a beautiful oblong square shaded by palm trees and surrounded by small restaurants.
Moving further north the Bay of Girolata makes a perfect anchorage. Spend the night in the village of Girolata at the head of the bay. Lobster lovers may want to try the Restaurant Le Bel Ombra, which is famous for its locally caught seafood (though I defer to your captain on recommendations as he knows these cruising grounds intimately).
Next stop is Calvi, a fun loving seaside town and once a Roman trading post. A vast citadel rises up from the sea overlooking the seafront bars and restaurants, while at the edge of town a long sandy beach stretches for miles.
Corsica and Sardinia are popular tourist destinations and so as you would expect there are many events. Amongst these events there are numerous grand prix sailing events.
Some of the main events are listed below, but always check the latest before you leave.
Calvi Jazz Festival – June
Festival of Music – June
Calvi on the Rocks – July
Wine Festival – July
Bastille Day – July
Olive Festival – July
Guitar Festival – July
Film Festival – July
Latin American Festival – August
Classical Music Festival – August
Modern Music Festival – August
Horse Fair near Santu Lussurgiu – June
San Giovanni (St. John the Baptist) celebrations – June
S’Ardia Horse Race in Sedilo in honour of San Constantino – July
Ferragosto mid August bank holiday, processions and fireworks – August