7 days exploring Corsica by Superyacht

Ajaccio

Whether you own a luxury yacht or choose to charter a superyacht in Corsia this itinerary  allows the explorer to admire plunging cliffs, charming seaside towns and a mountainous interior that makes up a total of two-thirds of the island. The island is also a wine-lovers paradise with family-owned estates passionately producing quality wines.

Not forgetting its underwater world though – some of the best diving and snorkelling can be found here too. See sea sponges, anemones and corals plus a whole host of other marine life – it will certainly be a highlight of your trip.

Day 1 — Ajaccio

Most international flights land at Ajaccio, and this is probably the best place to meet your luxury yacht. There are excellent facilities here, as well as a fascinating town to explore. Half a day spent wandering the streets of Ajaccio will give the visitor an excellent introduction into all things Corsican.

The town, as you’d expect, makes much of the fact that Napoleon Bonaparte was born here, and a visit to the modest house where he was born is worth an hour of your time. Elsewhere in the town there are a couple of good museums, some good shopping to be done in the Rue Bonaparte and Boulevard du Roi Jerome, and dozens of pavement cafes where you can sit and watch the Corsicans amble past.

For the gastronomically inclined, there is a fish market every morning in the Place Foch, and a daily open market selling enticing Corsican produce next to the town hall. For eating out in the evening there are few places better than L’Altru Versu (2km west of the town centre) to experience what an Corsican cuisine with a stunning sea view. Alternatively you Palm Beach, a few kilometres further west, has great views and a Michelin star, but with a slightly less Corsican feel.

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Girolata

Heading west and then north from Ajaccio (once the chef has returned from provisioning in the market), take a leisurely cruise up the west coast, pausing to admire the numerous 16th century cliff-top towers and the steep, multi-coloured porphyry cliffs that tumble into the sea.

The Golfe de Porto remains beautifully unspoiled because a nature reserve protects the Scandola peninsular and surrounding waters; above you fly cormorants and ospreys, while below in the crystal clear waters you can see sponges, anemones, and corals, as well as abundant fish (this is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so no fishing allowed).

Snorkelling here will undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip. As the sun begins to set, head for Girolata, one of the few anchorages on this coast that offers protection in the westerly blow. This is a popular spot, which is considered one of the best choices for a superyacht anchorage in Corsica, so don’t leave it too late in the day. Take the tender ashore for a sundowner in the bar overlooking the bay.

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Calvi

Continuing north from Girolata, it is only a couple of hours cruise to the delightful port of Calvi. Perched on a rocky promontory overlooking a sweeping sandy bay, Calvi is probably best known for two things: as the birthplace (allegedly) of Christopher Columbus, and as the place where Nelson lost an eye.

A 15th century Genovese citadel towers over the bustling port and its marina, and along the waterfront crowd numerous cafes and restaurants. Take the tender and spend some time on one of the beaches, or strike out on foot up to the citadel, a strangely quiet and peaceful change from the bustle of the waterfront.

The views from up on the citadel are spectacular, and walking the ramparts you can see why it took the British fleet in excess of 30,000 cannonballs to subdue the fortress in 1794.

Chez Charles, on the opposite side of the bay, offers fabulous Corsican cuisine with a Michelin star, should you feel like giving the crew an evening off.

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Bastia

This is quite a long day at sea (around 85 miles), but a necessity if you are limited for time. If you can take an extra day, stopping at St Florent is worthwhile, as this is a charming little town, but otherwise press on round the Cap Corse and down to Bastia. This is the 2nd largest town in Corsica, and the economic capital of the island.

Despite this, the old town is delightful (in a slightly decrepit way) So stretch your legs, wander aimlessly, and soak up the ambience of this majestic old town. Stop at one of the bars on the Quai des Martyrs and try the local aperitif – Cap Corse – although it is something of an acquired taste.

The Etang de Biguglia, just south of Bastia, is a wildlife reserve where there is abundant birdlife in the marshes, and where it is possible to see (among other things) flamingos.

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Porto-Vecchio

Make an early start because today is another long one. Although the East Coast, with its long sandy beaches, makes for a great beach holiday there is little of particular interest to the cruising yachtsman. Having said that, dropping the anchor off the one of the many beaches and taking the tender ashore will make for a pleasant diversion.

Porto-Vecchio itself is a mixture of old and new, with the haute ville being a well-preserved example of Genoese medieval architecture. The narrow streets around the main square are fascinating, and the bastion has a commanding view over the port below.

The main square is flanked by cafes and restaurants, and in the early evening is a great place to watch the Corsicans promenade. Here too you will find many shops selling cursina, locally-made knives originally used by shepherds but now sold to tourists.

For a memorable meal, head a few kilometers south to the Plage de Santa Giulia and the highly acclaimed U Santa Marina restaurant overlooking the sea.

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Bonifacio

Porto Vecchio to Bonifacio is a very short hop (barely 30 miles), but you should definitely stop off at the Iles de Lavezzi and the Ile Cavallo which form an archipelago of granite rocks and boulders. Take the tender (the whole area is a marine reserve, so mooring is prohibited) and spend some time swimming and admiring these beautiful islands.

After lunch head for Bonifacio, one of the most perfectly preserved medieval fortified towns in Europe. Almost Disney-esque in its perfection, this amazing town at the southern-most tip of the island is built on an outcrop of rock that has the sea on one side and a deep harbour on the other.

Despite the apparently impregnable nature of a fortress on a high rock protected on three sides by sheer limestone cliffs and the sea, Bonifacio has nevertheless succumbed to siege on several occasions. These days the town is besieged by tourists and yachtsmen, but is still well worth a visit because the narrow streets, massive fortifications, and staggering views make this an extraordinary place.

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Ajaccio

Making the relatively short trip back to Ajaccio will complete your week-long circumnavigation of Corsica. But really you have only scratched the surface of this delightful island, and you might consider spending a few days in a hire car exploring the interior of the island, where you will find some fantastic hotels, beautiful hilltop towns, an abundance of prehistoric archaeological sites, and some spectacularly good restaurants.

Picture courtesy of Gerardo Borbolla/Shutterstock.com

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