[SCANDOLA NATURE RESERVE, CORSICA] — Okay, who’s been to the Scandola Nature Reserve in Corsica? Non?  Strap in. You’re about to see something really amazing.

You gotta gotta go do this. A huge natural preserve in the northwest of Corsica, with the most dramatic rock formations, canyons and wildly shaped rocks you’ve ever seen, plunging right into the sea. Dwarfing everything in their midst, namely you.

Scandola is like being in a one-armed Grand Canyon, with the deep blue Mediterranean sea on the right side, and every color and shape of rock you’ve ever seen on the left. 

The Scandola peninsula was created from a collapsed volcano that fell into the sea, so you feel the earth opening up before you. This is a protected nature reserve, both on the land and sea, which is why there are no roads to it.

Scandola Nature Reserve multicolored rocks

You can really only see it from a boat — there are no roads to get here — dramatic jagged cliffs of every shape and size and color, changing from cove to cove, none of them looking like the other one. You just bob along, oooohh and ahhhhh, and just putt-putt along the inlets and hidden watered canyons. This place is so stunning, that’s why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just amazing.

You can really only see it from a boat — there are no roads to get here — dramatic jagged cliffs of every shape and size and color, changing from cove to cove, none of them looking like the other one.

You can take big or little tour boats out of the nearby harbors, at every size and price point. The bigger the boat, the cheaper, but you’re also going to be fighting with the hoards and selfie sticks to get a view. It’s one of those things where once you get to the Good Stuff, everyone races to one side of the boat, listing, cameras and phones ruining your view. 

Scandola Nature Reserve boat between tall cliffs

Or better, charter a skipper and a speedboat on your own from nearly every port from L’Île-Rousse, Calvi, Girolata and others. They can range from big old dualie-engine fast boats to little Zodiacs.

Highly recommend splurging on your own boat because the skippers know all the cool spots and their smaller boats can really get into the innumerable nooks and crannies and colorful canyons and you can stop at your own pace.

Scandola Nature Reserve bright colored rocks

It was my last day in Corsica, I debated chartering a boat for a day because it was just me and expensive for only one person mostly because I was a long way from L’Île-Rousse on the north coast and it took an extra hour to get here, but it was worth every single penny. So glad I did it.

This is one of the coolest places I’ve ever seen. So plunk down a bunch of Cent Euros and you will never regret it. I almost didn’t go, but afterwards I was like “How could I not have?”  One of the best investment decisions I’ve ever made.

Here’s what the Scandola Nature Reserve looks like from the air, in the top left of Corsica.

You go for at least a half-day, with the boats putt-putt-putting along the rock edges, into ridiculously colored flooded canyons. Bring a picnic and a beer because you’re definitely gonna wanna take a schwimbob. Just ask your hotel who they recommend, they’re usually friends or family and they won’t recommend someone that isn’t good.

Scandola Nature Reserve tour boat canyon

You can take the big tour boats and explore the same Scandola coast, but to get the max experience, charter your own captain and boat and they take you into places where the big boats can’t. Secret little slot canyons and chasms several hundred feet high and only a boat width wide.

Okay, sit back, prepare to see a lot of pictures of big colorful rocks. Coming around from Calvi, you round the bend of the top left corner of Corsica and BAM, you something good is coming….

You gotta watch this to get the full experience:

Scandola Nature Reserve distant boat
Boats used for scale.
Scandola Nature Reserve small tour boat

This is one of the most breath-taking places I’ve ever seen.

Scandola Nature Reserve boat against cliff
Scandola Nature Reserve steep cliffs
You see that little boat down there? It’s actually not that little, probably is carrying 25 people. That shows you how big these cliffs really are.
Scandola Nature Reserve boat against rainbow colored rocks
Scandola Nature Reserve colored rock
Scandola Nature Reserve sailboats along mountain
Scandola Nature Preserve Colombo Line boat
You can save some money and take a big boat, but honestly, looking how big they are and all those people clogging to one side, I was happy to drop some Euros on a private skipper and boat. This is a once-in-a-lifetime place. It was worth every penny.
Scandola Nature Preserve sailboats
If you’re chartering a sailboat and sailing around Corsica, which I plan to do next time, definitely plan on spending at least a night here.

— Last visited July 2015; Post Updated July 2024 — 

 More Information on Scandola Nature Reserve

There weren’t many websites in English on Corsica when I was there in 2015, I was mostly bushwacking to discover cool things to do. Here are all my other posts on the magical island of Corsica.

On the Corsica Travel Guide and here are details on Cool Corsica’s cool website. Here’s TripAdvisor’s page on Scandola. And here is the Scandola page on the France tourism website.

A little more detail and some good pictures on the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s page on Scandola Nature Reserve.

Here’s the official great pictures on the Visit Corsica website.

A great article in Vogue from Sally Perrin on the best places to go in Corsica.

.A nice little video on Encyclopedia Britannica’s web page on Scandola.

Another overview on Corsica featured in the Huffington Post.

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