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Corsica or Sardinia - which island is better?

Corsica or Sardinia - which island is better?

Located off the western coast of Italy is a diverse group of islands that you will undoubtedly want to add to your Mediterranean yacht charter bucket list. Although they are relatively close to one another, Sardinia and Corsica (and its diminutive neighbour Elba) each offers a unique and exciting experience for visitors, especially those travelling by luxury yacht.

Cala Coticcio in La Madallena, Sardinia, is a magnet for yachts
Cala Coticcio in La Madallena, Sardinia, is a magnet for yachts

But which island is better and how to decide on the one that is best for you? Both possess a distinctive blend of culture and beaches, watersports and nature so it’s a tough call to make for even the most savvy of travellers. Here’s a run-down of the main attractions on Corsica and Sardinia when enjoying a superyacht charter.

The peak yachting season for visits to Corsica and Sardinia is June to August, when you will find buzzing port towns, warm air and pleasant sea temperatures. There is a vibrant social scene at this time of year, with an abundance of shoreside activities as well as options for sporting endeavours on and in the water.

Reliable winds make this a sailing and watersports heaven
Reliable winds make this a sailing and watersports heaven

One thing to note is that the summer months bring with them occasional strong winds blowing an average of 15 days a month, which makes them ideal if you enjoy sailing, racing in regattas or sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Corsica

Why visit Corsica?

Bonifacio, a natural harbour on Corsica's south coast, is a must-see destination
Bonifacio, a natural harbour on Corsica's south coast, is a must-see destination

A perfect melting pot of French and Italian cultures, Corsica is famous for its breath-taking wild landscapes, abundant nature, picturesque anchorages and historic port towns. Bonifacio is an essential stop on any yachting tour of the region; the port is surrounded by the medieval town with its towering, ancient citadel and quaint cobblestone streets lined with eccentric architecture.

The red rocks are a signature feature at the northern end of Palombaggia beach
The red rocks are a signature feature at the northern end of Palombaggia beach

Beach lovers will be delighted by those on offer close to Porto Vecchio, which rival the famed Pampelonne Beach near Saint-Tropez; the two-kilometre stretch of golden sand and turquoise water at Palombaggia has earned a spot in the top 10 beaches of Europe. And active types will enjoy getting stuck into the various watersports on offer in Corsica, or you can simply take a peaceful stroll along the scenic shoreline.

Corsican towns

Ajaccio

Palms and promenades overlooking the Gulf of Ajaccio
Palms and promenades overlooking the Gulf of Ajaccio

Ajaccio, the charming capital city of Corsica, is located on the western coast of the island and is home to a variety of cultural highlights for history and art enthusiasts. These include the baroque 16th century cathedral Notre-Dame de l'Assomption de Ajaccio, the Musée Feche museum of fine arts, and the Maison Bonaparte, a museum in the ancestral home of the former French emperor.

Ajaccio seen from the Tête de Mort on a morning hike
Ajaccio seen from the Tête de Mort on a morning hike

Wake early and pull on your hiking shoes for a walk up to the Tête de Mort for a stunning panoramic views across the city before descending to the shoreline on the 90-minute loop before breakfast back on your charter yacht.

Bastia

One of the Genovese towers that pepper the Corsican coast
One of the Genovese towers that pepper the Corsican coast

The second most populous town in Corsica, Bastia is bustling and pretty spot home to picturesque squares, local fishermen and an ancient citadel that dates back to 1380. Hiking is a popular activity along the wild peninsula to the north of Bastia, known as 'le Cap Corse', where you will find many of the historical Genoese towers dotted along the undulating shoreline.

Elba's capital, the historic fortified town of Portoferraio, with the hills of Tuscany in the background
Elba's capital, the historic fortified town of Portoferraio, with the hills of Tuscany in the background

Bastia is the closest Corsican town to the nearby island of Elba, a popular stop on superyacht charters thanks to its multitude of secluded beaches backing onto a lush and mountainous landscape. The island’s largest town is Portoferraio, a historical port that accommodates superyachts up to 65m; here you will find the house that Napoleon Bonaparte occupied during his exile as well as the 16th century Medici fortress.

Bonifacio

The ancient citadel that looms over the port of Bonfacio
The ancient citadel that looms over the port of Bonfacio

A naturally sheltered port with an ancient fortified town around a citadel. Take a tour of the snaking alleyways or climb the 187 steps of the Escalier du Roi d’Aragon, which is thought to have been built in a single night during the siege of 1420.

The King of Aragon's Stairway is built into the cliffs on which the town is built
The King of Aragon's Stairway is built into the cliffs on which the town is built

The rugged coast to the east of Bonifacio, showing Cape Sperone and Piana island, part of the Lavezzi archipelago nature reserve
The rugged coast to the east of Bonifacio, showing Cape Sperone and Piana island, part of the Lavezzi archipelago nature reserve

To the east of Bonifacio, the coastline is dominated by rugged, towering cliffs with a number of trails. A tender tour to the west of Bonifacio reveals numerous secluded coves including the magical Grotte de Sdragonato, while the protected Fazzio beach is a great snorkelling spot for all the family.

The atmospheric Grotte de Sdragonato is always a popular stop
The atmospheric Grotte de Sdragonato is always a popular stop

The natural beauty of the Lavezzi islands is plain to see, as is the monument to the wreck of the French frigate Sémillante, sunk in 1855, and Sardinia lies in the background
The natural beauty of the Lavezzi islands is plain to see, as is the monument to the wreck of the French frigate Sémillante, sunk in 1855, and Sardinia lies in the background

South-east of Bonifacio en route to Sardinia you will find the Lavezzi Islands Nature Reserve, offering 80,000 hectares of scuba diving including the famous 'Grouper City', which is renowned for the massive fish species that can reach up to 100kg and 1.5m in length; there are also plenty of snorkelling opportunities for non-scuba divers within the reserve.

The Lavezzi archipelago has many wonders below the water for divers and snorkellers
The Lavezzi archipelago has many wonders below the water for divers and snorkellers

Golfo di Sogno

Looking southeast across the port of Porto Vecchio. Golfo di Sogno is out of sight to the left, in the north of the city's gulf
Looking southeast across the port of Porto Vecchio. Golfo di Sogno is out of sight to the left, in the north of the city's gulf

The Golfo di Sogno is located near the busy town of Porto Vecchio to the south-east of Corsica, with a backdrop of lush green hills in the distance. It is protected from the elements, making it a great anchorage.

Golfo di Sogno is a beautiful, placid, well protected anchorage
Golfo di Sogno is a beautiful, placid, well protected anchorage

Palombaggia beach

After a day's fun on the water, feel the sand between your toes dining on a secluded beach
After a day's fun on the water, feel the sand between your toes dining on a secluded beach

Enjoy paddleboarding, waterskiing and wakeboarding in the bay or ride in a tender to one of the many secluded beaches for a romantic BBQ dinner set up by the crew. From the Golfo di Sogno you are just a short distance to Palombaggia beach, a must-see stop on any yacht charter to Corsica with its vast golden sands and bright blue water.

Palombaggia beach is a heavenly stretch of sand on Corsica's southeast coast
Palombaggia beach is a heavenly stretch of sand on Corsica's southeast coast

A taste of island life

Corsica is renowned for the quality of its produce
Corsica is renowned for the quality of its produce

Corsica is famous for its produce and wine, and there is no better way to enjoy a uniquely Corsican gastronomic experience than with an intimate private lunch or dinner at one of the rustic family-run restaurants nestled in the Corsican hills. Vinophiles looking for experiences beyond the beautiful beaches of the island will surely enjoy exploring the vineyards of, one of the most renowned wine-growing regions in the whole of France.

Sea food straight from the sea, it doesn't get better
Sea food straight from the sea, it doesn't get better

Sardinia

Why visit Sardinia?

Azure waters and smooth granite rocks are signatures of Sardinia's Madallena archipelagos
Azure waters and smooth granite rocks are signatures of Sardinia's Madallena archipelagos

Sardinia is one of the most sought-after places to see and be seen in at the height of the Mediterranean summers. The chic port town of Porto Cervo in the north-west of Sardinia is renowned as the ‘Billionaires' Playground’, home to stylish restaurants, celebrated golf clubs, vibrant nightlife and luxury boutiques. Here you will also find the renowned Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, which hosts the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta and is also home to the exclusive Acqua di Parma spa.

Porto Cervo is at the heart of the yachting action in Costa Smeralda
Porto Cervo is at the heart of the yachting action in Costa Smeralda

Sardinian towns

Carloforte

Carloforte was founded in 1739
Carloforte was founded in 1739

Carloforte is located on the volcanic Isola di San Petro off the south-west coast of Sardinia. Founded by a colony of Ligurian fishers, the quaint town offers a chance to step back in time and slow the pace of life while sipping on a cappuccino in a bustling cobbled square. Take a tour of the island by jeep to discover its wild coastal landscape studded with fragrant Aleppo pine trees, then explore the various inlets and coves with a private expedition on your charter yacht’s tender.

Le Colonne, on the island's southern tip, is ripe for exploration
Le Colonne, on the island's southern tip, is ripe for exploration

Castelsardo

Castelsardo Castle, atop the town, overlooks the Gulf of Asinara, on the island's northern coast
Castelsardo Castle, atop the town, overlooks the Gulf of Asinara, on the island's northern coast

On the northern coast of Sardinia, the historic town of Castelsardo is dominated by an ancient castle that presides over the coastline. Founded by a family from Genoa in the 12th century, the town is a fascinating place to visit, whiling away a few hours exploring the winding lanes and purchasing some of the woven baskets for which Castelsardo is renowned.

Basket weaving is an age-old tradition in this part of Sardinia
Basket weaving is an age-old tradition in this part of Sardinia

Cagliari

Looking northeast over Cagliari's Marina Piccola and Sella del Diavolo, the Devil's Saddle
Looking northeast over Cagliari's Marina Piccola and Sella del Diavolo, the Devil's Saddle

In the heart of Sardinia’s southern coastline you will find Cagliari, the island’s capital. There is a wide range of cultural highlights on offer, including the 13th-century Cagliari Cathedral Santa Maria e Santa Cecilia and the archaeological museum.

A wonderful mix of colours and architectural styles
A wonderful mix of colours and architectural styles

Cagliari

Cagliari has a unique skyline
Cagliari has a unique skyline

A feast for the eyes, the medieval city is dominated by a melange of colourful palazzi, domed roofs and fortified ancient ramparts. Explore the city’s boutiques and winding alleyways before enjoying an early evening aperitif in the port, then head back to your charter yacht for a delicious dinner of local produce while soaking up the views as the sun sets over the horizon.

The Bastion Saint Remy was built for sightseeing using the remains of the 16th century Sperone and Zecca Bastions
The Bastion Saint Remy was built for sightseeing using the remains of the 16th century Sperone and Zecca Bastions

Beaches

Alghero

Bastion Marco Polo lit up at night with the 16th century Cattedrale dell’Immacolata Concezione
Bastion Marco Polo lit up at night with the 16th century Cattedrale dell’Immacolata Concezione

In the north-west of Sardinia, Alghero is celebrated for its vast selection of pristine beaches, many of which have been awarded blue flag status for the quality of their waters. The beaches often back onto fragrant pine trees groves and are flanked by craggy white rocks rising up from the sea, while the sands are powder-soft and the waters gin-clear.

Alghero

The promontory to the west of Alghero provides lots of beaches you can call your own
The promontory to the west of Alghero provides lots of beaches you can call your own

While some beaches are more popular with tourists and locals, an advantage to visiting by charter yacht is that you have the flexibility for a tender to speed you along the shoreline until you spot the perfect place to relax and soak up the surroundings. Aim for the stretch between Fertilia and Porto Conte, where you will be able to find a completely private spot for a beach BBQ all to yourselves.

Pula

The church of Sant'Efisia in Pula was built in 1089. It is viewed from Cape Pula, which is covered in Roman ruins
The church of Sant'Efisia in Pula was built in 1089. It is viewed from Cape Pula, which is covered in Roman ruins

Situated a short distance down the coast from Cagliari, Pula’s beaches on the south coast of Sardinia are a highlight of any yacht charter to the island. Guests who enjoy watersports will be particularly drawn to the locality, as surfers and kitesurfers are provided with great conditions.

Pula 

The dream beach that is Su Giudeu in Chia, right on the south coast
The dream beach that is Su Giudeu in Chia, right on the south coast

Thanks to the strong summer breezes that blow an average of 15 days a month, kite surfers can enjoy waves of up to five metres. Meanwhile, the stunning Su Giudeu beach in Chia, located near Pula, has golden sand dunes backing onto a lagoon that is home to a flock of bright pink flamingos.

A taste of island life

Sardinia is an island that spans the full spectrum of life. While glamorous towns like Porto Cervo offer a wide array of boutiques and restaurants to attract those with a taste for luxury, the more rustic, mountainous terrain inland from the jewel-hued, powder-sand coastline is a far more low-key affair.

Porto Cervo, like Bonifacio, is on every itinerary but Sardinia, like Corsica, has so much more to offer
Porto Cervo, like Bonifacio, is on every itinerary but Sardinia, like Corsica, has so much more to offer

Olive groves, wild herbs, sheep farms and an abundance of vineyards typify Sardinia’s rural interior, with all the produce that these provide; the slow food movement was a way of life here before the term was ever coined. And of course, no trip to Sardinia would be complete without sampling its famous local fish, from tuna to sea bream, caught that morning by local fishermen and served by the chef on board your charter yacht.

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