June 16, 2014
The quaint town of Porto, a popular tourist destination, is wedged in a ravine of sorts that spills into the Mediterranean. The stone buildings amongst the red cliff outcroppings house mostly hotels and restaurants. Parking is on one side of the harbor front with a pedestrian path that cuts through the buildings and boulders that separate it from the marina. More restaurants and a beach are found along the protected marina side of the port town.
Scandola Boat Tour
Scandola, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a restricted marine reserve comprised of volcanic rugged red rock formations that plunge into the sea. Since the formations continue under water to the sea floor the region is also popular with scuba divers.
Despite the risk of more thundershowers, we drove down to the harbor to find a morning boat tour of this famed coastline. Le Pass’ Partout had a three hour boat tour of Scandola and Girolata leaving at 10AM, 42€/person. However, check times on their website as this was not the posted time on their schedule. Tours are limited to 12 passengers giving ample seating, both covered and in the sun, as well as space to walk around the deck.
We caught a window between thundershowers and had a gorgeous morning out on the water.
The tour is all in French but the sights are well worth the linguistic hurdles. The boat first heads out to the far end of the Scandola Reserve and then makes its way slowly along the coast through Girolata and back to the Porto marina.
Although Scandola is a protected reserve, Girolata is not. With the same type of red rock formations the difference between the two is negligible.
Before returning to the marina, the boat makes a 30 minute stop at Girolata town, a tourist destination reached only by boat or on foot. Cute, but for my tastes not really worth the stop – too touristy and not that interesting.
Heading back towards Porto mounting thunderheads were clearly visible behind the marina, but other than a couple of distant claps of thunder and a few drops of rain the storm never quite made it to Porto.
Back in town, 2.50€ gets you into the small fort at the top of a rock outcropping with views over the town and out to sea.