The gin-clear waters of the Cote d’Azur offer some wonderful dive and snorkel sites, with a range of exciting shipwrecks, underwater cliffs, grottos, and coral formations to be explored. The best way to visit these sites is by yacht, diving off your private swim platform to find underwater treasures, before returning to shore to enjoy all the glittering pleasures of the French Riviera.
Yacht ownership in the South of France is a dream for many, and no wonder with so many diving and snorkelling sites waiting for you just offshore. Here are some of the standouts, grouped by destination so you know exactly where to sail.
Gulf of St Tropez
The Gulf of St Tropez offers some sensational wreck diving, with many vessels sunk during the wars, and plenty of congers and marine life taking up residence inside their skeletons. One of the most atmospheric sites is the mine-laying submarine, the 66m Rubis, with the torpedo boat Le Poursuivante also lying nearby. Experience living history as you peer through this rare window into another time.
Not far from St Tropez, Sainte Maxime offers two incredible diving spots. Le Sardinaux is a rock plateau leading to a steep drop-off teeming in marine life, while the little-explored
Sèche à l’Huile site is home to a great number of slipper lobsters and lobsters on red coral.
Iles des Hyeres
A single day at these islands is enough to convince you into a happy lifetime of yacht ownership. Apart from the Caribbean-like beaches of pretty Porquerolles, the islands are also wonderful for snorkelling and diving, with numerous wrecks to explore. The real prize, however, is spotting a 40 pound brown merou, a large grouper that was long thought to be extinct. Keep your eyes peeled!
A morning snorkelling the rocky coastline of the Cap d’Antibes is one of life’s great pleasures, as you look for schools of pale fish and octopus, and hunt for creatures in the rockpools. Cap d’Antibes’ clear waters and fantastic underwater scenery has made this the site of the Underwater Film Championships for many years. Take your time as you float slowly around the headland, before returning to Plage de la Garoupe for a leisurely beach club lunch, or dine in style at the famous Hotel du Cap Eden Rock.
Golfe Juan has several good dive sites, including the unique underwater village at the lighthouse and the Grotto de Miro, a cave featuring a statue of Commandant Yves le Prieur, who developed the first autonomous dive equipment alongside naval officer Jacques Cousteau. However, the greatest site of all is L’Enfer de Dante, with its spectacular underwater pinnacles and drop-offs to 55m.
The Monaco end of the coast also offers some excellent diving, with the steep Alpine landscape creating some dramatic underwater scenery. Cap Ferrat offers underwater cliffs and trenches, while advanced divers can enjoy the finest reef dive on the Riviera at Sec a Merlot – a ridge festooned in red Gregorian and inhabited by morays, scorpion fish, capons and St Pierre. At nearby Villefranche you’ll find a great beginner’s reef for novices, while advanced divers can dive down to an airplane wreck.
When you’re one of the lucky ones who enjoy yacht ownership, a diving and snorkelling adventure on the French Riviera really is as easy as casting off from the marina and dropping anchor where you please. Ready, set, snorkel! Contact our friendly Smart Yacht team for more information.