While most travellers go celebrity spotting at Plage Pamplonne, the discreet elite drop anchor at some of the “secret Islands,” which are the perfect off the beaten track escape for your next charter destination!
Île De Cavallò – Right off Sardinia and far from the “Riviera Rush”
Cavallo Island is an island where pristine nature an luxury are combined in perfect harmony. This island is a private property where access is limited. This makes Cavallo Island one of the quietest and most unique places in the world. It’s remote, has minimal harbour facilities and is almost impossible to find on a map. Island transport is by mountain bike, golf buggy or on one of the horses kept by discreet island hotel Les Pêcheurs. The hotel can also provide passing yachts with anything from a sushi platter to a full-blown beach party catered by a private chef. Intrigued? Sailors can take a leisurely cruise across the Tyrrhenian Sea from Corsica. Alternatively, Les Pêcheurs can organise a four-person private chopper from Arzachena airstrip near Porto Cervo.
Île Verte – Within swimming distance of La Ciotat
The scene on arrival at “Green Island” is otherworldly. Lying midway between Badol and Cassis, expect an uninhabited lost world of eucalyptus and holm oak. The windswept cove of Calanque Seynerolles feels more like pristine Corsica than poseur Côte d’Azur.
Port-Cros – Sandwiched between the equally beautiful islands of Porquerolles and Levant
Port-Cros is part of the island group Îles d’Hyères in front of the coast of the city Hyères and part of the National park, also named Port-Cros. Today the island counts still about 60 inhabitants. When you get out to explore the Island, forget about doing so by car. Not even bicycles are allowed on Port-Cors. Around 30 kilometres of walking trails through the woods, lead you to translucent seas. As France’s first marine national park, the waters host 180 different species of fish including eagle rays. There are two beaches on Port-Cros; Le Palud in the north and Plage du Sud in the South-west of the Island. From Plage du Palud a five-buoy snorkel trail leads out to the teeny tiny island of Rascas Rock.
Île de Bendor – Only 300m off the coast from Bandol
Île de Bendor was bought and subsequently developed by the industrialist Paul Ricard (1909-1997) the founder of Ricard, the pastis manufacturer in 1950. The island has a surface area of 0.08 km2, with a coastline of 1.5 km. Under Ricard's patronage, the island became a magnet for the jet set of the 1960’s. Visitors to the island included Salvador Dalí and Marcel Pagnol. Richard dispensed grazing sheep and added a tennis court and an art gallery, plus a 6 km long causeway for a scenic maintain (mountain?) bike, or electric scooter ride. A dozen hip restaurants serve rosé from the region’s famous Bandol vineyards. Back at the Marina, a monolith bears Paul Ricard’s personal motto: nul bien sans peine (“no pain, no gain”).
Ratonneau & Pomègues – Located off the coast of Marseille
Since Roman times, sailors have been quarantined on Ratonneau. Lucky devils! This sun-seared granite speck has a Croatian feel. Tiny beaches, jump right off the rocks and over 300 species of flora, including sea lilies. The Romans also built a simple causeway across to Pomègues, Ratonneau’s little brother. A secluded 700 berth marina now sits between the two Islands.
Île St. Honorat – 10 minutes away from Cannes
You know that island opposite of the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc? The one that you glide over when flying into Nice? It has a fabulously secluded backstory. Hermit monk St. Honorat arrived in A.D. 410, with his sole wish to meditate in peace under the Aleppo pines. Within 20 years, dozens of disciples rocked up to share St. Honorat’s unparalleled sea view – and swim south to their next stop, Tunisia. The monks now share a symbiotic relationship with Hollywood’s Elite, who sail across for stuffed octopus and burrata at alfresco restaurant La Tonnelle. The monks provide the Viognier from their eight-hectare vineyard, while the stars pay handsomely for the privilege of not being put in the spotlight. Handily the brothers are prevented from talking to the press by a vow of silence. After the last shuttle boat to Cannes departs at 6pm, sailors who moor between Saint-Honorat and fellow island gem Ste-Marguerite, will find nirvana strictly for themselves.
Les îles Cerbicale – Located in the distance from Palombaggia Plage, Corsica’s fines beach
This six-island archipelago compromises a 36-hectare marine reserve, which has remained uninhabited by humans since records began. Have your steward pour a tumbler of Hendrick’s as you spot peregrine falcons, puffins and storm petrels from the deck. With a mask and snorkel, nature is even more vivid. Think bottlenose dolphins, rock lobsters, and tiny cardinal fish.