Agriates desert (Corsica): The definitive guide

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How to visit the Agriates desert?

You’re planning to visit the Agriate desert during your trip to Corsica?

Great idea!

The Agriates desert features 2 of the most beautiful beaches in Northern Cosica, you really shouldn’t miss them if you travel in this region!

In order to help you plan your visit, I have prepared this guide of the Agriates desert, with all the info you will need for an amazing day.

In addition, I will also give you a list of the best things to do around the Agriates desert as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

To visit the Agriates desert, you will need to start from one of the following towns:

I will give you all the info to organize your trip from each of these towns:

Visit the Agriates Desert from Saint-Florent

Visit the Agriates Desert by boat

The Agriates desert is a 16,000-hectare natural site located between the village of Saint-Florent, in the south of Cap Corse, and the Ostriconi Valley, north of Île-Rousse.

It’s clearly one of the best places to visit during your itinerary in Northern Corsica!

In this former agricultural region, the people were growing wheat and olive trees. There was also numerous flocks of sheeps.

While visiting the Agriates Desert, don’t expect a classic desert with sand dunes, as it has an exceptional wildlife and more than 35 km of coastline with heavenly beaches!

The easiest and quickest way to discover the Agriates desert and its beautiful beaches is to take a shuttle boat from the port of Saint-Florent.

Several companies offer this trip and there are many departures all-day long.

You can choose between large tourist boats and semi-rigid boats for up to a dozen people. It takes between 20 and 30 minutes to reach the beaches of the Agriates Desert.

If you want to do a cruise to the Agriates Desert, you can choose between:

  • A round-trip in a fast semi-rigid boat to Saleccia beach
  • A shuttle boat round-trip to Lotu beach
  • A combined trip to go to one of the beaches and do the return trip from the other

You’ll find every information you need (schedules, rates and more details) on the boat company’s official website.

And if you don’t want to spend a lot of time at the beach, you can opt for a 2-hour cruise to the Agriates Desert.

During this tour, you’ll sail along the desert coastline and see the 2 beaches of Saleccia and Lotu, with a 30-minute stop to take a dip.

You can find more details about this short cruise on this website.

Voyage Tips - Advice

You should book your boat trip to the Agriates desert at least 1 day in advance on this website.

Agriates Desert
Lotu beach, in the Agriates Desert

The Agriates Desert’s beaches

There are 2 equally beautiful beaches in the Agriates Desert.

Saleccia beach

Saleccia beach is the largest of the 2.

This long and wild sand beach with turquoise waters, bordered by pine trees, is truly splendid. You can’t rent deckchairs and umbrellas in Saleccia, and there are no toilets.

There is only a small beach bar under the pine trees if you want to enjoy a meal or a drink. You should bring everything you need if you want to spend a full day in Saleccia, especially many bottles of water!

Lotu beach

Lotu beach is the other beach you should discover during your trip to the Agriates Desert.

It’s smaller than Saleccia but just as beautiful with its fine sand and turquoise waters.

There are no pine trees in Lotu, only the typical maquis and sometimes a few wild cows enjoying the sun. Leave them alone and don’t get too close!

As in Saleccia, you won’t find any toilets and can’t rent deckchairs and umbrellas. There’s only a small bar/restaurant a 5-minute walk from the beach, on the left.

You’ll have 2 options if you want to walk from one beach to the other:

  • A 45-minute walk on the trail through the maquis
  • A small path on the seaside (1h20)

Even if it’s longer, you should walk on the seaside path. There are many 4WDs on the other trail, as its used by the guided tours. You might get covered with dust!

Saleccia and Lotu are often ranked among Corsica’s best beaches, and are also among the most beautiful I’ve visited during my road-trip in Corsica.

Voyage Tips - Anecdote

In the movie “The Longest Day”, The Landing in Normandy scene on June 6, 1944 was shot on Saleccia beach.

In the middle of World War II, in 1943, a submarine delivered more than 13 tons of weapons and ammunition to the local Resistance on Saleccia beach.

Saleccia Beach
Saleccia Beach, in the Agriates Desert

Visit the Agriates Desert in a 4WD

You can also opt for a 4WD guided tour to the Agriates Desert during your holidays in Corsica.

In the desert, there are only dirt tracks in a quite bad shape, so you can’t get there with a classic car.

These 4WD trips are starting from the village of Casta, a 20-minute drive from Saint-Florent.

You’ll have the choice between several different excursions: 

  • A shuttle connecting Casta and the beach of Saleccia, in 1 hour. You can stay at the beach as long as you want! The 4WD will drop you off a 5 to 10-minute walk from the beach.
  • Another shuttle going to Lotu Beach, combined with an 1h20 walk to reach Saleccia beach. There, you’ll have some time to enjoy a relaxing swim. The return trip is from Saleccia.

You can also opt for a combined boat and 4WD tour to visit the Agriates desert.

You’ll reach Saleccia beach in a 4WD, and then hike for 1h20 on the seaside to reach Lotu beach. Then you’ll sail back from Lotu to Saleccia. You’ll also have some free time at each of the beaches! 

You can find every information you need about these 4WD guided tours in the Agriates Desert on this website.

Agriates Desert trail
The Agriates Desert trail

Visit the Agriates Desert on foot

If you’re an hiking lover, how about visiting the Agriates Desert on foot? It’s harder than by 4WD or by boat, but you’ll be rewarded by quietness and splendid views!

I’m not talking about the small 45-minute or 1h20 between the beaches, but about a much longer hike.

The customs officers’ path starts from La Roya beach, close to the port of Saint-Florent.

During this 5h30 hike, you’ll reach Lotu beach and then Saleccia beach.

You can also continue your walk for 2h45 to arrive at Ghignu beach, and add another 6h30 to finally reach Ostriconi beach.

This beautiful 35-km long hike runs along the entire coast of the Agriates Desert.

You can spend a night at “U Paradisu” campsite, right next to Saleccia beach, or opt for a stay in a bed and breakfast close to Ghignu. 

There, several former sheepfolds have been converted into accommodations for hikers.

You’ll also find toilets and showers, but no kitchen, no drinking water and no mattresses. You’ll have to bring all your equipment.

Voyage Tips - Advice

The entire Agriates Desert is listed as a “Natural zone of ecological interest, fauna and flora” and is also protected by the Coastal protection agency.

It’s strictly forbidden to make a bivouac, light a fire or do a barbecue in the desert. Guards are patrolling there to make sure the law is respected.

Before hiking in the Agriates Desert, you should also ask about the fire hazard at the tourist office.

Agriates Desert beach
View of Lotu beach and the bay from the costal path

Full-day trip to the Agriates Desert form Bastia

If you’re not visiting Saint-Florent during your itinerary in Corsica, you can opt for an excursion to the Agriates Desert starting form Bastia.

During this full-day guided tour in a 4WD, you’ll first discover the beautiful perched villages and panoramic views of Cap Corse.

Then you’ll drive on the Agriates Desert track to reach Saleccia beach.

There, you’ll enjoy a 2-hour swimming stop in translucent waters. This beach is often ranked among Corsica’s most beautiful! 

Click the button below to book this full-day trip to the Agriates Desert from Bastia:

Guided tour to the Agriates Desert from Calvi

You can also visit the Agriates desert from Calvi.

During this 4WD guided excursion, you’ll admire beautiful panoramic views of the sea and the mountains on the road to the desert.

Then, you’ll reach Saleccia beach to take a dip in its turquoise waters and enjoy a beautiful preserved environment.

If you want to book this full-day trip to the Agriates Desert from Calvi, click the button below: 

There is another version of this 4WD guided excursion, taking you to Ghignu Beach instead of Saleccia. You’ll discover an even wilder beach, as you can only get there on foot or with a 4WD.

Simply click the button below to book this tour:

Agriates Desert Saint-Florent

The 6 best things to do near the Agriates Desert

Before or after visiting the Agriates Desert, you should take some time to discover the surroundings during your itinerary in Northern Corsica.

Here is a list of the best things to do around the Agriates!

Saint-Florent

Saint-Florent is the starting point for the Agriates Desert boat trips.

It’s also a nice small seaside resort, perfect for a short stroll.

Walk along the port and marina, and in the old town’s paved alleys to reach the citadel.

From there, you’ll discover a beautiful view over the whole Gulf of Saint-Florent and the Agriates Desert.

In Saint-Florent, you can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, such as diving, kayaking, quad biking or water skiing. You can also rent a boat to visit the Agriates Desert.

You’ll find every information you need to visit Saint-Florent in my article: The 12 best things to do in Saint-Florent.

Saint-Florent
Saint-Florent

Cap Corse

The Cap Corse is another great place to visit in the surroundings of the Agriates Desert.

From Saint-Florent, drive for about 10 minutes to reach the village of Patrimonio, mostly renowned for its PDO wines.

Then, drive north to discover the west coast of Cap Corse. During your journey, you’ll admire magnificent views of the sea!

You will also drive through several typical villages. There are many short 1 or 2-hour hikes starting from each of them.  The detailed information about these walks is available on the Cap Corse’s municipalities official website.

Another must-see attraction in Cap Corse is the village of Nonza and its black pebble beach.

And if you enjoy hiking, you should really do the customs officers’ path, connecting the villages of Centuri and Macinaggio, North of Cap Corse.

You can find detailed information about the Cap Corse in my article: The definitive guide to visit the Cap Corse.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you want to do a day-trip to Cap Corse from Saint-Florent, you should visit the West coast of the cape, as it’s the closest.

To visit both the East coast and the North, the best is to spend a night in Macinaggio, the departure point of  the customs officers’ trail.

Cap Corse
Cap Corse’s panoramic road

Bastia

Bastia is the largest city close to the Agriates Desert and Saint-Florent. It’s located only 40 minutes away by car.

It’s also the perfect place to start your itinerary in Northern Corsica, as you can get there by plane, or by ferry boat from Nice, Toulon and Marseille.

If you want to take a short stroll in Bastia, you won’t need more than one day. The best places to visit in Bastia are: 

  • St. Nicholas Square
  • Napoleon Street
  • The church of St. John the Baptist
  • The Old Port
  • The Romieu Gardens and stairs
  • The citadel of Bastia
  • Bastia History Museum, located in the Governors’ Palace
  • St. Mary’s Cathedral

You can find every information you need to visit Bastia in my article: The 17 best things to do in Bastia. 

Bastia
Bastia

Ostriconi Beach

Ostriconi beach is one of the best beaches near the Agriates Desert.

It’s located a 45-minute drive from Saint-Florent, and the panoramic road to get there offers magnificent mountain landscapes.

As Saleccia and Lotu, this beach bordered by a pond is ranked among Corsica’s most beautiful.

As there are no parking lots, you’ll have to park your car along the road and walk for about 5 minutes to reach the beach.

Even if you don’t feel like spending a whole afternoon there, the view over the Ostriconi beach from the road is still worth the detour.

Ostriconi Beach
Ostriconi Beach

Ile Rousse

Île-Rousse is a small seaside resort located between the Agriates desert and Calvi.

There, you can take a quick stroll through the old town, and discover Pietra peninsula and its lighthouse.

You can also start your holidays in Corsica from Île-Rousse, as you can get there by ferry boat from Nice, Toulon or Marseille.

Ile-Rousse
Ile Rousse

Calvi

It’s time to finish this list of the best places to visit in the surroundings of the Agriates Desert with the beautiful town of Calvi.

There, you can take a stroll in the old town, go up to the Citadel and have lunch in one of the many restaurants located on the port.

Then, you can choose between a relaxing afternoon swimming and sunbathing at Calvi beach, or a cruise to discover the Revellata peninsula.

You can also opt for a refreshing outing in the forest of Bonifatu.

There, you can do a short walk along the river and take a dip in its many natural swimming pools.

For more information about Calvi, you should read my article The definitive guide to visit Calvi.

Where to stay near the Agriates Desert

If you want to visit the Agriates Desert by boat, on foot or with a 4WD guided tour, you should stay in Saint-Florent.

  • Adonis Saint-Florent: Located 600 meters from the center of Saint Florent. The air-conditioned studios and apartments with a small kitchen and a balcony are starting from 70€, breakfast available for 9.50€. Strong points: the swimming pool, the cleanliness, the great value for money. It’s my recommandation for a budget stay in Saint Florent !
  • Hotel Tettola: Located 1.5 km from the port of Saint-Florent. This hotel offers double rooms starting from 90€ per night. Strong points: the swimming pool, the perfect location in front of the sea and close to the beach, the warm welcoming staff.
  • U Palazzu Serenu: This very nice and charming hotel is located in Oletta, only a 10-minute drive from Saint-Florent. This hotel is located inside a palace of the 17th century, overlooking the gulf and the Agriates desert. It offers splendid and spacious rooms, decorated with original works of art. As the hotel has only 6 rooms and 2 suites, it’s the guarantee to enjoy an intimate and quiet stay. You should book your rooms as soon as possible, to make sure it isn’t fully booked! The prices starts at 180€ per night in winter and 340€ in summer, breakfast included. What I loved: the large outdoor swimming pool, the magnificent view (even more at sunset), the warm welcoming staff, the quietness. It’s my recommendation for a luxury stay in Saint Florent!
U Palazzu Serenu - Oletta
U Palazzu Serenu – Oletta

How to get to the Agriates Desert?

Bastia – Saint-Florent

Saint-Florent, the closest city to the Agriates Desert, is located only a 40-minute drive from Bastia.

Once you’re in Saint-Florent, you can discover the beaches of the Agriates Desert by boat, on foot or with a 4WD guided tour.

If you don’t have a car, you can opt for a full-day trip to Cap Corse and the Agriates Desert from Bastia. You can book it right here!

Calvi – Saint-Florent

Saint-Florent is located 1h35 by car from Calvi.

From there, you can take the shuttle boat to discover the beautiful beaches of Saleccia or Lotu. You can also opt for a 4WD guided excursion, or walk on the customs officers’ path.

And if you’re looking for a full-day guided tour starting directly from Calvi, how about booking the tour I’ve mentioned above? Here are the links:

And you, have you planned to visit the Agriates desert during your holidays in Corsica?

You’re traveling to Corsica? These articles will help you !

Discover all my articles about Corsica: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Corsica are listed there.

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Visit Agriates desert Corsica
Visit the Agriates desert, in Corsica
Vincent

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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