The pinnacles and ravines of the red granite Calanches soar out of beautiful blue seas framed by the jagged peaks of Paglia Orba. They are best explored by foot or by boat. There are daily boat trips from Porto that visit this UNESCO world heritage site.
Porto is tucked away at the end of the gulf, and although deprived of the best views across the bay, it is well placed for exploring and has plenty of amenities. The Route de la Marine, lined with stately old eucalyptus trees, links the two parts of the resort. A strip of supermarkets, cafés and hotels is at one end of the village but the focus of activity is in the marina. From here it is about a 15-minute walk up to the recently restored Geonese watchtower. Amongst other amenities there is a well established aquarium and a helpful tourist office.
Piana is balanced on plunging cliffs and despite its prime location overlooking the Calanches, it retains its sleepy feel and does not suffer the crowds of tourists. It comprises a cluster of old stone houses arranged around an 18th century church and square, from the edge of which the views over the gulf are sublime.
Stacked slabs, towering pinnacles and gnarled, claw-like outcrops of rock were formed by volcanic eruptions 250 million years ago and a subsequent erosion has fashioned spectacular shapes in the rock. The colours are remarkable and vary from charcoal grey to incandescent reds and rusty purples which strike a vivid contrast with the deep green maquis and the cobalt blue sea. The headland and its surrounding waters were declared a nature reserve in 1975, so wildlife is as varied here as anywhere in Corsica. Dolphins and seals thrive, and colonies of giant gulls and cormorants inhabit the cliffs. Ospreys are found here, their huge nests visible from the sea and there are regular sightings of Peregrine falcons. Rare indigenous plants grow freely, but as the entire reserve is off limits to hikers, flora spotters are deprived the chance to further investigate.