The Agriates Desert in Corsica is less known than other parts of the island.
However, it shelters the magnificent beach of Saleccia and that of Lotu… And, you can hike in the scrubland with splendid views of the mountains. What more could you want?
Here’s our guide to help you plan your visit with maps, tips and lots of photos about beaches, boat shuttles, hikes and 4WD options.
Why visit the Agriates Desert?
Beautiful but not really a desert
The Agriates desert (“désert des Agriates”) is not really a desert. It is a wild peninsula where rocky ridges meet valleys covered with dense Mediterranean maquis.
There are even temporary streams that sometimes run through the vegetation.
It has been inhabited since the Neolithic period.
Throughout history, these lands have been cultivated and used for transhumance.
Since 1979, the 15,000 hectares have been protected and tourism has developed with boat trips, hikes and 4WD tours.
It is one of the must-do’s from Saint-Florent.
Today, the Agriates region is especially famous for its heavenly beaches, especially Saleccia.
Some of the most beautiful beaches of Corsica are there: Saleccia, Lotu, Ostriconi…
The entire coastline is surrounded by crystal clear, clean water.
Pines, white sand, turquoise colors and the view on the mountains of Cap Corse… what more could you ask for ?
Below is a short video to give you an overview of the area and its beaches:
More pictures after the tips to plan your visit.
How to visit the Agriates desert in Corsica
Where is the Agriates desert
- North of Corsica
- West Coast
- Just south of Saint-Florent
- From Calvi to Saint-Florent = 1h30
- Bastia to Saint-Florent = 40min
- Ajaccio to Saint-Florent = 3h15 (by inland road)
- Corte to Saint-Florent = 1h30
- The road that goes around the reserve is the D81
- Here is a map to help you find your way
- and see all our tips for planning a dream trip to Corsica here
OUR TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR IN Corsica
- Compare prices on our preferred platform: DiscoverCars – one of the best rated sites.
- Choose a car that is powerful enough (the roads are steep) but compact (some passages are narrow).
- Think of thecomplete insurance (some roads are tortuous and narrow).
- There is a lot of demand, book it early.
How to get to Saleccia beach and Lotu beach – by boat, by foot, by car
There are only 4WD tracks in the protected area.
Here is an overview of the 7 options to reach the beach of Saleccia (more details below):
- Option 1 – our favorite
Drive to St-Florent + comfortable boat to Lotu beach + hike to Saleccia.
- Option 2
Drive to St-Florent + fast boat to Saleccia
- Option 3
Drive to St-Florent + 4WD excursion from St-Florent or Casta.
- Option 4
If you have your own 4WD, driving in the reserve
- Option 5
Hike from St-Florent to Lotu and then to Saleccia
- Option 6
Join a day trip from Calvi – see program and availability
- Option 7
Join a day trip from Bastia – see program and availability
Map of the Agriates desert
Here is a map to give you an idea of the geography of the Agriate.
On this map you have:
- Saint-Florent at the bottom right
- Ostriconi at bottom left
- The beaches of Lotu and Saleccai, top right
- The 4WD track that goes down to Saleccia
- The lesser known beaches on the left with the access tracks: Ghignu, Marina d’Alga…
- Some hiking time between the beaches – Be careful, we recommend planning a little more as we have noticed that the walking times in Corsica are for very fast walkers.
Where to sleep in the Agriates desert
It’s a reserve, so there are few options:
- U Paradisu Saleccia Camping, at the western end of the beach of Saleccia
- Old sheepfolds become a stopover for walkers
- Le relais de Saleccia along the road D81 – see prices, pictures and availability
Nearby, you will find plenty of options in the charming town of Saint-Florent.
WHERE TO STAY IN Saint-Florent
To enjoy this show, it is better to spend a night or several!
Here are our suggestions.
Option 2: Patrimonio
If you want to sleep surrounded by vineyards, we recommend..:
- Hotel Auberge Lustincorne with its swimming pool and sea view between the hills – see photos and availability
For more details, see our article on the best hotels in Saint-Florent
Visit the Agriates desert by boat + hiking
Boat to Lotu beach (from St Florent)
Your first option to visit the desert is to take a boat from Saint-Florent. From April to October, there are shuttles between the city and the pontoon of Lotu Beach.
The crossing takes less than 20 minutes and the pontoon at Lotu beach allows easy disembarkation and embarkation.
Popeye is one of the main companies operating these shuttles.
This boat is big and it stays in the gulf, so the trip is easy.
Otherwise, see Taxi-plages Saint-Florent, with a fast boat going to both beaches.
If you are visiting in the middle of summer, be sure to book in advance.
Crossing by boat
The boat ride to Lotu beach is short but very pleasant.
You can see many things during the trip:
- Saint Florent surrounded by mountains
- How the mountains of Cap Corse plunge directly into the sea
- La Mortella, a Genoese tower with a long history. It was built between 1553 and 1555. It was essential for the protection of the region. If you are from England or Ireland, you may have seen similar tours. This is because Admiral Nelson decided to build similar ones in 1794.
Hike to Saleccia
From the beach of Lotu, it is necessary to count 1h to 1h15 of walk until Saleccia either with the interior path or with the coastal path.
Learn more in our article on the beach of Saleccia.
During the summer months, there are 4WD shuttles between the two beaches.
USE OUR GUIDE TO PLAN A
DREAM TRIP TO Corsica
All the information you need for your trip:
- 7 maps that make planning easier
- 130+ pre-selected locations
- Practical advice
- + 220 photos to help you choose
Visit the Agriates desert by car
The road overlooking the desert
Coming from the South (Calvi, Ile-Rousse or Corte), you will take the D81.
It is a road in good condition, easy to drive. You will find some areas to stop along the road.
From there you can see the rocky edges of the desert and the green valleys.
This “desert” has, in fact, long been to deny the race. The land where the food for the whole of Corsica was grown!
Even if you don’t see it, there is quite a bit of fresh water with 12 streams and 32 springs (according to Wikipedia).
And in the background, the Gulf of Saint-Florent and the mountains of Cap Corse.
The highest peaks in the area are Cima d’Ifana (479m) and Monte Genova (421m).
But the most recognizable is the Monte Jenuva with its pointed head:
As you can see, it doesn’t look like a desert at all. The area is covered by Mediterranean maquis: low and dense vegetation.
In the desert: the 4WD tracks
Then if you want to explore the interior of the desert, you absolutely need a 4WD vehicle.
Do not venture out with a normal car. The trails are steep and very bumpy.
It is necessary to count 12km of track between the main road and the beach of Saleccia. The journey takes 1 hour.
If you don’t have a 4WD but still want to experience this you have 3 options:
- Join an excursion from Saint-Florent with Saleccia off road for example. They offer different routes
- Take an excursion from Calvi – see program and availability
- Join a day trip from Bastia – see program and availability
This option has the advantage of taking you to places not often visited by tourists and also to learn more about the region and its history. As always, this kind of tour is led by local lovers and enthusiasts!
Fast boat to Saleccia
When the weather permits, there are also water cabs to Saleccia.
They go outside the gulf, so you don’t know how the conditions will be to approach the beach. Therefore, shuttles may be cancelled.
Moreover, it is a small boat and there is no pontoon. You have to get off the boat with your feet in the water.
This takes about 25 minutes.
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The beaches of the Agriates desert
Lotu beach is one of the most protected beaches in the desert. Since it is still inside the gulf, the waters are calmer.
It is a rather large area of sand.
What we like most is that you can enjoy fantastic views of the mountains of Cap Corse while relaxing on the sand.
Notes and advice:
- as you can see on the picture, dead Posidonia algae sometimes pile up on the sand. It can happen on any beach. And this is very important for the protection of the coast. Thus, sometimes a beach can look more or less like a paradise.
- you might see cows wandering around. Do not approach. Let them do it. This is their territory!
- There is a small café near the beach of Lotu. However, it is only open in summer
- The beach is not supervised
Walking along the inner track to the beach of Saleccia (shorter than the coastal track), you can admire the beach of Lotu and the lagoon from above. And we have a better view on the mountains of Cap Corse !
Beach of Saleccia in Corsica
And here we are! It is the beach of Saleccia, one of the most beautiful beaches of Corsica.
The white sandy beach extends for more than 1 km. It is a mixture of colors and hypnotizing forms:
- White sand dunes
- Rocky heads of the desert
- Turquoise water
- Mountains of Cap Corse
We could have stayed all day watching the turquoise waves crashing on the sand… Wonderful!
Notes and advice:
- Saleccia also has restaurants but they are only open in summer. There is one at each end of the beach (but not directly on the sand)
- This beach is more open to the sea so you can have bigger waves – be careful!
- The beach is not supervised
- In 1961, some scenes of the Normandy landing were shot for the movie “The Longest Day” !!!!! That’s because there are no concrete buildings here.
- In 1943, the submarine Casabianca delivered weapons to the resistance on this beach.
- See our guide to the beach of Saleccia
Beautiful cove with a white sand beach and turquoise water.
You can make a hike from Saleccia (1h I think)
Beach of Ghignu
Long white sand beach, less frequented than Saleccia.
A 4WD with a high ground clearance is required.
Cala di Malfalcu – beach
If you are looking for something quieter, the beach of Malfacu is even more isolated in the Agriates desert.
A few minutes walk from Ghignu, with a turquoise color, dunes of juniper and Aleppo pine.
The beach of Acciolu
Another dream beach with white sand and turquoise water.
2 hours walk from the beach Ostriconi.
30min walk from Ostriconi.
Quiet and deserted, with beautiful rocks.
Beach of Ostriconi
At the eastern end of the Agriates Desert, you will find our favorite beach in Corsica: Ostriconi.
It is accessible by car with a beautiful view from the road.
You can see the typical rock formations from the other end of this long white sand beach.
HOW TO GET TO Corsica
Option 1: by ferry
Option 2: by plane
The hikes of the Agriates desert
The Agriates desert is also a small paradise for hikers with short or multi-day options.
Hiking between Lotu and Saleccia: the most famous
As we said before, you can hike between the beach of Lotu and the beach of Saleccia.
You can take either the inland trail which takes 1 hour or the coastal trail which takes 1 hour and 15 minutes.
And you can take one on the way out and one on the way back!
We prefer the inner track with its breathtaking scenery.
Coastal path, from St Florent
From the beach of Roya in Saint-Florent to the beach of Saleccia, it is necessary to count 6 hours of walk.
That’s good enough, but you can keep going!
If you like long walks, you can do the coastal path from the beach of Roya to the beach of Ostriconi. It takes 14h for 35km. The old shepherds’ houses have been restored for overnight stays.
Beware of animals on the hiking trails. Don’t come any closer. Leave them alone!
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO Corsica
Frequently asked questions
Which is the most beautiful beach : Lotu or Saleccia
For the landscape, Lotu is the most beautiful with views of the bay and the mountains of Cap Corse.
For a dreamy white sand beach, Saleccia is the best, far from everything.
Where to take the boat to Saleccia and the Agriates desert
The boats leave only from the marina of St Florent. You can’t miss them!
Can we visit the beach of Saleccia by car?
Only if you have a 4WD with high ground clearance. The trails are very bumpy on the way down from the main road.
If you have a standard car, no, it is not possible.
Desert of Agriates in mountain bike
The desert trails are also ideal for mountain biking.
Remember to bring everything you need (water, snacks…) and cover yourself well!
You can rent mountain bikes in Saint-Florent.
Agriates Desert seen from the sky
You can also enjoy an exceptional experience with a microlight flight from Saint-Florent – more
Desert of the Kayak or paddle
You can also find guided tours or rentals to explore a small piece of the desert coastline by kayak or paddle. For example, reserve your paddle.