One Day in Port Cros National Park: Snorkeling & Hiking in the South of France

Port Cros National Park is one of the 10 French national parks. Be ready to walk: the island may only be visited on foot. We had a fantastic day exploring this site, the first land-based and aquatic park in Europe. If you like snorkeling and hiking, you’ll have a blast in Port Cros National Park.

We love national parks. Back in Australia, we spend most of our weekends exploring them. It was about time for me to discover a French one. Well, believe me, France can be proud of it. On land or underwater, it was terrific.

So good that we almost missed the last ferry back. I wouldn’t have been too sad to spend one night on the island, but capacity is very limited, and it would have required a lot more advanced planning!

Port-Cros panoramique

Except at the port when you arrive, you won’t find shops or water while you explore the Port Cros National Park. So don’t forget to fill your water bottles and bring your snorkelling gear!

Responsible Travel Tip: Carry your own water bottle to refill. If you don’t have a choice and end up buying a plastic container, make sure you take it back with you and put it in a recycling bin!

Our short one-day itinerary in Port Cros National Park

port cros hiking map snorkelling trail
Click to view a larger map

We started with a hike along the South-West coast of the Island, on the Circuit des Cretes.

We went there at the end of the summer, mid-September. The closest beach from the port, La Fausse Monnaie, was still very popular (we’re used to Australian standards now!). However, we surprisingly saw almost no one else on the track.

We didn’t have time to do the full circuit, so we stopped at the Pointe du Cognet and went back the same way. It’s wild, and the views were stunning.

 

port cros fort 
Port-Cros coastal walk 

We then went to Plage du Palud (Palud Beach) on the North-West of the island, following the Sentier des Plantes for 45 minutes. We followed the underwater trail for a great snorkelling session that lasted longer that we thought, so we came back running to catch the ferry at the last minute!

Responsible Travel Tip: Try not to use sunscreen before going into the water by wearing a wetsuit. When using sunscreen, apply it at least 20 minutes before getting wet. Ideally, you’ll pick an eco-friendly sunscreen with no nasty chemicals for the environment.

port cros snorkelling 01 
Port-Cros-Octopus 
port cros snorkelling 03 

port cross snorkelling jelly fish 
port cros snorkelling beach 

 

Back on the mainland, we still had time to watch the sunset from Bormes-Les-Mimosas, a beautiful Provencal village, where we could enjoy the last view of Port-Cros from far away.

 

 Your underwater pics don’t look that good? Check out my tips for beginners to take underwater photos that aren’t blue!

Have you been to Port Cros National Park? Did you like it? Leave a comment below!

 

Where is Port Cros National Park?

 

Port-Cros is a French island in the Mediterranean sea. You can catch a ferry boat from Hyeres to get there. It takes between 35 and 60 minutes.

Trains from Paris, Lyon or Marseille will get you to Hyeres station, from where you can catch a bus to the ferry.

The airport – with daily flights to and from Paris – is only 1km away from Hyeres marina.

 

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Port Cros National Park: Snorkeling & Hiking in the South of France

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24 thoughts on “One Day in Port Cros National Park: Snorkeling & Hiking in the South of France

  1. Wow, it looks so amazing! The pictures are wonderful, good job! I would be way too scared to get that close to the jellyfish, you’re brave!

    1. Oh, I was a bit scared! I have to admit that it looked very beautiful so I really wanted to get that shot… but it did stress me as there were more than one around me. And I knew their sting, although not dangerous, was very painful! But in the end, I got the picture I wanted without touching any jellyfish :D

  2. Tiina Arminen (@tibstips)

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    What a wonderful combo! Matching hiking and snorkling both in such beautiful scenes. This place is totally new for me, looks perfect for getting rid of stress and feel the beauty of the world.

    1. Hi, Tiina. I’m glad I could make you discover a new place. We were very relaxed there… until we realise we were late for the last ferry back to the continent!! ;)

  3. I’ve never been to port cros but from your photos it looks like a wonderful place I need to add to my travel list. You saw so many wonderful marine life while snorkeling.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer. If you’re ever in the South of France, Port Cros is worth making a detour :) Yes, we were lucky while snorkelling!

  4. I haven’t heard about Port-cros. This trail looks both amazing and photographic as shown by you. I’ve never done snorkeling, hope one day I will.

    1. Oh I hope you’ll have a chance to try snorkelling one day. It’s very fun to discover what’s going on underwater! Thank you for leaving a comment :)

  5. These pictures are beautiful. I long to visit France one day. I love the vibrant colors of your snorkeling trip. Ocean life has always fascinated me.

    1. Thank you, Shawna. The sun was shining so it gave amazing colours to the underwater world. That’s something I really like with snorkelling. I agree, marine life is fascinating :)

  6. Oh, wow, the sea life you saw is AMAZING! I’ve done both scuba and snorkeling, but never encountered an octopus before. That’s epic!

    1. Yes, we were very happy to spot it! It’s funny because it took me a while to see my first octopus. And since, I’ve seen so many of them, in many very different locations!!! I hope you’ll see your first one soon. They’re amazing creatures, amongst my favourite!

  7. Wow, what a beautiful trail that was. I guess your snorkelling did wonders in the form of underwater photos that you have captured. Loved the jelly fish and was the another one Octopus with its tentacles seen in your photos?

    1. Yes, Jhilmil, you’re correct! That’s an octopus. We were very happy to spot it as it was quite hidden when we first saw it (octopuses are able to mimic their environment, a bit like chameleons).

  8. Sreekar Harinatha

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    Never had realised there were such nice trails in France. And loved your underwater photos. That jelly fish one is award grade:)

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