Portofino Beaches, 3 corners of Paradise: our tips
Portofino’s beaches are three pearls set between the intense blue of the Ligurian Sea and the lush greenery of the Portofino Park: Niasca, Cannon Bay and Olivetta. The beaches of Portofino are springboards that will propel you towards an incredible journey, exploring the Portofino Protected Marine Area. Biodiversity reigns supreme, the panorama leaves even the most seasoned explorer speechless…so roll up, roll up! Your voyage is about to begin.
We follow the Eastern side of the Portofino Promontory (between Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino) from North to South. Here are the 3 tiny but gorgeous Portofino beaches (all three are public beaches):
1. Portofino beaches: Niasca
Inside Paraggi Bay (click here to find out more), facing the famous medieval castle, is Niasca beach, a strip of sand well protected from the waves. Thanks its favourable exposition, vegetation grows all the way down to the beach, almost grazing the waters. Away from the beach, the rocky coastline that starts off towards the North is home to thousands of plant and animal species, creating one of the most interesting habitats of the Portofino Protected Marine Area. A luxuriant poseidonia meadow plays host to every sort of fish in the centre of the bay!
Accessing Niasca beach:
You can access the beach by means of a staircase directly from the road that connects Santa Margherita (and Paraggi) to Portofino. Around 300 m after the built up part of Paraggi (travelling towards Portofino), the road narrows and curves to the left beside a villa. The beach is below and there is scooter parking (and bike parking) a few metres beyond, together with the bus stop (bus n°82 – route Santa Portofino). From here the steps start that will take you down to the sea.
At the end of this article you will find all the necessary info, together with our tips, on how to reach the area.
Niasca, the Outdoor homeland! Here is what you can do here:
Part of my heart lives in Niasca. Here there is our watersports centre, this is where our project began in 2012. From the beach you can set off with a mask, flippers and snorkel for one of the most exhilarating underwater explorations possible. You can paddle (on board a Kayak or SUP) towards the Lighthouse, or even go as far as San Fruttuoso. You can learn things here (whether you are big or small). You can enjoy a fine glass of wine at sundown, after a canoe outing. You can swim safely (the entire bay of Paraggi is delimited by a contact cable – no vessels may enter here).
2. Portofino beaches: Cannon Bay
A pebbly beach, with a vast and picturesque mass of Conglomerate rock (locally known as Puddinga) with a maritime pine perched on its crest, clean waters and an incredible view over Portofino Castle – this is the beach at Cannon Bay.
Accessing Cannon Bay beach:
Having gone past Niasca, continue along the road towards Portofino. Once you reach the Piccolo Hotel (clearly visible from the road, on the mountain side) the road bends to the left. Straight afterwards, still on the left, there is a little sign and an iron staircase that leads you down to the sea.
3. Portofino beaches: Olivetta
Olivetta is sadly infamous, owing to the fact that in December 1944 German soldiers massacred 21 partisans and a civilian in its shallows, probably as retaliation. For this reason, the famous square in Portofino is named “Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta”, the Olivetta martyrs. On the left hand side of the bay you can still note the commemorative plaque with a list of the names of the fallen.
Fortunately it is also well-known for its extraordinary sea bed. It’s not a beach to lie down on, sunbathe or play beach tennis. The minuscule beaches of Niasca and Cannon Bay are huge expanses compared to here! At the same time, it is the best starting point for an underwater exploration towards the Lighthouse or an enjoyable pause during a trek or a paddle towards Zone B of the Protected Marine Area.
The path connecting Portofino with the Lighthouse and Olivetta beach
Accessing Olivetta beach:
Olivetta beach can be reached only on foot or from the sea.
- on foot from the path connecting San Giorgio church (Portofino) to the Lighthouse
- from the sea renting a Kayak or SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) from our watersports centre, or by taking part in one of our tours
Portofino beaches: how to reach them
Without a doubt a bike is the best means of transport for getting here! The ideal thing is to reach Santa Margherita Ligure by train (yes, you can take your bike on the train) and then enjoy a gorgeous panoramic 4 km cycle on the level as far as Niasca (or Portofino). Don’t have a bike? No problem: you can rent one at our HUB!
From Santa Margherita (a pleasant walk) or with a trek along the trails of the Portofino Mountain from Nozarego, Portofino Vetta or, for the more daring, even from Camogli.
I definitely advise against using your car as a means of transport for reaching this part of the world, but if there is no other option, this is how you can proceed.
Arriving by car you can park along the side of the road (before you reach Paraggi) and continue on foot along the beautiful panoramic boardwalk (on the level, overhanging the sea) or alternatively in the paying car park at Paraggi, 300 metres from Niasca. There is another paying car park in Portofino (more indicated if you are intending to reach Cannon Bay or Olivetta).
These indications are also valid for reaching Portofino. Niasca and Paraggi beach are about 200m apart and are less than 1km from Portofino.
A sea route to Portofino runs from the main towns of the Golfo del Tigullio, Golfo Paradiso and from Genoa. The main operators are:
- Golfo Paradiso (for reaching Portofino by sea from: Camogli, Recco, Nervi and Genoa)
- Servizio Marittimo del Tigullio (for reaching Portofino by sea from: Santa Margherita, Rapallo, Chiavari)
Advice for enjoying the beaches sustainably and respectfully
Now that you have all of the information needed to enjoy this infinite beauty of a spot, don’t forget: this heritage has to be respected and protected. Some simple advice:
- DO NOT leave your rubbish in the wild; if you find refuse, collect it
- DO NOT touch or interfere with the fauna and flora (this includes jellyfish!)
- DO NOT take sand, pebbles or shells away with you
- LEARN, and ask! Knowledge about the environment is fundamental for enjoying it safely and mindfully
- Be CAREFUL: the sea is a potentially dangerous environment, so don’t underestimate it
For any questions or further advice, leave a comment here below.
PS: Don’t just enjoy these beaches and sea during summer! This paradise is always here.. 12 months a year, ready to welcome you with open arms!!!
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