San Fruttuoso di Camogli is a rare pearl, set on the Southern coast of the Portofino promontory. A tiny, picturesque fishing hamlet, it is reachable only by sea or by hiking along the steep trails of the “Mount”. There are a scattering of houses, a 10th century Abbey, a Medieval tower erected to defend both the village and its water source, and an underwater statue (the Christ of the Abyss).
Here time seems to have stood still, life slowly flows by, only disturbed by the day-trippers in the summer. Nature and history blend into a unique landscape, with the scent of the Mediterranean scrub and the incessant song of the cicadas completing the setting. Mother Nature truly outdid herself here!
If you want to experience the real San Fruttuoso, you will need to earn it by the sweat of your brow, which will be repaid with both wonder and marvel, read on here:
San Fruttuoso: where is it?
San Fruttuoso di Camogli is in Liguria, on the Eastern riviera, located in the municipality of Camogli. It is at the heart of the Park and Protected Marine Area of Portofino. Located around 30 km East of Genoa, it is 3 nautical miles West of Portofino and around 4 nautical miles East of Camogli itself.
San Fruttuoso: how and when to go
Exactly because of its extreme beauty and owing to its reduced dimensions (to say the least), San Fruttuoso di Camogli fills up easily. A romantic and bucolic experience can easily be transformed into a conventional and unauthentic visit.
Here are my 2 (+1) solutions to avoid this happening and to enjoy the best experience possible:
1 – Summer in San Fruttuoso: by Kayak + staying the night
In the summer the best idea is to plan to arrive at around 5pm (when the last ferries leave, effectively emptying the hamlet). This is my perfect program:
- Departure from Paraggi (Niasca) in the early afternoon
- Navigation by kayak for around 3 nautical (almost 6 km, around a 1 hour paddle in all). Swimming and snorkeling break along the way at the Cala degli Inglesi.
- Arrival at the Christ of the Abyss statue (more on that below), snorkeling a must!
- Landing at San Fruttuoso when there is almost no one else left there. Relaxation and tranquillity!
- Hike up to the Agririfugio Molini (about 30 min, 200 m altitude difference), an incredible place. Hospitality right in the heart of the Park, overlooking the Bay, with typical Ligurian cooking, silence and a complete break with civilization….
- The day after, having a swim before the first ferries disembark the hordes of tourists and the beach is still deserted. Then return to base.
2- The other seasons: paddling or hiking day trip
In autumn and winter, you can’t go wrong, as the territory reclaims its own spaces and shows its true essence. Attention though in the Spring (especially Easter and in May): it is full of school trips and groups.
In this period, my perfect program is: reach San Fruttuoso in Kayak or Sup (Stand Up Paddle Board) departing in the morning with a picnic and returning in the early afternoon (further info here). Be smart and remember: Liguria is fantastic all year round!
In this period the hiking option isn’t bad either (+ ferry, if you like), starting off from Camogli, Portofino Vetta or Santa Margherita. Here you can find all of the itineraries and trails through the Park which you can take to reach San Fruttuoso on foot.
The Christ of the Abyss: a submerged statue
One of the main attractions of San Fruttuoso is the Christ of the Abyss. A bronze statue representing Christ with his arms reaching up to the heavens, “the Christ” is located at a depth of around 15 meters, on the Eastern coast of the Bay, at around 300 meters from the main beach.
The Christ of the Abyss: how can I see it?
As written above, my favorite way is to reach it by kayak or Sup from Niasca and dive in with a mask and snorkel (and perhaps a wetsuit, depending on the season).
For those who would like to arrive directly from San Fruttuoso, you can rent a mask here and arrive by swimming over from the beach. Careful of the boats though!
Now you have all the information you need in order to enjoy the magic of San Fruttuoso in a truly authentic way! If you have any doubts or comments I would be very glad to reply with my advice. Happy exploring!!
Author: Luca Tixi, sea & outdoor coach// professional kayaker// Marine Biologist // President of Outdoor Portofino