This island is a rare gem in the area. Stunningly beautiful because of its topography and vegetation, but especially because of the building restrictions and limited access. The island was privately owned by a Belgian engineer until 1930 when the island was bought by the French state and became a national park. Due to this the island did not suffer the building excesses that otherwise plague the area.
In fact there is only the small town at the harbour, a lighthouse and an old fort. The island can – for non-residents – only be reached by foot via a small ferry that only takes bicycles. On the island you can rent bicycles or walk. So most visitors just come for a day and even with remarkable visitor crowds during summer holidays the island gets quiet again when the last ferry leaves. Just the privileged ones owning a boat or yacht have the freedom to stay longer.
The island is boomerang shaped with about 7.5 km length and 3 km width. The south coast is very rocky with lots of cliffs and no access to the ocean. The north side is protected from the open sea and has a few very nice beaches that resemble a lot to the Caribbean. Especially the Plage de Notre Dame usually attracts plenty of boats that come over and anchor in this beautiful bay.
There are a few roads - often just dirt tracks - that connect the town with the eastern and western tips of the island with the occasional link to the south coast. The rocky parts of the coast can be walked via several trails that offer stunning views in abundance. Outside the main season these trails are fun to ride on a mountain bike when there are less people to disturb. The trails are constantly going up and down and can get pretty steep, so bring enough water and don´t underestimate the time necessary to get back to town to catch the last ferry to the mainland.
Taking your bike on the ferry costs as much as renting one on the island, but the rental bikes are only sufficient to cruise to the beach. If you plan to take full advantage of the fun trails off the main roads invest the money bringing your own bike.
The island is a must see in the area and a good opportunity to get away from high season madness on the Presqu´ ile de Giens on windless days.
As you cannot reach the island by car windsurfing is no real option as long as you do not want to go for a long cruise. Kiteboarding might be an option when your legs are strong enough to carry kite and board to the southern beaches. Could become an unforgettable session though in this stunning scenery.
Bringing a surfboard is not worth the effort as the parts of the coast that are exposed enough to catch any swell are completely inaccessible with no beaches.
Check the gallery for more impressions.