The extraordinary Réserve Naturel de Scandola takes up the promontory dividing the Balagne from the Golfe de Porto. Composed of striking red porphyry granite, its sheer cliffs and gnarled claw-like outcrops were formed by Monte Cinto’s volcanic eruptions 250 million years ago, and subsequent erosion has fashioned shadowy caves, grottoes and gashes in the rock. Scandola’s colours are as remarkable as the shapes, the hues varying from the charcoal grey of granite to incandescent rusty purple.
The headland and its surrounding water were declared a nature reserve in 1975 and now support significant colonies of seabirds, dolphins and seals, as well as 450 types of seaweed and some remarkable fish such as the grouper, a species more commonly found in the Caribbean. In addition, nests belonging to the rare Audouin’s gull are visible on the cliffs, and you might see the odd fish eagle (Balbuzard pêcheur) – there used to be only a handful of nesting pairs at one time, but careful conservation has increased their numbers considerably over the past two decades.