Boat activities on Cote d'Azur - France

The French Riviera, also known as the Cote d'Azur, is found on France's south-east coast and overlooks the glistening Mediterranean Sea. Known for its dazzling sand beaches, upmarket resort towns, and glamorous casinos, the Cote d'Azur has been a popular holiday destination with some of the world's wealthiest travelers since the 18th century. While boutique shops and Michelin-starred restaurants are certainly points of interest on the coast, one of the biggest draws is the array of water-based activities available. From yacht rentals, private boat tours, parasailing excursions, water sport rentals, and jet ski hire, the list of aqua-excursions is endless! Our simple guide to boat rental on the French Riviera takes a look at the different watersports available along the coast and the range of yacht and boat rentals available. After all, no visit to the Cote d'Azur can pass by without a day at sea.

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Nice
Sailing along the French Riviera is one of the most enjoyable activities when visiting Nice and there's plenty of international boat charters and yacht rental companies to choose from. Port de Nice is the best place for boat rental in Nice as the marina is home to several rental shops and has over 500 boats docked and ready to go. Take a stroll around the harbor front to get a feel for the yacht rentals and boat cruises on offer which include cruises to Monaco, sunset cruises, and private evening tours. Other watersports available in Nice's Bay of Angels include kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and Jet-skiing.

Monaco
Monaco is well known for its annual Monaco Yacht Show which is held in Port Hercules and is Europe's biggest in-water display of large yachts. It's no wonder then that boat rental in Monaco is one of the most popular things to do in the resort town! Charters tend to vary from day long to weekly and range from luxury 40-foot motorboats to 220-foot yachts. If you're on a budget, consider joining a group boat tour where you'll cruise the coast with a small group of guests, sightseeing as you go. Group tours departing from Monaco tend to involve a pre-planned route and will likely stop at the Bay of Monte Carlo along with hidden beaches, and secluded bays that offer participants the chance to jump overboard and swim in the crystal blue water. Another popular water sport in Monaco is scuba diving as the waters here are teeming with marine life including angler fish, scorpionfish, and nudibranchs. There are several diving centers in Monaco that rent equipment out to seasoned divers and offer boat dives off the coast.

Cannes
From kayak excursions along the coast, parasailing high above the Mediterranean, and scuba diving off the Old Port of Golfe-Juan, there's plenty of watersports to enjoy in the luxury resort town of Cannes. Most of Cannes beaches are lined with watersport rental shops but Pointe Croisette is the best place to start your day at sea. This palm-shaded peninsula justs out into the Mediterranean Sea and is the launch point for most of Cannes watersports. From here you can head over to the Lerins Islands on a snorkeling adventure or rent a Stand-Up Paddleboard and paddle to Sainte-Marguerite island. If you're more interested in exploring by boat and you're traveling with a larger group, consider renting a 12-berth boat for the day from the peninsula's port. Those traveling solo or as a couple might prefer a half-day rental or an organized group boat tour that has you sailing the Mediterranean with like-minded people.

Saint Tropez
The coastal town of Saint Tropez was once a small fishing village, but today you'll find more luxury yachts than fishing boats in its glistening harbor. The town's waterfront area is lined with quaint cafes and boutique shops and is one of the most famous marinas in the world. From here, tourists depart on yacht day trips and boat tours to nearby islands and attractions including Cannes, Lerins Islands, Canoubiers Bay, and Saint Raphael. As for kayak, jet ski, and snorkeling gear rental, you'll find several equipment rental stores dotted around the harbor area.

Off-the-beaten-path destinations
Those who rent a boat for the day from one of the Riviera's main towns should consider asking their skipper to head to quieter areas along the coast as there's plenty of hidden gems and areas of outstanding beauty to visit. The small island of Porquerolles, the charming island of Lerins, the dramatic Esterel Cliffs, and the sublime seaside town of Villefranche should all be on your Cote d'Azur ‘to-visit' list when chartering a private boat or joining a luxury tour.

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When to take a boat trip

Sailing the Cote d'Azur is a seasonal hobby and even those looking to rent a boat for a day should be aware of the rental availability. In general, boats and yachts can be rented along the coastline between the months of April and October. However, for prime sailing conditions, which include hot weather and light winds, try to book your visit between June and September.

Another thing to note is that you might want to avoid renting a boat or yacht during a sailing competition, and this coastline has its fair share! While the competitions are an excellent display of skill and engineering, you might find the waters a little too crowded for your liking. The biggest events include Les Voiles de St Tropez, Cannes Yachting Festival, Cannes Royal Regattas, and the Monaco Yacht Show; all of which take place annually in September.

If you want to get a taste of living like a local on the Cote d'Azur, taking to the Mediterranean Sea is a must and there's plenty of French Riviera cruises and boat tours to choose from. Whether you hop aboard a superyacht for the day, rent a budget vessel, or you simply want to kayak your way along the coast, you're guaranteed to have a memorable day at sea. Get ready to hop aboard your vessel, sit back as the skipper takes over, and enjoy the stunning French coastline like a local.

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