The majority of boat trips are day journeys and often anchor for a while so people can soak up the stunning scenery Nice has to offer. There is also usually the opportunity to indulge in some swimming, snorkelling or kayaking on these excursions. Sunset cruises can be booked in the evenings, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the views with a glass of bubbly and sometimes even dinner. For thrill seekers, perhaps a speedboat ride will get the adrenaline flowing.
Nice has a wide range of vessels available, including catamarans, motor boats and sailing yachts of different shapes, sizes and prices. Snorkelling, diving, fishing and specialist watersports boat trips are available, some even have glass bottoms so guests can discover the fish and sea vegetation below.
It’s worth noting that some companies will pick you up from your accommodation and take you to the departure points. Food and drink are sometimes included in the price of the trip; otherwise, boats tend to have bars on board where you are able to purchase drinks.
Boat trips to Saint Tropez
The French Riviera technically begins at Saint Tropez, and this pastel-coloured fishing village is a perfect spot to spend some time in the summer months. Superyachts cram the port and famous DJ’s play until dawn, so if you like the glitz and glamour then it is an absolute highlight. It’s best to arrive by boat as you can just anchor off and go ashore to enjoy the excitement and a good meal and then float away again to enjoy the breathtaking surrounds of red rock against turquoise waters. The famed beach clubs along Pampelonne Beach are oozing in celebrity chic, although there are a few cheaper and family-friendly options as well. If you can get there in the quieter months you’ll see Saint Tropez as the small and lovely town it really is.
While in this magical part of the world, visit the Les Isles d’Or (the Islands of Gold), the most famous of which is Porquerolles. This island is a favourite stop for superyachts as well as boats of every description- with beautiful harbours, national parks beaches and cliffs - perfect for exploring. Hire a bike to make the most of it, or just snorkel, swim and hike the day away.
Boat trips to Frejus and Saint Raphael
The town of Frejus is a lovely spot for spending a day at the wide sandy beach and exploring the Roman ruins. You can also berth up in nearby Saint Raphael, a bustling beachside town with a large marina.
Boat trips to Cannes
Walk along the palm-lined Croisette past the famed Palais de Festivals and the grand hotels of the Belle Epoque, their white facades looking out across the superyachts clustered in the port. Cannes is a town of sophisticated piano bars, trendy super-clubs and casinos, although you can find a bit more local heart in the narrow cobbled lane of the old town, Le Suquet and enjoy shopping in the local markets before you hit the designer boutiques.
Boat trips to the Iles de Lérins
Everyone just calls these the Cannes Islands, lying just a short way off the glamorous city of Cannes. Perfect for a dayboat trip, or anchor here overnight to avoid the high berth fees in Cannes.
The larger island is called Ile Sainte Margherite, a forested island rimmed by little beach coves and perfect clear waters. It is famous for being the place where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned and you can visit his cell, or you can just roam around the island on dirt tracks, birdwatching at the small lake or looking for the hidden sculptures in the fragrant pine and eucalyptus forest. There are only a few houses on the island and no cars, so while it gets busy with tourists and yachts in the summer months it is a lovely place to get back to nature. Spend a day on the beach snorkelling and having picnics, or just float in the water waiting for the snack food boats that come and deliver pizza and sandwiches and wine. A glorious day out.
The other island is Ile de Saint Honorat, a small island that has been home to a colony of monks for over 1500 years, and where a Cistercian Abbey still produces its own wine. This is an island rich in history, a place that has been pillaged and passed between nations for centuries while remaining a place of pilgrimage and worship almost continuously. There is still a working monastery with 30 monks; the modern abbey is closed to the public but you can visit the Abbey of Lérins and the 15th-century fortified monastery. Please dress modestly when visiting the island and note that smoking is forbidden.
Boat trips to Antibes
Antibes has been a port since the time of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and the Crusaders stopped here on their way to the Holy Land in medieval times. It’s only been in the last 50 years that it has become a mecca for sailing yachts and vast superyachts, which line up on the International Quay like white palaces worth many tens of millions of pounds. You can rent a dayboat here very easily and spend a day pootling around the stunning Cap d’Antibes, where tremendous villas owned by oligarchs and old aristocratic families loom high over the sea. There are gorgeous coves and beaches and a lovely high coastal path on the cliffs that will take you to the grotto at Millionaire’s Bay. Or you can take to dry land wander through the narrow cobbled lanes of old Antibes, taking in Provencal markets that smell of lavender and visiting the Picasso museum that sits high in a tower on the ancient ramparts.
Boat trips between Nice and Monaco
Cap Saint Jean Ferrat is a famous headland covered in grand villas with spectacular gardens and a lovely coastal path along the cliffs. There’s an exceedingly posh hotel (the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat), a small beach and a whole host of yachts anchored off the point. Some superyachts spend weeks and even months anchored here in the summer as their guests flit between villa and yacht. It’s all rather refined, and very, very pretty.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is probably our favourite of all the small port towns along the coast. Clinging on to the cliffs that run all the way from Nice to Monaco, this splendidly pretty medieval village and its stunning bay will really catch your eye. It gets quite busy in the summertime, but there’s enough room for you and the fleet of boats and even cruise ships that come to anchor in this little yachting paradise.
Eze is a medieval village perched high on the cliffs 426m above the sea. An extraordinary sight and one well worth adding to your itinerary. There is a coastal path leading from the pretty pebbled beach (also with a good beach club), but be aware, the trail is very steep and quite slippery. It will take an hour going down, plus an hour and a half to come back.
Cap d’Ail is another gorgeous spot just before Monaco. Plage Mala is one of the best beaches on the Riviera and good to anchor off. It has a couple of good beach clubs (one very fancy, one very fun), and there’s a brilliant coastal path that runs between the town of Cap d’Ail and Plage Mala. Thoroughly recommended.
Monaco is the final stop on the Riviera before you reach Italy, the towering, moneyed cliffs of Monte Carlo. Known for hosting the F1 Grand Prix, giant yachts, grand casinos and the royal family living in their palace on the cliff, Monaco is a sight to be seen. The port is full of giant yachts and restaurants with terraces for some seriously good people-watching, especially during the Grand Prix.