Portofino Marine Reserve (Area Marina Protetta di Portofino)
The Area Marina Protetta di Portofino, established in 1999, covers just under 865 acres (350 hectares) of the sea off the Portofino promontory (not just the town), and is made up of a number of different zones where water sports and fishing are limited. Zone A prohibits boating, anchoring, and diving to protect the delicate marine ecosystem, where Zone C has far fewer restrictions on activities and visitors can enjoy the area by swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or snorkeling. One of the best ways to explore these crystalline waters is by joining a guided kayaking tour from the Paraggi Bay to paddle along the Portofino coastline, explore the area’s sea caves, and take breaks to swim and snorkel without disturbing the local marine life.
Things to know before you go
- Be sure to bring a swimsuit and towel if joining a kayaking tour, though all other kayaking and snorkeling gear are generally provided.
- Sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and water are recommended if spending most of the day on the water.
- A kayaking tour is especially fun for older kids or those who love spending time outdoors.
- The coast along the Area Marina Protetta di Portofino is considered among the loveliest in Italy, so bring your camera (in a waterproof case!).
- Kayaking tours are not accessible to wheelchair users.
How to get there
Portofino can be reached by bus or ferry from the nearby town of Santa Margherita Ligure, which is home to the nearest train station. Traffic to the small center of town is strictly limited, so it’s best to visit with public transportation.
When to get there
The Area Marina Protetta is best visited during the summer when the water is warm enough to swim, kayak, and snorkel. The resort town of Portofino is very quiet in the winter, when many shops and restaurants close for the season.
Portofino’s Paraggi Bay
One of the most famous areas in the Area Marina Protetta di Portofino is Paraggi Bay, famous for its clear water and sandy beach. Boat traffic is restricted in and around the bay, so it is safe for swimming and snorkeling, and famous for its Posidonia oceanica underwater meadow and rich marine flora and fauna.