By land, it’s a marvellously old-fashioned, stunning Italian Riviera resort popular with retirees wanting a sunny seaside holiday. Yet by the sea, Santa Margherita Ligure – on the Ligurian coast in north-west Italy – offers a surprising amount of adrenaline-pumping water-based fun. From wholesome excursions to heart-pounding, “I can’t believe I just did that” adventures, here are our top picks.
Dive with an idol
Since being sunk in the Bay of San Fruttuoso 66 years ago, the Christ of the Abyss – the bronze, “Jesus” statue 17 metres below the surface – hasn’t been lonely. Visited by millions, he also shares his red coral home with thousands of marine species. This is just one of many extraordinary dive sites that has made the region popular with underwater enthusiasts.
Rock ‘n’roll across rugged coastline
Inject even more action into your jaunt around Santa Margherita Ligure’s gorgeous shores by signing up for a coasteering tour. The sea-based, hardcore version of canyoning sees participants scramble, float, climb, dive, swim and abseil their way around the rocky coastline in search of the area’s hidden coves and magical grottoes.
Join some dreamy marine life
If you like your snorkelling spine-tingling, then join one of the night time guided tours of the protected bay of Paraggi and Niasca. While equipped with flashlights, paddle off and explore the eerie depths of this natural aquarium in the darkness, spotlighting dazzling dance displays by nocturnal marine life as you go.
Glide among the dolphins
Both a workout and a lesson in the region’s culture and wildlife, a kayak tour in this tranquil spot can be a real holistic treat. Paddlers are able to navigate in and out of the beautiful bays between Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino to view gems including the Castle of Paraggi and maybe even a glimpse of a passing crew of dolphins.
Stand up for incredible views
If you tend to tackle life standing up, then a paddle boarding session could be right up your stream. Fun, demanding and yet also remarkably relaxing (once you’ve got the knack of it, that is), Santa Margherita Ligure’s calm waters make it an ideal spot to practice your water balancing.