10 water sports activities to do in Nice and the French Riviera

The French Riviera is the favourite playground for all water sports enthusiasts! Between the Mediterranean Sea that runs along the entire coast and the lakes scattered throughout the region, there are many water sports activities in Nice and on the French Riviera. In fact, this is one of the good reasons to live by the sea.

Whether you like a quiet activity with no pressure or you love speed, there is something for everyone. There is something for everyone, from beginners to experts, and you’ll find something to suit you in the wide selection of water activities below:

1. Stand Up Paddle

Stand up paddling, commonly known as SUP, is an activity that has been on the rise for the last 6 years in the region. Reputed to be a gentle but sporty activity (hello sheathing), each year I see more and more people taking up the game. In particular, the number of rental companies has increased all over the coast and sales of inflatable paddle boards have really taken off. I myself bought my own Aquatone inflatable paddle last year.

There are many paddle spots on the French Riviera each one as beautiful as the next. If you want to practice for a little walk, you will need a calm and flat sea. Here is a small list of spots where you can practice paddle:

  • Cap d’Antibes
  • Bay of Villefranche sur Mer
  • Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
  • The Lerins Islands
  • Lake of Saint Cassien
  • Lake of Sainte Croix

2. Kayaking

Like stand up paddle, kayaking is one of the most popular water sports in Nice. There are many stands that rent kayaks for the day. You can do it alone or in pairs but generally people prefer to share this activity. You just have to match each other in the movements 🙂

If you’re a real adventurer, you can even get your own kayak and go on a trip to discover places unreachable on foot. Some people even make the crossing from Cannes to the Lérins Islands at sunset!

Here is a small list of places where you can kayak:

  • Cap d’Antibes
  • Bay of Villefranche sur Mer
  • Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
  • The Lérins islands
  • Lake of Saint Cassien
  • Lake of Sainte Croix
  • The Esterel
activités nautiques kayak

3. Snorkeling

One of my favourite activities during the summer season! I used to hate diving my head underwater but a few years ago, I decided to leave my comfort zone and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the sea bed. I fell in love with it to the point that I went to get equipped with a snorkel mask and fins.

Every year, I look forward to the summer to practice snorkeling on the French Riviera and to meet the little fish.

Here is a small list of spots where to practice snorkeling:

  • Cap d’Antibes
  • Villefranche sur Mer Bay
  • Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
  • The islands of Lérins
  • The beach of Eze
  • The beach of La Mala
  • The creeks of Saint Raphaël (the creeks of Saint Barthélémy are my favourite)

4. Scuba Diving

For all lovers of the deep, the Mediterranean Sea remains their favourite playground, both mysterious and fascinating. Diving clubs line the coast from the Var to the Alpes Maritimes for beginners and advanced divers.

Here is a small list of spots where you can practice snorkeling:

activités nautiques plongée sous marine

5. Wakeboarding and Wakesurfing

For all lovers of speed, adrenalin and strong sensations, you will be served on the French Riviera. Whether in the sea or in the lake, you will be pulled by a rope and the goal is to stay upright as long as possible on your board. The activity is accessible to all levels. There are many spots to practice wakeboarding:

  • Plage de la mala
  • Rpquebrune sur argens
  • Saint Raphael
  • Puget sur argens
activités nautiques wakeboard

6. Kitesurfing

Always for the lovers of strong sensations, kitesurfing is a discipline which will make you slide on the water thanks to the force of the wind. The Mediterranean Sea is the favourite spot for kitesurfers who have the time of their lives. The French Riviera is full of spots for all kitesurfing lovers. Here is a small selection of spots where to practice this activity:

  • Saint-Laurent du Var next to the CAP 3000 shopping centre
  • Cannes at the Palm Beach
  • Antibes at Plage du Ponteil
  • Hyères at the Plage de l’Almanarre
  • Mandelieu La Napoule at Robinson Beach
activités nautiques kitesurf

7. The towed buoy

This is the number one nautical activity on the French Riviera! It is a must-do with your friends and family during the summer season. How does it work? Either you sit or lie on a big buoy and you are pulled by a rope which is attached to a boat. With the speed of the boat, the buoy will collide with waves that will bounce you off the buoy. The goal is to stay on the buoy as long as possible. A completely hair-raising activity where laughter and thrills are guaranteed! Be careful, do not tow a buoy if you have a physical problem!

During the season, many stands offer this activity. Here is a small list of places where you can go to the towed buoy:

  • Nice on the Promenade des Anglais
  • Saint Raphaël
  • Roquebrune sur Argens
  • Cannes
  • Fréjus
activités nautiques bouée tractée

8. Jet Skiing

While towed activities are very popular on the Côte d’Azur, why not tow your own machine. With the jet ski, you are your own pilot and this water scooter promises you strong sensations on the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the most popular water sports activities in Nice.

Here is a small list of spots that offer this activity:

  • Nice
  • Mandelieu
  • Cannes
  • Antibes
  • Cap d’Ail
activités nautiques jet ski

9. The Electric Foil

Or the flying carpet of Aladdin! This is what I think of this new innovation that appeared on the market about two years ago. Since then, it has been a real success and continues to grow. This activity attracts people who have a taste for freedom and respect for the environment. Indeed, it is a machine on which is put a carbon board which allows to fly over the sea up to 40km/h. This is thanks to a small 100% electric motor.

Here is a small list of spots where you can test this new jewel;

  • Nice
  • Antibes
  • Cannes
  • Fréjus
  • Beaulieu
activités nautiques foil

10. Canyoning

Canyoning is an aquatic excursion rich in strong sensations. Indeed, it consists in descending a river on foot equipped with a neoprene suit, a harness, a helmet and a pair of non-slip shoes. On the menu: jumps in the water, natural slides and even abseiling down a rope. It is a fun and sporting activity that can be enjoyed with the family, in a group or with friends.

The hinterland of Nice and Nice is full of natural spots for canyoning. Here is a small list of spots where you can practice this activity:

  • At the gorges du loup
  • The Gours du Ray at the bottom of Gréolières
  • The Canyon of Cramassouri in the Tinée
  • The Gagnière Canyon in the Vallée du Loup
activités nautiques canyoning

This selection of water activities in Nice and on the Côte d’Azur is of course not exhaustive. But among those I have mentioned, what is your favourite?


About me

Welcome to Love-ly-south!
Ex-Parisienne settled on the French Riviera since 2013. In love with the region, I share with you all my discoveries, my good addresses, my life experiences in Nice and the French Riviera
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