Marine Protected Areas

In addition to the Cetacean Sanctuary, the Ligurian Sea boasts six stretches of sea included in national or regional marine protected areas.


Marine Protection Area of: Capo Mortola
A nature park between Italy and France with a unique marine area. The Marine Protection Area of Capo Mortola represents the marine part of the Regional Protected Area of the Hanbury Botanical Garden located near Ventimiglia, bordering the Côte d’Azur (Coast of Azure). The point of Capo Mortola is characterised as one of the most interesting environments in eastern Liguria. The large and numerous banks and seabed generally play a fundamental role in marine biodiversity. Its rocky bottoms are covered with macroalgae, meadows of Mediterranean tapeweed and nurseries for numerous coastal fish species. Among the fauna includes species such as; frequent Damselfish, red Damselfish, Salps, Seabream, Snappers, Brown Groupers, Amberjacks, Sunfish, Conger eels, Moray eels, Scorpionfish and Monkfish. There is also a karst source of fresh water on the seabed of Capo Mortola, which flows 36m deep from a rift within an underwater cave.

Corso Montecarlo, 43 18039 Ventimiglia (IM)
Tel. +39.0184.22661

Discover the Hanbury Gardens

Nature Reserve of the Island of Gallinara Region
The “Gallinaria” is a patch of Liguria with a coastal environment that has been intact for over a millennium. The island, located in front of the stretch of coast between Capo S. Croce and the tip of Vadino, had detached from the mainland due to a rise in sea level occurring in the recent Quaternary period. A thriving Mediterranean vegetation associated with rare floristic entities such as; a geomorphological phenomenon related to erosion; one of the largest colonies of herring gull in addition to the presence of minor fauna; evidence of human settlements from various eras starting from the Romans and a seabed rich in animal and plant biodiversity in which you can dive to, between caves and wrecks of ancient ships.

Comune di Albenga – Piazza S.Michele, 17 – 17031 Albenga (SV)
Tel: +39.0182.5621 – Fax. 0182.554617

Discover Albenga and its surroundings

Marine Protected Area of Bergeggi Island
The island of Bergeggi located a short distance from the coast of the western Ligurian Riviera, is a small cone shaped rock, a treasure trove of biodiversity, history and legends. The Marine Protected Area of the island of Bergeggi includes the seabed around the islet of Bergeggi. Its surface, included entirely in the area of Bergeggi, covers 215 ha and extends from the coastal strip to its seabed. It is a real unique ecosystem, especially for the biodiversity it hosts and for the important historical testimonies. The island reaches around fifty meters in height. It is a cone of rock characterised by a coast with caves and inlets, sandy coves and cliffs overlooking the sea, covered with thick Mediterranean scrub. Even here, amongst the seabed, coral alternates with Mediterranean tapeweed meadows. At the top of the island, inside a triangular structure, the Romans built a circular tower which served to monitor the port. A square tower was raised above the defence tower during the Middle Ages.

Via De Mari 28/D 17028 Bergeggi (SV)
Tel: +39.019.25790219 – Fax. 019.25790220 –

Discover Bergeggi

Portofino Marine Protected Area
The Marine Protected Area of Portofino extends around the same area included in the municipalities of Camogli, Portofino and S. Margherita Ligure. The Area is divided into three zones: A, B and C each with different degrees of accessibility. The coast appears in all its enchantment: appealing views and small coves with vegetation lightly touching the sea. Along the southern front, there are submerged cliffs that descend rapidly to a depth, favouring a wealth of microhabitats rarely found in the Mediterranean. The management society is formed by; Metropolitan City of Genoa, Municipality of Camogli, Municipality of Portofino, Municipality of S.Margherita Ligure and The University of Genoa.

Viale Rainusso, 1, 16038,Santa Margherita Ligure
Tel: +39.0185.287247 –

Discover the Marine Protected Area of Portofino –

Marine Protected Area of Cinque Terre
The Marine Protected Area of the Cinque Terre, established in 1997, includes the municipalities of Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso and a small portion of Levanto. The Marine Protected Area of the Cinque Terre, overlooking the five villages, is enclosed between west and east by the area of Punta Mesco and Capo di Montenero. The purpose of the marine protected area is to preserve its biodiversity and the sea habitats of the five villages. The coast of the Cinque Terre is characterised by rocky, dry walls. It has a jagged surface along the five miles enclosed between the two headlands. Stone spurs overlooking the sea, tiny coves, bays, ravines and beaches between the rocks are the characteristics of this one-of-a-kind, unique landscape with a crystal-clear sea.

Via Antonio Discovolo, 19017 Manarola, Riomaggiore SP
Tel: +39.0187.762600 – Fax. 0187.760040

Discover the Cinque Terre

Marine Protection Area of the Porto Venere Park
A small pearl of remarkable beauty surrounded by a suggestive landscape and rich backdrops. The Marine Protection Area of the Regional Natural Park of Porto Venere includes the south-western part of Palmaria Island, the islands of Tino and Tinetto and the Posidonia Prairie; present in the channel that separates Porto Venere from Palmaria Island. Characterised by various environments such as shoals, caves and rocky walls overlooking the sea, it offers fans of the underwater world the encounter with fascinating organisms with bright colours and diverse shapes. What is particularly interesting is the presence of all Gorgonian species, typical Coralligenous organisms. There are numerous caves that extend underwater: the submerged cave of Tinetto (islet) with its peculiarity as well as its remarkable natural beauty, communicates with the external environment through a crack in which the sunlight penetrates creating spectacular plays of light that make the dive magical. Other caves include; the Blue Grotto of the Palmaria island named due to the blue reflections created by the light; the Grotta del Tino and lastly the famous Byron Cave located behind Punta San Pietro in Porto Venere which, although not part of the Marine Protection Area, deserves to be mentioned for its seabed rich in organisms, therefore very popular amongst divers.

Via Garibaldi, 9 – Portovenere
Tel: +39.0187.794.823; Cell: +39.370.3436603

Discover Porto Venere

The Cetacean Sanctuary
A marine triangle full of life between the Ligurian coast, the Corsican coast and the Provencal. The Cetacean Sanctuary is an environment that boasts the highest concentration of cetaceans among all the Italian seas and highly likely represents the richest faunal area of the entire Mediterranean. Sperm whales, Fin whales, Dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins and Pilot whales constitute to a pelagic ecosystem of great richness that characterises this area as exceptionally productive and rich in living forms with values that come close with those of Atlantic waters. A precious ecosystem whose optimal conditions must be maintained if we do not want to run the risk of seeing it modified by human activities that take place at sea.

Discover more on Dolphins and Baleen whales in this itinerary