Monaco has a very close relationship with the sea. It was founded to protect the only deep-water port on this mountainous stretch of coastline, and today it boasts a world-renowned Oceanographic Museum as well.
As a Mediterranean seafaring nation Monagasques are as welcoming on the water as they are on land. So it would make sense to plan and book a Monaco boat tour as an essential way to appreciate and enjoy the principality.
We have rounded up a selection of three of the very best Monaco boat tours for 2023.
Best Monaco Boat Tours
However well your sealegs are developed, there is an option for you here, whether it’s an exclusive personal tour, with swimming or snorkeling included, or a more leisurely combined trip that lets you take in the shoreside delights of Monaco.
Exclusive tours don’t need to break the bank and can be tailored to your wish, as long as you discuss it with your captain before leaving the harbor! Personal service and local knowledge combine to deliver fantastic memories that will last a lifetime.
The third recommendation is a terrific way to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view, docking in Monaco long enough for you to explore, perhaps see the changing of the guard at the Prine’s Palace, and then go for lunch, either in the covered market or one of the many world-class eateries in Monte-Carlo.
Private Cruise near Nice & Monaco
To the East of Nice, just past the turn-off to Cap Ferrat, is the port of Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Here you will find the starting point for our first selection to explore the Monaco coastline. It is a perfect first encounter with Mediterranean seafaring, slow and safe for those without sea legs!
Set off in a private solar-powered yacht, hired for your sole use, and entirely without emissions.
This tour lasts one hour and can be booked for up to six guests, which is perfect for a family outing.
A personal guide will captain your boat past the beachside villas of the Riviera, such as the famous Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.
Excursions are booked in advance and leave on the hour from 9 am to 5 pm with an hour break.
Trips are priced at €71.50 for one person, but the more people that go the lower the per-person price, as the maximum you will pay is just €142.98.
The route takes you past the Tete-de-Chien, the famous Fort Mont-Alban, La Pointe de Saint Hospice, and finally with views of the medieval village of Eze.
On the return trip, the headland of Cap Ferrat juts out into the Mediterranean to the West.
The captain is very knowledgeable and can take you to see any site of particular interest, just let him know on the day.
Should you wish to swim from the boat at Paloma Beach, then it is advised that you hire the boat for at least three hours in order to have enough time. However, there are closer swimming spots that can be accommodated within a two-hour hire.
Private boat tour
To see the Cote d’Azur from the sea has to be on so many bucket lists, and this tour will tick that box admirably. Leaving from Nice at noon, choose between either Cannes or Monaco as your afternoon’s destination.
The boat can be hired for up to four people, and swimming from the boat, with snorkel equipment, is available in some of the best diving locations.
Drinks and refreshments are included in the price, so you will stay hydrated too.
Your skipper can tell you the best spots to swim where to eat on your return and knows the coastline sights incredibly well.
A trip will take about four hours and starts at midday. The excursion is exclusive and private in that it is booked to your own party.
The ticket price is €950 and is all-inclusive. It is the price per boat and includes the Captain’s fee, fuel, refreshments, equipment hire and tourist taxes.
Not recommended for those with serious medical conditions or pregnant people, due to the small size of the motorboat.
Ferry from Monaco to Cannes and Back
If you want to combine the pleasures of a boat ride with the fun of exploring the principality, then taking the ferry from Cannes to Monaco has to be the way to make these memories stand out. Wheelchair and stroller accessible, this is also one of the most inclusive ways to see the sights from the sea.
Head out from Cannes from the cruise terminal at 10 am at Quay Laubeuf at Sainte-Marguerite Island (spoiler alert, it’s not really an island, instead it’s named for the island off the Cap de la Croisette!).
The voyage will take about an hour and a half up the coastline to Monaco, past the Cap d’Antibes, and on past Nice to Monaco.
Adult tickets are €72, and children’s tickets (aged from 4-10) are €56, with those under 4 traveling free.
Although the ferry is licensed to carry up to 200 passengers, it can be booked to capacity on popular dates so it is always a good idea to book ahead.
The ferry operates on Wednesdays only throughout the summer season and the service finishes up before the end of September on the 20th of the month.
The rear deck is open to the sky, so while the threat of rain is a tiny one, it’s still a good idea to bring some protection from the sun.
When you are out at sea, the wind may pick up a little, so a jacket or a hat might be advisable, and certainly sunscreen.
Once you arrive in Monaco you will have five hours to spend in the principality. Certainly time enough for a walking tour.
The ferry leaves Monaco for Cannes at 4.30 pm and you will be back on dry land by six in the evening having seen the coastline of the Cote d’Azur the way the locals have seen it for years.
There is a restroom on board, and if the heat of the day begins to take its toll, don’t worry as the internal cabin area is air-conditioned for your comfort.
Best Places for Boat Trips around Monaco
Wherever you are holidaying in the French Riviera, these days there are ports a-plenty right along the coast and at all the larger cities. At every marina, there will be tour operators tempting you with trips to the islands, or fishing trips to the rugged caps.
The commerce of the region traveled by sea for centuries, and today there are simply hundreds of boats continuing the tradition of making a living on the water.
I would always check the reviews online and make sure that the tour operator I am thinking of booking has a strong presence on the right websites, with the option to cancel should plans change dramatically.
- The port at Cannes is one of the largest on the coast and has a number of operators who will take you out to the archipelago of islands out in the bay.
- At Port Hercules in the center of Monaco, there are tours and boat hire services that come with experienced captains that know the sea better than the lanes of the old city of Monte-Carlo.
- Antibes has boasted a busy commercial port for more than two thousand years, but you won’t see any boats that old here. Still, there will be plenty of tours to choose from here with many experienced skippers ready to make your day.
Top Safety Tips for Monaco Boat Tours
- The waters off the coast of the Cote d’Azur can get very congested in the summer months as the region is incredibly popular. If you spot anything that could cause a problem, alert your skipper straightaway.
- If you do decide to swim make sure that the skipper understands this so that they can make time for you to do so between bookings as a one-hour trip is usually not enough time to swim safely.
- Children are especially vulnerable on the water, so if you are in a smaller boat then make sure that life jackets are available and that they are wearing them properly.
- Some operators insist that smaller children sit on an adult’s lap for the duration of the tour, so do check their policies before booking.
- Make sure your children are supervised at all times, and make sure that they are not allowed to swim alone in case they get into difficulties.
- This region of France can be subject to the legendary Mistral wind, which can sometimes be quite fierce. This could, in the worst circumstances lead to a cancellation by the tour operator.
- Weather conditions can change rapidly at sea, so it’s always a good idea to pack a light waterproof jacket.
- Be sure that you and your captain are clear about your expectations of your boat tour, so you get the maximum amount of fun from your excursion.