The coastline along this reserve is generally sandy with some parts that are craggy or have terraces of rock. There are several small islands and rocky outcrops like the Isola dei Conigli that protects the small port called Porto Cesareo.The coastal dunes have a variety of small bushes and shrubs, up to 200 different species, that count plants like limonio salentino, typical of Apulia’s beach areas. These plants play a very important role in defending the area’s dunes and beachfronts. The seabed is varied and very interesting. There are 12 different ecosystems that range from Posidonia Oceanica meadows off the Strea peninsula, to a benthic ecosystem with coralligenous growth on the rocky stretches of seabed, to corals like Cladocora caespitosa and other marine animals in the submerged caves. In the sandy areas at Baia de La Strea, there is a sub tropical habitat where many marine organisms live including Geodia Cydonium sponges that look like human brains. There are 40 submerged karst caves where you can take guided diving tours to admire the marine life. Fishermen’s cooperatives have an agreement with the Marine Protected Area’s management and can take tourists on fishing tours.

Marine Protected Area

The Marine Protected Area was founded in 1997, and covers an area of 16.654 hectares, of which 173 are a zone A integral reserve signalled by yellow delimitation buoys with signal lights. The Marine Protected Area lies along the coastline of the towns of Porto Cesareo and Nardò, and includes the Isola Grande, also called Isola dei Conigli.

Soon the Marine Protected Area will also include the area around Porto Selvaggio, an uncontaminated area. Boats may navigate at a maximum speed of 10 knots in the area up to 1,000m from the boundaries of the Marine Protected Area.

Useful Contacts

Consorzio di gestione:
via C. Albano – 73010 Porto Cesareo (LE)
tel. 0833/858210-569013
Pro Loco di Porto Cesareo
tel. 0833/569086
Capitaneria di Porto Gallipoli
tel. 0833/266862

By Boat

Porto Cesareo is a natural port off the Isola dei Conigli, about 12nm north of Gallipoli. You enter through an access canal at 034°, delimitated by buoys and by two lights because it isn’t easy to spot either by day or by night.

In the northern part of the well-protected bay around the Penisola la Strega there is a pier that is surrounded by submerged rocks and is not an option for docking. The southern pier only has a maximum of 2m draft. North of the town, between the Isola dei Conigli and the coast, there is a smaller bay that lies outside the perimeter of the Marine Protected Area that is signalled by two lights mounted on rocky outcrops. Entrance to this area has sandbars on both sides, You may drop anchor at the centre of the bay, the sandy seabed holds well, or you can try the pier if it isn’t full of fishing boats.