Fully deserving of a chapter all to themselves, the beaches are where you will probably spend a large part of your holiday.
The most beautiful beaches are mostly situated on the south and west coasts of the island, flanked by dunes and forests, they are better protected and more suitable for bathing than the north facing coast which is rocky and offers small coves. Basically, the best beaches stretch between Le Bois-Plage & La Couarde and from the Phare des Baleines, next to Saint-Clément, along the coast to Les Portes.
As you cross the Ile de Ré bridge, you get a first breathtaking look at the endless sandy beaches that Rivedoux has to offer, whether it be the south facing beach which overlooks La Rochelle and the Ile d’Aix, or the north facing beach opposite the Vendée coast. These wide strips of sand which stretch on the south side from the old embarkation site of the Ile de Ré ferry to the Chauveau point and on the other side as far as the port of Rivedoux are greatly appreciated by those who want to bathe, but also by windsurfers and kitesurfers who appear to literally fly across the surface of the water, like great winged creatures circling the bridge.
Sainte-Marie de Re
Notre-Dame beach is good for rock pool fishing, Montamer and La Salée beaches allow bathing at high tide while the beach at Les Grenettes is reputed for surfing (like le Lizay near Les Portes).
La Flotte & Saint-Martin de Re
The Arnérault beach at La Flotte and the Cible beach at Saint-Martin (also known as the Citadelle beach as it lies next to the fortified city) are family beaches and are quite similar – they are not far from the centre of each village and reveal pebbly and also muddy areas at low tide. In periods of very high tides, the strip of sand at La Flotte disappears completely as the water reaches the sea wall. On the plus side, both beaches are great for digging for molluscs and shellfish on foot at low tide.
The beaches here are very popular with family groups as certain amongst them are supervised and bathing is possible even at low tide. The Gollandières and Gros Jonc beaches offer various nautical sports.
The Pergola beach is very lively at nightfall as it hosts the nightclub of the same name and other bars. Windsurfers will appreciate the Charge-Neuve beach while all the beaches along the coast going towards Ars, parallel to the Chemin des Brardes are superbly sandy as far as Le Martray.
The beach at Loix has an exceptional view of Saint Martin and is never too crowded. Underfoot tends to become muddy which makes sea bathing more palatable at high tide.
Saint-Clement des Baleines
The Conche des Baleines beach is one of the best on the island, stretching for 3km from the lighthouse to Les Portes. Certain parts (Le Lizay and Le Petit Bec) are renowned for surfing, other parts offer naturists the possibility to strip off and the whole beach formed a backdrop for certain scenes of the famous film “The Longest Day”. Such is the attraction of this beach that many who live at the other end of the island will willingly make the 30km trek to stretch out on the sand here.
Les Portes en Re
This village offers a wide variety of beaches: La Patache is good for walking, Trousse Chemise is for strong swimmers who aren’t put off by the strong currents in the area, while le Lizay beach has clear waters and, along with Le Petit Bec, offers good surfing opportunities.