Top 7 outdoor activities on the Ile d'Oléron

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The island of Oléron and its 174 km² is the largest French island on the Atlantic coast! Renowned for its cultural heritage and its typical Charente villages, the island of Oleron boasts a rich and impressive natural environment, offering plenty of things to do!

Linked to the mainland by the Ile d'Oléron bridge, it can be reached by car from the commune of Bourcefranc-le-Chapus, but also by boat from La Rochelle or with the Bateau Passeur, where you can embark on foot or by bike! Between the beaches and the forest massifs, the Ile d'Oléron is also home to protected nature reserves, salt marshes, oyster-farming sites and a highly developed flora and fauna. What could be better than discovering these magnificent landscapes during an outdoor activity?

Here's a selection of things to do on the island of Oleron to discover all it has to offer. Whether you're a water sports enthusiast, a keen hiker, or simply looking for a moment of relaxation to share with your loved ones in the midst of magnificent scenery, the island of Oleron has it all.

1. Surf

Instructor and pupil during a surf lesson
Ganach Surf School

The beaches on this island in Charente-Maritime offer ideal conditions for surfing: in summer and in low season, come and try your hand at surfing on the Ile d'Oléron. Breakers, large swells and wind are present all year round on the Atlantic coast. The waves of the Côte Sauvage are particularly popular with surfers of all levels. Whatever your level, you'll find surf schools offering surf lessons on the Ile d'Oléron to help you learn or improve your technique.

Come and discover the perfect spots for surfing in Oléron: the beach at Saint-Trojan-les-Bains is a great place to learn to surf, particularly for beginners or those wishing to perfect their skills, and Vert-Bois is the island's must-visit destination for surfing enthusiasts, where you can practice most of the year.

2. Boat trip

Boat moored in port
The Sea Wolf

Sailing around the island of Oléron is an unforgettable experience. Whether you go out on a motorboat, a sailing boat or a catamaran, you'll have the chance to discover exceptional landscapes and observe seabirds. Hidden coves and neighbouring islands such as Ile d'Aix and Ile de Fouras are popular destinations to explore on foot or by bike. During your sea excursion around the Ile d'Oléron, you'll have the chance to take a diversion to admire a famous fortified structure: Fort Boyard.

3. Panoramic flights

ULM on the runway before take-off

Take to the skies and enjoy a different perspective of the island and its landscapes with a microlight or seaplane flight over the Ile d'Oléron. From the air, enjoy a unique and magical moment as you fly over the beaches and forests of the island of Oléron. You'll also have the chance to catch a glimpse of the other islands of Charente-Maritime and fly over the mythical Fort Boyard! Photography enthusiasts will be delighted as they snap shots of the magnificent panoramic views of the island and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region!

4. Walking tours

The Ile d'Oléron is an authentic island where nature is protected and preserved. Soft mobility is encouraged, and the island has a number of hiking trails, including the Chemin d'Oléron, a loop that takes you around the island along the coastline.

A walk will take you through a variety of landscapes, with panoramic views of the beaches, as well as sites of local culture such as the salt marshes of Port des Salines, the lighthouses, the museum retracing the history of the island and the oyster ports.

5. Bike hire

Fat bikes on the beaches of Charente
Fat Sand Bikes 17

With almost 160 km of cycle paths, the island of Oleron is an ideal place for a hike or to discover the island by bike. Bring your own bike or hire one and set off to discover the island's varied landscapes: beaches, forests, marinas and picturesque villages. The cycling network will enable you to get around safely and enjoy the natural environment to the full.

Near the Ile d'Oléron, in La Tremblade, you can hire cycling equipment for as long as you like, with the option of hiring fat bikes, mountain bikes or electric scooters to discover the Côte Sauvage or the region's typical oyster farms!

6. Water sports: kayaking and stand-up paddling

Kayak trip around Fort Boyard
Kayak Discovery 17

There are plenty of things to do on the island of Oleron on the water.

A trip on the water is an ideal way to discover the landscapes and the many natural and historical resources of the region. Surrounded by the Bay of Biscay, you'll find plenty of water-based activities such as stand-up paddling and kayaking departing from Ile Fouras to discover the region, in particular Ile d'Aix and the famous Fort Boyard. You can choose to hire equipment or take guided trips adapted to your level to learn this sport while discovering the Charente-Maritime region.

7. Kitesurfing

Kitesurfing in Charente-Maritime
Chatel Kite School

With its 300km of coastline and exceptional light, the island of Oléron is a prime destination for fans of aerotow gliding. Saint-Trojan-les-Bains and the Huttes beach at Saint-Denis-d'Oléron, famous for its exposure to the wind, are popular spots for thrill-seekers.

Don't hesitate and come and experience the very special sensation of gliding over the water thanks to the power of the wind! Kitesurfing lessons near the Ile d'Oléron will enable you to take your first steps in the world of kitesurfing or to perfect your skills.

The island of Oléron is a destination that's sure to win you over with its wide range of activities and pleasant landscapes. Whether you're looking for adventure and thrills, relaxation or discovery walks and hikes, this island in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region will meet all your expectations. One thing's for sure, there's no shortage of activities on and around the Ile d'Oléron!

If you'd like to discover the region and are passing through other islands in the Charente, take a look at our article on must-do activities on the Ile de Ré. You're sure to find some ideas for your next experience!