Beaches -- Of course, most visitors come to St-Raphaël for its beaches. The best ones (some rock, some sand) are located between the Vieux Port and Santa Lucia. Here you’ll find plenty of stands that rent watersports equipment on each beach. The closest beach to the town center is the Plage du Veillat, a long stretch of sand that’s crowded and family friendly. Further east in Agay, you’ll find the sandy beaches of Plage d’Agay and Plage de la Baumette;these are partly private beaches where you can rent recliners and umbrellas for a fee. Within a 5-minute walk east of the town center is Plage Beau Rivage, whose name is misleading because it’s covered with a smooth and even coating of light-gray pebbles that might be uncomfortable to lie on without a towel. History buffs will enjoy a 7km (4 1/2-mile) excursion east of town to the Plage du Dramont, a public pebble stretch with watersports and a restaurant that was hurled into world headlines on August 15, 1944, as one of the main sites of the Allied Forces’ Provence Landings. Today expect relatively uncrowded conditions, except during the midsummer crush.
Bikes -- You can rent bikes and scooters from Patrick Moto, 260 avenue du Général-Leclerc (tel. 04-94-53-65-99). Bikes are priced at 9€ per day; mountain bikes 13€; and scooters 30€. Two mountain bike trails loop inland from the tourist office. Ask for a map inside, then try the 32km Balcons d'Azur ride for panoramic views, or the gentler 12km Lac de l'Écureuil lakeside route.
Boat trips -- Bateaux St-Raphaël (www.bateauxsaintraphael.com; tel. 04-94-95-17-46) run 90-minute tours of the Esterel Coves daily in July and August. Prices are 16€ for adults, or 10€ for children aged 9 and under. Midnight return trips from St-Tropez, and shuttles to the Porquerolles and Lérins Islands, are also offered in summer. Serious fishermen should contact Verdon Pêche (www.verdonpeche.free.fr; tel. 06-07-16-20-96). Take their speedboat out for giant bass and bream, or join Christophe and team for river and lake fishing inland. Expect to pay around 250€ for three or more guests for the entire day.
Diving -- The local coastline is spectacular. Dives with both Agathonis Diving (www.agathonisplongee.com; tel. 06-16-16-20-96) and Aventure Sous Marine (www.aventuresousmarine.com; tel. 06-09-79-90-37) can be booked at the St-Raphaël tourist office. The latter operates a dive boat docked in the Vieux Port. Regular dives with both agencies, including all equipment, cost around 40€.
The Mysterious Ile d’Or
Opposite Dramont beach is the private island of Ile d’Or. Its history is as enigmatic as its ominous look, as the island glows gold then blood red against the setting sun. After being sold for a song by the French government, it was allegedly won in a game of cards by physician Augustus Lutaud a century ago. Lutaud organized wild parties then declared himself king of the island in 1913, purportedly issuing his own currency in the process. The story is said to have inspired the Tintin story, The Black Island, in which Hergé's hero chases a mad doctor. The surrounding snorkeling and diving is among the best in coastal Provence.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.