Among the rocky formations that support the center of Lake Garda, there is also this suggestive islet dedicated to San Biagio. It is located in Manerba del Garda, not far from Punta Belvedere, and is an island known as the Rabbit Island for the historical (and past) presence of these small and cute animals.
The vegetation and the unique landscape make it a very popular place for those who are on Lake Garda and want to go on a boat excursion, as well as being the property of the eponymous camping site and therefore “reserved”, at certain times, for its customers.
How to reach San Biagio Island
The islet is located on the Brescia side of Lake Garda, and you can easily reach it being about 200 meters from the coast of Manerba del Garda, which is our starting point after parking near Porto Torchio. You can reach San Biagio by boat or on foot, during the moments when Lake Garda withdraws its waters and a strip of walkable seafloor appears.
If you go by boat, the cost is 2.50 euros (one way only) for the trip by taxi boat from Porto Torchio (Manerba), you also have to calculate the entrance fee of 5 euros which is valid as a “pass” for the whole day. The trips to San Biagio Island are active several times a day, and the ticket can be purchased directly at Porto Torchio.
Alternatively, you can also reach the islet with your own boat, but in this case it will be necessary to pay a ticket that allows you to land on the San Biagio pier.
Remember that it opens every day at 9 am and after 6 pm the entrance to the public and also the kiosk are closed; therefore, in the evening it will no longer be possible to access it – it is in fact a private property of Camping San Biagio and there are time slots to respect.
The period of the year when you can visit Rabbit Island goes from May to September, always considering that meteorological conditions may modify this period or limit visits on certain days.
When to reach Rabbit Island on foot
As already mentioned, the closest coast is the western, Brescia one, near Manerba del Garda – a location only 200 meters away.
This is precisely the distance to be covered “walking on water”: when the lake withdraws, a part of the seabed that can be walked on becomes available. The fact that the water withdraws depends on the fact that during the year the level of the lake is variable, also due to atmospheric or natural agents.
In the periods when the water is very low, it reaches just above the ankles, at most below the knees; so, you can immerse yourself with pleasure for a splendid walk “on water”. The “dry” affects the level of the waters, but to a lesser extent than other pre-Alpine lakes. The oscillations, in fact, are about 1 or 1.5 meters. In some cases, the waters rise immediately for a few hours, even if only by about 30 cm, along with low atmospheric pressure, when the lake is calm.
For many decades, however, Lake Garda has undergone variations in the water level also due to the hydroelectric power plants and other non-natural constructions. Beyond these regulations, the maximum and minimum levels are still seasonal. In April, the highest water levels are found, on average, and in the autumn period from September to November, the lowest water levels are found. There are also exceptional floods or very strong “lean” periods, with a historical minimum level recorded even at 15 cm!
It seems that the end of summer and the beginning of autumn are the best times to walk on the water and reach the islet.
What to do on Rabbit Island
Once you arrive at San Biagio Island, you can cross it and enjoy a landscape made of green meadows also useful for sunbathing, bushes that are always in bloom in the beautiful season, cypresses, a particularly Edenic and relaxing atmosphere.
But not only that, since the island is well-equipped, you will also find a bar area for your aperitifs and everything you need. Needless to say, there are of course toilets, and during the summer it is also possible to rent beach loungers from the bar kiosk.
The Garda panorama from Rabbit Island offers a view of the Rocca di Manerba, with the lake that in this fringe presents coves with clear waters in which to dive.
In addition, even today rabbits are still found, no longer as numerous as before when they had threatened all vegetation by proliferating. Those left, in any case, are now used to human presence and are not at all scared.
This island is perfect if you love quiet, windy places, where in addition to rabbits you can admire cormorants, ducks, many other animals and enjoy the nature of Garda. If you also love diving and/or beach life, I remind you that it is better to bring with you some shoes for the rocks.
San Biagio Island yesterday and today
Life on the islet has not always been so lively: in the past, the refuge of the rabbits on Garda was paradoxically a place of hunters. Starting from the seventeenth-century villa that stands on the island, in the center, the family of local nobles made it a hunting reserve.
Today San Biagio Island is owned by the camping site but is part of the Natural Reserve of Rocca, Sasso and Lacuale park. It is a park in Manerba del Garda created for the study and protection of the lake environment – always at risk in terms of the biodiversity of the aquatic element as well as the terrestrial one.
The Altar Rock and underwater activity
The surroundings of San Biagio Island are often frequented by divers who love to dive in this area and reach places such as the Altar Rock. It is a rock on which, according to tradition, once a year, a mass was celebrated for the fishermen of the area who remained on boats.
Today it is famous for the panoramic view it gives to those who reach it, since from this rock you can see all the coasts of the lake, in a 360-degree perspective.
Beneath the rock, there is a wall that reaches 150 meters in depth, where there are two balconies of yellow sponges and a cave inhabited by fish – in particular eels, bleak, pike, tench, and royal perch. Because of its particularity, the wall under the Altar Rock has become a highly coveted destination for divers from all over Italy.
The San Biagio Camping Site
When you leave the mainland to reach Rabbit Island on foot, you often start from the San Biagio Camping Site area, which also manages the islet. In fact, for those staying at the campsite, entrance to the island is free, while for external visitors, as I already anticipated, a ticket must be paid.
The camping site winds along the peninsula facing Rabbit Island, and offers pitches (161) with an advantageous position, on natural terraces from which you can admire the panorama. The pitches are all equipped with electricity, and the camping site also has a bar area, a restaurant-pizzeria, buoys for boats, and a marina. There are also bungalows including toilets, air conditioning, a terrace, and an electric kitchen.
San Biagio Island is close, Garda within reach of a dive, lush vegetation… for those who want a holiday on Garda in contact with nature, this location is truly unique.