Isola della Cona


45.756377981294, 13.499053627223


Isola della Cona


45.756377981294, 13.499053627223

Level of difficulty 4 paddles |  Gastronomy 1 pitcher |  Length 13 km |  Time 2.5 - 3.5 hours

From the river to the sea and back to the lagoon. The circumnavigation of the Cona peninsula is not only a special experience for bird watchers. You can also feel the magic of this unique bird sanctuary from the water and treat yourself to an unforgettable SUP experience at the same time.

General information Isola della Cola

Navigation rules

Boats and ships have priority along this route. Because you are paddling in a nature reserve, you should be particularly careful. Behave as quietly as possible and of course avoid littering.

Nature Reserve

The Regional Nature Reserve of the Estuary of the Isonzo, located in the eastern part of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, on the last stretch of the river of the same name, extends over an area belonging to the municipalities of Staranzano, San Canzian d'Isonzo, Fiumicello and Grado and an area of 2,338 hectares (of which 1,154 ha in marine areas).

It was established in 1996 and largely coincides with the SAC / SPA "Estuary of the Isonzo - Isola della Cona" IT3330005. The symbol of the reserve is the curlew.

All recreational, sporting and tourism activities compatible with the protection of fauna, flora, vegetation, soil and water are permitted within the reserve.

However, be sure to follow the regulations in force in nature reserves. Often water sports are prohibited in nature reserves or only possible under very specific conditions.

Keep a sufficient minimum distance to overgrown shore areas, as well as to riparian trees and bird concentrations on the water - if possible more than 100 meters. This is especially true during the breeding season (March 1 to September 30).

When getting in and out of the water, use the designated places where no damage can visibly be done to nature.

Download the current ordinance (Italian) here.

Dangers and risks

The water access on Isonzo River runs vertically downwards from the sandy shore, so that the water surface is about half a meter below the edge of the shore. You only have a limited stand here, especially since the water depth is about as high as 1,5 to 2 m (depending on the water level). When getting on the SUP you should take your time so as not to end up in the water right away.

About two kilometers before the estuary into the sea, the Isonzato flows from the right and into the Isonzo. Motor boats also operate here, going towards the river and the sea and leaving their waves behind. Keep your eyes open and prepare for choppy waters.

On the way back along the east side of the peninsula, you repeatedly paddle over knee-deep water and seagrass carpets at a depth of about one meter. Always keep an eye on the bottom and pay attention to fins and paddle blades. Here you'll find nets stretched on the ground under the water (easily recognizable by the fixing sticks sticking out of the water). Depending on the water level, you can glide over with your fins or you will inevitably get stuck.

Study the satellite image well in advance or always have it on hand, because you can easily get lost along the small waterways through the salt marshes if you want to paddle directly near the shore. Unfortunately, the waterways do not go all the way to the Canale Quarantia, so you inevitably have to paddle out of this basin and bypass it.

The exit is challenging due to its slippery stone slabs. There are also shells in the crevices in between, which can easily cut your skin if you're not careful.


The best way to reach the Cona peninsula is by car, as no public transport goes here. If you are traveling from Grado, come along the SP 19 via Grado Pineta and Villaggio Primero and drive towards Monfalcone. Immediately after crossing the river Isonzo you could take the narrow dirt road to the right and drive straight ahead for about three kilometers until you arrive at the visitor center. Or you take the route indicated by Google Maps via the SP 19 to the first roundabout after the Isonzo and follow the road signs to the visitor center.


At the Foce dell' Isonzo visitor car park.


The Isonzo River is wonderfully cool and highly recommended on hot days. You get in fast, but getting out of the freshwater can be tricky due to the elevated bank edge. It is better to get off the SUP and cool off in the middle of the river during a short paddle break.

The lagoon on the east shore of the island is partly knee to waist high and filled with warm salt water and you can lie in the water and even swim without hesitation. The further you go towards Monfalcone (i.e. away from Cona's east shore), the more boats cross the path. Only go into the water with the utmost caution and foresight and only if it is absolutely necessary.

Worth seeing

The MU/CA – Museo della Cantieristica di Monfalcone is Italy's only museum dedicated to shipbuilding and presents the importance of shipbuilding for the region in an innovative way.

Since 2005 the World War I theme park (Parco Tematico della Grande Guerra di Monfalcone) can be visited near Monfalcone. On an area of around 4 km², divided into three main areas, various aspects of the 'Great War' are explained to visitors in more detail. Here you find trenches, shelters and other relics of the war. Three different routes lead through the park..

The Museum in the Fortress of Monfalcone (Museo della Rocca di Monfalcone) offers its visitors a paleontological section and a cave section, both of which can be visited free of charge. From the main square (Piazza della Republica) the ascent along the street takes about 15 minutes on foot.

The Municipal Gallery of Contemporary Art was opened in 2002 and is dedicated to contemporary art and promotes regional artists in particular.

Extra Tips

The Foce dell'Isonzo Nature Reserve on the Isola della Cona peninsula is worth a visit, especially in autumn. In addition to the resident birds that live there all year round, countless migratory birds, geese and ducks can also be observed in the nature reserve. The circular route with its vantage points and observation posts is particularly recommended. There is also an informative visitor center. 

Also the bird sanctuary housed in the Foce dell'Isonzo Reserve Alberoni inspires its visitors with a great mix of sports (hiking, SUP, kayaking, cycling), culinary delights and nature experiences. 


From the footpath at the visitor center of the bird sanctuary downstream to the sea. Via the small canal left into the lagoon and north into the Canale Quarantia up to the exit at the stone slabs.


13 km


2.5 - 3.5 hours

Start and landing

Start on the Isonzo at the end of the beaten path. It is located in the sharp street curve in front of the visitor center (on the right-hand side of the road).

Get out of the water about 600 m north of the visitor center on the access road. There are a number of parking spaces and clearly visible stone slabs on the banks of the Canale Quarantia.

SUP rental


Overnight Stay

Finestra sul mare
Via delle Giarrette 109, 34074 Monfalcone
Phone +39 (0)345 571 7092

Al Sol Levante
Via Verteneglio 7, 34073 Fossalòn
Phone +39 (0)431 88169 

Isola della Cona – Riserva naturale Foce dell’Isonzo
Isola della Cona, 34079 Alberone


Al Pesce d'Oro
Via Dei Bagni Nuova 19, 34074 Monfalcone
Phone +39 (0)481 830206

Osteria Bisiaca
Località Rivalunga 1, 34079 Staranzano
Phone +39 (0)392 084 2598

Via Risiera di San Sabba 17, 34075 San Canzian
Phone +39 (0)339 525 5570

River, sea, lagoon and a lot of wildlife

Between Grado and Monfalcone lies the Cona Peninsula, known for its more than three hundred bird species. The natural and protected headland is a paradise for nature lovers and bird watchers. The Isola della Cona is also a blessing to paddlers, because the circumnavigation reveals itself as a unique nature experience with a relaxation factor. 

It's about a 25-minute drive from Grado, half of that from Monfalcone, and already the waterways alongside the only access road get hearts beating in advance. 

The access to the circular hiking trail with its observation stands is at the visitor center. The entry ticket only costs 5 € for adults (as of 2021) and you have the choice of walking either the long loop (3 hours) or the short loop (1.5 hours) through the reserve. Visitors should understand a little Italian, since German and English signposts and information boards are few and far between.

However, this is irrelevant for a SUP tour, because we are guided by the water and, if necessary, by the satellite image on our phones. The parking lot in front of the visitor center is large enough and at the last curve before the driveway there is a small footpath through the bushes that leads to the starting point at the Isonzo River. This path is clearly visible on satellite images and is likely to remain there permanently. 

Even with long touring boards, it is quite easy to get through the approximately 15 m long passage, although you should keep an eye out for the thorns of the wild berries, which line the left side of the path in particular. You come to a small sandy clearing and face the Isonzo River, sowly drifting towards the sea. It is quiet here except for the distant chirping of birds and the gentle murmur of water. Since the latter runs a good one meter below the sandy edge of the today, the entrance is a bit steep and should be taken with caution. However, this should not be a major problem for experienced paddlers. If you are looking for a really refreshing way to cool down on hot days, you can dive into the fresh water coming form the Alps before you start the SUP tour.

The river is absolutely deserted here and smooth as glass, a current can hardly be made out. For the next hour you paddle between reed banks and bushes towards the sea. The Isonzo rises as the Soča (Slovenian name) in northwestern Slovenia and makes its way over 140 km to the sea. Every paddle stroke is spot on and the blurry mountain ranges over Trieste and Koper come closer bit by bit. The distant view reaches up to 30 km beyond the mouth of the Isonzo. Over the left river bank I keep watching flocks of birds flying in formation over the nature reserve. On the right, the fields of the Fossalon di Grado region, laid out like rice boards, stretch towards the west. 

About two kilometers from the mouth of the sea, light, long waves start to push in from the sea. The mighty sea presses its water against the comparatively weak river and leads to a pleasant, subliminal swell. You paddle in dry water all the way to the mouth, while the Slovenian coastline becomes more and more visible on the horizon. 

Before you go left into the lagoon and along the narrow boat channel, you have to pause for a moment. The view sweeps across the sea towards Trieste and Koper and back to the sublime Isonzo and the peninsula. Paddlers then continue with a view of the port of Monfalcone. You can leave the fairway to the left to paddle in the knee-to-waist-deep lagoon. The bottom is overgrown with seaweed and the clear salt water reveals all kinds of little fishermen.

Seaweed swims here in small carpets on the water surface, so that the fins have to be freed from time to time. If you want to avoid the problem, you have to stay away from the peninsula and paddle in a wide arc towards the Canale Quarantia. As beautiful as it is here in the shallow water, it is well advised to leave this pool in good time so as not to get lost in the salt marshes with their labyrinth of waterways.

The attempt to paddle towards the wild horses on the banks of the Cona finally can cost you about half an hour, as you might come to a dead end in the salt marshes and be forced to paddle back the water maze in order to circumnavigate it afterwards.

On the way to the Canale Quarantia you come close to the town of Monfalcone and the ships docking in front of it. The last two kilometers to the exit of this tour are also quiet, although the canal is suitable for motorized water traffic. Except for a few intact and demolished houses, the banks are uninhabited and left to nature.

The landing is situated approximately 600m north of the visitor center Foce dell'Isonzo along the access road. The large, rectangular stone slabs on the bank in front of the parking lot can be clearly seen on the satellite image. They are also visible from the water after the last bend in the canal - just like the car of my friend who is doing the shuttle for me today. If you can't enjoy this luxury, you have to carry your SUP on foot down to the visitor center.

With or without a shuttle, the Cona Peninsula is well worth the effort. If you still have enough energy after this tour, you should then treat yourself to the island along the footpaths. The animal world, which you can discover up close along the two exploration routes (1.5 & 3 hours) is unique and an unforgettable experience. The Isola della Cona - worth a trip on water and on land.

Leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *