Sardinia: My corner of Paradise in the Mediterranean

You might fall into the trap of taking paradise for granted when you are blessed with being able to visit at least once a year…. That’s how I felt a few days back as I arrived at our home in Golfo Aranci, nestled in a bay on the Emerald Coast of Sardinia. Over the last 25 years this island has become a huge part of who I am; here is where I learned to swim and spent countless summers eating ice creams and enjoying time with my family,  where I got chased by a wild bore and scraped a few knees on the rocks while trying to emulate my older brother’s athletics dives at the beach, and where I simply fall in love with the sea every time I look over at the landscape unfolding in front of me.

My little piece of paradise has everything you are looking for in a beach holiday, and so much more. Crystal clear water that have nothing to envy to the Carribean? Check. Breath-taking sunsets that paint all the sky pink? Check. Great nightlife? Check. Great food? Check. Prehistoric villages and Karstic Caves? Check. And all of this just a couple of hours flight away from all major western european countries. My boss is lucky I spent only 10 days there rather than quitting everything here in Basel and just open a mermaid school   on the beach!

Not that most people would need any encouragement to fall in love with this place, but to re-kindle the spark between my family and Sardinia after so many years of coming here on holidays and calling this magical place home, we decided to arrange for a private boat trip around the small archipelago of La Maddalena. Just off the north-eastern coast of the main island, these 8 small islands are famous for being the exile home of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the man responsible for unifying Italy, as well as for holding some of the most beautiful bays, beaches and natural fjords in the world.

Budelli e altre

We set off from Dock 5 at Palau port, a small touristy town on the north of the main island of Sardinia , with our skipper Daniele, who zig zags us across the island of Spargi, Budelli, La Maddalena and Caprera. Each place we stop for a swim break is more beautiful than the previous one.

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Cala Soraja

After a quick swim break at Cala Soraja, in Spargi, we move on to the “Natural Pools” of Budelli, with water so clear is a mystery how I can manage to step on a sea urchin within one minute of entering the water. However, even that does not manage to spoil my excitement, and I am back in the water as soon as the last spike is removed (let me tell you there’s no better way to break the ice than letting a perfect stranger handle your foot for an hour).

On the tour we also have a chance to see  the Pink beach, now closed to the public and only accessible by boat as over the years tourists stole more and more of its precious pink sand.

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The water at the Natural Pools of Budelli

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The Pink beach – much of the sand from which the beach takes its name has been removed over the years by tourists – the pink color is given by the crushed shells of a sea microbe / Photo by Mauro Coppadoro

With a boat you really have the chance to appreciate how special these islands are. Looking at the huge granite boulders that make up the coasts of La Maddalena and Caprera islands it looks as if the salty wind has taken it upon itself to masterfully carve spectacular shapes out of them over the centuries. In the coves and the fjords in the North of Caprera, where your only companions are likely to be a couple of wild goats, it wouldn’t look out of place to see a mermaid or some pirates seeking treasures.

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Apparently this rock is supposed to look like a bear… to me it looks like a dude kneeling down to tie its shoelaces, no?
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Photo by Daniele Amato De Serpis

The rest of this wonderful day passes splashing from one pool of crystal blue water to the next while snorkelling, feeding small fish with chunks of pizza and hearing the stories about which rock or small atoll Daniele’s great grandfather (and grandfather after him…) died on as adventurous fishermen.

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Photo by Daniele Amato De Serpis
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Photo by Daniele Amato De Serpis

Before long we are back at  the port and its time to get back on dry land and abandon this small piece of paradise. But by now the love and passion for this beautiful island in the heart of the Mediterranean is definitely rekindled, and I am counting down the days to my next dip. I wonder where I hid my mermaid tail….?

If you are visiting Sardinia (I bet a couple of you have booked flight after seeing the first picture…) and you would like to go on the same boat tour as we did, i can really recommend Elena tour – esclusive in Barca:

  • You can book online at www.esclusiveinbarca.com or call them at +393803032664 – Daniele was an excellent guide and great company (and nurse) too, so if he’s around you are guaranteed a great day out.
  • The private boat tour is quite pricey, and it will bring you under by almost 500 EUR for the boat for the day. If you still want to visit these magical places but do’t fancy blowing all this cash, you can opt for their ferry tour option, at Elena Tour Navigation  – be warned though, you’ll have nowhere near the same flexibility and opportunity for customisation on the ferry, and i suspect that if you are in a large enough group giving into the luxury of a private boat would be totally worth it!
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