7 January 2022
Reading time: 9 minutes
IN A NUTSHELL
Not to be missed: the nightlife of the Costa Smeralda, the wild beauty of La Maddalena, and the tranquility of Southern Sardinia.
To be discovered: Carloforte and the Tabarquin culture
Fact: The hero Garibaldi chose the island of Caprera to spend the last years of his life!
- Practical information for your boat rental in Sardinia
- What are the main sailing areas?
- The best anchorages in Sardinia
- What are the itineraries to follow during your cruise?
- What are the weather conditions?
1. Practical information for your boat rental in Sardinia
The different starting bases
Sardinia has several departure bases, some of which are better known than others. If you are planning a holiday to discover the Costa Smeralda and La Maddalena, in the North of the island, we recommend renting your boat in the bases of Portopozzo, Cannigione, Porto Cervo, Marina dell'Isola, or Olbia. If you also plan to visit the islands of Tavolara and Molara, we recommend renting your boat in Portisco, which is the perfect base for this type of cruise. For your convenience, all of the above-mentioned bases are easily accessible from Olbia airport!
On the other hand, if you would rather explore the South of Sardinia and theSulcis archipelago, we recommend renting your boat in Carloforte or Cagliari, both of which are easily accessible from Cagliari airport.
Average rates depending on the season and the size of the boat
The table below gives you an idea of the average charter prices in Sardinia. These prices can change according to the season, the availability, the model, the age of the boat...
|Type of boat||High Season|
July and August
May, June and September
April and October
|Mono-hull (35 feet /≈2 cabins)||€2,500||€1,800||€1,200|
|Mono-hull (40 feet /≈3 cabins)||€3,000||€2,300||€1,600|
|Mono-hull (45 feet /≈4 cabins)||€4,000||€3,000||€2,500|
|Catamaran (40 feet)||€4,500||€4,000||€3,500|
|Catamaran (50 feet)||€6,000||€5,000||€4,000|
Our main partners on site
Here is a list of our main partners offering boat rentals in Sardinia:
- Kiriacoulis, founded in 1986, is based in Athens. This rental company, competitive in terms of price, allows you to start your cruise on Sunday and is flexible in terms of rental duration (10-day rental, for example). In Sardinia, it offers catamarans (Bali, Lagoon, Helia) and sailing boats (Bavaria, Sun Odyssey) departing from Portisco;
- Dream Yacht Charter, founded in 2000 in the Seychelles, currently has the largest and most model-diverse fleet on the market. In Sardinia, this company offers charter boats from its base in Olbia;
- Carloforte Sail Charter is based in Carloforte, on the island of San Pietro, with a fleet comprised solely of sailing boats.
2. What are the main sailing areas in Sardinia?
Located in the centre of the Mediterranean and with a surprising mainly mountainous topography, Sardinia and its idyllic white beaches is entirely surrounded by an amazing sea colour, emerald. Its preserved natural environment, its fascinating colours, but also its unique flavors never cease to amaze tourists.
Sardinia is a land of ancient traditions with populations succeeding one another over millennia. Whether it is the archaeological remains of the Nuraghic civilization with its nuraghi, the tombs of giants, the sacred wells and houses of fairies, scattered all over the island, from the hinterland to the villages of the seaside, all of these testify to this past full of history.
The island is a true paradise for those who like to have fun. From the nightlife of the Costa Smeralda to the peaceful beauty of the Maddalena archipelago, everything is conducive to partying ! Holidaymakers looking for a relaxing holiday should head to the South of the island.
During your Sardinia cruise, you can't miss the Costa Smeralda, a popular holiday destination, well-known for its nightlife. But that's not all, the Costa Smeralda also provides breathtaking scenery, beautiful beaches, and crystal clear waters. Thalassophobics will be able to swim serenely in the translucent waters, you can almost always see your feet!
To start your adventure, we recommend the beautiful Cala di Volpe, between Portisco and Porto Cervo. It's a deep natural cove where you will find three idyllic beaches: Liscia Ruja, Petra Bianca, and Petra Niedda. Within this cove is thearchipelago of Mortorio, comprised of islands and granite outcrops, including the island of Mortorio, the islands of Sofi and Le Camere.
North of Cala di Volpe is Golfo Pevero, one of the most popular and chic beaches of the Costa Smeralda! This wide bay is sheltered from the winds and has a seabed 5 to 6 metres deep. It is the result of a soft mixture of sand and algae, which makes wetting easily achievable. Its soft white sand and granite rocks embrace an azure sea, it's idyllic! It attracts many tourists each year, including avid golfers, as the golf courses are located just behind the beach. Sailing a little further North, you'll find Piccolo Pevero, smaller, but just as picturesque and, if you're lucky, less crowded! Nearby, you can also explore the small islands of Li Nibani. On your Costa Smeralda cruise, you obviously can't miss Porto Cervo and its trendy beaches of Romazzino, del Principe, and Li Ittricceddi.
Located on the North-East coast of Sardinia, not far from the glamorous lights of the Costa Smeralda, is the archipelago of La Maddalena. This group of 63 islands and islets includes the island of La Maddalena, Caprera, Budelli, Spargi, and Razzolli, to name just five. You can discover them all in a day's sailing since they're only a few kilometres apart! Since 1996, the archipelago has also been a national park, a protected marine and land area. You will need a licence to sail there!
The island of La Maddalena is the only inhabited island in the archipelago. We recommend mooring at the tourist port of Cala Gavetta, or Cala Mangiavolpe, in order to discover the city centre. You can get lost in its narrow streets lined with elegant 18th century buildings and immerse yourself in history by discovering the charming Piazza Garibaldi and the typical restaurants overlooking it! If you like excursions, the ideal is to visit the watchtower of Guardia Vecchia, dating from 1283, which offers a stunning view of the Maddalena archipelago.
Wild and unspoilt, the island of Caprera is a true paradise for sports persons. This dense and green natural oasis is ideal for unwinding and reconnecting with nature. You will find a myriad of trails suitable for all types of hikers. We recommend, in particular, the path connecting the forts of Arbuticci and Candeo, which enable you to discover the most picturesque coves of the area: Cala Candeo, Cala Napoletana, Cala Caprese, Cala Crucitta, Cala Coticcio, and Cala Portese.
To the North-West of the Maddalena archipelago (Budelli, Santa Maria, and Razzoli), we invite you to take a look at the Spiaggia Rosa. This beach takes its name from the typical colour of its sand which, due to its fragile ecosystem, can only be admired from the sea. You can also disembark in Cala Piatto, Cala Cisternone, and Cala del Cavaliere. Cala di Trana is also an excellent anchorage in the absence of wind. In addition to offering an enchanting natural landscape, it has a sandy bottom ideal for anchoring.
From Razzoli, you can also go to the Lavezzi Islands, an archipelago of granite islands and islets. These islets belong to the Bouches de Bonifacio, the strait that separates Sardinia from Corsica. The main islands of this archipelago are: the islet of Poraggia, the islet of Ratino, Piana islet, Sperduto islet, Cavallo islet, and Lavezzu islet. They form, with the National Park of the Archipelago of the Maddalena, the International Park of the Bouches de Bonifacio.
Tavolara and Molara
If you choose the North of Sardinia as a destination for your cruise, you cannot miss, slightly South of La Maddalena, the protected marine area of Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo, and its islands of Tavolara, and Molara. Less known and therefore less touristy and less crowded, this area will provide you with all the charm of Sardinia in calm and tranquility. The island of Tavolara, which is rather wild, only has one inhabited centre, the Spalmatore di Terra marina. Trekking and snorkelling enthusiasts will feel right at home here! Don't miss the panoramic road that crosses the island which gives a spectacular view of the protected area, but also of Olbia and Golfo Aranci. "Tavolara provides one of the best anchorages in Sardinia,", Angelo Usai, of Boomerang Charter, tells me, "with its sandy bottoms and shelter from the winds, especially from the North-West."
The island of Molara, uninhabited, is also a granitic island covered with Mediterranean scrubland. Its anchorages are more precarious than those of its sister, but the Piscine di Molara, in the South-East of the island, is worth a visit! You'll find a truly spectacular landscape with brilliant turquoise waters, warm white sand and completely unspoilt nature. One of the most attractive anchorages is Cala Chiesa. A few kilometres from the latter, we recommend you take a look at the Rock of the Witch, a natural sculpture shaped over the centuries by the wind and the sea. Your kids will love it! Then put on your mask and snorkel for a refreshing snorkelling session!
In the South of the island is the regional capital, Cagliari. A must-see stop on your Sardinia cruise, it overlooks the magnificent Gulf of Angels and is built on seven limestone hills. Colle Castello corresponds to the historic district whereas Colle Marina is the lively waterfront. Getting lost in the twists and turns of the ancient streets of Cagliari, you can discover the ancient Roman amphitheatre and visit the Royal Palace, the Basilica of San Saturno, as well as the Bastion of St. Remy, one of Cagliari's most important monuments. Once you have slipped into the authenticity of Cagliari's neighbourhoods and been conquered by the excellent cuisine, the Cassòla, the traditional Fregula cun cocciula and Candelaus sweets, you will be ready to set sail to discover its beautiful emerald sea.
In the vicinity of the town, you will find the very white Calamosca, considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in South Sardinia. This beach takes its name from the tower of Calamosca, a coastal fortress of primary defence built during the Spanish domination. Continuing towards the coast, you will encounter Quartu Sant'Elena and, after passing the "Sella del Diavolo" (the devil's saddle), you will find Poetto, the city's main beach, the second longest in the world after Rio de Janeiro!
Continuing your journey eastward, you will find Villasimius, one of the most beautiful and famous towns on the Sardinian coast, with its 20 kilometres of coastline and more than 30 beaches, each one more enchanting than the next. We highly recommend a stop at the beautiful beach of Porto Giunco, famous for its pink flamingos. Then come the beaches Campus of Villasimius, oriented towards Cagliari, and the unmissable beach of Campulongu, bathed in a clear turquoise sea, surrounded by the vibrant Mediterranean green. For children, we recommend the sandy shores of Simius Beach and Timi Ama Beach, whose shallow waters guarantee safe and quiet days. Lovers of history and culture will be able to visit the Punta Molentis and the beach of Cuccureddus, leading to a very interesting archaeological area.
Along the coast, to the West of Cagliari, you will see evidence of many civilizations that have succeeded over time on the island, such as the Spanish defence towers and the tombs of giants. The area of Pula is characterised by white sandy and rocky beaches. The most famous is that of Nora, for its famous archaeological area. History buffs can admire ancient Roman remains! This site gives a great view of the tower of Coltellazzo, which protects the area from the wind. Another sheltered place, separated from the mainland by an isthmus, is the old port. This is the best place to anchor at night!
About 15 nautical miles from Pula, after Capo Spartivento, the Southernmost point of Sardinia, you will reach the bay of Chia, whose beach, Su Giudeu makes it beautiful. This stretch of golden sand contrasts with the dense vegetation behind it and the turquoise sea. To anchor with your boat, we recommend the island of Su Cadrolinu, very welcoming, and well-sheltered from the various winds.
TheArchipelago of Sulcis is a short distance from the South-West coast of Sardinia. The archipelago includes two main islands, Sant'Antioco and San Pietro, but also a number of smaller islands and islets, of which the only inhabited one is Piana. Stefania Gorgerino of Carloforte Sail Charter informs us that "the whole surrounding area is still very wild and natural and suitable for anyone looking for peace and quiet. In fact, compared to the North of Sardinia, this area stands out particularly for being far from mass tourism."
Carloforte, located on the island of San Pietro, is a charming fishing village originally founded by a Genoese colony in the 16th century. The story goes that a group of Ligurian fishermen went to colonise Tabarka, a small island off the Tunisian coast, famous for its coral harvest. However, they were soon forced to flee by the locals and settled on the island of San Pietro, where they began fishing for tuna, coral and salt. This fascinating combination of cultures is reflected not only in the architecture of the small village, but also in its unique culinary tradition. In addition to Tabarkino couscous, Carloforte is famous for its tuna! This is one of the few remaining tuna fisheries in the Mediterranean, so don't miss the opportunity to taste these delicacies!
The island of San Pietro is characterised by its irregularly carved coastline in a multitude of sublime beaches. We advise you to go around it, anchoring from time to time in its picturesque coves. The cove in the Caletta, sheltered by the Sirocco, is perfect for an end of day visit since it gives an amazing view of the sunset. In the gulf of Mezzaluna, sheltered by the mistral, you can reach beautiful caves by swimming to land in a perfect spot for snorkelling. Stefania from Carloforte Sail Charter reassures us"These are huge coves, ideal for night anchoring because the seabed is sandy and there's no danger of the anchor getting stuck."
On the island of Sant'Antioco, you'll find idyllic bays like Sottotorre or Spiaggia Grande, enough to make you think you're in the tropics! Along the coast you will find Porto Sciusciau, famous for its arch-shaped rocks through which you can swim and snorkel. On your way you'll come across Capo Sperone, at the tip of the island, where it is possible to drop anchor on the beach of Turri, also called Torre Cannai. The only inhabited centre of the island is Calasetta, whose marina is very convenient since it is located just at the entrance of the port and is accessible to any type of boat.
3. The best anchorages in Sardinia
Cala Volpe, Costa Smeralda
Sheltered from the winds and with shallow muddy bottoms, Cala Volpe is an excellent anchorage. As one of the most famous beaches of the Costa Smeralda, it is very busy in high season and many buoys are installed in anticipation.
Cala Corsara, island of Spargi
In the archipelago of La Maddalena, you cannot miss Cala Corsara, on the island of Spargi. Ideal for a night stop, this bay allows you to admire the spectacular rocks of the Testa della Strega, a huge granite rock about 6 metres high. An excellent alternative to this busy beach is Cala d'Alga. On the other hand, it is more exposed to the mistral, and therefore more suitable for small boats.
Cala Coticcio, Caprera
Among the idyllic beaches of Caprera is the beautiful Cala Coticcio, renamed Tahiti because of its dreamy white sand and crystal clear waters!
Cala di Zeri, island of Cavallo
In the Lavezzi Islands, Cala Zeri is the wildest of the small island of Cavallo and also one of the most famous and most visited. Its pink granite sand is as fine as talc! Its seabed is among the most beautiful of the island with a very rich fauna, considering its aspect, enough to delight diving enthusiasts!
Cala Domestica, island of San Pietro
Cala Domestica is a natural fjord, famous for its landscape dominated by high cliffs. We recommend you spend the night at this anchorage because this bay is completely sheltered from the mistral, the dominant wind of the region.
4. What itineraries should you follow during your cruise?
Itinerary 1, for one week - Total distance covered: 117 nautical miles
- Day 1: Portisco → Tavolara (14 nautical miles)
- Day 2: Tavolara → Cala Brandinchi - Porto Ottiolu (9 nautical miles)
- Day 3: Porto Ottiolu → Cala di Volpe - Caprera (37 nautical miles)
- Day 4: Caprera → La Maddalena Island (6 nautical miles)
- Day 5: Isola de La Maddalena → Passo Cecca di Morto - Santa Teresa di Gallura (15 nautical miles)
- Day 6: Santa Teresa di Gallura → Lavezzi - Passo Cecca di Morto (12 nautical miles)
- Day 7: Passo Cecca di Morto → Portisco (24 nautical miles)
Itinerary 2, for two weeks - Total distance covered: 344 nautical miles
This itinerary was followed by Giuseppe Colleoni on-board a Bali 43 chartered by Filovent.
- Day 1: Discovery of Olbia
- Day 2: Olbia → Molara - Cala Liberotto (40 nautical miles)
- Day 3: Cala Liberotto → Cala Frailis, Arbatax (38 nautical miles)
- Day 4: Arbatax → Olbia (79 nautical miles)
- Day 5: Visit to Orgosolo, in the region of Barbagia di Nuoro
- Day 6: Olbia → Cala Volpe - Caprera (32 nautical miles)
- Day 7: Caprera → Lavezzi - Santa Maria (24 nautical miles)
- Day 8: Santa Maria → Cala Rondinara (16 nautical miles)
- Day 9: Cala Rondinara → Porto Vecchio (16 nautical miles)
- Day 10: Porto Vecchio → Isola di Cavallo (20 nautical miles)
- Day 11: Isola di Cavallo → Bonifacio - Barcaccia - Maddalena (30 nautical miles)
- Day 12: Maddalena → Pevero - Porto Rotondo (23 nautical miles)
- Day 13: Porto Rotondo → Porto Istana - Olbia (26 nautical miles)
5. What are the weather conditions?
The climate in Sardinia is typically Mediterranean with little rain. Temperatures are around 20-30° C during thesummer, with slightly higher temperatures in the South of the island. The water stays around 20° C during the summer, but also in September and October, while the month ofApril tends to be a cold month in Sardinia.
Regarding the winds, the North of the island is particularly windy, especially the archipelago of La Maddalena, exposed to the libeccio and mistral winds. In the South of the island, the dominant wind is the mistral. There is also the sirocco, but it usually doesn't blow for longer than one day and calms down at night. While in the Sulcis archipelago it is easy to find a place of protection from the North and South winds, the area above Carloforte, on the West coast of the island, is less protected and can be particularly dangerous when the mistral blows.
I would like to thank Giuseppe Colleoni and Jean Jacques (who prefers to remain anonymous) for their testimonies and photos which perfectly illustrate this article. I would also like to thank Stefania Gorgerino of Carloforte Sail Charter and Angelo Usai of Boomerang Charter for their valuable information about Sardinia.