With just a population of 1500 and a spattering of small hotels, the gulf of Orosei's Cala Gonone is the perfect base to explore the surrounding regions. It is so small that there is no taxi firm, so you will need a car from the closest airport, some two hours away.
The gulf's many beaches are some of the best in the world and only one is obtainable by foot, Cala Luna, the rest you will need a boat for. Stranded on a perfect beach for a couple of hours - the horror.
Gorropu gorge is the most unbelievable walk you'll ever do. It's so off the beaten track it took us 45 minutes to actually get IN to it from the path we'd enjoyed for three hours around mountainous, beautiful scenery - there are no signs. There are no roads. It was akin to a level of Tomb Raider, circa 2000.
Cala Osala to the north was a deserted kilometre of white sand perfection, mid week.
The fresh gulf fish and local Dorgali wines are something to shout about and the little delis in Cala Gonone make taking packed lunches on mega day walks/bathes a truly delicious experience.
It's the luxury package of life people pay a lot for but you don't have to pay the huge prices if you know it's there.
After enjoying the beaches and busy old town of Alghero, take the bus down the winding coastal road to Bosa and from there to Oristano. Make sure you sit on the righthand side for the best views and photos of the cliffs and beaches! Explore the alleyways and narrow cobbled streets between Bosa’s multicoloured buildings. Cross the river to gain a better perspective of the Havana-esque street next to the river. Oristano is a smart city with a stunning baroque cathedral and pleasant streets to wander around and have a coffee or gelato. The city is also a great base for visiting the famous Is Aruttas beach and the Roman site of Tharros. Bed and Breakfast Porta a Mari is a great budget option – it’s a traditional Sardinian house within walking distance of the city centre.
B&B Porta a Mari
Via Cagliari 308, 09170, Oristano
Google map: bit.ly/MAz3KG
Bus timetable for Alghero - Bosa
Bus timetable for Bosa - Oristano
Escape from the city and catch the Porto Conte/Capo Caccia bus from Alghero to the stunning Il Lazzaretto beach. Located in the Porto Conte Regional Park, the beach is sheltered by a headland on which stands a sixteenth century tower. With views across the bay towards Alghero, you can wiggle your toes in the soft white sand or cool them in the crystal-clear water while listening to the sound of the cicadas. Plus it’s only a mile along a vine- and olive-lined road from the spectacular prehistoric settlement of Nuraghe Palmavera.
By far the best way to see the stunning coastline near the beach town of Cala Gonone, on the east side of Sardinia, is by kayak. My husband and I hired a couple of kayaks for a day and paddled our way to some of the area's most secluded beaches, including the idyllic Cala Luna (setting to Madonna's film Swept Away), which is only accessible by boat. A fun and self suffiicient way to view sealife such as jellyfish and the cavernous caves along the coast, not to mention a great way to introduce some exercise to a beach holiday.
Kayaks are readily available from the promenade in Cala Gonone.
Google map: bit.ly/MzlwWF
You will be familiar with the charity event of trying to squeeze as many people as possible into a Mini. Now imagine that lack of personal space but in a beach setting. What you are visualising is the renowned La Pelosa beach at the north-western tip of Sardinia. A triangle of glowing white sand set below a watchtower and surrounded by water with the clarity and colours of the Caribbean.
It is visual perfection and it is very, very popular. It is also rather small. In high summer you will find that every inch is covered by either a towel or a lounger. If there is not space to lay a towel, sun worshippers simply stand on the sand (looking very stylish as is the Italian way). If there is no space to stand on the sand they stand in the sea. It is a spectacle to behold and you must visit but unless you are planning to get there very early in the morning don’t bother bringing your towel and parasol.
La Pelosa, Stintino, Sardinia
Google map: bit.ly/QbKtHw
If you're visiting the eastern coast of Sardinia and fancy a change from the crowded beaches of the coast in high season, swimming in river pools is a tranquil alternative.
We found a wonderful cool pool to swim in on the way to the well known gorge of Gola di Gorroppu.
You drive from Dorgali towards Gola di Gorroppu and park the car when the track runs out, then cross the footbridge and walk on the right of the river in the direction of the gorge.
After about 15 minutes, the path forks - the right fork will lead you past a barrier into the national park and on towards the gorge, the left fork leads you downhill towards the river, where you can find big boulders and deep river pools to swim in.
After fighting our way through the crowded beaches in August it made a refreshing change, but sadly we didn't quite make the gorge which is a sight in itself.
On the way back, just short of the Dorgali road, you might like to stop for a drink or meal at the hotel Sant'Elene which serves Sardinian specialities and has a terrace with an amazing view over the valley.
Listed as one of Sardinia's nest beaches, Spiaggia della Pelosa is about an hour's drive from Alghero up to the north-west coast. It's a dreamy crescent of white sand and sparkling emerald water guarded by an ancient stone watchtower. It's very popular in summer though, so be prepared for traffic jams. The nearest town of Stintino is a little port that makes a nice stop for lunch.
on the SP 34 road, past Stintino
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