summertime in sardinia.

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To continue our obsession with Italy, we decided to book a three day getaway to Sardinia at the start of August.

It’s a much bigger island than we first thought, with 3 airports to choose from, so after a bit of research we settled on exploring the eastern beaches around Dorgali which are known for their dramatic limestone cliffs, turquoise water and caves.

We decided to book the 5.45am flight on Saturday morning to maximise our time in Sardinia. This seemed like a good idea when booking (we would be there by 9am and on the beach by midday), but we soon realised the error of our ways when we factored in taking the night bus to Blackfriars to catch the train to Gatwick to arrive at the airport by 4am. The 1.30am alarm, after arriving home from Friday night drinks at 11pm (plus packing time), was not a great start. Nonetheless, by 4am we were wide awake and excited to hit Italian soil.

We flew into Olbia in north-eastern Sardinia and picked up our little smart car to drive down to Cala Gonone where we were staying. After conquering an hour long line to get the car and finally figuring out how to stop it from beeping continuously (by shutting my door properly), we were on the road. It was a little nerve-wracking driving on the opposite side of the road, in Italy, without GPS, but we managed! That is, until we realised the highway we needed to get onto was closed for roadworks. Thanks for the head’s up Google maps. After a quick pitstop in the nearest service station, we re-routed and were on the highway out of Olbia.

Two and a bit hours later we made it to our hotel. We may have missed a few turnoffs (Micu helpfully suggested doing a u-turn on the 6 lane highway!) and taken a slightly scenic route, but we made it in one piece and even managed to find a carpark right near our hotel. As soon as we spied the white sand and turquoise blue ocean, all was forgotten.

After checking in, we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the little town of Cala Gonone, relaxing on the beach, and organising a boat to drive along the coast on Sunday.

Cala Gonone
Cala Gonone beach life

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Salted caramel and yoghurt gelato
Cheeky afternoon salted caramel gelato from Gelateria Fancello
Fish cakes
Dinner at La Favorita Ristorante Pizzeria – first course of fish cakes with fennel salad
Squid ink pasta with prawns
Squid ink pasta with prawns
Dinner with a view
Dinner with a view

We woke up bright and early on Sunday to collect our boat from the marina. After a quick lesson on how to drive and anchor it, we set off, speeding along the coast on the open water. We started at the furthest beach in the gulf, Cala Goloritzé and slowly made our way back towards Cala Gonone, stopping off to swim in the ocean and relax on the beaches along the way.

Enjoying the Blue Grotto
Enjoying the Blue Grotto

Sardinian cliffs Sardinian beaches Limestone cliffs Sardinian cliffs

Cala Goloritze
Cala Goloritze

Me enjoying the sights

Spot the Mountain Goat
Spot the mountain goat
The turquoise waters of Cala Mariolu
The turquoise waters of Cala Mariolu

The turquoise waters of Cala Mariolu

Beachside

Micu driving our boat

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Time to refuel
Time to refuel

Cala Mariolu and Cala Luna were definitely my favourites with their clear turquoise waters and white beaches. We enjoyed Cala Luna so much that we decided to head back on Monday after exploring the Grotta del Bue Marino. The grotto is just south of Cala Gonone and tunnels several kilometres into the mountain. We could only explore the first kilometre as the rest is closed to the public but it was pretty amazing to see the columns and columns of stalactites and stalagmites which are still active and growing.

After the caves we made our way to Cala Luna again. It’s an unusual beach – its high limestone cliffs cut away to form a valley in the middle which is lined by pink oleanders and has a stream running up onto the beach. It’s even home to a few free-roaming beach cows! If you walk further up the beach there are a series of caves and little beaches which can only be reached in low tide. It’s such an incredible setting; no matter where you looked, the scenery was so different and breathtakingly beautiful.

Cala Gonone
Cala Gonone
Inside the Grotto
Inside the opening of the Grotta del Bue Marino

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Cala Luna beach
Cala Luna beach
The valley behind Cala Luna beach
The valley and stream on Cala Luna beach
Beach cows
Beach cows

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Exploring the caves
Exploring the caves

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Farewelling Cala Luna
Farewelling Cala Luna
On the road again
On the road again

After spending three days in the sunshine and on some of the most beautiful beaches I have been to, it was with great sadness that we packed up our little car and made the journey back to Olbia airport. On the flight home we started going through the hundreds of photos we had snapped and began mentally planning a week-long road trip to explore more of Sardinia in summer next year.

© 2014 Fiona Tregeagle.

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