The name Sardinia might not mean much to everyone; those who visit though either want to sing it’s praises, or keep it as a personal hidden gem. Lying just north of Tunisia, south of the French island of Corsica, and off the west coast of Italy, it makes for a fantastic yacht charter destination, even if somewhat unusual. Those heading for the wind, waves and Mediterranean sunshine will want to know a few things about it – how to get there, what to do and what to see, whether you have Sardinia as just a stopover or a destination in itself.
The busiest airport in Sardinia, Cagliari Airport, has recently been renovated and is located a convenient 7km from the centre and has great public transport to take you to the centre. As Sardinia’s biggest city, it’s a perfect place to shake off the journey, kick back with a cocktail and rest a bit before chartering a yacht from its competitively priced agencies. After this, hundreds of kilometres of emerald coasts with white sand beaches and cute little towns for mooring overnight. Olbia is another noteworthy location if you want to fit Corsica into your schedule too, and perfect for a return trip.
Sardinia is Italy’s second largest island, with roughly 400 miles of easily navigable coastline, which conventional wisdom suggests takes around two weeks to circumnavigate. If you have less time to spare, consider a North-South or South-North between Olbia and Cagliari. Taking a Western route will offer amazing sunsets on some of Sardinia’s 300 sunny days a year. The Northern area alone could keep you occupied for weeks, so a one way trip from Olbia to Santa Teresa Gallura with some stops on the Maddalena islands is perfect to pack in as much as possible in a short stretch.
The North East Coast and Maddalena Archipelago aren’t to be missed. The majority of the islands are roadless and uninhabited, perfect for a BBQ stop-off, or some isolated strolls on its many breath-taking beaches. The island of Caprera, was once home, or more accurately, prison to the Italian General Garibaldi, who liked it so much that he came back to retire there. As a general rule in Sardinia, but particularly for islands, tourist areas and city stops will often accept credit cards, but when you want authentic island cuisine, it’s better to have some cash on hand for Sardinian family-run restaurants, small wineries and artisan products.
When it comes to beaches, there’s no shortage, and most of the fun is in being blown away by the ones you didn’t see coming. But, tucked into a secluded cove on Caprera is the almost laughably beautiful waterfront Cala Serena, again, known for the imprisonment of another famous Italian, Mussolini. It is only accessible on the island by foot or by boat from Cala Garibaldi, where you’ll find pure white sand flanked by glowing shrubland and rocky cliffs, and is one of the true “must see” places in Sardinia and surrounding islands. Another standout beach in Caprera is Cala Coticcio, a with blindingly bright waters calmed by a narrow peninsula surrounding it, it has a true lost-in-paradise feel. Asinara island is a short sail away, it too, was a prison and leper colony, but is now one of Italy’s most inviting national parks.
For some social experience the town of Sassari is a short trip inland from Porto Torres. It’s culturally rich despite being relatively off the tourist radar, even though it has the second largest population. Sassari is known for its great art galleries and summer nights when there are often events on in the main Piasa Italia.
The shoulder months, bordering the intense summer heat are the best times to charter a yacht, the temperatures are more pleasant. Even if the days are slightly shorter, the benefit of longer nights offers an immense stargazing experience with little light pollution to block out the night sky. Temperatures start to dip from 27C in September to an average of 23 towards the end of the month as rain also increases (by Sardinian standards). Beginning a trip in May gives some time to adapt to the temperatures and offers longer days to lounge on the deck.
One final tip for sailing in Sardinia is to take a step back in time and explore its rugged interior for at least one day! It might be hard to tear yourself away from the beaches and towns of its beautiful coast, but there’s another side of Sardinia that can’t be missed.