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The whole of Sardinia provides good cruising, with miles of pristine white beaches. North Sardinia is the most popular area, rich with anchorages, while South Sardinia is useful for cruisers traveling east or west through the Mediterranean. The western and eastern coasts have their attractions but are largely seen as a means of travel from N to S. They offer quiet cruising, especially on the east side, with few other yachts. Alghero and Cagliari are good destinations and good wintering spots.
Sardinia Winds. The sunny season is late May to early October, with only occasional interruptions of unsettled weather. Summer winds between Corsica and Sardinia of F7 in the Bonifacio Strait are quite common, and F9 not unknown. The Mistral sometimes blows as far as S Sardinia, and into Cagliari. Otherwise, quite brisk NW afternoon summer sea breezes blow on the west coasts, with SE summer sea breezes reaching reach F6 or F7 on the E coast from Olbia southwards. Frequent winter mistrals threaten the west coasts, but in South Sardinia, winter cruising in periods of settled weather is feasible, although the usual unsettled weather threat - of fierce winds - means that it's prudent to stay within short distance of shelter.
Sardinia - When to Sail. During peak season (French and Italian holidays; mid-July to late August) the cruising area between Corsica and Sardinia becomes over-crowded. Marina prices above €50 for 10m are normal, and in the Costa Smeralda much higher, with Porto Cervo taking the prize for the highest charges in the world (several hundred euros overnight for a 10m yacht). Luckily, free space (free of cost too) can usually be found in the many nearby anchorages, although some of these buzz with jet ski and RIB activity. Porto Pozzo is RIB alley morning and evening with visitors commuting to and from the Maddalena national park. Charges on laid moorings (except in Porto Cervo) are reasonable. Away from the Costa Smeralda marinas are far better value, but busy, and booking ahead is advised. If you need a marina for fuel or water, a temporary berth is usually available around mid-day. The shoulder seasons (the further from the peak the better) are still busy, but cruising is then much more relaxed. Again, book ahead to guarantee space.
Harbours. If you are making a circuit, anti-clockwise is usually easiest. Harbour facilities and plans are available on line in Pagine Azzurre (opens a new page).
Anchorages. Tony MS, of the Cruising Association, has provided an excellent list of anchorages around the island. These can be seen as a "comment" to this page for those logged in to the site.
NE Sardinia is enormously popular in peak season; many islands, many good and sheltered anchorages, beautiful beaches, strong winds but flat water, good food, and some of the smartest resorts in the world with big fashion on display. The really attractive part of the coast starts about 10nm SE of Olbia and stretches over some 40nm to the NW (if you ignore all the ins and outs). Every mile or two there's another beach to anchor off, an inlet to poke into, a marina, pontoon or quay to peer at to see if there's any space available. Explore - it's fun. A few highlights (there's much more) of the NE facing coast are:
Olbia is a working town and port, but with good facilities. It has a good, but fairly expensive marina suitable for wintering and live aboard on the southern shore of the harbour due south of the ferry terminal. There is also a yacht club (may find a berth), and a quay which is nominally charged for but is usually free. Good provisioning. The major attraction is a newly completed museum of Roman galleys found not many years ago when building a new road. There have been reports of boats broken into when at anchor near the town.
Near Olbia there are many anchorages to suit most wind directions.
Costa Smeralda, where the super-rich come to display. Set up by the Aga Khan in the early 1960's, this jagged piece of granite coastline between Cugnana and Cannigione is now home to some discreet and very expensive real estate, high fashion shops, and in season, beautifully turned out people in expensive cafés. Check prices before using quays, marinas and buoys; very high charges are common in high season, though sometimes not collected at all in low season.
Cala di Volpe. Well worthwhile spending a free night at anchor just to admire the most wondrous collection of boats/ships worth more than the GDP of many countries. Beware the (marked) rock deep into the bay.
Porto Cervo. The marina (there are others) at the centre of the Costa Smeralda. Super-yachts on display. By all means motor in and look around, but a 10m yacht staying in high season will be asked some hundreds of euros to stay overnight; a little less on the moorings. No anchoring permitted. Supermarket, smart shops, fascinating architecture - all very posh.
Cannigione at the head of Golfo di Arzechena is an attractive small town, with good shopping. It has a well sheltered and spacious (but weedy in places) anchorage, good value managed buoys, a marina, and quays. This is a useful base from which to explore the area. Reasonable shopping and chandlers.
La Magdalena Nature Reserve is an archipelago off the coast, with permission to enter for a fee required for the area. Park rangers regularly check payments. If moorings are not laid in Posidonia areas, anchoring clear of the sea grass is permitted. There are some superb anchorages, which may be busy by day, but often quiet at night. Also quaysides and pontoons. La Gavetta harbour on the largest island (Maddalena) is worth a night or two.
Golfo de Saline is one of many bays with good holding around the Maddalenas and adjacent mainland. It has an active sailing school and is a good place to ride out a Mistral.
Porto Pollo. The bay of Porto Pollo has to be one of the most windy in the region. It attracts legions of windsurfers who do not always appreciate moored yachts - so choose your spot carefully. Tough windsurfers enjoy the waves to the windward side of the peninsula, wimps stick to the flat water lee. There are some buoys; use if possible as holding is patchy.
Northern Capes. The picturesque nothern headlands are best appreciated as a land trip but are impressive from seaward. The granite rocks have been carved into fantastic shapes by sand erosion in the regular Westerly F6 to F8 which often blows through the straits. Windy alley indeed.
Santa Teresa di Gallura, the ferry port for Bonifacio, has a marina, reasonable local shopping, and good nearby beaches, one of which, Baia Marmorata - just east - makes a good and attractive fair weather anchorage among wind eroded rocks.
NW Sardinia is the 45 nm long sweep of coast from Santa Teresa di Gallura to Alghero, neatly punctuated every 15nm or so by small marinas, some of which are rather isolated but cheap.
Isola Rossa. The first part of the coast up to the marina and small holiday development of Isola Rossa is a harsh granite coast with no shelter. Then a sweep of brilliant white sand curves most of the way to the next marina
Castelsardo is a small town with adequate shopping, and an excellent value marina with travel lift and hard 15 minutes walk away. The place is very quiet in winter, but Porto Torres is only about 15nm away. Good for wintering or summer [pause although rather distant from Alghero airport.
Porto Torres is a bustling small ferry town with a convenient marina and good variety of shops. Ferries to Genoa. From here consider an inland trip (bus, train) to Sassari.
Sassari is the regional capital, and many would say the most interesting town in Sardinia. The mediaeval quarter is all alleys and piazzas clustered around the inevitable cathedral (duomo). If you're in the area late May, check the date of the Ascension - when the stirring Cavalcata takes place. Horsemanship is the theme, with parades, decorated costumes, dashing equestrian feats and traditional song and dance in one of the piazzas afterwards. Visit the Sarda Museum with its amazing collection of Nuraghic artefacts. The Nuragh peoples were advanced Neolithic - bronze age folk, who built enduring giant stone fortresses which remain as their outstanding monument.
Stintino is a small fishing village which offers a crowded marina, an anchorage and a 'no cost' town quay which may have space and a small hard with crane .
Asinara is an island (once a penal colony) is now a nature reserve. Access is controlled, and visitor's moorings are available off the east coast.
Passages inside Isola Asinara. Pas.Della Pelosa (2.5m) and Pas.Dei Fornelli (4.4m) are useful and interesting short cuts inside Asinara. Both should only be attempted when there's no westerly swell. Pelosa is particularly beautiful, with expanses of sandy bottom, beautiful turquoise water, and some rather lovely beaches and an anchorage on the south side.
Alghero is a busy fishing port with several marina “concessions” and strong Catalan connections. Fine beaches curving around to Fertilia make it a good holiday destination, but this remains a lively place all year. There are good restaurants, and a lovely old town with the usual maze of alleys and piazzas clustered around a central cathedral. There are several places of historic interest nearby, one of which is the town of Sassari, mentioned above. Less historic, but just as much fun, is the winery of Stella and Mosca near Fertilia, which offers wine tasting. The two neighbouring town marinas, Aquatica and St Elmo, are good for wintering. Live aboards favour St Elmo. A further wintering marina in the area is Marina ser Mar. Ryanair fly year round to Stansted from Alghero airport, and additional charters fly through the summer. Many yachts have wintered afloat here although some swell does get into the harbour. Shopping is a bit variable with a rather poor produce market. Best might be the IperStanda on the road to Fertilia. There are chandlers, but not as comprehensive as in Cagliari. Internet cafes abound but no WiFi (in 2009).
Fertilia is a few miles NNW of Alghero. It's a more protected place to winter with two yards, both with cranes. Porto Fertilia, behind the sea wall, is a new yard. The older yard, further in, was owned by one Cesare, who had a history of disputes about prices while boats were out of the water in 2006 and 2007 - get a written agreement before hauling to avoid mis-understndings.
The 80 nm or so miles south from Alghero is often (unfairly?), seen mainly as a coast of transit, as is the east coast between the same latitudes. Each is punctuated by occasional quiet marinas and anchorages.
Bosa is a pleasant small town with fine beaches. The marina is well sheltered by a pier and dredged to 4m. It is good value, with water, electricity and finger berths. A 65t travel-lift is useful if wintered afloat in Alghero and wanting a lift and a scrub before moving on. Bus to Alghero 1hour.
Capo Mannu has anchorages either side depending on the wind direction.
Capo San Marco has an anchorage on its east side, recently populated with 40 to 50 public moorings just off the Punic-Roman remains of Tharros; it is a useful stop on the way south For a longer stay there is a marina at The marina at Torre Grande has been reported to be rather run-down, Nearest shops are a short bus ride away. Check with the marina because the entrance is prone to silting.
Buggeru is an isolated and cheap marina which appears to be prone to silting. Summer 2010 reports gave 1.5m at the entrance, but in season the entrance is usually dredged to 3m.
This is the coast for migratory yachts going to Sicily or the Balearics. It is much less busy than the north of the island, but good for a week's quiet pottering, with good wintering options. Inside the islands of San Pietro and Sant' Antioco arrivals from and departures to the Balearics have a choice of three good value for money locations.
Carloforte on San Pietro seems to be the favourite, with two marinas and a free town quay. It's quite lively in summer. Go to the small museum with exhibits of tuna 'matanzas' where the tuna were led into traps and killed as well as mining, shipping and peasant culture. Don't miss the daily 9.30am mass held at a small church in town, not the larger one off the Piazza. There is no organ and the mainly women worshippers have such beautiful voices that carry out onto the street. Other marinas in the area are Calasetta on Sant'Antioco, and Portoscuso on the mainland. The latter is a small but cheap, in a working, no nonsense town and port, with an old boatyard being renovated.
Teulada (OK) and Perd'e Sali (silted entrance, check draft limits) are a couple of marinas en route to Cagliari on the south coast, and there are a number of attractive day anchorages too. Of particular interest is the waterside archaeological site at Nora, on the Capo di Pula, a small peninsula south of Porto Colombo. This abandoned Phoenician city is partly submerged, but there's a well preserved theatre, some mosaics, and a clear town layout to be seen.
Cagliari is the bee's knees. Although it's a large industrial centre with 250,000 population, the centre of the city is unaffected. There's a wonderful old citadel (a mediaeval maze) which is exceptionally well preserved. Just below it is the main shopping and café area, in which the (very smartly turned out) locals parade in the evenings. With good restaurants and a nearby airport, Cagliari is a good wintering choice, especially for live-aboards who appreciate a lively local scene.
Villasimus has a well equipped marina, moderately (or "very", depending on your point of view) expensive, with travel lift at the base of a peninsula in the SE corner of Sardinia. Anchorages off beautiful sandy beaches outside this small holiday town are a good alternative in all except southerlies. Anchoring right by the marina is prohibited. Provisions at the nearby camp site and, recently, at the marina itself where there is also a bar and restaurant, small chandlers, ATM and pharmacy.
This is also a coast used for transit but with some useful and pleasant ports of call. The further south the quieter it is. Summer afternoon sea breezes can give strong headwinds if going south but there are several stops en route.
Ottiolu is a tailor made resort with a marina, described as "private", 20nm S of Olbia
La Caletta is quiet little town and port with an entrance that can be exciting when arriving (almost inevitably in Summer) downwind with the strong sea breeze but sheltered in a northerly. Supermarket, restaurants and a yacht club which accepts visiting yachts. You can anchor off. Alternatively there is quay and pontoon space in harbour - no charges.
Santa Maria Navaresse has a pretty marina right under steep cliffs with a good anchorage off in the lee of nearby islands with good swimming. This is a useful base to become a tourist for a day boat trip to the Grotta Bue Marino, impressive caves. Facilities are good with washing machines. Good English spoken.
Arbatax. There's good shelter in this small ferry port (Civitavecchia and Genoa), which is also geared to fishing and drilling rig support. There's free quay space, or a marina. Anchoring restrictions apply - check first. A shipyard covers all types of repairs, and there are frequent buses to Cagliari. A suitable place for wintering afloat or ashore.
Porto Corallo. A neat marina In the middle of nowhere! Quiet in season and very quiet off. A good tavern with takeaway. In season shopping at the campsite very close but better a fair walk away.
Reviewed Dec 2015