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Southern Sardinia

Wild winds, mysterious towers, romantic little fishing towns and exotic beaches await you, at the very south of Sardinia.

Wild winds, mysterious towers, romantic little fishing towns and exotic beaches await you, at the very south of Sardinia.

If you are interested in Southern Sardinia and would like to make enquiries about a boat, please contact our Booking Sailor, Kristýna, who will be happy to help you with the choice: +420 737 280 789, e-mailkristyna@yachting.com. You can also choose a boat using our online search engine.

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Just like its northern counterpart, the southern coastline of Sardinia is very windy and this is especially true of the Bay of Cagliari and the area around the Sant' Antioco peninsula. The coastline is greener and more rugged than its northern neighbor and offers many beautiful sandy beaches which are often compared to those in the Caribbean. The area also has less people during the high season. If you are patient and wait for more stable weather conditions, you will find many wonderful cities and towns here, top of the list being Cagliari and Carloforte, along with several interesting little islands and countless safe anchorages. An extremely pleasant bonus is the Capo Carbonara Marine Reserve, which spreads out along the southeast of Sardinia from the island of Serpentara to Capo Boi. You will be amazed by the beautiful sandy beaches and incredibly varied sea life, which you can enjoy with a snorkel and some diving equipment. Great diving and fishing also await you near the islands of Sant' Antioco and San Pietro.

View of the town of Cagliari View of the town of Cagliari

The 10 most beautiful locations in this region

  1. Cagliari old town
  2. The beach and coastline in the Chia area
  3. Carloforte town and harbour
  4. The ancient town of Nora
  5. Diving and fishing off the island of Sant' Antioco
  6. The Port of Buggerru
  7. Laguna Molentargius
  8. Capo Carbonara marine reserve
  9. Costa Rei coastline
  10. The village of Sarroch and the Sa Domu ‘e s'Orcu (la casa dell'orco) nuraghe

Southern Sardinia is a frequent anchorage for yachts sailing to the Balearic Islands or Sicily. Sailors from the Balearic Islands have a choice of three high quality, yet reasonably priced anchorages on the islands of San Pietro and Sant' Antioco. Things are much less hurried on the southern coastline of Sardinia than the north, so this location is great for enjoying a peaceful cruise. The jewel in the crown of this area is the ancient, monumental city of Cagliari, which really is worth exploring. Most cruises also start here, thanks to the international airport and charter companies being based here.

Interesting bays

Baia Carbonara

According to the wind, you drop anchor here on the eastern or western side. The large bay is, however, most attractive as a stop-off point for lunch and a swim. The bottom is sandy-shingly providing various strengths for an anchor hold. 

Porto Malfatano

Porto Malfatano is a collection of several small bays and recesses to the southwest, together making up a very attractive anchorage. The dominant feature here is the beautiful tower jutting out over Capo Malfatano. Yachts that anchor in Cagliari often come here for the weekend. 

The Milky Way from Capo Malfatano The Milky Way from Capo Malfatano

Porto Malfatano

A large bay to the east of Capo Malfatano. It offers a good place to shelter, although you will be anchoring in the outer part of the bay due to its depth. The bottom is muddy-grassy and holds anchors well. 

Teredda

You can anchor here on both sides of the island depending on the wind. Anchors hold well.

Eastern bay

You can anchor here in 4–6 m on sand and grass. It offers good cover from the east, but beware of squalls that enter from the nearby valley.

All three bays are exposed to katabatic wind from the mountains at night.

As in the north of Sardinia, the NW wind prevails here, but the SW wind is also common, which can reach 5–6 on the Beaufort scale (BFT) in the Gulf of Cagliari and near Sant' Antioco Island. Numerous storms often occur here, but usually, they do not last longer than 2 or 3 hours. For the rest of the year, winds blow in mainly from the northeast and northwest, but southern winds also appear. With strong winds from any direction, the sea near Cape Sperone and Cape Carbonara is turbulent.

Cagliari

The beautiful city of Cagliari was the main commercial hub of Sardinia during Roman times. It has retained this status to this very day, thanks to the busy harbour and airport. Despite its size, the city centre manages to be both cosy and compact, made up of a maze of lanes which lead you all the way up to the hill with the tall citadel. Our tour of this harbour city starts by the quay, where the tree-lined arcades of the beautiful Via Roma run. At its end is the large Piazza Mattaotti square, with its spectacular town hall, the Palazzo Comunale and its two towers. From the port, the street Viale Regina Marghareta leads you to the very attractive Castello district, surrounded by massive walls. You will find the renowned citadel, the Bastione San Remy in this district. A view of the city harbour and the surrounding lagoons opens out for you at the top. It is also definitely worth visiting the two massive early 14th century Pisan defence towers of Torre San Pancrazio and Torre dell' Elefante. Each with wonderful views of the surrounding area. Anyone with even a passing interest in the culture and history of Sardinia, absolutely must visit the Archaeological Museum on Piazza dell' Arsenale. You will discover Phoenician, Carthaginian and Roman jewellery as well as other finds, along with an extremely rare collection of bronze Nuraghe statues. Then, there is the Museum of Anatomical Wax Figures, or the carefully compiled Museum of Asian Culture. Nearer the piazza, you will be impressed by the magnificent Roman amphitheatre dating back to the 2nd century AD, where you can still see intact rows of seats and underground passages with pits for the animals. Ladies in the crew will certainly appreciate the nearby botanical gardens. You get there via Ignazio da Laconi. On arrival you will find more than 500 species of Mediterranean tropical flora and you will be able to cool off pleasantly in the shimmering afternoon heat.

A panoramic view of the town of Cagliari and marina A panoramic view of the town of Cagliari and marina

Portus Karalis Marina

This is located near the city centre in the inner harbour. It provides 140 berths with mooring and great shelter. As recently as 2015, no showers had been reported there. There is space for mega yachts in the NW harbour basin.

Marina del Sole

About a 1.5 km from the centre, are two marinas, east of the yacht club. The cheaper is Marina del Sole, a friendly, some may say slightly chaotic family marina. It offers 220 berths and 30 berths for visitors. An employee in a dinghy will assist you when sailing in. Marina del Sole is a popular place to stay the winter and for sailors who live on their boats.

Marina di Sant' Elmo

This offers one pontoon between Marina del Sole and Marina di Bonaria. It is somewhat more expensive than the first but is run very efficiently. Both marinas have sail makers and fitters. 300 berths with 30 berths for visitors, all with moorings. Marina employees will help you with anchoring. The marina offers excellent shelter from all directions.

Carloforte

Carloforte is very popular among yachtsmen. It offers five marinas and harbours and a town breakwater which is free of charge. Its centre is truly beautiful. Small, elegant houses in shades of pastel with wrought iron balconies line the narrow streets that lead to the main boulevard running along the coastline. Many of the locals are of Venetian ancestry, having settled here after fleeing a Venetian colony in Tunisia from persecution. Many, in turn, were later kidnapped by Tunisian pirates and the Sardinian government had to pay a substantial ransom to get them back. Carloforte is a fishing centre specialising in tuna, but is also a lively tourist town that retains its old character. Visit the local museum which displays the tuna nets that were used for traditional tuna harvesting. The museum also has exhibits of mining equipment, rural art and ship building. You don’t even need to get up early to enjoy a beautiful mass at the small chapel in town, beginning every day at 09:30. The beautiful female voices of the churchgoers drift all the way out into the street. Don’t mistake this chapel for the larger church on the piazza. 

La Bobba Beach in Carloforte, on the island of San Pietro La Bobba Beach in Carloforte, on the island of San Pietro

Public town breakwater

The town breakwater in Carloforte is free of charge, but your stay there is strictly limited to 48 hours. Sail in bows-to or stern-to, but at present there are no moorings here. The breakwater offers 20 berths.

Sifredi Marina

This is located at the end of the northern windbreak. The marina offers 300 berths with moorings, showers, and toilets. Two pontoons with the same operator can by found by the southernmost windbreak.

Marinatour Marina

This operator owns two pontoons—Mahon, just south of the Sifredi Marina, and the other, Nautico, by the town breakwater. It offers 200 berths, moorings, showers, toilets, and WiFi. Water and electricity are available at all berths.

Nora

With an abundance of ancient ruins, this town was founded by the Phoenicians in the 9th century BC, and from that time comes also, the famous Nora Stone, on which the name of Sardinia first appeared. On the seashore, are the remains of the ancient Levant Spa with a fabulously preserved mosaic floor featuring stars and roses. A number of equally ancient spas are located at the site, with unconventional, spacious sea baths and massive, preserved walls and portions of vaults. The remains of the 2nd century theatre are amazing, where giant amphorae were discovered under the stage. All excavations are perfectly marked and lie right at the seashore. The site is also surrounded by beaches all the way to cape Capo Spartivento with its lighthouse.

Medieval ruins on the island of Nora with the lighthouse in the background Medieval ruins on the island of Nora with the lighthouse in the background

Chia

You will find the settlement of Chia about 11 km southwest of Nora. Its main feature is the coastal tower Torre di Chia, which stands on the site of the ancient Phoenician settlement of Bithia. This was only discovered in 1939, when strong breakers carried away the concealing layers of sand and silt. A Punic-Romanesque shrine was discovered, along with a burial ground dating back to the 4th century BC. You can still see the gravestones, dotted along the coastline.

The beach on the island of Chia to the south of Sardinia The beach on the island of Chia to the south of Sardinia

Pula

The famous Pula resort is situated near the ancient town of Nora. The colourful little houses will certainly catch your attention. If you have any golfers on board, they will appreciate a walk to the prestigious Is Molas golf course, where international tournaments are also held. Capo di Pula protrudes into the sea near Pula, a cape which is celebrated from the mineralogical point of view due to its abundance of zeolite, flint, and calcite.

Sant' Antioco

The town was probably founded by the Carthaginians on the ruins of what was originally the Phoenician residence of Sulcis, dating back to the 8th century BC. When sailing into the town harbour, you will notice the town’s prominent feature, the ancient Roman, Ponte Romano Bridge. There are also some very nice beaches in the surrounding area.

Calasetta

In their pilot observations about Italy, Rod and Lucinda Heikell said that Calasetta is a pleasant town. It was founded in the 12th century, but probably did not involve itself all that much in the affairs of the island. It is located in the northwest of the island where you will find berths for 300 boats in its harbour. The surrounding area is famous for its wine-making, the most famous variety being a red and rosé Carignan, which you can sample in the cellars on Via Roma.

San Pietro

This untamed island forms the marine part of the San Pietro canal. Its attractiveness lies in a number of small bays and niches that, depending on wind direction, can serve as a very pleasant day anchorage. It is necessary to expect a number of surrounding cliffs and rocks, just as you would off the coast of La Maddalena. The little island of Piana at the northwest corner of the island, is where you will find a beautiful, old fishing village that is definitely worth exploring. A similar settlement is located at the northeast of San Pietro itself. The strait between these two islands is very shallow, so it is better to avoid it. The island is named after St Peter, who was allegedly marooned here and later taught the locals how to catch tuna.

Sant' Antioco

Is a rocky island surrounded by cliffs which are only interrupted in the northeast by low salt flats that extend all the way to the opposite mainland. The island is connected to this mainland by road. Three ports are available to dock at here—Calasetta at the northwestern tip, Sant' Antioco in the east, and Port Ponte Romano on the artificially built mainland neck. When sailing in poor weather, watch out along the northeast of the island and at the Cape of Sperone, where there can be strong, heaving seas.

The eating habits of people from southern Sardinia do not differ greatly from those of the north: They enjoy a rural and fish-based cuisine. You have the best chance of discovering the pastoral ingredients of Sardinian gastronomy if you anchor your boat safely in one of the picturesque harbours and then, set out to explore the inland. You will enjoy some genuine rarities there. The game and mutton, although superbly prepared, might not surprise you. But the horse or donkey meat just might. The food in the south of Sardinia is simply more exotic and colourful than in the north. Africa is just 120 NM away and you can feel this in San Pietro, where couscous is a staple ingredient of the daily menu. Even the now traditional Sardinian dish of crispy flatbread known as carasau seems almost African. The long summers, coupled with the short winters yields a plentiful fruit harvest; the fruit is larger, juicier, and tastier than in the more northern parts of Europe. Even bananas grow here!

An evening walk along the shore with an ice cream cone may seem quite routine to you, but try the popular brioche bun filled with ice cream for breakfast! The Phonecians produced wine here on a large scale, and today’s residents are in no way behind their ancient ancestors. In southern Sardinia a reasonably priced standard wine by the glass, is delicious. Ask around and you should be able to buy a litre (or three), direct from the vintners who live there.

If you sail from Cagliari while on your cruise and have some scuba equipment on board, stop off for a while in the Gulf of Cagliari. If you are also an enthusiast of history and World War Two, you have just found yourself in possibly the best known location of its kind. Many warship and freighter wrecks chased by British submarines can be found here. The wrecks are usually very well preserved, lie at a shallow depth, and are surrounded by the colourful sea life.

The wreck of the warship Romagna, Gulf of Cagliari, Capitana

In August 1943, when the skipper of the Romagna carrying a valuable cargo of weapons and fuel received an inaccurate report about a minefield along its course, it was already too late. The Romagna hit a mine and was immediately split in half. Both parts of the ship sank to the shallow sandy bottom, about 30–40 m below, 800 m apart. Today, with the right equipment, we can admire the well preserved wreck, literally wrapped in and surrounded by marine flora. Your guides here will be giant groupers, red scorpion fish and stingrays. The view of the huge and perfectly preserved rudder and propeller is breathtaking, a great experience particularly for present-day skippers.

The wreck of the freighter Entella, Gulf of Cagliari, Solanas

A convoy of three ships, the Entella, Loredan, and Isonzo set sail on the morning of April 10th, 1943, with a cargo of coal to the La Maddalena archipelago when it was attacked by the British submarine, the HMS Safari. The first two torpedoes sunk the Loredan and the Isonzo, but the skipper of the Entella performed an ingenious manoeuvre towards the coastline, thus avoiding the third torpedo and saving the whole crew. However, the submarine returned the next day and sunk the Entella. You can now find a pile of twisted iron on the seabed, the outlines of the hull, and black coal scattered all around. This is a very shallow dive, no deeper than 15 m and because of this, the site is beautifully lit by sunlight. This undersea world is diverse, with moray eels, octopuses, barracuda, and even a lobster here or there.

Sant' Antioco

You will find the beautiful sandy bay of Cala Lunga on this island. Tucked away on the coastline a little way from Nido dei Passeri and offering beautiful underwater scenery with an extremely colourful aquatic world of fish right near the coastline at shallow depths. Apart from shoals of blue fin tuna, you can also say ciao to the dolphins or giant manta rays nearer the island's shores. The seabed is usually overgrown with posidonia seagrass, so you will feel like you are swimming in a charming underwater garden.

Sardinia has long been famous for its bluefin tuna fishing. It was traditionally caught in fixed nets known as mattanza which very often, posed a serious navigational hazard. However, these nets are no longer set for catching tuna as much as they were in the past, due to the decline in tuna numbers. The tuna fish have changed their migration route and now avoid the coastline. Their numbers have also dwindled in some remaining fishing grounds, due to overfishing. Strict quotas apply for catching this prized fish. One of the last mattanza festivals is known as Giro Tonno and is held every year in Carloforte. Conditions for underwater fishing are very good along the Sardinian coastline, but the use of harpoons and scuba equipment is forbidden.

The islands of Sant' Antioco and San Pietro

These two islands to the southwest of Sardinia are perfect for fishing. The waters here, are a home to moray eels, groupers, sea bream, ruffe, and above all, an abundance of tuna. You can also catch sight of dolphins. If you don’t come fully equipped, it is easy to rent some fishing gear, for example in Carloforte or Sant' Antioco. For a fee, you might also go out to fish with one or two of the experienced, local fishermen.

Cagliari

The Bay of Cagliari offers ample opportunities for fishing trips, including night fishing or fishing at dawn or dusk. Apart from the traditional tuna, you can also net barracuda, sea bream, or perch. But you will only come across sea bream and perch from December to August, sometimes only until March. If you fancy landing and tasting your own squid or octopus, plan a trip here for the colder months.

The article is being prepared.

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