Southern road trip

Now that I’m back from this from this unforgettable trip it is hard to put all the pieces together and form a linear line in order to describe how incredibly surprising this experience was. As much as I would love to show you how it felt like traveling for a week along the coast of Sardinia I can only use my words and some pictures but you really have to see it for yourself as no photograph can actually replace the feeling of exploring/experiencing a whole new world on your own.

I’m saying a whole new world because as you know I’ve been out there for years now looking for particular places and ways to fully enjoy this paradise called Sardinia but every time I get to see some more a new trip takes shape, a new unknown territory puts a spell on me demanding a visit as soon as possible.

One last thing before we start: here in Sardinia people who like hiking, trekking or doing any kind of outdoor sport are usually surprised by the fact that tourists prefer going to the beach instead of travelling around the island exploring its unique variety of landscape and nature but seldom you find concrete suggestions about what to do. I guess we picked the hottest week of the last 3000 years (first week of August) so going to the beach from time to time was inevitable in order to survive 40± degrees but here you go, the alternative coastal route for the ones who are bored to death lying on the beach for 10 days…

Day 1 Padru (Province of Olbia – Tempio)

I’m not a big fan of crowded camping places so I was very happy when I found out about this place called Pinnapena about 10 km from the famous (and very touristic) beach of La Cinta (San Teodoro) right in the middle of the countryside under the hills. 40.000 m² for 2 tents and four people including us not to mention the river flowing on one side, showers (out in the open field), barbecue, fridge and hammocks under the trees makes this place as peaceful, cosy and affordable as possible.

Let me introduce you to my bedroom. As a matter of fact I wasn’t even using my tent…
And the living room leading to ‘Lerno Beach’, the creek flowing right beside the camping

Apart from the relaxing atmosphere of this enchanting place we had another reason to pick this particular camping: abseiling. Charted canyoning and abseiling routes have been multiplied in the last few years in Sardinia but for some of them you need to know some local people who are capable of describing the current conditions of them. Well, we had the pleasure to meet the butcher of Padru (huge fan of canyoning) who told us everything there was to know and since we were there, we bought some ribs for the evening barbecue as well 🙂

The first narrow drop that leads directly to a waterfall which was almost completely out of flowing water as it hadn’t rained for 4 months…


Please forgive us the selfie but finding ourselves in the middle of nowhere at dawn doing abseiling (as we left very early to avoid very high temperatures) made us feel like Indiana Jones
This particular route is called ‘Sas Ragas de Su Duttore‘ and even though it hadn’t rained for months there were still some small ponds at the bottom of the waterfall which we were desperately trying to avoid as we were not wearing wetsuits

Day 3 Capo Comino (Province of Nuoro)

The area of the lighthouse in Capo Comino

Now temperatures were well over 40 degrees and walking activities had to be scheduled in the early or the late hours of the day. As for the rest of the day the wisest decision is to find a place on the beach and jump into the water as frequently as you can.

Being used to seeing thousands of people on the north west shore on the beach it really amazed me that these beaches were not crowded (considering the period) and even when we went further on the south in the vast beaches of Cardedu I thought that eventually I’d lost my mind while I was having a vision of people lying on the sand every 50 (!) meters.

Day 5 Cala Gonone – Codula Fuili – Is Piscinas –  Costa Rei (Province of Nuoro and Cagliari)

Probably this was the longest day of our trip as we woke up at 5 am to find a canyon that leads to a beautiful beach called Cala Fuili.

Codula Fuili (one of the easiest canyoning routes in Sardinia but still a fascinating one with the promise of a cool bath on the beach)

Abseiling in Codula Fuili walking all the way down to the breathtaking beach and the crystal clear water is a perfect example how you enhance your experience in the magnificent coastal area of Sardinia. Being a round trip you can leave your car above the beach and after a couple of hours you are back again after having completed a stunningly beautiful (and short) canyon ready to jump into the sea.

We were both surprised. Walking in the canyon towards Cala Fuili
And since we were heading for the beach why not do this in swimming costumes (boots are compulsory though!!)

After a some time spent on the beach we decided to drive south to a place called ‘Is Piscinas’ which we’d heard of before but wasn’t entirely sure how to get there. After asking around we found out that it was closed to a village called Marina di Gairo and the real name of this unique place of small ponds and even smaller waterfalls is ‘Piscine Naturali di Monte Ferru’ (but it usually goes by Is Piscinas).

It is about a 15 min walk to reach the first little pond where you can have a bath, lie on the rocks under the trees or you can proceed and take a look at the other ones discovering this tiny ‘mountain beaches‘ where a very few people decide to go most likely because they don’t it or they’re worried about walking for a couple of minutes. But don’t worry about it, once you are there just follow the path along the river and you will find your very personal pond under the cool rocks of the mountain.

As we got carried away by this beautiful place and we didn’t have a plan where to stay for the night we thought that going down to Costa Rey we would have found a camping. Well we didn’t. Actually we did but they were all full so let me give you a piece of advice: think ahead if you are on a road trip as in August most of the places are booked or expensive and it might become a bit frustrating not finding a place to stay.

But fear not as one particular solution is always at hand: the beach!

Dawn on one of the beaches of Costa Rey. Usually camping on the beach is forbidden but if you are careful and remove your tent at the first lights of dawn you have a very good chance of not being noticed by the coast guard

Day 7 – Coasteering in Porto Pino (Province of Carbonia – Iglesias)

After a short visit to a friend in Cagliari we managed to book a coasteering trip in Porto Pino. For those who don’t know what coasteering is let me explain briefly. I would call it ‘summer hiking’ as considering the high temperatures in August walking is almost impossible unless there is some water involved. That is where coasteering comes in: imagine wearing your swimming costume, a life vest and a helmet and walking, climbing and jumping into the clearest sea you have ever seen. You don’t have to worry about how hot it is as you are in the water almost all the time and there is no better way the explore the coastline and all the living creatures you will come across during the path.

The sequence of 10 – 12 jumps gives you the possibility to have a completely unexpected perspective of the coastline and most importantly you become a child again and again

Being a relatively new sport in Sardinia there are not many organizations that offer coasteering trips but I’m very happy to have found Maurizio at  Sardinia Wild Coasteering as he is true icon of outdoor activities: an enthusiast, a great guide and a tireless explorer of the wonders of Sardinia.

The second stage of our coasteering trip involved a treasure hunt! The mission to find the missing treasure of the pirates brought us to underground tunnels and tested our abilities in solving riddles. Man,that was another Indiana Jones kinda situation 🙂
The last puzzle: a spectacular 15 m high jump right above the ‘Grotta dei baci’

Day 8 – Sant’Antioco (Province of Carbonia – Iglesias)

The last day of our trip we decided to visit a little island called Sant’Antioco, famous for its beautiful beaches and its rocky coastline. Here I had the same thought as in Capo Comino: beaches are much less crowded here and many of them look like fjords with lots of space for swimming along the cliffs.

Cala lunga
If snorkeling is your thing here you will find everything you can possibly dream of – shallow and deep water, places to dive from and fascinating underwater wildlife
L’arco dei baci (Arch of kisses) forms an inner lake with a very deep spot at the end of it but it is still connected to the outer sea.

We got this far this time but I’m sure if we were to do the same road again we would see completely different things. This is what makes Sardinia truly unique: wherever you go you’ll find something unexpected and even more depending on how far you are willing to go.

So do go to the beach, but then take a look at what is around you. The rest will come as you start walking!

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