Italy's Mediterranean Jewel

La Maddalena to Tavolara. With clear, turquoise wasters and bleached white sandy beaches, Sardinia is a Caribbean dream with Italian Cuisine.

Island of Eccentricities

One of Europe's Last Island Escapes, Sardinia is, as DH Lawrence called it "Different." More than just ice-white coves and translucent seas, its interior beckons with near-alpine forests, ancient ruins and wildlife oddities such as Isola dell’Asinara's blue-eyed donkeys and Giara di Gesturi's wild horses.

La Maddalena


Imagine a Thai-style archipelago in Bahama-blue seas, blessed with Italian cuisine. Welcome to the Maddalena Islands, nature’s gift to yachtsmen. This seven-island chain basks in its own protected marine park, midway between Corsica and Sardinia. Its 50 beaches are ice-white, silky-soft and reassuringly private. Half are accessible only by boat.
The islands of Razzoli, Budelli and Spargi share 50km of pristine coastline, yet are inhabited only by shearwaters, finches and gulls. Swim ashore through turquoise shallows to the five beaches of Santa Maria Island. Yours will be the only footsteps there. On beachy Santo Stefano Island a world of exploration awaits. It was barred to boats until 2008 as a NATO marine base.

Liscia di Vacca


Liscia di Vacca is the Tiffany ring of beaches: pretty, petite and priceless. This Sardinian spiaggia is just 100m in length. Yet its rare colour scheme – aquamarine seas, pink granite rocks, golden sands – make it a rare gem.

Shockingly, Liscia di Vacca translates locally as 'beach of the cows'. Sardinian shepherds used to feed their herds on the sand, where Eres swimsuits and Orlebar Brown shorts are now the norm. It’s the one Costa Smeralda beach where guests are advised against using their yacht’s Jacuzzi. Why? The limpid sea here is simply like a bath.

Porto Cervo


Porto Cervo appears on the Costa Smeralda coastline like a decadent mirage. This elegant harbour distils the ultimate in luxury lifestyle into one petite package. The Passeggiata promenade winds through the resort, over wooden bridges and turquoise creeks, past restaurant terraces and blissful boutiques.

The surrounding Costa Smeralda was the luxurious brainchild of the Aga Khan. His Highness was smitten by the clarity of the local water, which warm currents melt into an emerald hue. The dozen beaches around Porto Cervo are a seventh heaven of ice-white coves and translucent seas, with zero development in sight. After a day’s exertions at Phi Beach it’s time to regroup. Sundowners are at their most memorable on the terrace of the Costa Smeralda Yacht Club.

Cala di Volpe


Life’s a beach in Cala di Volpe. Midway between Porto Cervo and Porto Rotondo, this gentle curve of sand is caressed by crystal-clear seas. Swim ashore at Spiaggia di Liscia Ruja to partake in your own Caribbean dream. Crabs and gulls may use this beach as a thoroughfare, but the nearest tarmac road is miles away.
If there are divers among your party, then they can thank their lucky stars. A mile off Cala di Volpe lie the desert islands of Mortorio and Soffi, both part of the Maddalena Islands marine park. Mortorio in particular is a heaven-sent vision of sandy bliss. Under the waves are caves, canyons, octopus and schools of fish.

Porto Rotondo


In 1964 two Italian architects engineered a little Venice on the Mediterranean Sea. A visual spectacular of pretty piazzas and wooden bridges that loop around a dozen beaches and a lapping bay. Life radiates from the pavement cafés of La Piazzetta along a series of flower-filled lanes. An impossibly elegant marina where discreet sun-seekers come to play. Porto Rotondo is blessed with some of the Mediterranean’s finest beaches. Cala Banana is a yellow curve of soft sand, juxtaposed against a cobalt blue. Spiaggia di Mannena – known locally as Le Piscine – is a swimming pool lagoon of transparent sea.



Olbia is Sardinia’s sunny gateway. An ancient Greek colony, its name translates as ‘happy town’. These bustling city streets personify their moniker. Holiday heaven is a stroll along Corso Umberto, a boulevard filled with cafés, enotecas and one-off boutiques.
Olbia sits just south of Sardinia’s legendary Costa Smeralda. This prime position makes it a perfect launch for exploring Golfo Aranci’s beachy shores. For sunseekers searching for their own deserted stretch of sand, the remote island of Figarolo crowns the bay’s northern tip. Oenophiles can sip and savour the regional tipple, Vermentino di Gallura, a crisp, floral white wine. A dozen vineyards pan north from Olbia to Porto Cervo on the Strada del Gusto wine trail.

Isola Tavolara


Tavolara Island is a true one off. A 5km-long massif that crumbles from 565m into a breathtaking swirl of beach. Instead of joining the Kingdom of Italy, island boss Joseph Bertoleoni crowned himself regent here in 1861. Who can blame him, as Tavolara is a royally rich blend of privacy and prettiness.

Only 20 Beroleoni family descendants reside of Tavolara today. And there's just one summertime restaurant and one awful telephone signal: in other words heaven on earth. Isola Rossa and Isola Piana are the two uninhabited islets stretching into the sunset. Ask your captain for a flag to plant. You could conceivably crown yourself king.