Cala Gonone

Turquoise beaches of Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu beach, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu beach, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Gonone in the East Sardinia is no doubt the most beautiful place I have ever been. Guy Ritchie chose Cala Gonone as one of the locations for his movie “Swept away” starring Madonna (which didn’t turn out successfully, but it’s definitely nothing to do with the location), still untouched wild beaches and dramatic view of the limestone cliffs and caves meeting turquoise blue water creates scenery of uninhabited island. It’s a little paradise on the earth!

The most magical thing about the beaches, is getting there – you can’t get there by car, which means, that you can either hike the mountains (in +30, no thank you) or take a boat. Well, boat it is then!

There are 3 options:

1.  Take a shuttle boat to some of the most popular beaches like Cala Luna or Cala Mariolu, which leave every hour and you can stay on the beach whole day.  You won’t be able to get to all of the beaches, but at least you are not time restricted. Costs: Cala Luna 8 euro, Cala Mariolu 25 euro.

2. Guided excursion is second option,  private boat for 10-12 people will take you to all the beaches and will stop for an hour on some of them. It will also take you to some hidden caves, where you will have a chance to jump into the mysterious waters.  If you are not bothered by the time pressure, prefect way to see whole coastline in one day. Costs 35-40 euro.

3. The best thing is to rent your own boat.  You won’t need a license, it is pretty straight forward to navigate the boat, the only challenge is once you have unloaded all your thing on the beach, somebody will have to park it 100m from the coast, and swim back to the beach (and back again), but hey that’s kind of great way to keep you in shape after eating pasta every day!! Cost 80 euro+ gas. If you rent a boat in Box. nr 4 you get a free umbrella and cool box.

Cala Luna

Cala luna caves, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala luna caves, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala luna caves, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala luna caves, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala luna beach, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala luna beach, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala luna is our first stop,  famous for the sandy beach which is rock-bound by the limestone cliffs and caves. Small private coves are separated from the main beach with cliffs and can be reached only by boat or swimming.  It can get a bit busy during the day, but considering number of people circulating through the beach every hour (catching their boats for next beach) , it never really gets overcrowded. There is a lifeguard and a restaurant on the back of the beach.

Cala Sisine

Cala Sisine, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Sisine, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

This could  be a fantastic beach, if it would get a bit “softer” – made from large pebbles, it’s extremely uncomfortable laying on the beach and almost painful getting into the water. Yet, in the morning you could be the only one on the beach.

Cala Biriolu

Cala Biriola, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Biriola, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Biriola, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Biriola, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Biriola, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Biriola, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

My favorite Cala Biriolu is a hidden gem of the Cala Gonone, just around the corner of Cala Sisine. Beautiful orange shade sand is mixed with white pebbles and comes in a perfect combination with crustal clear turquoise waters, I could just sit there whole day and stare into the water…in fact that’s what I did. If you get here with your own boat, there is a “beach boy” who will help you hold the boat while you unload/load your belongings from the boat. Really helpful especially if that’s your first day on the boat.

Cala Mariolu

Cala Mariolu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Mariolu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

My second favorite is next on the line paradise like strip of sand and pebbles, hidden between the large rocks. The “main” beach has a cliffs from which you can jump into the blue waters and snorkel to see fishes which are not (yet) afraid of humans. There is a small bar on the beach which sells ice cream and cold drinks.

Cala Gabbiani

Cala Gabbiani, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Gabbiani, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Gabbiani, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Gabbiani, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Gabbiani beach you won’t find on the main boat routes, but that’s the place you will find the locals.  Long yellow sand beach with so clean blue waters it is a natural  swimming paradise and as it is practically empty you almost feel like on your personal little island.

Is Putzu

Is Putzu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Is Putzu, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Just 50 meters from the super famous Cala Goloritze, you can get the mini version of it, super blue waters, soft yellow sandy beach and you can unload your belongings on the beach. Watch out for jelly fishes though, I saw two of them!!

Cala Goloritze

Cala Goloritze, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Goloritze, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Goloritze, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Cala Goloritze, Cala Gonone, Sardinia

Last one on the Cala Gonone coastline is UNESCO protected Cala Golorize beach, you can’t get to the beach by boat, but only hike or swim 300 meters. As you have noticed I don’t do hiking very well and 300 meters sounds like an half and hour swim, we observed the beach from the distance and it looked very nice… that’s it, no more comments.

Top tips:

1. Get the Italian afternoon aperitivo in the Hotel Bue lounge bar just above the port, with lovely view to the central beach and marina you are guaranteed to get the best cocktails in town and free yams.

2. When you plan visiting the beaches by boat, remember that they are backed by high cliffs and after 3pm sun starts setting down, leaving some of the beaches in the shadow. There is sun till evening on the Cala Sisine and Cala Luna.

3. Forget your Italian vocabulary at home, everybody speaks English (and French and German). Since when Italians have started learning other languages? Bravo!!

4. When you rent a boat, make sure you go with the “boat guy” to fill the tank. Otherwise our gas bill was “rounded up” by 20 eur (first time we paid 20 eur, next time 40 eur for the same distance we drove).

5. If you are looking to rent apartment, check Biriola holidays (www. We got a fab apartment and a great welcome from mr. Mateo.

6. And last, before you board the boat, get ready for the wild wild west – it’s gonna be very hot, and there will be no food or water on the beaches, so get yourself a pretty old-fashioned cool box with Italian goodies and cheap umbrella before you go.

If you prefer sandy beaches, read more about Cala Gonone sandy beaches here.

Cala Gonone Beach Map

Click on the map below to find all Cala Gonone beaches.


44 replies »

  1. Hi Leva,
    Thank you so much for such a great post, really helpful to me and my boyfriend who are going to Sardinia for our first time in July!
    We will be staying in Oblia and are really interested in hiring out our own boat for the day, could you please give me some more tips as to where we hire that and what would be the best sandy secluded beaches for us to visit that day? I would love to go to some romantic restaurants if you have any recommendations? We are also looking to hire out a car for the 4 nights that we are there for.
    I would love to hear from you with your feedback.

    • Hi Marsha,
      Great to hear you are going to Sardinia.

      If you are staying in Olbia, then you have two possibilities – weather explore coastline of Costa Smeralda north of Olbia or San Teodoro and area on the south. You don’t really need a boat to access beaches there, you can reach all of them by car. Check the beaches here:

      Note that Olbia is not really the most convenient location, so you will have to drive hour or more to get to some more secluded beaches. It;s also a port city, and it’s not really developed for turists so much, so you will have to look for restaurants. I stayed there for one day, and there was a very nice main street with small restaurants and cafe, so that could be a nice place to look for restaurants.

      If you want to see Cala Gonone beaches, it is a good 1,5 hour drive to the city of Cala Gonone, where you can rent a boat and get to the secluded beaches there. None of them are pure sandy beaches, but some of them are with very tiny pebbles which almost feels like sand.

      For all the sandy beaches you will find them around San Teodoro area and up north to Costa Smeralda.

      Hope this helps,


      • Hi Ieva,
        Thank you so much for your reply, very helpful. It sounds like going down to San Teodoro would be our best bet, some good food, nice not busy beaches and even a beach bar. We are very interested in rending a boat for the day so will also be going down to Cala Gonone for a day and take it from there.
        Keep an eye out on my blog for my experience :)
        All the best,

      • Hi Marsha,

        Yes, San Teodoro would be much better base than Olbia.
        Boat from Cala Gonone is an excellent idea, have a great time and I will be looking out for the posts from there:)


      • Hello Ieva. My name is daniel from Australia.
        Taking my family to Sardinia do you have an email address i could ask you a few things. All i know is we are staying in Olbia and not sure how far the nice beaches are from the port.

  2. Hi Leva,
    Have u visited costa Smeralda? I am planning a 10 days trip to sardinia in mid July with my family and I am confused between choosing Cala gonone in the east or Palau in the north east near costa smeralda. Where do you think is nicer?

    • Hi Yasmina,

      I’m actually going to Costa Smeralda this year, but I’m planning to go to Maddalena island, just across the Palau. I have seen couple of beaches in Costa Smeralda and they were nice, but not even close as beautiful as in Cala Gonone. I think that Maddalena archipelago and islands around it should be as beautiful as Cala Gonone, but will see when I get there.


      • Hi,
        Thank you for your quick respond.
        So you think we should spend the whole 10 days in Cala Gonone?
        Do we need to rent a car in Cala Gonone or it isn’t necessary since all the beaches are reachable in boats?
        Thank you

      • Well depends from where you arrive in Sardinia (Olbia or Cagliari), you can have a first stopover of 3 days either around San Teodoro area or around Villasimius and check the beaches around there on your way to Cala Gonone. You would need a week to properly explore Cala Gonone. About the car, again- if you have alternatiev transport how to get to Cala Gonone you probably don’t need it if you are going to all the beaches by boat, but if you would like to take a day trip to go the gulf of Orosei, which is just 30 minutes away from Cala Gonone, you would need a car as boats are not going that direction. Hope you enjoy which ever way you decide to go.

  3. Oh! I love your blog. Well done !
    I am wondering if I need to book a boat online or can I do this when I arrive to Cala Gonone ?
    I try to plan everything and this is very time consuming :)
    Me and my family would like to hire a boat for 2 or 3 days do you think that this is possible from Cala Gonone ?
    Many thanks,

    • Hi Alex,

      No, you don’t have to book it online, in fact I wouldn’t know where you could do it. All the boat hire kiosks are at the port, you would have to go anyway, so you can book it then for couple of days.


  4. Hello Leva

    I am only going to be in Sardinia for 4 to 5 days, so i was thinking of flying into olbia and driving to staying in Cala Gonone and then doing as you say and renting a boat and riding ourselves. My question, how long will i have to ride the boat to reach all the beaches? And how many hours will i have the boat for? I.e. from 8am to 5pm?

    Also are there good authentic restaurants in this area? Do you think if we are going to stay in one area that this should be it?

    Thanks so much


    • Hi Jared,

      Thank you for your questions. Futherest beach Cala Goloritze is 1h drive on a boat, if you want just to see each beach you can probably do it in one day, start with the futherest and stop for short visit on every beach on the way back. You will have boat from 9 till 6, when you need to return the boat back.

      If you don’t want to spend time on the beach, you should check some other places around like Orosei bay and national park or try to hike to Cala Goloritze from the mainland, but if you want to spend some time on the beaches itself 4-5 days will be just right.

      Good luck and enjoy,

  5. Hi Ieva,

    Very nice post indeed. As I see it is better to stay down of Olbia in order to visit those beaches, but also there is difficult to reach them. There are also some easy reacheble eaches arround Cala Gonone? Or it is better to stay in San Teodoro and come form time to time to make some boat trips?
    In the other hand I can book in Budoni. This reduce the trip by car a little bit. Could you tell me if it is OK Budoni?

    I plan to stay one week in the East Area and then to move one week in North or NW (to visit Bonifaccio – Corsica one day, Alghero and to make one day trip to La Maddalena)

    Thank you in advance for your help

    • Hi Daniel,

      I’m afraid there are no easy to reach beaches around Cala gonone, the nice ones are reachable by sea. If you want to stay in San teodoro I personally think it would be worth making the drive maybe once, as it’s quite long drive, but it’s doable. Bodoni is a nice place to stay as well but again more for the beaches that are closer to olbia.

      Good luck with your trip,

      • Thank you very much for your answer. I think that I will take the first week in Cala Gonone.

  6. Glad I found another person who is a beach lover like I am :) Just found your blog as I was looking for info on Cala Goloritze. We are travelling to Sardinia next Saturday (so excited to leave this weather in England!) and are planning to stay one week in San Teodoro and one week in Alghero. We don’t drive so we will not be renting a car obviously, do you think it’s worth to spend a few nights in Cala Gonone to explore that area? Would love to go to Cala Luna and Cala Goloritze.
    Thank you!

    • Hi great to meet you, feels great I’m not alone:) Yes, if you have a chance stay couple of nights in Cala gonone, that will give you plenty of time to see both beaches and more. Unfortunately can’t help with the directions, as besides car I don’t know how to get there :( Enjoy!!

  7. Hi,
    I am planning a trip to sardinia in july for 10 days and thanks to your blog i decided to split my visit between Costa Smeralda and Cala Gonone. I am a little confused about the number of days i should spend in each part. 6 days in costa smeralda and 4 in cala gonone is good?
    Thank you

      • Hi, please can you tell me if Cala Gonone is really safe? I mean there are no sharks? Because we are traveling as a family and i worry about my kids.
        Thank you

      • Hi Yasmina,

        I haven’t heard that there are sharks, if they are they are very small and not dangerous. And if they are in Cala gonone you might as well find them in Costa smeralda. I did see some jelly fish, but only very far away from the coast when we were on the boat…

        Safe travels and enjoy,

  8. Great blog and great post!
    I’m also going to spend my holiday in Sardinia and I also want to make a boat trip from Arbatax or Santa Maria Navarrese to one of the beautiful beaches like Cala Mariolu. Which shuttle boat leaves every hour? I just found one organisation on the internet (mareogliastra) and that boat only leaves 1 time a day. Do you have any tips for me? Which shuttle service is the best and leaves every hour from Arbatax or SMN?
    Thanks :)

    • Hi Ricarda,

      Thank you for your nice comment, we were staying in Cala Gonone, so unfortunately I won’t have reliable information about the boats from Arbatrax or Santa Maria Navarrese, but I’m sure that once you get there you will find plenty of local companies who are doing hourly tours to the beaches, they just don’t have websites advertising them. Enjoy your holidays, Ieva

  9. Hi Beachlover ! We are going to spend 12 days on Sardinian beaches this August, with 2 children (7 and 10 years old). We will land in Olbia in the evening, so, we were planning on
    1) 4 nights in San Teodoro
    2) 4 nights in Cala Gonone
    3) 4 nights on the island of La Maddalena

    Would this be an OK plan to see the best beaches of the area, or should we drop one of them ? And I guess we need to rent a car ? Will there be a lot of traffic / reckless driving ?

    • Hi,

      I think your plan sounds great, especially the first two places makes sense to go one after another. Going to Maddalena is a bit futherway and 4 days is quites a lot for that place, but I think it would be maybe 2 hours drive from Cala gonone to Maddalena. San teodoro to cala gonone is a good hour away and there are plenty of nice beaches in the middle to explore.

      Enjoy Sardinia!

  10. Hi there
    Great blog! I was wondering if you can recommend anywhere to stay in Cala Gonone?

    Thanks very much

  11. Hi!

    Thank you for this beautiful post. We are headed to Cala Gonone for five nights in early October. Do you think we’ll be able to enjoy the beaches during that month, or will it be too chilly? Also, will we still be able to rent the little boats to get around (low season)? Otherwise, we’re happy to hike.

    I’m wondering whether five nights is too long in Cala Gonone, and whether we should try spend a few nights in Chia in the south as well, before we leave from Cagliari. What do you think? I was in the south in 2012 and fell deeply in love. Very excited to explore the east coast too this time.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.


    • Hi Daniela,

      Thank you for your message, I am afraid I don’t know if yu will be able to hire boat in October, it is quite out of the normal season so I would try to ask some local agencies. Sorry :( Beaches, I think that yu probably will get lucky and still have nice weather, but I guess there is no guarantee like if you would go in summer. Five days is certainly too much for Cala gonone, split it with Chia and you will have wonderful holidays. Enjoy!!

  12. Hello! Thanks for the great post :) We are coming to Sardinia for our honeymoon in Sept. Flying into Cagliari then making our way up the east coast to fly out of Olbia. Our itinerary at the moment is Cagliari > Costa Rei > Cala Gonone / Orosei > San Teodoro > Olbia. We want to relax but also have a bit of adventure so don’t want to drive around too much. We love the idea of Cala Gonone but Orosei sounds equally lovely. We don’t think it’s a good idea to stay in both places as they are so close to each other! Would you recommend one over the other? And if so why? Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Polly,

      I envy yu guys, would love to go Sardinia again ;) Orosei vs Cala Gonone – I have been briefly driven through the Orosei and it looks like a lovely city, it wasn’t straight at the beach if I remember correctly, but as yu will have car, that’s not a problem – yu can drive to the long sandy beach at Orosei. As I haven’t stayed in Orosei, I can’t say anything about the city, but my only thought would be that if yu want to get to Cala Gonone beaches majority of cruises, boat hires etc. are at Cala Gonone and I don’t think you will find them in Orosei (but again, I haven’t been so I might be wrong). Enjoy whichever yu decide to stay.

  13. Hey,

    Would you recommend staying in either Cala Gonone or Cala Goloritze? We will be driving from Cagliari, and stopping one night in this area before driving to Olbia.


    • Hi Jess, thank you for your message. I think that it would be worth staying in Cala Gonone as there is no actual town aroudn Cala Goloritze – the closest one is Baubei, but it doesnt have acccess to the see and if you want to get to Cala Goloritze you would have to hike. Alternatively from Cala Gonone you have the sea access to the beaches.. it is small but lovely town, nothing fancy. Enjoy, Ieva

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