Italian Beaches

La Maddalena Archipelago island hopping & best beaches

Cala Corsara, Spargi, SardiniaEvery time I come to Sardinia, I promise it will be my last time, but I continue returning to this island as there is yet another corner of glorious beaches that I haven’t seen. Well after La Maddalena I think I’m finally ready to take a break with Sardinia and look at the rest of the world.

La Maddalena archipelago consists 7 larger islands and is praised to have some of the most beautiful beaches in Mediterranean. It has also been a NATO base for almost 35 years (they left in 2008) and army presence is still felt through out every corner of archipelago – abandoned barracks, checkpoints, fences or military buildings constantly reminds you that they were once here. Rumors say that islanders have been heavily relying on the NATO money and haven’t done much for the tourism, well that clearly explains lack of decent hotels or apartments and dated restaurant & bar scene.

My biggest disappointment was beaches, those which you could reach by car were crowded, those which you could reach by boat  had time limited access or you were not allowed to step on the beach at all. Luckily, there is a ferry, that can take you to the main island and you can explore beaches of Palau and Costa Smeralada (read more here), when you get desperate in Maddalena.

Of course there is a brighter side of this place – some of the beaches are so gorgeous you don’t ever want to leave, so here are the great and not so great beaches of  Caprera, 3 remote islands of Santa Maria, Budelli & Spargi and main island Maddalena all straight from Sardinia.

Caprera Island

Caprera is the only island,  which is connected to the La Maddalena. Tiny bridge barely gives space for two cars to exchange, but is big enough to give you a  chance to explore it on foot, bike or car. The northern side of Caprera is quite mountainous with several tracking trails, that can take you to some of the secluded beaches (like Coticcio, Cala Napoletana accessible on foot or boat only) while the other side of the island is much flatter and has couple quite busy beaches, which you can reach by car.

Spiaggia Due Mari

Spiaggia Due Mari, is the first one on the way from Maddalena and it literary separates two seas with beach on every side. This is the only fully serviced beach on Caprera with parasol hire, trendy beach bar with horrible food, and toilet that does not work. Beach is rather average sandy beach, with too many boats parked in the bay and too much seaweed for my liking.

Parking is free, if you can find an empty spot by the road.

Spiaggia Due Mari, Caprera, Sardinia

Spiaggia Due Mari, Caprera, Sardinia

Spiaggia Due Mari, Caprera, Sardinia

Spiaggia Due Mari, Caprera, Sardinia

Spiaggia Due Mari, Caprera, Sardinia

Spiaggia Del Rellito

Next one on the line is Rellito beach, pass the Due Mare beach and follow the road taking a turn uphill, until you reach parking lot, from there you will need to walk few hundred meters  until you get to a fully packed beach. The best place to enjoy this beach is from distance, as people just kept coming and coming, leaving less and less space on the beach. Highlight of Rellito beach is a restaurant in the dunes, which looked decent.

Spiaggia Del Rellito, Caprera, Sardinia

Spiaggia Del Rellito, Caprera, Sardinia

Playa Chula

Dragging my boyfriend deeper in the island, I was determined to find the beach I saw on the ferry arriving to the Maddalena island (it actually turn out to be located on the nearby island Santo Stefano island, not Caprera). After 10 minutes walk into a heat, we found this deserted strip of sand, which was probably my favourite beach of the entire island. Clear, shallow waters, nobody on the beach and a great landscape of the neighbouring islands. Beach is located after a deserter army checkpoint, and it feels like trespassing.

Playa Chula, Caprera, Sardinia

Playa Chula, Caprera, Sardinia

Playa Chula, Caprera, Sardinia

Playa Chula, Caprera, Sardinia

Cala Andreana

While laying on our “private beach”, I started noticing people arriving and leaving  footpath couple meters away from where we left the car. It started to seem strange, that there are plenty of cars parked on the road, but no people on the beach, making me curious where are they disappearing. I followed the same footpath and 50 meters later these tiny bays appeared. Beach is heavily covered in seaweed, but water was really nice colour and it wasn’t extremely busy.

Cala Andreana, Caprera, Sardinia

Cala Andreana, Caprera, Sardinia

Spiaggia di Cala Garibaldi

Trying my luck on the Northern side of the Caprera (when I still thought that we can somehow get to the Coticcio beach by car) we arrived to Cala Garibaldi beach. While the beach is less than spectacular,  this is the place from where you can get to  Cala Serena, a lovely sandy bay just 10 minutes walk through the inland. To get here, follow the only paved road until it turns into the dirt path – continue driving until you see small building stating its private property, and turn right and follow footpath to Cala Serena.

Spiaggia di Cala Garibaldi, Caprera, Sardinia

Spiaggia di Cala Garibaldi, Caprera, Sardinia

Spiaggia di Cala Garibaldi, Caprera, Sardinia

Spiaggia di Cala Garibaldi, Caprera, Sardinia

Cala Serena, Caprera, Sardinia

Cala Serena, Caprera, Sardinia

The wild trio – Spargi, Budelli and Isola Santa Maria

Accessible only by boat these three islands are the true gem of the La Maddalena national park, and I wish we have had hired a boat and taken another day to spend little more time on the remote coves of Santa Maria and Spargi islands. Slightly worried about the distance to the beaches and accessibility we went on a tour boat, that drops you on the beaches for couple of hours, the idea wasn’t bad, but at the end we spent more time on the boat than on the beaches. The highlight of the tour boat was really good seafood  pasta (with one scrimp inside) and live dolphin show, as we got so lucky to see dolphins swimming in open sea.

Cala Santa Maria

Santa Maria island is located furthest from Maddalena town and has probably the  longest beach of the entire archipelago. It took us a good hour on a medium size tour boat to get there, so I could only imagine that on a smaller hire boat it would probably take you bit longer. With very little of no traffic, tour boats seemed to be only one’s bringing people here, and by 1 pm, when the boats left beach was left empty.

Apparently there is an exclusive villa & restaurant on the island, that offer a very remote and exclusive island experience (www.lacasitta.com), which as all things exclusive involves serious parting with cash.

Cala Santa Maria, Santa Maria, La Maddalena archipellago

Cala Santa Maria, Santa Maria, La Maddalena archipellago

Cala Santa Maria, Santa Maria, La Maddalena archipellago

Cala Santa Maria, Santa Maria, La Maddalena archipelago

Cala Santa Maria, Santa Maria, La Maddalena archipellago

Cala Santa Maria, Santa Maria, La Maddalena archipelago

 Piscine Naturali

The next stop was natural pools between the Santa Maria and Budelli islands, with super blue waters  that are so clear that you almost think you can touch the sea bottom. Tour boats entertain their guests by allowing to jump and swim in this large swimming pool, but be careful as there might be one or two jellyfishes.

Piscine naturali, Budelli island, Maddalena Archipellago, Sardinia

Piscine naturali, Budelli island, Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia

Piscine naturali, Budelli island, Maddalena Archipellago, Sardinia

Piscine naturali, Budelli island, Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia

Budelli island

Budelli island is considered to be one of the most beautiful islands of the Mediterranean, famous for its Pink beach which has rose colour sand, it actually was sold to a private owner in 2013 for 2.94 million euros. The New Zealand nature enthusiast has intended to protect islands ecosystem, following its close destruction after years of irresponsible tourism and people stealing sand from the beaches.  Today Italy is trying repossess the island, and the access to the island remains limited.

Spiaggia dei Cavalieri

Couple of tour operators have the permission to park at the Spiaggia dei Cavalieri for a short period of time, and take people to guided excursions to Spiaggia Rosa.  It’s a beautiful light sanded beach, which overlooks natural pools between the neighbouring islands and is very popular spot for sailing boats.

Spiaggia dei Cavalieri, Budelli island, Maddalena Archipellago, Sardinia

Spiaggia dei Cavalieri, Budelli island, Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia

Spiaggia dei Cavalieri, Budelli island, Maddalena Archipellago, Sardinia

Spiaggia dei Cavalieri, Budelli island, Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia

Spiaggia dei Cavalieri, Budelli island, Maddalena Archipellago, Sardinia

Spiaggia dei Cavalieri, Budelli island, Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia

Spiaggia Rosa

Spiaggia Rosa is probably most famous Sardinian beach, yet you can see it only from afar. The sand stealing problem has gone to the level, that beach pink colour sand was about to disappear and access to the beach was completely forbidden. The only way to see it is with tour guide, through Cavalieri beach.

Spiaggia Rosa, Budelli island, Maddalena archipellago, Sardinia

Spiaggia Rosa, Budelli island, Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia

Spargi island

Spargi island is the last one in the line, and has the most potential from the three of them considering that almost all the beaches has public access. It is conveniently close  to Maddalena town therefore getting on your own boat wouldn’t seem so scary, plus beaches here are  absolutely stunning and empty.

Spargi island, Maddalena archipellago, Sardinia

Spargi island, Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia

Cala Granara

Cala Granara finally makes me feel, like I’m in Sardinia, remote secluded bay with Caribbean colour water and sand intimately enclosed by pine grows, where your only worries are getting a little swim. There are no restrictions of staying on the beach, so your only problem is getting on it, so hire a boat and get here every day.

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Granara, Spargi island, Sardinia

Cala Corsara

My absolute favourite was the last beach of Spargi –  Cala Corsara, unfortunately also this beach had limited time access, as only one tour boat can be parked at the time and we had a quick 30 minutes glimpse of this paradise location NATO once called home in  La Maddalena (building in the back was main office).  This beach has several bays, and while access to the boat parking was limited to tour boats only, public access was possible from the other side, where you could park your boat and swim to the coast.

Cala Corsara, Spargi island, Maddalena archipellaho, Sardinia

Cala Corsara, Spargi island, Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia

Cala Corsara, Spargi island, Maddalena archipellaho, Sardinia

Cala Corsara, Spargi island, Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia

Cala Corsara, Spargi island, Maddalena archipellaho, Sardinia

Cala Corsara, Spargi island, Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia

La Maddalena

And finishing this “dream destination” is  the La Maddalen island itself. Biggest island in the National park it is a base to the many tourists like us,  and while there are no beaches around the town there are couple decent bays on the Northern side of the island. Best way to get to the beaches is by car or scooter (too much uphill for average cyclist) and by following signs you just can’t miss them.

Spiaggia di Spalmatore

On our way to the other side,   Spalmatore beach was one who seemed worth mentioning. Decent size, dark sandy beach, not bad, but not great either.

Spiaggia di Spalmatore, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Spiaggia di Spalmatore, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Spiggia Monto dell’ Arena

One of local’s favourite is Arena beach, famous for watching sunsets – it consists of two medium size beaches, with rather dark yellow sand. Again, not amazing, but would do if you are wondering around this side of the island.

Spiaggia Monto dell' Arena, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Spiaggia Monto dell’ Arena, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Spiaggia Monto dell' Arena, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Spiaggia Monto dell’ Arena, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Cala Trinita

My favourite of the La Maddalena is Trinita beach, several shallow bays with white sand and tranquil clear waters, excellent for kids, adults and anybody who  enjoys the beach life. The only beach bar in the area was just above the dunes and it offers refreshments and range of local sandwiches, plus it has a fantastic view over the bay. This was a place which was worth coming twice.

Cala Trinita, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Cala Trinita, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Cala Trinita, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Cala Trinita, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Cala Trinita, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Cala Trinita, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Cala Trinita, La Maddalena, Sardinia

Cala Trinita, La Maddalena, Sardinia

How to get there?

Closest airport is Olbia, from where you need to get to Palau port and take a ferry to Maddalena island. Ferry takes 20 minutes and is around 20 euro including the car ( main ferry lines Maddalena lines, Delcomar). Absolutely no need to book in advance as ferries leave almost every 15 minutes and they are not busy. Getting around the island is straight forward as the size is quite small, but car seems to be a much more practical solution than bike or scooter. Boat hire is possible, but quite a busy sea traffic (ferries, different size tour boats) and quite rocky sea terrain around Caprera island was really setting me back in trying my luck.

Where to stay?

La Maddalena is realistically the only base option, even it doesn’t have  great choice of hotel or apartment. Staying in the town, will give you access to the port and restaurants & cafe’s, while staying in remote apartment villages could mean 10-20 minute drive to the town.

Where to eat?

There are several restaurants in the Maddalena town,  but majority of them is a hit and miss and I was slightly disappointed with the food, considering that we were in Sardinia.

Check other Sardinia’s beach destinations: San Teodoro, Cala Gonone, Alghero, Chia

Find all the beaches on the map

 

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7 replies »

  1. Hi! Wonderful blog! Could you please tell me which beach do you prefer: La Maddalena archipelago or the turquoise beaches of Cala Gonone? Thank you very much in advance.

  2. Hi dear,
    Very helpful and amazing blog.
    I have one question please. Would you recommend to go from La maddalena port to Cala Coticcio by scooter ? is there any sure place to park it ?
    Thank you in advance for your answer.
    Cheers :)

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