Kayaking Sardinia is a trip of wonderful experiences. This trip came about through a long line of events over the years. It started in 2009 when I was in Croatia kayaking and first got in contact with Marco Venturini about running trips in Europe. Now 4 years later I created a trip with Marco in Sardinia for this year, below is a rough account of the adventure.
Through the project of “Yak About Adventures in New Zealand”, WWA offered this trip as one of the rewards on kick-starter. WWA had already had two bookings for this trip of Denise and her partner, though through kick-starter we ended up with an extra person booking, thus helping seal the kick-starter pledge deal for the Yak About Adventures Project. Read more about YAK ABOUT ADVENTURES HERE
So on March 15th (ten days after I got back to Canada from the NZ Project) I was once again on a plane, this time touching down in Olbia Sardinia. Outside the terminal we where meet by the grinning face of Marco beaming out of a black Jeep Cherokee towing a trailer of kayaks.
The Adventure Starts Now
Marco, and Italian native, has been kayaking for most of his life he is a business Marketing consultant, though started moonlighting as a tour guide a few years back and of course loves sea kayaking trips. Marco has a charisma that shines bright, and is almost always seen with a big smile on his face. Our itinerary due to the lower number of people than expected, became very flexible and in fact turned into the trip it always should have been, a trip to the “Four Corners of Sardinia”
Day 1 Our first destination was the Island of Tavolara, after a simple lunch we loaded our boats up with camping gear on the beach at Spiaggia Marina Maria on the NE coast, and set off south through alien like rock formations of Granite, weathered into round and bizarre shapes by the rain and waves. We camped upon a deserted beach that night next to quite a fancy holiday home, and from across the bay we watched the full moon rise over Isola Tavolara, while eating pasta around the camp fire. Jet lagged we were all in bed by 8pm.
The next day brought a cold morning, though a warm sun once it had lifted above the megalithic Island of Tavolara. As soon as we had eaten and the sun had dried the dew from our tents, we where once again on the water, this time to Tavolara itself a couple of short hours kayaking distance. Like a giant chalky tooth, Tavolara stands out as an oddity on this stretch of coast, as the rest of the coastline is quite low and rolling in its topography. We found a great sand spit to have lunch on and decided to make it camp, while that afternoon half the group kayaked around the island and half hiked it. Either way the views around and from the immensely steep cliffed island where serene.
Day 3 had us kayaking back to the car, indulging in an amazing lunch at a wonderful local restaurant and then driving three hours SW to the other coast. The forecast was promising flat seas and we planned to make the most of the ability to paddle the normally wild west coast of Sardinia. We spent that night in a B ‘n’ B and over dinner discussed our strategy of the coast with a map.
The Miner’s Coast
The west coast of Sardinia was heavily mined in the past, the bay are scattered with the remnants of industry, though an industry of fairy tales, the ancient stone and mortar ruins built up banks and carved into the rock face, surely must have inspired Tolkien when he wrote of the grand doings of the Dwarfs and their mining kingdoms. From Day one we lunched from a beach that was shadowed by the remains of one such mining fortress, and as we paddled out around the first cliffy head land, there built into the exposed cliff was a fortified miner’s port, only reachable via the sea or… through the mountain. The workmanship that had gone into creating such ventures left you wondering “how long did it take to make”, and “how many died to do so?”
The western coast did not disappoint and the small swells that existed on the first day that allowed us to have fun surfing waves onto the beach we camped at were nonexistent for the next 3 days. We were able to easily paddle the stark cliffy coastline as close as we wanted, and probe deep into large sea caves, some that perhaps no one else has been into (due to the fact that the entrances barely allowed a sea kayak to enter and who else would bother? Though they were often large, roomy and deep once inside).our first night we camped inside the ruins of an old miners warehouse on the beach that was overlooked by a stark old watch tower. The next day’s brought caves, visits to villages for lunch and more stunning campsites on sandy weather beaten beaches. On the second to last evening, Marco left us to retrieve the jeep and trailer and was back for dinner. In the morning we paddled on while Marco drove to our take out and then paddled back along the coast to meet us for lunch. This last day was spectacular; the whole trip so far had been blue skies and calm seas, though today’s landscape, cave and rock formations topped it all. We spent our last night on the west coast comfortably hunkered into the dunes as the winds built.
Hail and Islands.
The next morning we packed up a dry camp just in time for a hailstorm, which drove us to the car and a flooded, the arid area with a wash of water. The weather had changed and we had timed it right, now we moved back N, to experience the Ancient town of Algherro, where we enjoyed the narrow Roman streets with cobble stone, ate Gelato, dined on fine pizza, and spent the night sleeping at a stunning B ‘n’ B on a nearby farm. The Archipelago of Maddalena in the NE now called for our final days, and after a 3 hour drive and a car ferry we ended up in the old city of La Maddalena on Isola Maddalena. The rains had been patchy but they promised to clear by midday of the next day, and we found ourselves camping out in beautiful little bay on the coast of Isola Caprera. The last day was half spent kayaking before the rains came after lunch and set in. In was a bitter sweet way to end the trip, the Jeep and Trailer loaded with bright kayaks parked in a narrow cobblestone street in front of an old church in the pouring rain, though it was also fitting. We clambered about in front of the church pulled our personal gear together and then we all piled into one of the Local B ‘n’ B’s run by Marco’s friends, and set about getting stuff dried for flights the next day. That night we said good bye to Marco, who took the Jeep and trailer and headed for the main island in order to catch the overnight ferry back to Italy and his family.
On the last day, we loaded up our now dry gear that had been scattered through our rooms drying, and headed to the Main Island to catch our flights back to Rome. Sardinia is a remarkable destination for kayaking, and allows a stunning blend of camping, culture and accommodations; I cannot wait to run more of these trips!