SARDINIA: THE EMERALD COAST
My first encounter with Italy was in 1999, when my Grandma took me to Venice at the impressionable age of 6. It was the beginning of a Mediterranean love affair that I’ve never really been able to shake, and if you've ever visited The Boot, you too may have had a similar experience. To put it simply, I am enchanted by all things Italian; the food, the language, the weather, the landscape…but mostly the food!
Sardinia, the southern of the two islands west of mainland Italy, is an embodiment of that typical ‘sparkling blue sea’ picture, that is so often depicted on the front cover of holiday brochures. Locals often refer to the sea as ‘la piscina’ (swimming pool), due to the transparency of the water. Sardinia is most definitely the Turks and Caicos of Europe! This stunning island which is renowned for luxurious celebrity getaways, can like most places, be experienced on a budget!
Finding somewhere relatively cheap to stay without compromising on holiday luxuries can always be difficult. Firstly, staying closer to the airport with a bus or train connection can save you so much money overall, as transfers to and from Costa Smeralda airport can start off as high as €60 one way. San Teodoro was the ideal location as it was far enough removed to experience real Sardinian culture, but close enough that a 40 minute bus at the small cost of €3.50 can get you to your flight home. (More to come on the pros and cons of Sardinian public transport). San Teodoro is a small town on the North-East coast of Sardinia, in the vicinity of Olbia-Tempio. It is an old town, which plays host to the young as well as the retired. The town has reputable night clubs and bars, plenty of places to eat, a night-time street market and La Cinta beach is within 10 mins walking distance from the town centre. San Teodoro is both romantic and family friendly.
You must must must go horse riding along the empty beach in the evening. The stables near to La Cinta beach (Il Maneggio) are willing to negotiate on price during off-peak time, for an hour and a half ride at sunset. This was an unforgettable experience. I had a beautiful golden horse named Sunshine, who also had her own agenda, regularly stopping to eat!
Bal Harbour is a must if you're staying in San Teodoro. With chilled house music vibes, sky high palms an a pool bar serving every cocktail you could want, Bal Harbour is the most trendy place to be. The Sardinian meets Brazilian cuisine is mouth-watering! Try the Churrascaria menu...an unlimited buffet and selection of eight different grilled meats. Eating and drinking at Bal Harbour can be pricey, but if you want to visit on a budget, entry is free, they have massive free pool parties throughout peak season (late June - early September)...AND they offer a free buffet in the late afternoons. So fear not!
Channeling Mediterranean style goes hand in hand with visiting this sun-drenched Island. These little friendship bracelets, combined with multi finger rings and a sparkly cream nail made me feel like a beach goddess. (beware of multiple unwanted tan lines ha!) A big classic floppy hat goes a long way for a style and keeps the sun out of your eyes. Pretty floral headbands are also a great way to team 'island chic' with keeping your hair from blowing in all directions.
La Maddalena Archipelago
The prized jewels of Sardinia are the even smaller islands just off the north east coast, and if you can only do one in Sardinia, locals would tell you to do this. You can easily get a bus from Olbia to Palau, where boats leave regularly for the islands. We chose to go on a tour boat which stopped off at three different islands, and included lunch. Some of these tours can be a rip off, and operators want to fill their boats so don't be afraid to negotiate the price. Alternatively, you can take a ferry to the main island- La Maddalena- for less than €10 and spend the day there.
Spiaggia Bianca- Golfo Aranci
Spiaggia Bianca is located in the North Western tip of Olbia, in what translates literally as the 'Orange Gulf'. The sand is golden in the sun, and the view before the descent to the bay is stunning. A short bus ride from Olbia town, this beach is the perfect spot to soak up the sun and appreciate the natural beauty of Sardinia's coastline.
For queries based on my time here, recommendations and useful information about other areas of Sardinia, drop me a line on the 'About Rose' page. :)