Italy has a reputation for leisure. This melodic phrases, la Dolca Vita, the sweet life and dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing, are practically national pastimes. Adrenaline junkies need not despair though. The island of Sardinia has plenty of activities to get your blood pumping. You have your choice from precipitous sheer cliffs for climbing to some gnarly waves to surf.
Go for a Hike
The island has miles and miles of hiking trails. You can stroll along seaside pine groves near fisherman’s village of Cala Gonone or take a guided hike that goes from Capo Carbonara to Capo Spartivento through the Devils Saddle with breathtaking views of the water. For the experienced hiker, there is the demanding Selvaggio Blue trail through the granite boulders on the southwestern coast known as the Orosei. There is also the Mount Corrasi along the Supramonte Mountain range and is almost 5,000 feet above sea level. The best time of year for hiking in Sardinia is spring and fall with their mild temperatures and sunny days.
Fly Above the Waves
Depending on the time of year, there are four different kinds of winds that blow in Sardinia, with spring and fall bringing the strongest ones, making for some good kite surfing. The beaches near Porto Pollo in the northwest, have the best kite surfing conditions and facilities, including equipment rental and lessons. In Porto Pollo, there is a small protected bay for beginners and open water with large crests and high gusts for the expert kite surfer. Near Cagliari is another good spot, particularly for beginners with slightly less fierce winds and kite surfing classes.
Ride the Wild Surf
The gentle Mediterranean waters are not known for their monster swells, but there are a few places where you can catch a wave in Sardinia. For approximately 160 days a year there are great surf conditions, particularly on the central west coast centered around Capo Mannu in the south, between Cagliari’s famous Poetta Beach up towards Villasimius and particularly near Marina di Capitana and Racca Point. Most surfing in Sardinia is longboard and some spots can be rocky.
Climb to New Heights
The area around Cala Gonone has at least 25 climbing areas, so you have your choice of just about any kind of climb. The limestone cliffs that soar miles above the sea are a climber’s dream. There is the 470-foot Aguglia di Goloritzé is a series of five sea cliffs or the seaside cave, Biddiriscottai. Limestone, orange clay, and tufa are a few of the materials you will find as your footholds. In the southwest corner of the island, Domusnovas has over 500 routes and the Punta Pilocca has been described as the best climbing spot in all of Sardinia. The craggy limestone has easy routes for beginners that are also used for classes and some world class technical climbing routes too.
The Gola di Gorropu Gorge is Sardinia’s answer to America’s Grand Canyon. It takes about five hours to climb all the way down and back to this deep limestone ravine 400 feet from the top. There are a few different routes to choose from depending on if you want a scenic walk or a challenging hike. If you are lucky you might spy a Sardinian Brook Salamander in a quiet brook or a an eagle soaring overhead along your way. Another choice is the Sa Spendula, a spectacular waterfall in in the narrow gorge between Mount Margians and Mount Omo which is a short drive from the southern village of Chia.
The distances between beaches and sites in Sardinia can be long. Park the rental car and tour the island on two wheels instead. There are both long stretches of smooth paved roads for the road cyclist and rugged off road trails for the mountain biker. As long as you stay off the main state highways, there is very little car traffic, though you may have to stop for a herd of sheep. The national parklands of Asinara have seven paths that you can explore with a mountain bike. Take your road bike out for a spin along the Strada Litorale, starting from Alghero and explore 28 miles of unforgettable sea views.