EXPERT • May 2019
From wide, sweeping swathes of golden sand to secret, cliff-cloistered crescents, Sardinia’s shores are the envy of the Med. The only trouble is which to choose – and how to evade the crowds. Italophile and Sardinian regular, Alex Allen, shares six of his island favourites to keep you ahead of the pack
Why it’s dreamy: Most visitors to the west coast hub city of Alghero head north, to Porto Conte, for their beach kicks – which means just a 15-minute drive south you’ll find La Speranza, the area’s prettiest stretch of sand, completely tourist-free. Settle at the wider north end for easy access to the tiki-shaded terrace of Restorante La Speranza and its punchy £1.50 espressos. The Jurassic Park-like views down the coast, of cactus-covered hills flowing steeply into the gem-blue sea, and the choppier (but perfectly swimmable) surf, give this spot a wild, forgotten untamed look that’ll be a great addition to your Instagram feed.
Top tip: Stick to the drinks at the restaurant here – you’ll find more varied food options back in Alghero.
Why it’s dreamy: Many people would be put off by the scarily steep, rocky access road (which you’ll find off the SP90, about 15 minutes south-west of Santa Teresa Gallura). But not you, because you know that on the other side awaits a paradise of spotless silk-white sand, without another soul in sight. After picking your way down from the car park, along a path lined with wild rosemary and juniper, you’ll emerge onto what feels like a miracle – a beach of billboard-worthy beauty, unblemished by parasols. Apart from yours, of course.
Top tip: It can get quite breezy along this stretch of coast, so dig your parasol as deep as you can to stop it from blowing away.
Why it’s dreamy: Along Sardinia’s glittering ‘Emerald Coast’ it’s almost impossible to find a quiet patch to flop – let alone one with free parking. Here, a 20-minute drive north of Olbia, you get both. What’s more, you’ll find Evian-clear, mirror-still water that’s just the right degree of invigorating after you’ve basked in the Mediterranean sun. As the sunlight starts to caramelise, head along the sand to Jerry’s Beach Bar to sip a crisp glass of white.
Top tip: The beach is dog-friendly, so expect to get photo-bombed by playful pupperinos.
Why it’s dreamy: They let a maximum of 140 cars a day onto this nature reserve on the island’s wild east coast, so you’re guaranteed a no-crowds day on the sand. Century-old juniper trees provide plenty of delicately scented shade and protection from the wind, and the flour-soft sand slopes gently into the rub-your-eyes blue waters, making it perfect for little ones to splash safely in the shallows. Unusually for Sardinia, there’s no beach bar or café here, so bring plenty of water.
Top tip: Keep an eye out for flamingos dipping for shrimp in the lagoon behind the beach.
Why it’s dreamy: Because you get four beaches for the price of one. Four sandy crescents lined up, end to end – it looks from above like something has taken a giant bite out of this rocky swathe of coast an hour east of the capital Cagliari. The biggest and most pristine of the beaches here are the middle two, but if the unlikely happens and you find more than a scattering of bathers on the first, just push a little further along until you’ve got one all to yourself.
Top tip: Bring your mask and snorkel for a close-up view of the confetti shower of colourful fish that flit about in the sun-dappled waters.
Why it’s dreamy: Ok, so this beach isn’t exactly a secret – not among the locals at least – but is it still worth the hour drive west of Cagliari? Absolutely. Its caster sugar sands stretch out in a V shape, pointing directly south towards the island of Tuarredda, which lies a tantalising 150 metres off-shore, beckoning you to come and explore. But before you do, kick back in the Caribbean-blue shallows, smug in the knowledge you’re sunbathing in one of Sardinia’s most beautiful spots.
Top tip: While Tuerredda Island looks close, 150 metres there and back is a lot of swimming. If you’re not confident, stick to a glorious paddle around the bay instead.
British Airways has direct flights to Cagliari and Olbia. Find the cheapest flights here
This article has been tagged Destination, Travel Tips