The Best Boat Excursions in Sardinia
A Boat Excursion in Sardinia is one of the best ways to experience the island. Whether it is renting a dinghy with a driver, booking a catamaran tour, a goiter, a sailing or motor boat or an old sailing ship, or even living a day on a luxurious yacht, I think we all agree that exploring Sardinia by boat is a fantastic experience which bears repeating time and time again.
Before deciding on which method you would like to travel the seas, first think about which kind of experience you would like to have? The fast pace of a motor boat, which allows more access to smaller coves in a quicker tempo, or the relaxation of a sailboat, with lunch and wine on board?
And since you can experience many boat trips in Sardinia, in this article I unveil the best 10 boat trips in Sardinia according to feedback from tourists and the experience we have gained in all these years living in Sardinia.
But what time of year is it better to go on boat trips in Sardinia?
July and August are the most popular months to hit the water in Sardinia. There are a large amount of tourists, and no doubt it’s a fantastic period – beautiful days, warm, and very pleasant water temperatures.
On the other hand, too much sun can expose you to burns without the right protection and it is the most intense period from the point of view of traffic in the water, for those who want to rent a boat in these months we recommend doing so well in advance to find availability. The same applies if you want to book an excursion on a sailing ship or catamaran, with limited places available and high demand – you will need to book days before.
May, June and September are fantastic months to visit. The water is warm and it is easier to find the availability of both boats and seats on exclusive tours.
May and June are favorable months also thanks to the fact that the days are longer and you can experience unforgettable sunsets on the sea.
September is a month just as favorable because the sea temperatures are still warm, and the weather is still great.
The months of April, October and November can be very interesting periods for a nice boat trip in Sardinia because in these months it is still quite common to experience fantastic sunny days.
That said, we are ready to go and discover the top 10 boat trips in Sardinia!
Small clarification: the routes of the indicated tours, where specified, may vary according to weather conditions and according to the commander’s discretion, as the itineraries may vary from year to year.
Excursion in the Maddalena Archipelago
The Maddalena Archipelago, the Eighth Wonder of the World, is best discovered by sea and represents the first boat excursion we recommend to guests staying in North and North East Sardinia.
The reasons are numerous: the water is a gorgeous blue and totally transparent, you can see the famous Rosa Beach of Budelli, bathe in the memorable pools of the “Port of the Madonna” that have formed between the islands of Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria, discover the enchanted beaches of Spargi, and not to mention visit Cala Coticcio (known as “little Tahiti”). There are so many reasons to go on an excursion by sea to the Maddalena Archipelago and it is a tour that goes far beyond everyone’s expectations.
How to sail the waters and which boat to use?
We recommend a motor boat to move faster, an ancient sailing ship to savor even more the various shades of the sea, a catamaran, a goiter … the options are many.
I just want to emphasize one thing: there are fewer people on board a boat (a sailboat or catamaran can accommodate about a dozen guests) and the more exclusive and personalized the tour – the greater the cost per person (of course!).
Spargi – Credit: Wonderful Sardinia
Dolphin spotting in Golfo Aranci
One of the Mediterranean places where you can see dolphins is Golfo Aranci, a charming town between the Costa Smeralda and Olbia.
In this gulf there is a sedentary colony of dolphins, precisely around the islet of Figarolo, and the maximum percentage of sightings is around 18, but it is quite common to sight them even in the morning.
So, what types of excursions can be organized in the waters of Golfo Aranci?
There are boats that organize dedicated trips for sighting these beautiful creatures, but you can also organize excursions by sea to discover the waters of the Costa Smeralda as well as the waters of the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara in Molara, of which we will speak about soon.
When dolphin sighting there is a strict code of practice which one must adhere to. Never feed the dolphins, never swim with the dolphins, respect the navigation speed of 5 knots and keep a respectable distance of from the dolphins of at least 60 meters.
Credit: Hotel Gabbiano Azzurro di Golfo Aranci
Excursion to the Protected Area of Tavolara and Molara
The Marine Protected Area of Tavolara and Molara is a beautiful coastal stretch that goes from Capo Ceraso, a little further south of Olbia, to Cala Finocchio, in the municipality of San Teodoro.
This area of 15,000 hectares includes the islands of Tavolara, Molara and Molarotto and was subjected to protection in 1982 for the high naturalistic value of the island and marine environments and the level of conservation of oceanic posidonia.
The upshot of this is that this area is one of the most popular for diving and snorkeling in Sardinia.
Currently on the island there are only 2 restaurants and some houses scattered around but the main attraction is the island’s beauty itself, the limestone coasts, and the breathtaking waters that surround Molara.
Excursions can be organized by rubber dinghies or motorboats with stops for swimming at the Piscine di Molara and Tavolara.
Tavolara – Credit: Wonderful Sardinia
Excursion in the Gulf of Orosei
The Gulf of Orosei has many absolutely beautiful points of interest such as the Grotte del Bue Marino, Cala Luna, Cala Goloritzè, Cala Mariolu and other beautiful coves such as the Costa di Baunei in Ogliastra.
It is no coincidence that among the main beaches most popular with TripAdvisor users, 4 of the top 10 are in this coastal stretch with Cala Mariolu, the undisputed cream of the crop.
The departures for excursions can be made either from the north of the Gulf of Orosei, then La Caletta and Cala Gonone, and from the south for example Arbatax.
Assuming that you start from the northern part of the Gulf of Orosei, the stages that a tour normally provides are as follows:
Grotte del Bue Marino: so called because once inhabited by the monk seal, also known as the “marine ox” because of the resemblance to the ox. The entrance is formed by two arches and the cavities are 15 km long divided into a north branch (closed), and a south branch, the latter open to navigation and with 900 meters of illuminated pathways.
Cala Luna: located 3 km further south than the Grotte del Bue Marino, Cala Luna can be reached by sea or by land via a very demanding trekking route.
Cala Sisine: a splendid 200-meter beach overlooking 500-meter-high cliffs.
Cala Biriola: a small beach composed of white pebbles and framed by a rocky arch.
Cala Mariolu: another symbolic beach with sand lost between white and pink pebbles and among the infinite shades of blue, emerald green and blue of the sea.
Cala Goloritzè: in the southernmost part of the gulf, the beach is known for the natural arch that opens on the right side and was declared an Italian National Monument in 1995.
To experience these experiences you can rent a boat, alternatively you can book a boat trip or an ancient sailing ship tour.
Grotte del Bue Marino – Credit: Wonderful Sardinia
Excursion Marine Protected Area of Capo Carbonara
The marine reserve of Capo Carbonara was established in 1998 and is located in south-eastern Sardinia precisely between Capo Boi and the island of Serpentara.
The area is 86 square kilometers and includes the promontory of Capo Carbonara, the Isola dei Cavoli and the dry of the Berni which is the area in front of Villasimius between the island of Serpentara and the island of Cavoli.
Boat trips can be booked with an inclusive lunch on board deck. The departure is always in the morning, usually around 10-10.30 from Villasimius and then circumnavigates Capo Carbonara, giving you a change to admire the tranquility of the sea and get to Isola dei Cavoli for a walk and to marvel at those unspoiled views.
There are sometimes stops in sheltered coves both in the morning and in the afternoon including Punta Molentis where granite rocks emerge from the water like wrecks and the arch-shaped beach rises from the Mediterranean scrub.
Isola dei Cavoli – Credit: Vistanet.it
Excursion to Chia and the Gulf of Teulada
These waters that we are going to explore at this point are the most southerly of Sardinia – in the “Gulf of the Angels” as it is known, precisely in the surroundings of Chia.
This excursion takes place on board a beautiful 22 meters schooner built in 1973 and renovated in 2000. Even lunch is included on board! The excursion lasts about 7 hours and takes in the most exclusive beaches of South Sardinia like Porto Tramatzu and Porto Zafferano.
This route is subject to wind conditions, and if the weather should be too windy don’t worry – there is a fantastic Plan B on hand. In this case you travel east towards the beautiful beaches of Chia and discover the magnificent cliffs of Capo Malfatano and Cala Piscinnì.
Capo Malfatano – Credit: MondoViaggi.eu
Excursion to the Island of San Pietro and to the waters of the Sulcis
The Island of San Pietro is rich in inlets, caves and overhanging rock and offers a sea of a thousand of shades of blue.
Locations like Punta dell Oche, Le Colonne, Mezzaluna, Capo Sandalo on the western side and the beautiful beaches on the eastern side of Girin, La Bobba, Punta Nera, Giunco are must see experiences for those staying in Southern Sardinia – especially those keen on photography.
And these excursions can be organized both on board motor ships, as well as in gulet and other sailing boats, without forgetting the option of renting a boat with a driver to move around faster.
But we are not finished yet, because a few kilometers to the north you can organize routes in the Masua coast, along Porto Flavia, visiting the Soffione cave until you stop in the suggestive Cala Domestica, then return past the famous “Pan di Zucchero”.
Nebida e Pan di Zucchero – Credit: Wonderful Sardinia
Excursion to the island of Mal di Ventre
The island of Mal Di Ventre, called de Malu Entu in Sardinia, is located just under 10 km from the coast of the Sinis Peninsula and has an area of not even 1 square km (0.80 square Km to be exact).
It is part of the Protected Marine Area of the Sinis Peninsula – Mal di Ventre Island, established in 1997 in order to protect its marine environment.
From Putzu Idu, the island of Mal di Ventre can be reached in 15 minutes by rubber dinghy and is a real corner of paradise with Mediterranean scrub which predominates the aromas of mastic and rosemary and sandy coves like Cala del Nuraghe, Cala Valdaro, Cala Saline and Cala dei Pastori.
The excursions organized by dinghy allow you to disembark in this little corner of paradise and enjoy 5-6 hours of absolute peace and freedom in this islet, enjoying the beautiful sea or taking walks to discover the local flora and fauna.
Excursion to Capo Caccia and the Caves of Neptune
In the north-western area of Sardinia, on the Coral Riviera, it is possible to admire the Marine Protected Area of Capo Caccia and the Grotte di Nettuno thanks to daily excursions by boat, motorboat and even half-day mini-cruises.
What are the peculiarities of this area? The Marine Area of Capo Caccia is located in the territory of Alghero and includes the Bay of Porto Conte up to the stretch of Punta Giglio. A little further away is the Foradada Island, an imposing white limestone rock.
The excursions leave from Alghero in the morning and follow this route: first stop is the enchanting promontory of Capo Caccia (whose lighthouse of the same name is the highest in Italy, about 186 meters above sea level), the tour continues towards the island of Foradada to admire the beautiful caves and then stops at Cala Dragunara for a refreshing swim before lunch on board.
Alternatively, you can start the day admiring the Caves of Neptune, a popular tourist attraction as they are the largest caves in Sardinia covering over 4 km of passages (access for security reasons is more limited).
Access to the Caves of Neptune is subject to payment of an entrance ticket. Mini-tours to this attraction can be organised from Alghero port and usually last about 3 hours, starting at different times of the day.
Ingresso Grotte di Nettuno – Credit: Wonderful Sardinia
Excursion to the Asinara National Park
The Asinara National Park is a protected natural area that was established in 1997 and consists of the island of Asinara.
Asinara Island has an area of just over 50 square km and the coastline extends for 110 km and is mostly jagged and high interspersed with coves and beaches.
And in this spectacular natural setting of wild beauty that sea excursions that can be organized – by catamaran, motorboat (35-40 people on board) and sailboat.
Usually the departure is in the morning around 9.30 from Stintino with return in the evening around 18.00 from May to September. Obviously by renting a boat you can come and go as you please.
You circumnavigate the Asinara on the right side passing the beach of Punta Lunga and the Cala di S. Andrea to make the first stop at Cala Reale whose name derives from the presence of the Residenza dei Savoia.
The second stop is in the beach of Cala Barche, a white beach with a shallow and sandy bottom. Then continue towards the northernmost point which is Cala d’Oliva and return for the last stop in Cala del Bianco and then return, enriched not only by the beauty of this island but also by the history it represents.
Cala d’Oliva all’Asinara – Credit: Wonderful Sardinia