A 7 days sailing trip all around North Sardinia

Here is a full week experience to discover the amazing north coast of Sardinia: Emerald Coast (Costa Esmeralda) and the archipelago of La Maddalena.

Our yachts are moored in the Marina of Portisco, just 20 minutes by taxi or car from the international airport of Olbia. Our Crew (Skipper, Hostess and Chef) was waiting for us. Ready to show their particular paradise nautical potential, and most important, to make us live an unforgettable experience sailing for a week in sailboat along the Emerald Coast and its incredible archipelago of La Maddalena.

Our Bali 5.4 Jacuzzi prepared for dinner in the aft lounge area

Within a few minutes we were clear that both his crew, his yacht charter service, and his fleet were totally outstanding. The staff made us feel at home. We took the time to check in our incredible Bali 5.4 Jacuzzi (yes, there is a 4 pex Jacuzzi on the fly!), plan the sailing route in La Magdalena and solve all our questions. 

Before getting into details with our sailing vacations through La Maddalena, we would like to share our general insights. Sardinia has 2 faces: a quiet place, by the sea, but an extra-luxury nightlife in harbors like Porto Cervo, Potlu Quatu, Porto Rotondo and Bonifacio. A Mediterranean corner with a smell of olive and pine trees, full of postcards of white sand beaches, pristine coves formed by granite rocks of impossible shapes and turquoise waters, but also billonaire yachts with helicopters and guards watching around.

Once you begin your sailing week around Sardinia and La Maddalena your main activities will be to swim in turquoise and emerald waters, relax in the hammock of the boat while feeling the sea breeze, sailing, and walk along beaches and paths often deserted.

Its people, proud of the beauty of their island, welcome those who visit this land, but protect it with passion to avoid that it becomes a mass tourist destination.

These facts make Sardinia a paradise in the Mediterranean, perfect for a boat holidays enjoying its nature, beaches, sea, food and people.

Yanpy crew exploring cala Cotticio (Caprera) with a paddlesurf

Paddling in front of Cala Volpe, close to Porto Cervo

As usual in many areas of the Mediterranean, the climate of Sardinia is warm and sunny, with mild winters and hot summers.

The dominant wind is the Mistral (northwest) that blows with intensity in the famous Strait of Bonifacio (Bouches de Bonifacio), strait between Corsica of Sardinia. The best season to sail the Italian island goes from mid May to September, with June and September being the best months, as the weather is kind and the beaches are less crowded.

It´s a place to sail carefully, due to the the numerous rocks of the coast. Thus, if you are dreaming of a relaxing time while a sailing holidays, to charter your yacht with at least a skipper will be the best choice. He will take care of everything and you will only have to worry about relaxing while discovering the beauty of the treasures of this paradise island.

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A typical 7 days cruising in Costa Smeralda

So while some of them were in charge of provisioning the boat others did the check-in and carefully planned the route with the manager base.

Our boat trip sailing for week around Sardinia was about to begin. We would sail for a few hours heading south to the Gulf of Aranci and the island of Tavolara. Afterwards, our compass would point north towards the archipelago of La Maddalena. There, we would enjoy some days discovering its incredible treasures in the form of Mediterranean forests, coves formed by natural granite sculptures and turquoise waters. Our goal was to reach Bonifacio on the neighbour French island of Corsica, crossing the famous and feared Bouches de Bonifacio (the strait of Bonifacio), a challenge for sailors. There, we would begin our return to the Marina of Portisco, visiting the islands Lavezzi and Cavallo, and the pending islands of La Maddalena.

Our sailing trip in Sardinia was an amazing experience. Costa Smeralda and La Maddalena still have pristine corners where enjoy a lonely anchorage. Definitely a trip that we recommend to all sea, nature, tranquility and sailing lovers.

If you want to know the details of our route sailing for a week through Sardinia and La Maddalena keep reading.

Day 1: From Portisco to Gulf of Aranci (Tavolara island) - 15 Nm - 2,5 h.

Our crew was excited to leave the port. Finally, our captain gave the order, cast off! In afternoon our sailboat left Marina of Portisco behind head to the Gulf of Aranci. A beautiful place, where dolphin watching is very common.

Our destination was Tavolara island. An imposing granite rock of 500 meters high, converted into a natural reserve that will delight all scuba diving, snorkeling and thousand colors sea lovers. If the weather conditions allow it the island provides a good anchorage. Alternatively, in the Gulf of Aranci you can find a small pier that offers a good shelter to spend the calmed night.

Rental boats sailing in Tavolara island (Sardinia)

Tavolara island from the drone

Tip: In this area, usually in the morning, you can find local fishermen, to whom you can buy fresh fish.

Alternative: If weather conditions are not good and you are forced to modify your route, do not worry. Sailing the southern coast of Olbia to San Teodoro has nothing to envy the northern route. Beaches of fine white sand and turquoise waters such as Dottore, Porto Istana (in front of Tavolara Island) or a little further south Cala Brandinchi are a gift for the senses.

Day 2: From Tavolara Island to Caprera (La Maddalena) - 25 Nm - 3,5 h.

This was the longest journey of our route sailing through Sardinia. We would sail the Tyrrhenian Sea for almost 4 hours along the blue waters of the Costa Smeralda to our destination, the island of Caprera in the archipelago of La Maddalena. The trip was beautiful. An almost northern wind was blowing with intensity, but our rental boat sailed smoothly.

The national park of the Archipelago of La Maddalena is formed by a group of 63 islands and islets, among which are the island of Magdalena, Caprera, Spargi, Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria. Most of the islands, with the exception of La Magdalena and Caprera, are inhabited, and the only way to get there is by yacht. Lucky we have our rental boat to discover its spectacular coves.

Remember that to be allowed to sail in the park it is necessary to request a permit that is given directly by the Charter Company.

Sailboats sailing in cala Relitto - Caprera, La Maddalena (Sardinia)

Cala Relitto - Caprera island (La Maddalena)

Towards noon we saw the Caprera island. The crew watched through the binoculars trying to guess some of their paradise bays and beaches. The choice is not easy. Sailing from the south we will find Cala Andreani and Cala Relitto. Then Cala Portese or also called Due Mari. All of them are impressive. These coves are dressed with fine white sand, crystal clear waters and a beautiful natural environment with Mediterranean vegetation that combines with the hardness of the granite stone. Although the water was still cool the crew could not resist taking a dip.

Finally, our anchorage, the jewel of the crown, Cala Coticcio, also known as the Italian Tahiti. Our ship arrived in Cala Cotticio after mid-afternoon. Despite the wind, the cove offered very good shelter and we enjoyed a nice dinner with friends and a very quiet night.

Day 3: From Caprera to La Maddalena - 9 Nm. - 1,5 h.

The next morning, we woke up early. When we went out on deck, we could not believe our eyes. We hardly talked to each other. We did not want to disturb that peace. We were anchored completely alone in paradise. The crew soon began to explore the surroundings. We conquer the beach, totally deserted, with our dinghy and paddlesurf board. We spend a good part of the morning discovering every corner by land and sea. After all, you are not always lucky enough to be alone in Cala Coticcio. We climbed the granite rocks that offered us a sight impossible to forget. I can only say that we keep great memories of that moment, in which we all fell completely connected with nature.

Rental sailboat anchored in cala Coticcio - Caprera, archipelago of La Maddalena (Sardinia)

Cala Coticcio (La Maddalena)

It was not easy to leave Cala Coticcio. But our sailing trip in La Maddalena had to go on. We sailed along the north coast of Caprera towards the island of La Maddalena. On the way we left other coves also worthy of mention as Cala Napoletana, Caprarese, Serena or the famous Cala Garibaldi, named like this in honour to the famous hero of two worlds, Giuseppe Garibaldi.

It is a day to enjoy the coves and natural landscapes that this archipelago has to offer. In La Maddalena it is worth mentioning the beach of Spalmatore or the peculiar beach of Testa di Polpo (Beach of the head of Octopus) with spectacular rocks of impossible shapes sculpted by the wind.

Beach di Testa di Polpo, La Maddalena

Beach di Testa di Polpo (octopus head) - La Maddalena

For the night, you can go to the port of La Maddalena, located in the village with the same name. This small and picturesque villa is an old fishing village with lots of history to tell. Garibaldi, Admiral Nelson or even Napoleon left their footprints in this town proud of having resisted the French invasion. In addition to mooring for your rental boat, the streets of the village will offer you all kinds of restaurants where you can taste the famous Italian cuisine, while you comment with your friends or family, the incredible experience that is being sailing in Sardinia and the archipelago of La Maddalena.

Alternative: If you are in "lonely sea wolf" mode and you are looking for absolute tranquility, the island offers some natural anchorages such as the buoys of Cala Spalmatore or Cala Francese on the opposite side of the island.

Tip: Just a stone's throw away is the spectacular Cala Corsara on the neighboring island of Spargi. A bay that well deserves more than a day of anchoring. Although we left it for the last day.

Day 4: From La Magdalena to Budelli and Bonifacio - 22 Nm - 3,5 h.

Tuesday was excellent. After a relaxing breakfast with the crew, we set sail to Budelli, Santa Maria and Razzoli. We sail with our sailboat in a short journey until anchor in the center of these three virgin islands of Sardinia.

Paradise Pink beach (spiaggia rosa) - Budelli (La Maddalena)

Pink beach - Budelli (La Maddalena)

On the way, we made a small visit to the icon of the archipelago of La Maddalena, the famous Pink beach (spiaggia Rosa). Italians take the conservation of their nature park very seriously, so this beach is closed to the public. So, once there, we did the only thing we could do. Take out our mobile phones, make selfies until our fingers hurt and upload them to our social networks. In a few minutes they were on fire.


Speedboat in tuquoise waters of cala del Cavalliere in Budelli island (La Maddalena, Sardinia)

Areal view of cala del Cavalliere (Budelli)

Hire sailboat anchored between Budelli, Santa María and Razzoli (La Maddalena)

Sailboat in crystal clear waters between Budelli, Santa María and Razzoli (La Maddalena)

Once anchored between the three islands, the dinghy did the rest, taking us to discover the hidden coves. Cala Lunga, Cala del Cavaliere or Cala Aiacciolu are pristine coves of white sand and crystal clear waters of a turquoise blue that has nothing to envy the Caribbean. It's time to have a swim, enjoying those colors and explore the paths between coves on the islands.

After a tasty fresh fish at our boat´s barbecue, we headed to the medieval village of Bonifacio on the neighboring french island of Corsica. Ahead we had a challenging day boat for every sailor, crossing the dreaded Strait of Bonifacio, the strait that separates Corsica from Sardinia. A place famous for its strong winds and its brave sea.

Honoring their fame, the Bouches welcomed us with strong winds with gusts of up to 25 knots. Our charter yacht sailed smoothly and came to sail at 9 knots. The Yanpy crew enjoyed the trip to Corsica.

I have to admit that until that moment we did not know anything about Bonifacio, so we didn´t expect anything from that place. Bonifacio was a discovery that left us with our mouths wide open.

Sunset at the old town of Bonifacio over the cliff (Corsica) Bonifacio (Corsica)

When our boat got closed to the coast of Corsica, the native land of Napoleon Bonaparte, we could see on top of the wind-sculpted stone cliff, the spectacular walled city of Bonifacio. Like a sentinel guarding the entire coast. We thought that place seemed unconquerable.

Bonifacio has a natural harbour, guarded by its fortress. While our sailboat was entering it, we could only look upwards impressed by that place that evoked past times of corsairs.

We moored our boat in the port, took land and walked up the steps that led to the walls of that fortress. A beautiful medieval village is hidden inside the old town. Its cobbled streets are full of typical products stores, where you can find local cold meats, wines, and handicrafts. We ate typical Corsican food, drank wine and even improvised a concert with a guitar borrowed by the friendly owners of the restaurant.

Down in the port, you can find some pubs to have a drink and discos to deoxidize your body.

If you charter a yacht in Sardinia, Bonifacio is definitely something you should not miss on your route sailing around La Maddalena.

Day 5: From Bonifacio to Lavezzi - 9nm. - 1,5 h.

On Wednesday we started our return trip sailing around Sardinia. Before leaving, we bought freshly baked croissants at a nice french bakery in the port. We released moorings and left the surprising Bonifacio. The compass led to our next destination, the islands Cavallo and Lavezzi, two paradise islands belonging to Corsica.

Charter yachts sailing in a paradise beach of crystal clear waterin Piana island (Corsica)

Turquoise waters in the paradise beach of Piantarella (Corsica)

Along the way, we decided to enjoy a swim in the paradise Piantarella (island of Piana). An unknown island that hides a treasure, shaped like a beach of shallow turquoise waters and white sand, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

After a refreshing swim and fabulous Italian food aboard our yacht, we continue our route sailing through Sardinia to Lavezzi. The islands of Lavezzi and Cavallo are a group of islands and islets that became natural reserve, whose beauty is inversely proportional to their size. Lavezzi is the largest of all and is uninhabited. By sea, a paradise of crystal clear waters rich in marine life that will delight the diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. By land, its paths between rocks of granite and vegetation connect the different coves of the island. Walking its deserted paths and feeling like an old explorer is the perfect plan for a nice noon.

Catamaran and sailboat anchored in Lavezzi island (Corsica)

Boats anchored in Lavezzi (Corsica)

Cala di l'Achiarinu or cala di Chiesa are the most popular. Others without a name offer a more intimate anchorage.

Caution: The rocks and reefs await us in these islands, so it is recommended to sail with special attention in this area.

Day 6: From Lavezzi to Spargi - 10 Nm - 1,5 h.

The starring guess of our penultimate day was the island of Spargi, again in the archipelago of La Magdalena. Last stage before heading to the Marina of Portisco.

Spargi was the final show. A deserted island of pristine coves. As our yacht sailed its east coast, the island showed us some of the most spectacular coves of our entire sailing trip. Cala Conneri, Cala Granara, Cala de la Belleze Naturali, or Soraya are small pearls of white sand and turquoise waters where we find less footprints than on the island of Robinson Crusoe.

Sailboat anchored in the paradise Cala Soraya in Spargi island (La Maddalena)

Sailboat anchored in cala Soraya, Spargi island (La Maddalena)

Charter a yacht in Sardinia to sail around La Maddalena is undoubtedly the best option to access many of the inaccessible coves offered by these islands.

Our boat anchored again alone in Cala Corsara. It was a magical afternoon, where as in Cala Coticcio, we felt connected with nature once again. We explored every corner, we crossed the paths surrounded by vegetation that took us to other bays. The island showed us its best face. A peacefull afternoon and as icing on the cake, a colorful sunset that we will never forget.

Rental sailboat anchored in cala Corsara, Spargi island (La Maddalena)
A Yacht anchored in Cala Corsara, Spargi (La Maddalena)

Sunset in cala Corsara, Spargi (La Maddalena)

Day 7: From Spargi to Portisco - 22 Nm - 3,5 h.

Next morning during breakfast, we were able to enjoy the peace of Cala Corsara. We had a few sailing hours ahead to the Marina of Portisco. It was a beautiful sunny day and gentle wind. The team relaxed during the trip along the coast of Sardinia.

On starboard side we left the exclusive Porto Cervo, the capital of the Costa Smeralda. A corner where the world jet set gets together in summer. Luxury yachts with sizes of islands, exclusive restaurants and nightclubs or shops not suitable for all budgets. A place where it is easy to come across with some of the most famous faces of Hollywood or the world of sport.

The end-point of our route sailing in Sardinia was the arrival at our destination in Marina of Portisco. There, our host team was waiting for us.

That night, our hosts, impeccable to the end, invited us to a local wine tasting and a last Italian dinner on board our boat. Satisfied by the success of our weekly sailing trip around Sardinia, we enjoyed sharing with them every anecdote of the journey.

Italian chef cooking in the boat

Our Italian chef cooking in the boat

Tip: There is nothing like bringing your own Italian chef to keep up high the morale of the crew.

Renting a boat to sail around Sardinia is an unforgettable experience. We were lucky enough to check first hand the nautical potential of that quiet region of Italy, and to enjoy its paradise coves and its crystal clear waters.

Needless to say, we are eternally grateful to our host team for the opportunity to live that experience sailing around Costa Smeralda and La Maddalena.