Italians are famous for their lemming like attraction for being drawn into the sea. The boot shape of the peninsula means that virtually everyone is within a two hour drive of the Mediterranean. But one of the most favored destinations when it comes time to slather oneself with oil and lay tranquilly on the sand is Sardinia. The beaches that Sardinia is home to are some of the most beautiful in the world and the euphemism picture postcard perfect is no exaggeration. Water so amazingly clear that when it is 40 feet deep you can see all the way to the sandy bottom and sand so white it can hurt your eyes when the sunbeams are reflected off of it.
Sardinia - Photo by cristianocani
When self-exiled British author D. H. Lawrence said that Sardinia was, lost between Europe and Africa and belonging to nowhere, he could not have been more accurate. A distinct dialect of Italian is spoken here that is difficult even for Italians to understand. The western side of the island is more prone to the qualities that inspired the quote. Rugged beaches facing Spain and a less densely packed population offer not only a sense of slipping back in time, but also a number of National Parks and protected areas that are fantastic for viewing sea life and having a slowly paced trip. In the northwestern portion of the island both the Cap Caccia Marine Protected area and the Asihara National Park boast amazing natural beauty. As you slip further down the coastline to the west portion, you come across Piscinas Beach. The beach is appropriately named because the water is as clear and sparkling as a pool.
The southern portion of the island is the most densely populated and the location of the capital of Cagliari and also home of the busiest of the islands three airports. One of the most famous areas of the island, not just the south, is the Capo Carbonara Protected Marine Area. With ample beaches and wildlife galore; whether your preference is for soaking up sunshine, swimming with dolphins or donning SCUBA gear and staying submerged; everyone can find something fantastic in what the area has to offer.
If the idea of time away from maddening crowds sitting on an idyllic beach that is backed by limestone cliffs in the region of one of Europe's only remaining coastal forests puts that far away look in your eye, then head to the eastern coast of Sardinia. The Gulf of Orosei embraces a peaceful pace of life that focuses on being outdoors, enjoying sports and activities and is off the most beaten tracks. Grottos and caves dot the coast, carved by time out of the limestone cliffs, offering opportunities to explore on land as well as sea.
Sardinia beach with crystal waters - Photo by ezioman
The Costa Smeralda is the crown jewel of Sardinia, with water worthy of the name. The north eastern portion of the island is hands down the most popular tourist destination, not only for the amazing natural gifts the island has to offer, but for celebrity spotting as well. The highest concentration of hotels, restaurants and nightclubs is here, overflowing with bronzed tourists famous and normal alike. In the Costa Smeralda, as in the majority of the island, you will notice a scent in the air as you walk through towns, hills and beaches. Wild herbs grow abundantly and scent the air continuously, adding to the sensation that you are indeed in one of nature's most perfect creations.