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Yacht & Catamaran Charter in Sardinia, Italy
Looking to sail from Sardinia, Italy? Search to find and book your ideal boat, or read everything you need to know: prevailing winds, where to sail, how to get there and more!
Sardinia is right in the middle of the Mediterranean, but sailing around it can sometimes feel like you're in the Caribbean - everywhere you look there are outstanding white sandy beaches, emerald blue seas, and largely undeveloped coastlines with rugged cliffs and lush vegetation. The nearby Maddalena islands - once a naval base for Lord Admiral Nelson - are now both a nature reserve and a UNESCO world heritage site (and a stunning place to cruise around).
The 'Emerald coast' or Costa Smeralda has long been popular with the glitterati, the rich and famous, which has seen the whole coast flourish with expensive villas, superyachts and luxury goods stores, but the area has been a well kept secret by Italian sailors, who come here en-masse during the peak season.
With the fine weather, reliable winds, exciting and tranquil sailing, stunning scenery, and the fact that there is so much to explore (and most of it is only reachable by boat), and so many places to throw down an anchor, Sardinia really is an exceptional and memorable place to sail.
Sailing from Sardinia
Portisco is an ideal starting point for heading northwards to the Maddalena islands - an area of natural beauty which is now both a nature reserve and a UNESCO world heritage site. The white sandy beaches, turquoise blue seas, rugged cliffs, lush vegetation, and minimal development of the islands means that they are beautiful and tranquil places to sail, with most of the best beaches only reachable by boat - indeed, only two of the 162 Maddalena islands have roads, and only three are inhabited.
Within the islands, the historic town of La Maddelena has a delightful old town to wander and admire, there's rugged granite at Spargi, a famous pink beach on Budelli, and Caprera was once where they imprisoned the Italian General Garibaldi - he liked his prison so much that he returned to the island upon retirement and spent the rest of his days there.
The islands are opposite the Costa Smeralda - one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, and which is popular with the rich and famous, many of whom have multi-million pound villas or superyachts here. Porto Cervo is the place to go if you're interested in celeb-spotting or buying luxury designer goods.
Further afield, the cliff-top town of Bonifacio has to be seen to be believed, and is just a short hop across to nearby Corsica, and there are marble cliffs and long beaches further around the top of Sardinia. Finally, Sardinia may look like a small island, but it's 400 nautical miles to circumnavigate it, so give yourself at least two weeks if that is your plan. Traditionally, people sail anti-clockwise around it.
Top 3 things to see
Check out our 6-day itinerary below, or if you’re planning your own itinerary, here’s our top 3 places to visit in the area:
Costa Smeralda (5 nM from Portisco)
The Emerald coast or Costa Smerelda is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world - and also one of the most exclusive. Amongst the turquoise seas and white beaches you'll spot multi-million pound villas, super yachts, designer goods stores, and fine dining restaurants!
Maddalena (15 nM from Portisco)
The stunning Maddalena islands are largely unspoilt and now the whole area is a protected nature reserve. Comprising seven main and 155 smaller islands, there's plenty of places of outstanding natural beauty to explore, with much of it only reachable by boat.
Bonifacio (31 nM from Portisco)
An incredible cliff-top town with a medieval castle situated on the south of Corsica that is a genuine wonder to behold. The marina here is surrounded by gigantic limestone cliffs on three sides.
Suggested 6-day itinerary
If you're sailing from Portisco for the week, then the natural choice is to explore the stunning La Maddalena islands. A circumnavigation of the whole island is over 350 nautical miles, so if the plan was to sail around the island in a week, then think again!
Our six-day itinerary heads through the outstanding Maddalena islands, around the Costa Smeralda, and takes in the incredible cliff-top town of Bonifacio, and visiting the must-see places in the area - the whole area is blessed with beautiful beaches and turquoise seas, so at times you'll feel like you're sailing in a rugged version of the Caribbean. This itinerary crosses the Bonifacio strait twice - be sure to check the weather forecast before crossing, as winds go up a force or two as they are funnelled through the strait (usually this is fine during the summer, but can get dangerously strong in winter).
This itinerary covers 112 nautical miles, with an average of just under 20 nautical miles a day. A yacht can sail at an average of 5-6 knots (nautical miles an hour), which means that you should only need to be doing 4-5 hours of meaningful sailing each day, leaving plenty of time to explore your start or end points in more detail, to take a plunge at some beaches as you sail by, to stop for lunch properly somewhere, and generally to just take things easy at a holiday pace.
It's also only a 6-day itinerary because you likely won't be able to get on board much before 4pm on your day of arrival (so you can't sail anywhere on the Saturday), and you're required to return the boat before 6pm on the friday at the end of the week for a preliminary inspection (but you sleep on board for the night and have to disembark the boat at 9am on the second Saturday).
Day 1. Portisco to Porto Massimo – 17 nM
Buon giorno, and benvenuti to Italia! You have chosen a superb place to sail, with some of the most bellissima views and beaches in the World! Get your crew and your provisions on board, and then it's time to go and see what the Costa Smeralda is all about!
Our journey today takes us through and into the heart of the Maddalena islands, with a destination of Porto Massimo, which is 17 nautical miles away. From Portisco, head North-east and checking out the gazillion dollar villas and hotels as you bob along the coast to the exclusive town Porto Cervo. Stop for a spot of lunch here and you'll likely see at least a couple A-list celebrities.
Heading North, we'll take the islands on the horizon on our port side, before tucking in to Porto Massimo for the night, which has a small and beautiful marina which their website claims will take your breath away. There's a small town here, a selection of shops, and a very well rated hotel and restaurant. What a place to escape to!
Day 2. Porto Massimo to Santa Teresa Gallura – 13 nM
Day 2 sees us heading from one picturesque place to another, but replacing the tranquillity of Porto Massimo with the vibrant and lively town of Santa Teresa Gallura, on the north coast of Sardinia. It's a sea-side town with fantastic beaches which is very popular with land-lubbing tourists.
Whilst the finish point is delightful, the highlight of the trip is taking on the Bonifacio strait for the first time. This is a place where the winds are accelerated as they squeeze between the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, which makes for some interesting sailing conditions. In summer, they're usually very passable, and more of a pleasure to sail, whereas in winter, the winds can be so strong as to get dangerous.
Nosing out of Porto Massimo, head north to get beyond La Maddalena island, then it's a case of pointing the nose of the boat pretty much due west, and following the coastline around.
Founded by Italian king of kings, Vittorio Emmanuele, in 1808, Santa Teresa is named in honour of one of his wives and is loaded with lavish palaces, fortresses and towers. Its narrow streets now house chic bars, fine dining restaurants, and oustanding places to sit and admire the view.
Day 3. Santa Teresa Gallura to Isola Rossa – 22 nM
After the relative hustle of Santa Teresa Gallura, we're going back off the beaten track to one of the hidden gems in Sardinia: Isola Rossa. It's a quiet, rustic Italian village, where life moves at a different pace. It's another world here, and the stunning natural beauty and fine beaches are complemented by the local fishermen who dominate the marina and make it feel like you've almost stepped back in time.
From Santa Teresa Gallura, it's a straightforward south-westerly sail alongside the coast. If the winds are arriving from the Northwest, that's a simple reach across the wind, and you can make the journey in a single tack.
The town of Isola Rossa is actually not an island as the name suggests - it is named after the small island of red granite which sits 500m out to sea from the old town. The area is most famous for the quality of the sea and the vibrant reefs and wildlife which you'll find here: it's supposed to be an exceptional place to snorkel. There's also red granite beaches which look spectacular (but pink), and are given a chilled out vibe by the local surfers.
The town itself is only small, but has a good selection of places to eat, and, obviously, has some of the freshest fish imaginable. It is also a great place to watch the sun set.
Day 4. Isola Rossa to Bonifacio – 26 nM
Isola Rossa is as far away as we are heading on this itinerary, but Castelsardo and Stintino and the Asinara national marine reservation are well worth a visit. One of the reasons for heading out in this direction in the first place, though, was to visit the incredible medieval cliff-top town of Bonifacio.
We're technically sailing from Italy to France as we head north-east to the southern-most tip of Corsica to a natural marina that has a long and glorious history, but, more importantly, is one of the places that looks even more extraordinary in real-life than it does on the pictures. But keep your camera handy as there are some marvellous shots to be had.
The marina is tucked in-between the cliffs below the cliff-top town. There's been a town in this position since pre-Roman times, and there's an ancient flight of 187 steps which have been cut into the cliff-side to aid the journey from sea to land. It's a pleasant enough hike now, and the views at the top make it worth the effort, but it would be terrible to negotiate the steps with much cargo. Nowadays, there is a tourist train that can save you breaking a sweat, but that would be cheating!
Enjoy a night in one of the most memorable marinas in the Med!
Day 5. Bonifacio to La Maddalena – 17 nM
As you might have guessed, the Bonifacio strait is named after the Bonifacio town and fortress which overlooks the narrowest distance between Corsica and Sardinia - so we certainly don't have far to head to get back through it. This crossing should be a less nervy passage than a few days ago, but do check the weather just in case something has whipped up in the mean-time - bigger boats are banned from negotiating this part of the Med (though that was principally because of environmental reasons).
From Bonifacio, we're heading south to nose out of the marina, then south-east, with the wind most likely on our backs, back towards the marine wonderland of the Maddalena Archipalego. If you have time, it's an amazing place to explore, and you don't need to go too far to find your own secluded sun-kissed beach with crystal clear waters. Tonight, our destination is La Maddalena, the capital town of the islands, but that doesn't mean it's a big town.
The Maddalena islands are probably best known for being the training ground for a certain Napoleon Bonaparte - indeed, the first place that the Corsican tried to conquer was the island of Maddalena itself, but he was unsuccesful, and the islands would go on to become the base for Horatio Nelson to lead the rest of Europe against France. The island of Caprera is almost as well-known for being the prison for Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was central to the unification of Italy. He was actually imprisoned in the archipalego, but liked the islands so much that, upon his release, he bought a plot of land here and stayed here happily for the rest of his days.
The marina and town itself are pretty enough, and pleasant places to while away a sunny evening.
Day 6. La Maddalena to Portisco – 17 nM
Oh no. Time has flown and we're already on the last leg of the itinerary. Hopefully over the last week you've found some amazing places, enjoyed the sunshine, and have developed into a happy, hearty and fun-loving crew.
It's not the end just yet, though, and we still have a day of sailing to do. There's only 17 nautical miles back to Portisco, so you can afford to take your time exploring the myriad islands, bays and beaches of the archipelago, or heading to sail closer to the Costa Smeralda to take in the most exclusive coast-line in the World.
Once you've had your fill, you need to head south and follow the coats back past Porto Cervo and on to Portisco. On entry, you'll need to refuel the boat (there's a fuel berth on the breakwater - you can't miss it!), before taking the boat back to where you found it a week ago... There should be someone there to help you moor up.
Later, someoneo will come and check the boat is still in one piece, but the full check-out is bright and early tomorrow morning, before you disembark, and wave farewell to your trusty boat. If you haven’t yet visited Portisco town then it is worth a visit, and you should find a number of fellow sailors there tonight who you can impress with tales of your voyage.
And eventually, you'll be on your way home. Hopefully you’ve had a truly memorable week in the sunshine, and are leaving with even better friends than you arrived with. If it's a really good crew, you'll already be starting to think about planning another sailing adventure together! Have a safe flight, and thanks for sailing with PlainSailing.com. We hope to see you soon!
What temperature will it be?
Italy is famed for it's beautiful weather, and it's likely their dependably hot summers which inspired them to get on and make the best ice cream in the World.
They have mild winters, but temperatures pick up just in time for the sailing season, when it's not uncommon to see temperatures above 20 degrees in May, rising to over 30 degrees in July and August. You can still sail in shorts and t-shirt until late September, but then temperatures drop, and the chances of encountering cold and rain increase as winter sets in.
How warm is the sea?
The sea in the Mediterranean is actually warmer than the air for over six months of the year, with sea temperatures never dropping below 14 degrees all year long - which is cold, but not that cold. By May, the sea reaches a cool 18 degrees, and by June, its over 20 degrees, which takes away any unpleasant coldness when plunging in. In July and August, the sea is so warm that you almost won't be able to stop yourself from diving in!
What is the wind like?
Throughout the summer sailing season, there's reliable force 4 winds which tends to arrive from the North-north-west to West-north-west - which is pretty much perfect sailing conditions, and ideal for sailing to and from the islands in the Maddalena national park. The wind is strongest at the Bonifacio strait, where the wind gets funneled between Sardinia and Corsica, but usually not so strong as to put you off heading to to check out mystical Bonifacio. There are also occasional days where the Mistral winds blow over from Saint Tropez with a little more force in the height of August, but usually only for a couple of days.
If you're sailing in winter, then be sure to check the weather forecasts before setting sail - the winds can change quickly and dramatically, and can arrive from almost any direction, though, contrary to summer, it most usually arrives from an Eastern direction.
What is the Current Weather in Sardinia?
If you're off sailing in a couple of days, you might be interested to know what the 7 day forecast is - our handy widget below should give you a good idea, though once you're out there we recommend using windguru.cz.
Our Guide to Sardinia
Portisco is a small resort where people come to spend their holiday on the beach, basking in the sunshine on the white sandy before taking a dip in the warm sea during the day, and dining in the old town by night. The town itself isn't much to write home about, but then, it doesn't need to be, and it has everything you'll need to have a brilliant holiday. There's also some hiking routes inland, where you can see some brilliant panoramas.
For people who prefer a little culture, then the nearby town of Olbia is packed with historic buildings - with castles, churches, ruins, and narrow cobbled streets to meander around, and only 20 minutes drive away to the south. To the north, meanwhile, you'll find the exclusive holiday resorts of the Costa Smeralda, all with splendid views and well kept old towns, with some luxury goods stores and fine dining thrown in.
Overall, it's a relaxed and relaxing place to start or end your sailing holiday, and you'll find happiness there.
Local Events / Festivals
Sardinia has an annual calendar filled of fantastic events, ranging from local festivals to celebrate the local saints or historic events, through beer and wine festivals (and even a 'festival of sea urchins'), right through to surfing, equestrian, sailing and and motorsport championships of varying importance. There's also festivals for most persuasions of music, though the mbest attended is the Jazz festival which runs for a week in August.
On a more local level, sadly there aren't many events of major importance taking place in Portisco - in fact, the nearest is the Festa di San Simplicio in May, which is a day of celebration in nearby Olbia, which sees the locals adorn traditional dress, dancing in the streets, and fireworks.
There’s four or five reasonable restaurants in Portisco, as well as a few bars, so you don't need to head anywhere else unless you're in the area for a few days before or after your charter. The best place to head is nearby Porto Rotondo, which is ounder two miles away and has some of the best restaurants in the whole of Sardinia. If we're in the area, we head to:
Ristorante Su Cubone – The best restaurant near the marina, Su Cubone also offers amazing views, good service, and a great range of drinks. Try the suckling pig (if there is any left) as that is a local speciality! (Localita Portisco SNC, 07026 Portisco)
Aquamarina – On the dies of the marina, Aquamarina restaurant serves decent food at reasonable prices (for the area) and, if you're the sort of person who likes views of lots of yachts (which we are) then this is a place you will enjoy! A warm welcome, and nice seafood. (Via del Porto, 07026 Portisco).
Deste – The best place to eat in the area, this cute restaurant will wow you with its cosy romantic setting, outstanding service and exquisite and delicious food. It's not the cheapest place in the area, and probably not a place to bring the whole crew, but if you're a fan of fine dining, then this place is definitely worth the money. (Piazza Rudalza 6, 07026 Porto Rotondo)
Portisco may not have a night club, but it is a pleasant place to spend the night. There's a mixture of restaurants and bars which have chairs that spill out onto the streets, and it's hard not to relax in the warm evenings and with such fine views. If you're after somewhere a bit more lively then Porto Rotondo and Porto Cervo have a lot more going on, with cocktail and champagne beach bars and live music during the summer.
La Dolce Vita – one of a number of small bars dotted immediately around the marina, all offering great views and nice, relaxed atmospheres. Follow your ears to the one you like, head for the one with enough empty seats for all your crew, or, failing that, we think this one offers the best value and service (Porto turistico di Portisco, Portisco).
Le Tattoo – a short stroll out of town, this beach bar also has a lush garden to sit and play or ponder in, as well as excellent views, naturally. We've tried and tested the burgers here, and they get the PlainSailing.com seal of approval! (Via Ala' Dei Sardi SNC, 07026 Portisco).
Blue beach club – a beach bar that is a lively place through the day with sun-bathers and through the night with cocktails, champagne and dancing on the beach. With fine views out to sea. Bliss! (Localita Golfo di Marinella SNC, 07026 Porto Rotondo).
Places to Stay
You'll normally charter a boat from Saturday to Saturday. If flights aren't available to match, then you might need to spend a night or two on dry land at the start or the end of your holiday. Here's where we head to in the area:
Hotel Le Sirene *** – c. £95 for a double room – the hotel which is located literally right next to the marina, and the only one in Portisco town. Air conditioning and balconies make this a comfortable place to start or end the holiday. They also have 4-person suites available.
Hotel Il Timone *** - c. £75 for a double room – this place is a couple of miles away from Portisco, which would make a nice stroll if you don't have too many bags. Super-friendly and helpful staff, and a fantastic breakfast is included.
Colonna Hotel **** - c. £150 for a double room – If you want to start the holiday in style, then this is the place to head: a luxurious 4-star hotel based in the centre of exclusive Porto Rotondo, with pools, verandas, and top drawer chefs who will wow you with everything they cook. These guys will look after you, and put a smile on your face!
Marina di Portisco
|Long / Latitude:||N 41°01'92 E 9°31'55|
|Telephone:||0039 (0)789 33520|
|Facilities:||Boatyard, Chandler, Electrical supply, Fresh water, Fuel: Diesel, Fuel: Petrol, Launderette, Parking, Pizzeria, Pub / Restaurant, Shop / Supermarket, Showers, Toilets, Telephone, Visitors berths, Wifi|
Getting to the Marina
The nearest airport to Portisco is Olbia, which is only a short 25 minute taxi or transfer ride from the marina - PlainSailing.com can help arrange transfers, so please ask. There is also a public transport option available - the 601 bus will take you (slowly) through Olbia centre, before heading out along the coast to Propisco inside an hour.
Alghero airport is also within transfer range (1 hour 45 minutes), but the other main airport on the island, Cagliari, is a three hour drive away.
This page last updated: September 2018
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