Experience Corsica and Sardinia together
As the second largest Mediterranean island after Sicily, Sardinia accounts for a quarter of Italy’s entire coast. With a shoreline closer to Africa than Italy, plus crystal clear diving waters, a beautiful climate and an assortment of caves, corals, wrecks, bays, cliffs and inlets, it feels like an exotic charter destination too.
But while the lovely capital, Cagliari, offers all the cool indulgence the well-heeled traveller could want, a really special Sardinian yacht charter has to concentrate on the northeast of the island. Here, the irrepressible vim of party resorts like Porto Cervo is supplemented with an astonishing wealth of secluded coves, sheltered anchorages and dramatic views and seascapes. With southern Corsica’s key charter resorts also within easy reach, this particular corner of Sardinia is a spectacular (and spectacularly versatile) yachting playground.
While Sardinia’s famous Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) gets all the plaudits, Olbia is a very engaging way to ease yourself into a charter yacht adventure. In addition to a large marina, an attractive historic centre and a range of chic cafes, bars and boutiques, this ancient port town sits at the southern access point to Sardinia’s most rewarding stretch of coastline.
Tavolara explodes from the sea like the pinnacle of a mountain – and yet despite its splendour, it has escaped the development seen elsewhere on the Costa Smeralda. All you get on this untouched piece of land is a restaurant, a bar and a beach – and there are two good reasons for that. Firstly, it occupies a position beyond the main tourist coast; and secondly, it has been an independent monarchy ever since a 19th century Genoese sailor proclaimed himself King. As unusual anchorages go, it’s a beauty.
At the southern end of the Costa Smeralda, nestling in the protective Cugnana Gulf are a pair of marina resorts well equipped for the superyacht explorer. On the east side, Porto Rotondo is a stylish tourist haunt, with gorgeous bays, first-class restaurants and a fine line in exclusive pampering for the visiting charter yacht. Meanwhile, just a mile across the mouth of the gulf, Portisco Beach offers a fine, white, sandy incline with warm, shallow, family-friendly waters and a variety of watersports.
The compact hotel and beach resort at Cala di Volpe is famed as the most elite and illustrious in the whole of Sardinia. Much loved by the rich and famous, it sits in the idyllic sheltered bay featured in the iconic ‘Amphibious Lotus’ scene from 007’s ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. From here, the infamous resort of Porto Cervo is only a short hop north and the uninhabited islands of Soffi and Mortoria provide a wonderful yachting escape for an afternoon of tranquil exploration.
Created in the 1950s as a super-exclusive tourist resort, the pretty pastel-coloured village of Porto Cervo enjoys a yacht-friendly position in a natural port among verdant Mediterranean hills. Constructed by Prince Karim Aga Khan, it is a prime example of the northwest’s ‘built-for-purpose’ approach to tourism and its calibre as a feel-good party venue and shopping hub is unsurpassed. With gorgeous landscapes, outlying archipelagos and a proliferation of coves, beaches and bays, this upmarket designer destination is in the yacht charter premier
Maddalena, the largest island in the archipelago of the same name, offers a trio of useful ports, plus a fine beach in Cala Spalmatore. But with Caprera to the east and Sparghi and Buddeli to the west and north (not to mention a scattering of smaller islets) the opportunities for discovering a fresh anchorage and a new inlet are so rich that a pontoon begins to lose its appeal. Instead, anchor up on the southern side of Budelli Island and marvel at the pink hue of the pristine coral sands.
While Sardinia is a superb charter destination, there are few harbour towns in the whole of Europe that can match Bonifacio for sheer drama. Here, on the south coast of neighbouring Corsica, just ten miles across the strait, Bonifacio’s natural harbour nestles between a pair of vast parallel cliff faces, topped with historical streets and fortifications. It is difficult to imagine a more perfect place to bring your yachting adventure to a close.