Costa Smeralda Sardinia – The Emerald Coast
Embraced by the warm and salty waters of the Mediterranean, the diverse coastal area of the Costa Smeralda in Sardinia offers beachfront resorts, rental villas, boutique hotels, chic marinas, shopping areas and a vibrant nightlife – while keeping a balance with its beautiful surroundings. Located roughly between the villages of Baja Sardinia and Porto Rotondo, the Emerald Coast consists of miles and miles of picture-perfect bays, coves and white sandy beaches. As if that weren’t enough, the perfectly clear green and turquoise waters seem to come straight out of a Caribbean dream.
Hotel Cala di Volpe
Located in a romantic spot in the heart of the Costa Smeralda, Hotel Cala Di Volpe offers a very peaceful vibe in the midst of the charming village with Sardinian houses and villas. It is the very first hotel that was built on the Costa Smeralda in the early 1960’s. The five-star hotel surrounds itself with the unforgettable vibes of Mediterranean white sand beaches and tantalizing vistas of the mountains of Golfo Aranci and Isola Tavolara. Hotel Cala Di Volpe offers 124 guest rooms that include six suites, and an outdoor pool with a length of nearly 50 meters. The hotel offers an amazing experience of luxury and comfort with the classic double, premium double, superior double, and deluxe suites. The hotel features an intimate sanctuary that is filled with excitement with the amenities they provide right at your fingertips. There is complimentary WiFi, a private beach, three tennis courts, and two fitness centers available for hotel guests.
This perfect haven exudes beauty and isolation with its proximity to Spiaggia Capriccioli, which is about fifty meters away. Hotel Capriccioli sits to the eastern coastline of beautiful Sardinia and is about 1.4 kilometers from Spiaggia del Principe. Guests can also visit Spiaggia di Liscia Ruja at 1.6 kilometers and the Giants Tombs of Coddu Vecchiu at 13.3 kilometers. The 20.4-kilometer proximity to Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport makes the place even more charming for guests who want to enjoy the breeze of Sardinia at the most comfortable site. Hotel Capriccioli provides excellent choices for a double or twin room with side sea views, a small single room, or a small double room. A double room and triple room with balcony are perfect for guests’ varying requirements. A private parking area ensures the safety of vehicles and does not require reservations. There is also an outdoor pool for additional enjoyment for guests during their stay. A wide range of activities that guests may pick includes canoeing, bike rental, golf, and tennis.
Costa Smeralda beaches belong to the best beaches in Europe, and the Emerald Coast is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Italy. All beaches are open to the public, and offer some of the best swimming and snorkeling in the entire Mediterranean. The best time to go to is summer. But if you want to avoid the crowds and prefer cooler water temperatures, simply avoid July and August when water temperatures reach over 25 degrees Celsius. Spring and early Autumn are absolutely gorgeous.
If you want to be sure you’ve seen the best beaches, here’s our bucket list:
- Spiaggia del Piccolo Pevero and Spiaggia del Grande Pevero. 300 meters of white sands and shallow waters.
- Liscia Ruja. An absolute must-see, one of the longest beaches located between Portisco and Cala di Volpe.
- Spiaggia del Principe. Find out why this was Prince Karim Aga Khan’s favorite beach, located near Cala di Volpe. Lovely clear water, great for sunbathing and snorkeling! A 10 minutes’ walk from the parking lot. Bring proper footwear. Busy during high season, go early or later in the afternoon.
- Spiaggia del Romazzino. Sheltered from the wind, with shallow waters. Located right in front of Hotel Romazzino, 5 kilometers south-east of Porto Cervo. Park your car behind the hotel.
- Spiaggia Capriccioli. 200 meters long, with beautiful views of the islands of Mortorio, Soffi and Le Camere.
- Nikki Beach. An oasis for the selfie crowd. Situated on the bay of Spiaggia di Petra Ruja, best accessed by sea (or private yacht!). Shuttle services depart daily from the Porto Cervo Marina, Marina di Portisco, Marina di Porto Rotondo, the Romazzino Hotel and Hotel Cala di Volpe.
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A Brief History of Costa Smeralda
Shepherds and Farmers
When Sardinia was still “lost between Europe and Africa, and belonging to nowhere,” as English writer and poet D.H. Lawrence once wrote in “Sea and Sardinia“, and before the Costa Smeralda came into existence, the area was mostly agricultural, inhabited by local shepherds, farmers, and fishermen.
You’d find only a few so-called ‘stazzi’ (from the Latin word “statio”), the typical granite country houses of the shepherds, scattered around the areas of Cala di Volpe, Abbiadori, Monte Tundi, and Liscia di Vacca. Polto Celvu, the harbor which was soon to become Porto Cervo, was visited only by cattle that went to the shore in search of shade.
A New Costa
Construction of the Costa Smeralda holiday resort area on the Italian island of Sardinia began in the early 1960’s, and took many years before it was completed. The project was enormous, as the Emerald Coast consists of 25000 acres with 35 miles (56 kilometers) of beachfront land.
John Duncan Miller, a London banker, came up with the initial plan to transform the area known as Monti di Mola (which, as a matter of fact, means “Rocky Mountains”) into a new Costa in the Mediterranean included building a new airport and terminal (now Olbia Airport), an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones (the Pevero Golf Club), and a far larger mooring capacity for the port of Porto Cervo, the “capital” of the Costa.
The Costa Smeralda Consortium
To serve the future flock of tourists and prepare for mass tourism, 35 hotels, nearly 10000 villas and apartments and over 80 beaches had to be developed. The very first hotel to be built was the 54-room Hotel Cala di Volpe, designed by the French architect Jacques Couelle, a friend of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
Back in the day, the development of the Emerald Coast was estimated at $300 million (about $2.5 billion in today’s dollars) – one of the most ambitious European land development projects ever undertaken. The project was funded by a consortium of private European investors, including Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, André Ardoin, John Duncan Miller, Giuseppe Kerry Mentasti, Enzo Fumagalli, Patrick Guinness, and René Podbielski.
Where to Go
To help you decide where to go, below you’ll find a practical overview of all the beautiful seaside villages and beaches to visit during your holiday in Costa Smeralda, Sardinia.
Porto Cervo is a world-renowned Italian seaside resort and the main centre of the Costa Smeralda. The village is located 23 kilometers north of Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, in the municipality of Arzachena, Olbia-Tempio. The area around Porto Cervo is home to some of the most expensive hotels in the world.
Beaches Near Porto Cervo
Pevero beach (Spiaggia del Pevero), located just 3 kilometers south of Porto Cervo, consists of two beaches: Piccolo Pevero beach and Grande Pevero beach.
Cala Granu beach (Spiaggia Cala Granu) is a small beach - 100 meters long - located 1 kilometer north of Porto Cervo, in the heart of the Costa Smeralda.
Liscia di Vacca beach is one of the smallest of the Costa Smeralda. Together with La Pitrizza and Cala Granu, it encloses the peninsula of Capo Ferro. It offers magnificent views of the Maddalena Archipelago to the north-west, Isola Capuccini to the north, and the headlands of Capo Ferro to the north-east. The cozy beach is fully equipped with umbrellas and deck chairs.
Just 200 meters north of Liscia di Vacca beach you will find Pitrizza beach. It is a private beach that belongs to the famous and luxurious Hotel Pitrizza.
500 meters north-east of Cala Granu you will find Colonna beach, the northenmost beach of the Costa Smeralda, and a private property of the Colonna Resort.
Cala di Volpe ('the bay of foxes’) is a small community located in Arzachena in the province of Olbia-Tempio, in north-east Sardinia, Italy. The village is located in the historical region known as Gallura on the Emerald Coast, between the beaches of Li Itriceddi and Capriccioli. Its strategic position offers easy access to several famous Costa Smeralda beaches. This near-perfect travel destination is overflowing with celebrities and attractions, and here you'll find some of the most highly regarded Costa Smeralda hotels, such as Hotel Cala di Volpe and Hotel Romazzino.
Beaches Near Cala di Volpe
Liscia Ruja is located between Portisco and Cala di Volpe, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches of the Costa Smeralda
Romazzino Beach, just north of Romazzino village and south-east of Porto Cervo, has white sand and clear blue water. Suitable for families with children.
Principe beach (Spiaggia del Principe) is one of the most beautiful beaches of the Costa Smeralda, and shouldn't be missed by those visiting Sardinia.
Capriccioli Beach belongs on the list of the most beautiful beaches of the Costa Smeralda. This rather small beach is divided by enormous granite rocks. This beach offers beautiful views of the island of Mortorio, which can only be reached by small boats. Also, Capriccioli offers panoramic views of the islands of Soffi and Le Camere, both situated roughly 2 kilometers off the coast. The waters are shallow, and often very calm and smooth with a gentle tide, allowing children to play freely.
Within a comfortable walking distance from the beach of Capriccioli you will find La Celvia beach, in the heart of the beatiful Sardinian Costa Smeralda.
Cala Romazzino is a small cove that is located just north of Hotel Romazzino. It is one of the little Sardinian treasures that requires some effort to find.
South-west of Cala di Volpe you'll discover Spiaggia Li Itriceddi. It faces south-east, featuring views of Isola Soffi, and yachts passing by in summer.
Spiaggia dell Elefante has a length of only 100 meters, and is intersected by several rocky patches and pieces of residential gardens that reach all the way to the sea. Only a few parts of this beach are actually sandy, but these parts are all very secluded. You can discover all the sandy parts by carefully strolling through the rocky and shallow waters. This beach mostly faces west, and offers magnificent views of the coastal area near Spiaggia Li Itriceddi, 700 meters across the Cala di Volpe Bay. It is the perfect beach to experience pure nature, relaxation and stunning views!
Spiaggia del Pirata is a small beach that's located 50 meters south of Hotel Capriccioli. It has a length of just 100 meters and faces west, offering views of la Celvia beach to the north and the mountainous surroundings behind Spiaggia Li Itriceddi to the west. It is a nice beach for some relaxed snorkelling, as its waters are shallow and you'll find some scattered rocks in the water to swim around. On the north side of the beach you'll find a dock. Parking is available right behind the beach.
Portisco is a small village in the municipality of Olbia, in the province of Olbia-Tempio. It is located near the Gulf of Cugnana, west of Porto Rotondo. The village is well-known for its harbor, home to many yachts sailing the Costa Smeralda in summer.
Beaches Near Portisco
Portisco beach and its surrounding beaches are the most beautiful beaches of the Sardinian Costa Smeralda, located 15 kilometers away from Olbia.
Petra Ruja beach lies south of Liscia Ruja beach has pinkish sand, incredibly clear water, and is a good spot for snorkelling. Car parking is 700 meters away.
Looking out over Golfo Cugnana to the east, and the Soffi and Mortorio islands to the west, Razza di Junco beach is 250 meters long and 20 meters wide.
Rena Bianca beach lies just 10 kilometers south of Porto Cervo, along the Costa Smeralda coastline, in between Razza di Junco beach and Portisco beach.
Porto Rotondo is located between the Gulf of Cugnana and the Gulf of Marinella, 13 kilometers north of Olbia. Together with Porto Cervo, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the Costa Smeralda. Some of its beaches make up the crown to the Emerald Coast, and its marina offers a safe haven to over 600 boats of all sizes. Ideal for a either short getaway or an extended stay, Porto Rotondo is a small port with big reputation and some of the most stunning scenery anywhere along the coastline.
Beaches Near Porto Rotondo
Spiaggia Ira is located between the Gulf of Porto Rotondo and Cugnana, in Punta Nuraghe, Sardinia. It is the main beach of Porto Rotondo, and also its longest. Spiaggia Ira faces north-west, offering marvelous views of the Porto Rotondo Bay, with pleasure yachts sailing in and out of the Marinas of Porto Rotondo and Portisco during summer. The beach offers plenty of services and is suitable for families with kids.
Rudargia beach (Spiaggia Rudargia) is a small beach near Porto Rotondo and Ira beach - at the southern border of the famous Costa Smeralda area in Sardinia.
Just a few hundred meters east of the marina of Porto Rotondo, in the direction of Punta Volpe, you'll find Spiaggia dei Sassi. It consists of fine sand and some small stones, and is surrounded by several cliffs. The beach is equipped with several facilities. To get there from the centre of Porto Rotondo follow the signs to Punta Volpe.
Spiaggia Punta Volpe is one of the most beautiful beaches of Porto Rotondo. Situated in a cove shaped like a half moon, this beach faces north-west, and has a length of about 200 meters.
On the other side of Spiaggia Ira you'll find Punta Nuraghe, a small beach with a length of about 80 meters. It faces west, featuring views over the Golfo Cugnana and Marina di Portisco to the north-east. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent, as well as canoes.
Baja Sardinia is a popular beach resort in the Gulf of Arzachena, just a few minutes away from the Costa Smeralda on the northeast coast of Sardinia. Over the years, the small seaside village has grown in popularity, thanks to the development of the Costa Smeralda. Baja Sardinia comprises of villa complexes, hotels, and resorts, alongside a handful of restaurants, bars, and boutiques, all arranged in a small square by the beach. The beaches at Baja Sardinia are famous for scuba diving, and thanks to the bay’s position, it’s a perfect spot for water sports activities such as windsurfing and sailing.
Beaches Near Baja Sardinia
Baia Sardinia beach is one of the northernmost beaches of the Costa Smeralda area. The beach faces north, with spectacular views of the Maddalena Archipelago, which can easily be reached by boat. Various daily trips can take you to the Maddalena Archipelago and the other islands of Budelli, Caprera, Spergi, Santa Maria and Razzoli. Watersports like windsurfing are very popular in this area, thanks to the perfect combination of the bay’s location.
Just a few kilometers south-west from the center of Baja Sardinia you'll find the beach of Cala Tremonti (Spiaggia di Tremonti). This pristine beach, shaped like a half moon, is set among polished granite rocks and has a length of about 140 meters. Cala Tremonti is one of few beaches of the Costa Smeralda that faces due west, making it the ideal romantic spot for watching the sun go down at the end of a warm day. In the middle of the beach, you'll find beach chairs and parasols available for rent. On the south side, you'll find a 150-meter long footpath that gives easy access to two smaller beaches.