Sardinia Day Five: Arbatax Boat Day Trip to Cala Mariolu, Grotta’s and heading up to Olbia
Some of the most amazing beaches in Sardinia are located on the east coast, along the National Park, which in Italian is called Parco Nazionale del Golfo di Orosei e del Gennargentu.
The only down side is that these beaches are only accessible by boat which meant leaving our little hire car at the hotel and jumping on a boat! However it makes for an awesome day and not to mention, the beaches are pure and unspoiled as there is no road access and whilst the tourists do arrive by boat, it’s well looked after!
Jenna did some research and we decided to pre-booking a day tour with Nuovo Consorzio Marittimo (their website is mostly in Italian, there should be an English site by Summer 2016!).
We, therefore, booked ours via email, firstname.lastname@example.org and they were quick to respond and were happy to book us in via email. We collected and paid for our tickets the evening before as the office in Arbatax is open late. We chose the Red line which covered Cala Mariolu, Cala Sisine, Cala Luna, Grotta del Fico and Grotta del Bue Marino.
The boat departed from Abartax Port. It was a convenient stroll down from our hotel, for more on our hotel and Arbatax, check out our Day Four blog on Sardinia.
Cala Mariolu: This beach would have to be one of the most popular beaches in Sardinia. It is simply breathtaking and words can’t describe the colour of the water. Being able to stop here was incredible!
You have an option to go scuba diving here as well if that’s something you’re interested in and this can be organised on the boat before you arrive. Cala Mariolu is a pebbled beach (so remember to wear your rock shoes!) and is overhung by a magnificent hillside covered in Mediterranean vegetation.
We spent our time enjoying the water and swimming around to one of the caves, which I might add gets a little rough with the waves crashing in!
Cala Sisine: This beach was our lunch stop for the day! There were quite a few locals who decided to bring their own lunch and enjoy it on the beach. This was a smart idea! The walk to the restaurant is a couple hundred metres away, which is fine… but the service was slow and that certainly isn’t ideal when you have limited time to order, eat, pay and enjoy the beach (it wasn’t all that relaxing!). We happened to be one of the first tables to order, so were lucky as there were a few families who walked out after their meals failed to come out quick enough.
The beach itself is a rocky beach, the water as clear as the other beaches!
Cala Goloritze: Although we didn’t stop at this beach, we slowly went past so we could admire the beautiful beach!
Cala Luna: We stopped here for a short while. For those not wishing to continue to Grotta del bue Marino they stayed here, and the rest of us went to the Grotta. However, we still had free time at the beach after our visit to the Grotta. There are some incredible limestone cliff faces which you can walk through while dodging the crashing waves at the same time! It was really quite beautiful.
Grotta del Bue Marino: This cave was really something incredible. There are amazing stalactites and stalagmites throughout the entire cave. For those who aren’t sure what they are, a stalactite is an icicle-shaped formation that hangs from the ceiling of a cave and is produced by precipitation of minerals from water dripping through the cave ceiling. Most stalactites have pointed tips.
A stalagmite is an upward-growing mound of mineral deposits that have precipitated from water dripping onto the floor of a cave. Most stalagmites have rounded or flattened tips.
The cave also has some Neolithic wall carvings to look at. You will be taken on a guided tour of the Grotta and it was very much an enjoyable tour!
Grotta del Fico: When our boat pulled up outside the Fico cave, I didn’t really know what to expect. I hadn’t done a lot of research, it was just something that was an optional extra to the beaches. It is situated 10 metres above sea level, among the limestone cliffs of the Baunei’s coast.
There are 800m of boardwalks for guests to enjoy the 50 minute guided tour and enjoy the mysterious cave. The Fico cave used to be the access to the cave for the Mediterranean monk seal as they used it for breeding in the inner beaches.
It was a great tour and we really enjoyed it. It also was a welcome break from the heat of the day!
It was then time for our 45-minute journey back to Arbatax port. On the way back, the staff on the boat put together a large tub of Sangria and for a small tip, you can take a cup full. It was a nice added touch!
The ride back was by no means boring, we got to see some beautiful rock formations that hugged the ocean.
After a long day on the water, as tired as we were, we had a 2.5-hour drive ahead of us to get to Olbia, our destination for the next two nights! We put google maps on and got on our way … however, we came across a street sign (which was massive)… it said Olbia … so we thought it would be best to follow the street signs instead of google maps in case there was a newer road which was more direct…
After about 20 minutes of driving up and around the mountains, we realised that this was actually not the faster route.. instead the most scenic route possible weaving in and out of mountains, going all the way up, to come all the way down again! There was no possible way to turn around and no possible way of finding out how much further we had to drive as we had no mobile service. It quickly got dark and we were getting very tired! We managed to get through the National Park to a town and picked up some GPS service and opened up google maps… this lovely detour put us behind by around 40 minutes (which I am sure would have been longer should we have followed the speed limit)!!! Not what we needed…. If we had followed google maps, it would have taken us to the brand new highway right up the middle of the island – nice and quick!
We made it to Olbia safe and sound and met our Air B&B host and settled into our apartment for the night!
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