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Southern Europe / The Mediterranean

Italy: Italy, Sardinia

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THE ISLAND
sardiniablennie(250x262q60a2).jpgSardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Not well known as a UK diving destination, the island has much to offer: a rocky coastline interspersed with clean sandy beaches, good underwater visibility and a variety of affordable holiday accommodation. The island is not yet overrun with tourists and retains its distinctive nature and tradition.

Sardinia is located only 2 hours flight journey from the UK, now with the daily low cost flights companies going out from either Stansted or Gatwick the island is easy and cheap to reach.

Beside the diving, Sardinia hides incredible white sand beaches where you can swim into clear, blue waters without being cold from mid May up to November.

THE DIVING

sardiniaeel(250x188q60a2)(1).jpgThe diving in Sardinia is probably one of the best in Italy as most of the northern part of the island is a Protected Area with the large Marine Park of the Archipelago of the Maddalena and the Marine Park of Lavezzi.

The main underwater topography is formed by granite rocks with overhangs, swim through, canyons all covered by colorful soft corals. Fish life is also aboundant and you do not need to go very deep to find groupers, moray eels, scorpion fish, multicolors wrasses and an amazing range of nudibranch's. On season it is also frequent to see schools of baracuda's, tuna's, jack's.

Clear water and a rocky coastline with caves and caverns and numerous wrecks. Diving is undertaken around the coast and there are many dive organisations on the island.ec10tavobeach

The limestone massif of Tavolara is without doubt one of the geological marvels that can leave you breathless. It is located close to the North-East coast of the Gallura just south of Olbia and Costa Smeralda.  This area can be considered amongst the most interesting of the entire Mediterranean. A few years ago this area was integrated into the new marine park of Tavolara and Punta Coda Cavallo.  A measure taken to protect this corner of the Sardinian coast which is unique from a geomorphologic, biological and environmental point of view.

The island is a dolomitic block of the Mesozoic era. Its cliff falls off straight to sea level from a height of 565 metres and dominates the small archipelago at its base. Tavolara  calcareous rock formations are surrounded by small granitic islands, most notably Molara and Molarotto, which are small rocks surrounded by the blue and crystal-clear sea where the mighty limestone suddenly breaks up and precipitates into the sea.

The structure of the sea floor is rich in ravines, rifts and small caves and provides the natural habitat for a series of water organisms that live and reproduce in this area. The sea floor is particularly rich in life, and you are bound to come across large groupers, lobsters and morays. The rocks on the sea floor are often covered with walls of red and yellow sea plumes. Unexpected and particularly exciting ec10tavowreckencounters can happen with schools of barracudas, dentexes and migrating fishes such as yellowtails and bonitos.

Three exciting wrecks also exist in the marine park at 18, 33, and 8 metres. There are many dive sites in this area suitable for all grades of diver.

Isolo Caprera (Caprera Island) boasts many dive sites with excellent visibility and much sealife in evidence. A dive here is usually possible regardless of the weather conditions or sea state by seeking shelter on the leeward side of the island.

sardiniajapfr3(200x271q60a2).jpgGrouper Reef, is home to a colony of more than 50 territorial groupers, each weighing 30 - 40 kg. Those more interested in wrecks than sealife will also find much to see. The Japanese freighter ANGELICA ran aground and sank in 1982 and now sits upright and intact in 20 metres of water. The COGLIANO was an 8,000 ton Italian freighter sunk by bombing during the Second World War and now broken over a large area at 16 - 19 metres.

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In the east, Orosei is a small coastal town with 6 km of sandy beach and access to the Gulf of Orosei. The coastline between Arbatax and Orosei, including the small island of Ogliastra, is rich with life including grouper, bream, amberjacks and lobsters. Underwater caves with stalactites and stalactites abound in this area. Further south along the coast, dive organisations in Muravera and Villasamus offer dives to sea mounts rising to near the surface from the seabed at 40 metres with much sealife and the chance to examine pieces of amphora from the ancient ships that used to ply these wtaers. Nearby, a Second World War freighter sits upright in 49 metres.

sardiniajapfr1(250x162q60a2).jpgOn the west coast, dive organisations are based at Alghero, Bosa, Carloforte in the south west and Oristano.

The little sea side village of Palau is probably the best place to stay if you like to visit the 40 dive sites located in the Marine Parks of Maddalena and Lavezzi. In Palau you will find all the characteristics of a laid back mediterrean village with little shops, cafes, and great restaurants.The Bsac Resort Nautilus located in Palau can provide you with more information on the diving sites here, possible accomodation and transports.

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Costs. A one day trip including 2 boat dives, tanks and weights costs in the order of 80 Euros.


sardinianautilusrecept(190x253q60a2).jpgFOR NON DIVERS
Sardinia has a rich history and this is reflected in its wealth of historical and pre - historical sites. Smaller inland villages are worth visiting for their traditions and local products.

For those who want to relax, Sardinia is famous for its beaches while trekking, mountain-biking and horse-riding are all popular holiday activities. Water sports include sailing and snorkelling.

Frequent festivals are held around the island at different times of year and it is said that there is a festival somewhere on the island on every day of the year.



TRAVEL INFORMATION
HOW TO GET THERE
Regular scheduled flights from UK airports to Cagliari in the south, Olbia in the north near the Costa Smeralda and Alghero in the northwest. It is best to shop around for flights, Ryanair has offered flights from Stanstead to Alghero for as little as ?110.

Roads on the island can be tricky and the journey from Alghero to Cagliari can take 4 hours or so - worth bearing in mind when booking flights.

It is also possible to reach Sardinia by ferry from the Italian mainland, Corsica and Tunis. The trip from Genoa to Cagliari take about 20 hours and costs about (2002 prices) 54 Euros in high season.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
UK citizens will require a full passport but there is no requirement for a visa.

MEDICAL
No particular requirements but beware of the strong sun and the danger of dehydration.

WHERE TO STAY
Sardinia has a wide range of accommodation in all categories.

A self catering apartment sleeping 4-6 in Porto Corallo costs between 600-1,000 Euros for a week. Single rooms in small self-catering villas cost between 60-90 Euros per night.

Some organisations will arrange a package including transfer from the airport, one week's villa accommodation with half board, including wine for ?275.

LANGUAGE
The official language is Italian with many people speaking Sardinian. English is not well understood away from the towns and resorts.

CLIMATE
Land temperatures range from 14 degrees in Winter to 31?C in Summer with the hottest months being July and August. There is usually a breeze blowing across the island.

Water temperatures vary between 14 and 24?C.

WATCH OUT FOR
Sardinians enjoy their siesta during the summer months and this is manifested in rules concerning noise during the siesta hours. This can mean that car journeys are not permitted on camping sites and there may be other local restrictions.

Adequate sun protection is essential during summer months.

MORE INFORMATION

Italian State Tourist Board (ENIT):
1 Princes Street
London
W1B 2AY

Telephone: 020 7408 1254
Brochure Request Line: 020 66 508 925
Fax: 020 7399 3567

Sardinia Tourist Authority (ESIT):
Via Mameli 97
1-09124 Cagliari

Telephone: 070 60231/60233 (Sardinia 0039)

  

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Tourist Office

The diving in Sardinia is probably one of the best in Italy as most of the northern part of the island is a Protected Area with the large Marine Park of the Archipelago of the Maddalena and the Marine Park of Lavezzi.

 
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