Cruising the Emerald Coast
The dazzling white of the limestone cliffs and the cobalt blue of the sea dominate this stretch of coastline.
A fascinating journey awaits those embarking on Sardinia's panoramic SS131 coastal highway, road which leads from Sassari to Porto Torres and beyond, to the magnificent Emerald Coast.
Now a well established elite tourist destination, the Emerald Coast owes its transformation as playground of the rich and famous to Prince Aga Khan Karim who, on March 14th 1962 together with a number of associate business men and owners of some 3000 hectares of land, founded the Consortium of the Emerald Coast
The places to explore, the scenery to photograph, the emotions to experience in this part of Northern Sardinia are never ending. From Porto Torres onwards we come across a succession of beautiful bays, hidden coves and splendid beaches, such as that of Alghero, famous for its Riviera del Corallo.
The large beach of Platanoma is characterized by its soft golden sand dunes. Nearby, there is an immense freshwater pond fed by the Buddi Buddi river, which provides the natural habitat for a great quantity of birds.
Elephant and castle
The town of Castelsardo sits perched on a promontory directly above the sea. From its position high up above the old medieval center, the castle dominates the surrounding territory which it once guarded from attack by invaders. The stronghold was built in 1102 by the Doria of Genoa, in an era marked by the battles between the great Marine Republics.
Immediately outside Castelsardo, by the roadside, we find a spectacular rock formation known as the Roccia del Elefante, or Elephant's Rock, for its strange resemblance to the animal.
A few kilometers after Isola Rossa we come to Santa Teresa di Gallura, Sardinia's northern most town, situated directly opposite the Bocche di Bonifacio.
An important jazz festival is held here each August when a series of concerts are performed in various parts of the town
From Santa Teresa, along the SS133 and SS133bis, we head towards Palau, the first large town on the Emerald Coast. Palau looks directly across the sea to the Archipelago of the Maddalena, a group of some 60 islands and islets which, in 1994, was awarded the status of National Park.
From this point onwards, our journey leads us past some of the world's most spectacular beaches. The beaches of Saline, Cannigione, Cala dei Ginestri, Cala Bitta, Baia Sardinia, all immersed in a dramatically beautiful landscape of shimmering sea, striking rock formations, and centuries old olive trees.
This is where the harbors begin to fill with the yachts of the rich and famous, and where the streets of the seaside towns are lined with designer shops, stylish bars and fashionable restaurants.
Porto Cervo is the heart of the Emerald Coast, its Piazza Rossa attracting that explosive mix of celebrities and paparazzi which the tabloid magazines die for
Continuing onwards in the direction of Olbia, we come to the beach of Pevero and the bay of Cala di Volpe. Not to be missed: the beaches of Capriccioli, Romazzino and Li Cogghj, the latter also known as the Prince's Beach, in honor of Karim Aga Khan.
Our journey draws to a close in Porto Rotondo, just a few kilometers from Olbia, and Golfo Aranci from where ferries depart for Civitavecchia on the Italian mainland.
Hotels in the area
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S.Teresa di Gallura