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Costa Smeralda

Sardinia's top destination: Costa Smeralda and the Maddalena Archipelago

The Emerald Coast, the Costa Smeralda, in north-eastern Sardinia: a place of longing ever since Prince Karim Aga Khan sailed there in his sailing yacht in the 1960s and fell in love. "Green and gray mountains plunge into the sea, a carpet of purple and yellow, red and blue flowers perfume the air." Thanks to the prince's vision of opening up this splendor to peace-seeking VIPs as an alternative retreat to the crowded seaside resorts in the south of France, the Costa Smeralda is one of the most popular spots in the world.  

The rugged, jagged coastline, known by locals as the "Monti di Mola", was long reserved for mega yachts and millionaires. Today, the bays are full of motor, sailing and charter yachts of all kinds. Sailing in the north-east of Sardinia, between Olbia, the island of Tavolara and Santa Teresa Gallura, is almost a standard part of the program. The beautiful anchor bays and world-famous harbors such as Porto Cervo, Portisco and Poltu Quatu are correspondingly full. Despite the high prices, getting a berth is a matter of luck in the high season.

This is why nautical traffic is spreading northwards: On the edge of the Bocche di Bonifacio strait, the Arcipelago di La Maddalena archipelago offers breathtakingly beautiful anchor bays and charming little marinas on five large islands and a plethora of smaller ones. As a nature reserve and national park, the Maddalena archipelago is subject to a fee and is divided into various controlled protection zones (information at:

With the start of the sailing season, which begins in May with the regattas of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, the first mega yachts arrive from the Caribbean and other areas. At the height of summer, everything that has rank, name or simply a keel crowds into the limited space.

In the Maddalena archipelago in particular, it is advisable to set off early to find a comfortable anchorage. When returning in the evening, those who have got one of the few day moorings (reservations are often only possible on the same day) - or one of the first boats at the harbor entrance. "Ormeggiatori" in rubber dinghies bring guests to the mooring and help with the mooring lines. By the way, the mooring is Roman Catholic, with the stern facing the jetty.

But because everything that is incredibly beautiful often comes to a quick end, everything on the Costa Smeralda is mothballed around the end of September and doors and windows are locked for the winter. The harbors empty abruptly. Until the following summer, the Costa then belongs to the locals and a few wintering sea wolves, the "Lupi di Mare". People who appreciate solitude and experience the Emerald Coast as Prince Aga Khan did.

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