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Much more than just the sea – hiking along Sardinia’s east coast

Travel blogger Sabrina explores the Orosei Nature Park. A hiking trip between wild landscapes and "la dolce far niente".
Sabrina at coastal hiking trail near Cala Sisine

On her blog Couchflucht, travel blogger Sabrina motivates her community to leave the comfort of their own four walls and discover the world on foot or by bike away from mass tourism under the motto "Get off the sofa & out into nature".

In October, Sabrina travelled again to discover on her hiking tour Sardinia’s east coast. In her hiking report, she recalls some of her favourite moments.

Sabrina at coastal hiking trail near Cala Sisine

Extend the summer in the Orosei nature reserve

“Am I really still in Europe?” I ask myself, as I descend the steep and somewhat adventurous steps to the dream beach of Cala Goloritze. Although I had heard before my walking tour that Sardinia is also known as the Caribbean of Europe, I can hardly believe my eyes. The crystal clear water glitters in such an intense turquoise blue that I almost wonder whether I have been beamed into one of those photo wallpapers from the hardware shop.

But Sardinia is so much more. On my tours through the Orosei nature reserve on the east coast, I didn’t only experience paradisiacally beautiful bays and wild coastal footpaths. Rugged limestone cliffs alternate with relaxed forest paths through the highlands’ green and fragrant maquis landscape. And I could celebrate the art of “dolce far niente”, sweet idleness, in all its fullness, with refreshing bathing stops and wine and pasta in the evenings. In my walking report, I take a moment to review some of my favourite moments on Sardinia’s east coast.

Spectacular start with the “Queen’s stage”

Having fully relaxed on the arrival day under the shady olive trees on the beach of Santa Maria Navarrese, we are about to get started. Almost 1,000 metres of climbing and a 20-kilometre stretch are on the agenda today in bright sunshine. We meandered up and down along the rugged coast as soon as we left the holiday resort behind us.

Have you ever heard of the almost legendary coastal walking trail “Selvaggio Blu”, meaning “wild/savage blue”? We follow part of it for a little way and don’t wonder about its name for too long. The turquoise water sparkles below us as we follow the rocky paths and watch some fearless climbers on their routes along the steep cliffs at the limestone peak of Petra Longa.

On the way to the high plateau of Golgo, we explore an untouched and wild mountain world and share the landscape with geckos, goats, donkeys and little pigs that suddenly emerge from the thickets of the holm oak forests. And even though during the day, the sometimes mercilessly steep winding path over the mountain top pushes me to my limits and makes the sweat flow in streams, we finally arrive, exhausted but happy, at the rustic Rifugio Goloritz.

Behind the rock of Petra Longa

The Caribbean of Europe and petting zoo vibes

From our base camp, Rifugio Goloritz, we first cross the beautiful green plateau, which initially almost gave us the feeling that we were at a petting zoo. Today, a gang of donkeys is waiting for us at a crossroads. After they received a bit of tender loving care from us, the path leads us past ancient and gnarled olive trees to the actual start of the trail to the bay of Cala Goloritz.

We hike down a stony path through a gorge with steeply rising cliff walls and a few caves, and with every metre, we hear the roaring sea getting closer. When we arrive at the bottom, a dream beach awaits us, straight out of a picture book. No wonder the Cala Goloritz on the Gulf of Orosei is one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy! Walking clothes are swapped for bikinis and swimming shorts in no time, and we plunge into the turquoise blue waters. I could easily get used to walking breaks like this!

With heavy hearts, we eventually make our way back, sniffing all the Mediterranean herbs and bushes along the path’s edge and enjoying a cappuccino in the rustic bar “Su Porteddu”. Naturally, we don’t miss the striking rock face near our rifugio.

Beautiful Cala Goloritze bay with a view of the sea

How many adventures can there be today? - Off to Cala Mariolu!

Our walking today also begins with a friendly welcoming committee. Right by the ancient pilgrimage church Chiesa di San Pietro al Golgo, we are warmly welcomed by a few donkeys. However, this time, they have their eye on my walking provisions and have a very obvious interest in my apple. I really cannot resist the cute donkey foal among them, so I sigh and leave him my already half-eaten walking snacks.

This time, our route leads through the lonely mountain world and towards the next dream beach, surrounded by myrtle bushes and karst boulders. On the way to the Cala Mariolu, which can only be reached by boat or on foot, we also pass a traditional settlement of the Nuragic culture. Intrigued, we peer inside the hut-like sheepfolds made of juniper wood and marvel at the ruins and remains of the walls around them.

 Shortly before the Arco Mariolu, a huge natural stone arch, the path becomes more challenging and stonier, and there are also a few small scrambling sections waiting for us. The view through the rock arch of the deep blue Gulf of Orosei and the cliffs is spectacular. We forgo the further route down to the bay of Cala Mariolu, which is described as “for experts”, with heavy hearts. The adventurous route with wobbly juniper-wood ladders, wooden walkways and steep sections is somehow too much for me today. So we stroll back to the rifugio, relaxed, and finish the walking day with wine and pasta.

Sabrina at Arco Mariolu rock arch

From one dream beach to the next

In the morning, we are shuttled in a jeep over bumpy gravel roads to a gorge just before Cala Sisine. We hike along the dry riverbed between the high rockfaces and enjoy the scent of mint, thyme, and sage.

When we arrive at Cala Sisine, we can hardly believe that we have the dream beach all to ourselves. How good that we decided to start the walking holiday in mid-October, the off-season! We gain a few metres in altitude on a narrow path and then reach a picture-book cliff path that almost takes our breath away. Along the rugged coast, high above the sea, we eventually reach a rocky plateau, enjoy the sun, and cross a vast karst plateau.

Our destination is the beautiful Cala Luna, where we jump straight into the cool water and rest for a while before we board a boat to Cala Gonone. We spend the next few days in this holiday resort and are delighted at once by a delicious gelato from the ice cream parlour that is directly attached to our hotel. Pretty handy!

Sabrina at deserted beach at Cala Sisine

Caves of stalactites, grottos and sweet idleness?

When I wake up the next morning, I’m in the mood for a relaxing day at the beach. I see myself lying on my towel at the incredibly beautiful Cala Luna for at least a few hours, which we didn’t have time for yesterday. Therefore, our plan is to take a boat to Cala Luna, visit the stalactite caves of Bue Marino on the way there, and then wholeheartedly indulge in “Dolce Far Niente”, or sweet idleness.

 Unfortunately, we had calculated without the weather gods – even though I have dutifully finished my plate full of antipasti and Sardinian specialities every evening! The surf is so strong that no boats can dock today, neither at Cala Luna nor at the famous grottos, which are said to be a real natural wonder.

Plan B no longer really fits my preconceived notions of a relaxed beach day because we now decide to walk the route from Cala Gonone to Cala Luna and back again instead. We are rewarded with a sensational view of the enchanted bay of Cala Fuili and its climbing rockfaces, where there is currently a lot of activity on the routes along the steep cliffs. We also have a few smaller adventures on the path to the beach ourselves – including short scrambles over crooked slabs of rocks and a small river crossing.

Since no boat tourists are around, Cala Luna is especially idyllic today. We explore the caves, feel the sea breeze in our hair and enjoy the moment.

Final flourish around Monte Irveri

Somehow, the last day of our Sardinian walking tour has begun. Today, we want to gain a few more metres in altitude and go on a loop hike from Cala Gonone around Monte Irveri to Cala Cartoe beach.

Vast views of the island’s interior, lonely forests, white limestone cliffs and an adventurous coastal walking trail are on the agenda as we circumnavigate the rocky massif. And, of course, a final farewell swimming break at Cala Cartoe, with its interesting rock formations, should not be missed.

In the last few kilometres, we are accompanied by a fantastic panorama over the entire Gulf of Orosei. We look back on almost all our walking routes over the last few days and enjoy reminiscing about all the adventures.

What a beautiful walking holiday Sardinia has given us! The mix of wild coastal paths, lonely trails in the unspoilt highlands and beautiful beach bays is and remains, for me, the perfect way to extend the summer. All the encounters with donkeys, little Sardinian pigs, goats and cattle have made my walking heart beat faster every day.

Interesting rock formations at Cala Cartoe

Continue reading

You can find further impressions of Sabrina's walking holiday along Sardinia’s east coast in her detailed blog post here: Sardinia – walking on the east coast with Eurohike walking holidays.

More hiking holidays from Sabrina to read

Sabrina has been on several hiking holidays with us. You can read about her experiences in the various destinations here.

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