While I’m glad we responded to the urge to explore the island far and wide, on a second trip to Sardinia I would plant myself in Cala Gonone and see all the Golfo di Orosei region has to offer.
Cala Gonone is a small city on the east coast of Sardinia at the northern end of the magical Golfo di Orosei. What it lacks in history (like Alghero or Cagliari for example) it makes up for in natural beauty and activities.
So here’s why Cala Gonone was my favorite place in Sardinia:
1. Because Cala Gonone is an oasis
It probably helped that we were staying at the dreamiest hillside hotel with the best. views. ever.
Hotel L’Oasi (TripAdvisor profile) is – and I’m not exaggerating here – truly an oasis. The white buildings are draped in magenta flowers pollinated by an abundant butterfly population. The view from the reception and restaurant area as well as from the sea-facing rooms displays the majesty of blue sky meeting blue water; the gulf curves around, creating mountain silhouettes in the distance.
Even more impressive is Hotel L’Oasi’s commitment to conservation. We received a flyer in our room explaining their efforts to obtain the European Ecological Mark, including separate, clearly-marked bins on the grounds for recycling, and water-efficient shower heads, amongst other things.
I’ll admit: one major downside was having to hike back up the hill to the hotel after going into Cala Gonone’s town and tourist center. It’s not the type of hike one wants to be doing more than twice a day in the baking Sardinian heat. But this is the price we pay for the epic views!
We were grateful to have breakfasts and dinners at the hotel not only because this saved us a few hikes up and down the hill, but also because the food was mouth-wateringly delicious.
Massimo and Caterina, the hotel owners, couldn’t have been kinder or more helpful. Caterina let us sample mirto, a Sardinian liquor made from the myrtle plant and taught us about the traditions of Sardinian cooking. Massimo gave us tips for our drive along the gulf’s highway that led us to a perfect little cove where the rocks met the water and we could slip our feet in.
2. Because there are so many activities!
Rock climbing. Road tripping. Swimming. Hiking. Kayaking. Boating. It’s ALL there. I would love revisit Sardinia in the spring or fall when it’s a bit cooler so we could really get into hiking. The heat had us constantly itching for a dip in the sea instead (and what a sea it was!).
We rented a small private boat and boated to the beaches along the gulf. I’m a huge beach fanatic so this remains one of my absolute favorite experiences in Sardinia. For more info on how to explore the beaches of the Golfo di Orosei by boat, check out this article or this article.
We had our sights set on trekking Gola di Gorropu, one of the deepest canyons in Europe which is nearby to Cala Gonone, and Tiscali, which are ancient ruins also nearby but couldn’t make it happen in the heat.
We also wanted to try our hand at sea kayaking but just didn’t have the time :/
3. Because it’s down-to-earth
We drove through the Costa Smeralda in the north of Sardinia and it was clear that the vibe there is definitely more…extravagant. We also found the crowds at Spiaggia della Pelosa, the famed “best beach in Sardinia” in the northwest, overwhelming. (Although we still really enjoyed the beach). Cala Gonone was easygoing and laid back in comparison, which was exactly how we wanted to feel on vacation.
The Golfo di Orosei is not number 1 on Lonely Planet’s list of things to do in Sardinia for nothing.
Headed to Sardinia? Check out our week-long Sardinia itinerary for extra tips on where to go and what to do.
Thank you to Hotel L’Oasi for their hospitality! As always, I only write the my honest opinions based on my experiences.
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