Cala Gonone, the « Cassis » of Sardinia

Visiter Cala Gonone

On Sardinia’s central-eastern coast lies the small town of Cala Gogone: the starting point for wonderful excursions into the surrounding creeks!

If you visit Sardinia for its beaches, turquoise waters and dreamy landscapes, then you absolutely must visit Cala Gonone, a small village of 1,300 inhabitants nestled at the foot of the mountains of eastern Sardinia, near the town of Dorgali in the province of Nuoro.

Cala Gonone bears a striking resemblance to Cassis, the jewel of the Côte d’Azur, not for its port and narrow streets (although…) but for its « cala » and the beaches of the Gulf of Orosei, accessible by boat from Cala Gonone, or from footpaths.

These famous « calas » are in fact « calanques », steep, secluded coves, accessible for the most part only by boat. The « cala » offer magnificent views, crystal-clear water in which to dive or snorkel and observe the multicolored fish. Cala Gonone also offers numerous climbing spots.

Visit Cala Gonone

If you’re traveling to Sardinia on a package holiday or on a road trip around the Italian island, Cala Gonone is one of the destinations you need to visit. This small village lies between the sea and the wild Supramonte mountains, which are covered by a fragrant forest, in a setting not unlike that found on the Côte d’Azur. At Cala Gonone, you’re in the heart of a natural heritage covering more than 225 km².

Cala Gonone, port

While Cala Gonone is famous for its archaeological sites, you’ll have gathered that the main reason for coming here is to visit its famous Cala and spend a day on the water exploring the various beaches and coves along the coast to the south of the village.

Calanques and coves to see

Carte des plages, Cala Gonone, Sardaigne

If you go to the port of Cala Gonone, you’ll see that a small square has sprung up around small huts where vendors offer excursions to the various Calas, boat hire without (or with) a license, kayak hire, and much more. There’s one thing you’re bound to notice: there are no fixed prices, so everything is negotiable, especially out of season.

This is where you can book your excursion to the calanques. For our part, we chose to rent a boat by the day (a fairly powerful inflatable) for more freedom. There were two of us and it cost us €100 (€80 boat and €20 gas). With two people, that works out at €50 per person for the day. With four people, the price drops to €25 per person.

Agencies also offer half-day boat trips that stop at the coves. However, you won’t be able to get down to all the beaches, only the most accessible by boat. It’s generally cheaper (between 20 and 30 euros per person, depending on the boat), but you won’t be able to enjoy it as much as with your own boat. You’ll have to follow the group…

Cala Luna

Cala Luna, Sardaigne

This is the best-known calanque, and therefore the most popular with tourists. It is accessible by boat, but also on foot via a footpath. Cala Luna is generally considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, thanks to its fine sand, caves and oleanders. There are huge cavities formed by the swell, giving it a mystical character. That said, it’s mainly to this beach that the tourist boats take you, which means it’s crowded at all times of the year, weather permitting.

Cala Luna can be reached on foot via an 11 km round-trip hike on a very stony path. You’ll need good shoes, but the walk to Cala Luna is very pleasant. The trail begins at Cala Fuili beach.

The Bue Marino caves

These natural caves are located between Cala Luna and Cala Gonone. They offer a spectacular « forest » of stalactites and stalagmites, once home to the monk seal. The caves are home to an underground salt lake.

Every year, for 10 days at the end of July, the Cala Gonone Jazz Festival takes place. During the event, a unique concert is held inside the caves. The caves can be reached on foot via the same path as Cala Luna (45 min.).

Cala Sisine

Cala Sisine, Sardaigne

The next beach after Cala Luna (if you head south down the coast) is Cala Sisine. This white pebble beach is the mouth of a small winter stream. It can be reached by boat, but also via a footpath that starts along the SS125 road.

Cala Biriola

Cala Biriola is another pearl in the Gulf of Orosei. The water is extremely clear and rich in fish, making it ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling.

Cala Mariolu

Cala Mariolu beach owes its name to the Mediterranean monk seal, which fishermen used to call « mariolu » (thief) because it stole the contents of their nets. Very little frequented, the area is full of caves, one of which opens right onto the cove, while not far away is the Grotta del Fico, which can be reached by boat.

Cala Goloritzé

Cala Goloritzé, Sardaigne

Cala Goloritzé is the last cove to visit if you’re staying in Cala Gonone. It features a natural arch and a limestone stack over 140 meters high. The site is well known to climbers for its rock-climbing routes. To preserve the site from pollution and the onslaught of tourists, the beach is inaccessible by boat, but you can always swim or walk to it from a path.

Where to stay in Cala Gonone?

Cala Gonone is a small village, so there’s not really a neighborhood to choose where to stay, but rather a hotel/apartment to select according to your comfort requirements. The best place to stay is in the streets perpendicular to the beach, 150-200 meters from it. There are local supermarkets throughout the village, and good restaurants where you can sample the seafood and fish brought in by the local fishermen! You can find a cheap hotel in Cala Gonone by searching on this hotel comparator.