AS THE MEDITERRANEAN´S PREMIER DIVING DESTINATION, GORGEOUS, ITALIAN SARDINIA ATTRACTS ALL LEVELS OF DIVERS WANTING TO EXPLORE ITS MAZE-LIKE CAVES, HISTORICAL WRECKS AND FASCINATING UNDERWATER LIFE.
DIVING IN SARDINIA
Sardinia is often described as containing the best diving in Italy and perhaps the best throughout the Mediterranean. Technical divers love the area´s caves, history-lovers are fascinated by the wrecks and beginners can ease into the water on a variety of shore dives. Most of the diving takes place on the east coast, because the west side of the island is exposed to the prevailing south westerly winds. In addition, the marine protected areas of the Archipelago of the Maddalena and the Marine Park of Lavezzi offer plentiful marine life.The most visited of Sardinia´s dive sites is the Grotta del Nereo, a series of caves and tunnels reaching over 1150 feet (350 meters). There are 3 used entrances to the cave. Two are quite shallow while one is at 100 feet (30 meters). Divers often utilize the deeper entrance and swim through the chimney, exiting through one of the shallower openings. Slipper lobsters, octopus, red coral, nudibranchs and the largest mussel species in the world, the Pinna nobilis fan mussel, can all be found here.Other dives around the island include: The KT, a 213-foot (65-meter) long German ship which sank in 1943 and sits at 65-115 feet (20-35 meters); The Angelica, a Japanese tanker which sank in 1982 and sits at 65 feet (20 meters); The Cogliano, an 8,000 ton Italian freighter which sank in World War II and sits at 52-62 feet (16-19 meters); and Grouper Reef, home to a colony of 50 territorial groupers weighing 66-88 pounds (30-40kg).
Sardinia experiences a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and humid winters. During the summer months, water temperatures climb to 82°F (26°C), but there is often a thermocline at approximately 40 feet (12 meters) where the temperature drops to about 59°F (15°C). During the winter months, water temperatures tend to hover around 54°F (12°C) and most marine life disappears. In the right season, Sardinia is a diver´s paradise with crystal clear water and fascinating dive sites to explore.
WHAT TO SEE
Sardinia welcomes a large variety of Mediterranean marine life during the spring, summer and fall. In winter, most of the area´s fauna moves to warmer waters.Among the sandy seabeds, maze-like caves and fascinating rock formations, divers have the opportunity to find eagle rays, tuna, groupers, barracudas, the elusive sun fish (March-June), dolphins, octopus, slipper lobsters, the Mediterranean bamboo shark, pipefish, breams, squid, crabs, scorpion fish and moray eels.
Sponges, sea fans and red corals are also visible. Nudibranchs, sea horses, Pinna nobilis fan mussels and other macro life can be spotted year round.
Sardinia, a mountainous granite island, is blessed with gorgeous vistas and endless sun-filled activities. It is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea at 155 miles long by 62 miles wide (250 km long by 100 km wide). The Italian island´s closest neighbors are Corsica to the north, the Italian peninsula to the east, Tunisia to the south and the Balearic islands to the west.
Sardinia is home to a fascinating history beginning with the mysterious Nuragic civilization who built cylindrical towers and fortified villages in the middle of the island as early as 1500 B.C. During the First Punic War, both Carthage and Rome fought for the island, but Rome ultimately won the challenge. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, pirates frequently pillaged the coastal regions, forcing villagers inland. And during the Middle Ages, both Pisa and Genoa colonized a large percentage of Sardinia. In the 14th Century, Spain conquered the entire island which then saw little controversy until the rise of the House of Savoy resulted in its return to a united Italy. During Italy´s period of fascism, Sardinia was exploited for its mineral resources and finally in 1948, the island received the status of autonomous region which it still possesses to this day.
After World War II, the island changed from a principally mining region to a tourist center. This was aided by the development of the Emerald Coast (Costa Smeralda) by Aga Khan in the 1960s. Today, the population is relatively small with just over 1.5 million residents who maintain a distinctly Sardinian culture. This includes two regional languages which are spoken by the entire population, Italian and Sardinian.
As the second largest island in the Mediterranean, Sardinia has a wide range of topside activities to keep you busy. Visitors may enjoy chartering a sailboat for a round the island trip or popping by the Asinara National Park to seek out its famous albino donkeys. Make some time to visit the gorgeous beaches surrounding the island or hike across the mountainous terrain. Horseback riding has long been part of Sardinia´s identity and as such several ranches can be found scattered around the island. Owing to its rich history, Sardinia also hosts a huge variety of monuments, including Barumini, a witch house and UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you have the chance to visit in the summer, don´t miss the opportunity to participate in one of the island´s folklore festivals which often feature colorful costumes and rich traditions. Here´s a hot tip. Avoid visiting in August when the island is filled to capacity with tourists and accommodation prices double. May and October are good for diving and far less crowded topside.
There are three airports on Sardinia, Cagliari-Elmas Airport, Olbia Airport, and Alghero-Fertilia Airport. All three welcome both domestic flights and flights originating throughout Western Europe.It is also possible to travel by ferry from the Italian mainland, Sicily, Corsica, and Barcelona to Sardinia´s ports of Cagliari, Porto Torres, Olbia, Golfo Aranci, Arbatax, and Santa Teresa di Gallura.
Once you have arrived in Sardinia, options for travel around the island include taxi, private car, bus, train, bicycle and boat charter.