Boat Tour of La Maddalena Islands Archipelago with Natour Sardinia – Sardinia
When we decided to visit Sardinia, there was no question that one of our must stop places was in the north east part of the island to the Arcipelago di La Maddalena National Park, also known as the La Maddalena Archipelago. There are seven major islands that make up this area – La Maddalena, Caprera, Budelli, Santa Stefano, Santa Maria, Spargi, and Razzoli – and there are many smaller islands surrounding the area. What makes this part of the country so special is the stunning crystal clear water – so much that it does not even look real.
Of the islands that make up the La Maddalena Archipelago, there are two accessible by ferry then car/scooter/bike – La Maddalena and Caprera. The other islands (as well as some spots on Caprera) require boat access. I knew off the top that we would definitely want some time to visit by boat. For our three days in this area, I planned to allocate them by:
- Day 1: Boat to explore the islands of La Maddalena
- Day 2: Boat to explore the island of Caprera
- Day 3: Ferry/scooter to explore the island of La Maddalena
I wanted to make sure we found a good company to take us on these boat excursions. While people visiting charter their own boat or go with a private guide, those are quite expensive options in the peak season and we do not know how to operate a boat. I also did not want a giant boat that dropped off a boat load of people and overcrowded a spot. Through my searching, I found Natour Sardinia – a small family run company that focuses on eco-friendly tourism operating with small boats that have a ten person maximum. This company also offered both tours of La Maddalena Islands and Caprera for full days to explore everything.
We met at the office in downtown Palau then headed to the dock for our day ahead – to say we were excited was an understatement!
La Maddalena Islands Boat Tour
The La Maddalena Islands boat tour covered the area to the west and north of La Maddalena Island.
After introductions and an overview of what to expect for the day, we pushed off and we headed into the open sea. Our first stop was along the coast to the west of Palau along Nelson Bay and Porto Rafael Village up to Punta Sardenga. We admired the extravagant houses, saw the fortresses built into the rock. We went slowly along the shores in order to show the breathtaking granite rock formations beside the old abandoned forts from the First and Second World War.
Spargi Island was our first stop to swim and snorkel. We could not believe how incredibly clear the water was – like it was a pool!
We drove a short distance to a second snorkel spot – this one tucked away with no other boats around. While it was unnamed, it was completely remote and beautiful. The entire group enjoyed spending quite a bit of time here, some even reaching the small beach tucked under the rocks.
Budelli Island is famous for Spiaggia Rosa – a pink sand beach. The pink pigment comes from a marine microorganism Miniacina Miniacea which produces the pink color. Unfortunately, the allure of the pink sand caused people to collect it resulting in no pink sand at the beach. Currently, the beach is off limits for visitors as a restoration project to bring the pink sand back. The boat let us off at an inlet and allowed us to see the beach from a boardwalk and we could definitely see some pink sand in areas.
Our final stop was at the Natural Pools – a stretch between Budelli, Santa Maria and Razzoli Islands that forms a natural swimming pool. This area was super crowded with boats due to how popular this particular area was – the water is exceptionally clear and warm, and calm. We found a spot to park and we swam to the natural pool where the sand level allows for the water to be only a few feet deep – thus the formation of a pool. After the swim, we were then treated to lunch which included Pane Carasau, raw vegetables, grapes, pecorino cheese, salumi, Vermentino wine, and cookies.
We were blown away by how amazing this day was – honestly this is absolutely the best way to explore the islands and the La Maddalena Islands Archipelago. The area is simply stunning and nothing like we have ever seen. And we loved our day with Natour Sardinia – not only do we highly recommend them, but we booked a second tour with them. What an unbelievable part of the world tucked away in Sardinia.