August 23, 2013
Sardinia is the perfect place for exploring tiny towns (like Castelsardo) and brilliant, blue beaches. We were there for a long weekend this June, although we should have stayed longer! The weather wasn’t too warm and the summer crowds had not yet arrived. There were a lot of cyclists on the roads as the gentle hills provide enjoyable riding. We stayed in Alghero which provided lots of good restaurants and shopping, but spent our days exploring the north-west corner of the island. The landscape is stunning, and here are two great ways to experience the stone meeting the waves.
We were skeptical about visiting the cave at first. It is quite a popular tourist attraction and there were lots of boat companies advertising trips to this cave. These ads were filled with terrible photos of stalagmites and stalactites, and we’ve seen caves before…
We opted to drive our rental car along the peninsula where you can park at the top of some massive cliffs. Just peering down at the water was a little freaky… would we be scaling down the cliffs?! Anxieties were soon relaxed after seeing the stairs equipped with handrails, where we could safely admire the sea, cliffs, and powerful crashing waves. Appropriately, the stairs are named the Escala del Cabirol (the goat’s steps.)
The cave itself is entered just inside of the cliffs, and the waves splashing at the entrance are a sober reminder of the power of the sea. When this cave was discovered in the 18th century it was thought to be the home of Neptune, the god of the sea. I’m sure our amazement was almost as much as the fishermen who discovered this cave. My favorite part of the tour was the description of visits back in the day from the King of Sardinia. You can still see the black soot stains from where torches lit the vaulted spaces, imagining the orchestra playing waltzes from the high ledge, candles floating on the lake, and corseted dancers in awe of their spectacular surroundings.
I’m still deciding what was more amazing, the gorgeous walk down the cliffs or the cave itself. It is absolutely worth it and magical either way.
Taken using the XShot, Periscope style.
If you are going to visit, do not bother looking at the photos of the cave as they do not do it justice. Just go. We highly recommend the walk, although the view of the cliffs and coast from the boat would also be lovely. The guided tour enters the cave on the hour, so plan extra time for the walk (and photos), otherwise you will be waiting in the cold cave entrance for a while.
Photo tip: In order to get better shots inside the cave, we used a black and white shooting mode to emphasize contrast and texture, and ignore the yellowish light. Try to get people in your shots for scale, or take close up detail shots. Mostly, don’t waste too much time photographing and just take it all in.
There are beaches everywhere in Sardinia, but this beach stole my heart. The pure, white shallow stretch of sand creates the most dreamy, icy blue, turquoise water. Need I say more?
Drive to Stintino and keep driving North on the main road until you can’t go any further. There are usually small signs with the beach names, although watch the water and you’ll know when you’ve arrived.
We were lucky to catch a glimpse of La Pelosa on our return flight to Eindhoven. This is why I love the window seat!
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