Ogliastra – An island within the island

When you think about Sardinia, if you have even heard of it, you probably think of the Costa Smeralda and the famous, rich elite. Sardinia is an Italian island in the middle of the Mediterranean and is a lot bigger than most people think, it’s about the size of Wales. If you have visited or come on holiday here, you have most likely to have been to one of these 3 areas; The Costa Smeralda area, Cagliari, Costa Rei & Villasimius area, or Alghero & Bosa area.

But I wonder how many of you have even heard of Ogliastra? Not many I am guessing, and it’s such a shame, the Ogliastra area is in my opinion THE most scenic, picturesque area of the island and is located on the South East of the island. So I’d like to share some of the wonderful secrets of this area and give you an idea of what this area of the island has to offer.

My Top 5 things to see in Ogliastra

1. Beaches
The beaches of Ogliastra are as stunning as they are varied. There are soft, white sandy beaches, pebble beaches, coarse sandy beaches and beaches with large rocks and boulders; there are small and secluded beaches, long and open beaches, little coves, harbours and bays, beaches you can only reach by boat or by hiking, easily accessible beaches; they’re all here! My personal favourites are Su Sirboni at Marina di Gairo, a small sandy cove with shallow waters which you have to walk about 20 minutes to reach from the road, it has no services so you need to go with everything you will need, but is well worth the visit & Cea near Bari Sardo, a large sandy cove with a red rock formation jutting out of the water which is a great area for snorkelling and is well serviced by beach bars and also a restaurant.

2. Mountains

Ogliastra borders the Gennargentu mountain range and National Park and offers some other stunning mountain areas such as the Tacchi D’OgliastraSupramonte di Baunai & Pedra Lunga. I live in the shadows of the Tacchi and I am still stunned and awed by the views that I see every day in this awesome area of the world. The Tacchi offer the more daring among you the opportunity to try climbing, there are also quad bike tours and challenging hiking trails. The mountain areas offer sanctuary to Sardinia’s wildlife, with a vast array of fauna and flora to enjoy including Mouflon, wild boar, deer and wild horses as well as birds of prey and smaller wildlife. Sardinia has no poisonous snakes, insects or spiders, so no worries there!

3. Waterfalls

With mountains come waterfalls, and although Sardinia is hot, Ogliastra has some wonderful waterfalls and pools. My personal favourite is at Bau Mela which is situated near an old dam. The pools are big enough to swim in and it isn’t well known so it is generally pretty quiet and peaceful with few other people around. There are the pools of Coccorrocci near the Marina di Gairo and the waterfalls at Santa Barabara, Ulassai. The waterfalls at Ulassai are more serene during the summer and most spectacular after hard winter rain, but the area is still stunning to visit even in summer and I would recommend getting off the road and exploring under the bridge and the little walking tracks that flank the waterfall to find some of the lower pools. There are no tourist pathways so don’t expect it to be up to Health & Safety standards, but if you don’t mind taking responsibility for your own safety then this area is one of the most relaxing places to spend an hour or so. The Pools and waterfalls at Coccorrocci are more gentle and more well-traveled, but you will still need to be responsible for your own safety and the few tourists who travel to them will most likely be chilling in the shade of the trees or enjoying a little soak in one of the cool, freshwater pools.

4. Caves

Ogliastra has some spectacular caves for visiting. Within the Tacchi D’Ogliastra at Ulassai you can visit the Grotta Su Marmuri, which has a guided tour and a guide who speaks English. The cave is a steady 10 degrees so make sure you go prepared with a jacket and warmer shoes, the first time I visited I wore flip-flops and a strappy T-shirt and I was totally freezing! Closer to the sea is the Grotta Del Fico near Baunei, originally discovered and used by a Jesuit monk to study Monk Seals which nested in the caves, and accessible by boat or by foot using a guide through the area of Golgo.

5. Nuraghe

All over Sardinia you can find the ruins and remains of the ancient Nuraghic civilization. Ogliastra is no exception and offers some stunning examples and archealogical sites. My personal favourites are Nuraghe Sceri near Il Bono, which is still the most peaceful and profound place I have visited on the island to date and Nuraghe Serbissi, near Osini; a much more remote site, arrived at after a trip along a long white road (dirt track) with spectacular views and a tour guide who can explain the relevance of the individual dwellings and points of interest, including a cave that runs underneath the site. You can also find the Fairy Houses (Domus de Janus) nearby at Cardedu.

As well as these natural wonders there are also lots of other excursions, opportunities and things to do and to enjoy in Ogliastra!

Google Map

Below is my Google Map of the area, and you can download it into your Google Maps app on your mobile device for when you visit completely free! Click the star to view in Google Maps add it to your favourites, you can read this help article if you have Google My Maps android app or access the map from your “My Places” sub menu on Google app on the iPhone.

And finally, if you are visiting the area here are a few tips.

My Top 5 Tips for visiting the area

1. Hire a car; public transport is the not the greatest here and taxis are hard to come by and expensive. This is one holiday destination that you will want to get out and about to see all the wonders of the area.

2. Download Waze free SatNav  or bring your own SatNav with you – you’ll need to get off the beaten track to find some of these hidden treasures and having a SatNav will give you more confidence! Find out more about Waze here.

3. Be adventurous; Ogliastra has so much hidden beauty, but it’s not for the shy among us, you will need to go down little dirt tracks and through some tiny winding village roads, don’t be frightened to explore safely, some of the most beautiful beaches and stunning Nuraghe here are at the end of a tiny dirt track!

4. Learn some essential Italian phrases; the locals here are wonderful, friendly people, but they are not English speakers! Use Duolingo free to start learning.

5. Try the local specialities; Culurgiones, a pasta parcel filled with potato, mint and cheese and served with fresh tomato sauce & Sebadas, a crispy fried dessert pasta filled with mild, fresh Pecorino and served with melting, warm honey.

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