A group of 14 friends and I decided to charter an antique sailboat to run along the coast of Sardinia, an enchanting island 120 miles west of the Italian peninsula. Italians are rightly proud of Sardinia as it offers some of the most fantastically beautiful beaches in the world (and certainly in the Mediterranean). The island has been famous since the 1960s as a jet-set destination.
Our small luxury yacht, the Kairos, tours different parts of the Med and Aegean during summer. Some weeks it does Sardinia and Corsica (our itinerary) and other weeks it goes to the French Riviera and the Greek Islands. There are 9 guest cabins (room for 18 people, plus 4 or 5 crewmembers including a captain and chef). Loads of other private yachts ply the waters off Sardinia, but none has sail masts quite as large as the Kairos's. And sailing, rather than motoring (which Kairos can also do) is a fun way to travel.
Unlike larger boats, the Kairos (still 125-feet long) can navigate on a whim to wherever the guests wish – true yachting. Unlike a mega-cruiseline with 1,000 or more guests, this is an intimate experience, perfect for groups of close friends (though one can buy a cabin and join others).
The 7-day boat trip costs approximately $4,500 per cabin. That's not bad at about $330 per person per day as it includes transport all over the coastline, water activities, and all meals (liquor is extra).
I marveled at the large teak deck of the Kairos, which offered great views from the bow in front and stern (where dining tables are set) in the rear. Down below is a seating area and the cabins. Each cabin is comfortable, and while they are not spacious, the cabins are set in a classic style with antique wood and brass. We were ready to set sail in style and take in this famous coastline.
On our first night, we drank champagne on deck to toast the sunset. How pretty it was from our perch above the sea. We also ate outside, and the chef prepared a delicious meal for us to eat under the stars. We then stayed up late drinking more and more Italian wine (rosé for me), culminating with singing.
Our itinerary is to cruise around Galluria (the northeast of Sardinia), which includes the famous Costa Smeralda (the Emerald Coast). We are dropping anchor wherever we spot a nice beach, cove, or town. The most famous areas here are Porto Rotunda and the ultra-luxe Porto Cervo (more on these later).
My trip began with a flight into Olbia (the main city in Galluria) from Milan. There are regular flights from Rome, too. The boat staff (a mix from Holland, Germany, and Hungary) met us and whisked us off to the boat, moored offshore. We used a dinghy to get on-board (and later for going on-shore).
For two days, we have spent time at the Golfo di Coticcio (at the island of Caprera, just off Sardinia) – beautiful rock formations and the deepest clear blue water I have ever seen. A jump off to swim was required. Yesterday we spent time at several bays (such as Radda di Mezzo Schifo, west of Palau) and watched the sunset over at Maddalena town (part of the Maddalena archipelago). The Maddalena town is beautiful – well worth a visit and stroll around the old square.
At night, Sardinia's Galuria is pretty quiet, outside of Porto Cervo and Porto Rotundo. While we ate during our first 2 nights on board, the third evening we went by dinghy to La Gritti restaurant in Palau. Palau itself is not so interesting, but the restaurant, set on a high hilltop with awesome water views, is terrific. Ask for a table on the terrace, which overlooks the bay and nearby towns – stunning. Order antipasti to share, then a pasta for the first course (stuffed ravioli was my favorite). They offer up a fresh fish of the day for the main course. The food is top notch and the service was impressive (especially for our large group of 15). It's worth the 75 euros and no doubt one of the best restaurants in Northern Sardinia.
If time permits, one can also enjoy a meal in charming Maddalena where there are several outdoor restaurants, concerts, and lively bars.
Next stop: Bonifacio in Corsica