Leading up to me leaving for Sardinia, I had one image firmly stuck in my mind (and on my work’s computer screen) that kept me going through those last few cold, rainy mornings in Scotland – the unbelievably blue waters and stunning white beach of Cala Goloritzé.
Located on the east coast of the island, Cala Goloritzé is the most famous of the many hidden beaches that can be found on the Gulf of Orosei. The beach is said to be one of the best in the world and, thanks to its difficult to reach location, remains almost entirely unspoilt.The more I researched Goloritzé, the more difficult it sounded like it was going to be to actually get there. There are two options to reach the beach – you can go by boat or you can drive and then hike – but both ways presented problems for me. Firstly, after much internal debate, I have decided not to rent a car…at least for the moment. Getting a car was going to eat up a huge amount of my budget and a lot of the car rental companies weren’t keen on hiring to someone young. Everyone I spoke to said in order to hike to the beach, I first needed to drive to the hike starting point at the Golgo Plateau so, without a car, hiking seemed impossible.
Renting a boat then seemed like my best bet, but when I went to the marina to enquire about rentals, the charge to hire one by myself was steep and my only other option was to join one of the group tours (which appear to only sail past Cala Goloritzé as part of their route along the entire Golfo di Orosei and, you know, I actually wanted to be on the beach, not just see it from a distance!) I decided that I would leave hiring a boat by myself for the moment (although I might do this later in my trip to explore some of the other beaches and grottos…depending on how money is going!) and so I ended up right back where I had started – it seemed that there was no cheap, easy way for me to reach the beach.
Frustrated, I made the decision to hike…the whole way. Scrap the car and the boat, I would just WALK it. Being based in Baunei, Google Maps told me that it would take two hours to make it to the Golgo Plateau – the starting point for the hike, and then another hour or so to Cala Goloritzé from there. I figured I could manage it, although it was the longest I had hiked in a while so I made sure I was (overly) prepared for the trip (lots of water, snacks etc.) and put on my hiking boots rather than my trainers (which I am very, very glad I did!)
I set off from the apartment at 9am and thought I had made a massive mistake when, only 30 minutes in, I was struggling up the windy, climbing road that leads out of Baunei towards Golgo. I stopped at the top, where the road flattens out and took some shots of Baunei below, catching my breath at the same time.After that, the next hour was an easy hike and it felt amazing to be experiencing the landscape (and the wildlife – think goats, pigs, donkeys and cows!) up close, rather than from a car. I turned down a few lifts, one from a Cooperativa Goloritzé tour guide (if you’re looking for a hiking/camping experience in this area and have the cash to spare, these are the guys to check out), who gave me a “You’re crazy look” when I politely said I was enjoying the beautiful morning walk. The entire time I was walking, only a handful of cars passed by, which gave me hope that the beach might be relatively quiet. I reached the Golgo Plateau at around 10.30am and was pretty tempted by the sign for the bar but chose to keep going with the hopes of reaching Cala Goloritzé by midday. I passed the car park, which was almost empty, and stopped to grab another bottle of water at Bar Su Porcheddu – where, if you are driving, you pay a couple of euros to park before you start the hike.
The guide book I initially read about Cala Goloritzé in describes the hike as a “gentle walk” down and a slightly tougher walk back up…I’m not sure how long it has been since the writer actually hiked the trail but it certainly wasn’t what I would describe as gentle! The first part is a fairly tough, rocky upward hike and the second part, through beautiful trees and rocky canyon type passages, is slightly easier but you still have to be careful of loose rocks and parts of the path that are no longer visible due to landslides. At points, you lose the path completely and if wasn’t for the cairns and other markers left by hikers along the way, I would have been going in the wrong direction a couple of times.After about 10 minutes, you get your first glimpse of the sea and the top of the needle-like rock – Aguglia – that I’m told is hugely popular with climbers. An hour or so later, I was starting to struggle again when I realised I could hear voices and what seemed to be waves crashing… The path opened out onto a viewpoint with Cala Goloritzé below – I had made it! I sat on one of the rocks and took a moment to soak in the beauty of it all – the bluest water I have ever seen, the white pebble beach and the strange pink and orange rocks that collide with the sea.
After snapping some pictures, I went to head down the steps to get onto beach and realised that (this is another thing the guide book got completely wrong), where there used to be steps there is now only a rocky, and at points vertical, climb down. The old steps, as an Italian friend I made later told me, had been “eaten by the sea and the rocks that fall from above”. After a precarious climb, I took off my hiking boots and rested on one of the large white rocks that back the beach.
As photogenic places go, Cala Goloritzé has to be one of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited. Although small and dotted with a few couples and families, the beach was quiet, peaceful and, as described, unspoilt. No litter, no sea debris – just pure white pebbles and aquamarine waters (a heads up about the pebbles – pictures can be deceiving but you won’t find any sand at Cala Goloritzé – only stones, which can be quite uncomfortable on bare, hiked-out feet, so pack sandals or flip-flops!)I sunbathed for a while, swam in the amazingly warm water, sunbathed again and got chatting to a lovely Italian family for Cagliari, who then offered me, not only a ride back to Baunei (my sore feet were very relieved to hear they didn’t have to hike for another three hours), but also gelato and some brilliant local recommendations for what to see whilst I’m here in Sardinia.
We hiked back up to the car park together when the sun had disappeared behind Aguglia (tip – the sun is hidden behind the rock from about 4pm so try to get to the beach as early as possible to the make the most of the sunshine) and made a new friend at the car – one of the local, wild-but-tame donkeys that roam around this area!I’m so glad that I managed to make the trip to Cala Goloritzé happen, and in the end, the crazy hike to get there made the day even more memorable. It’s the journey as well as the destination, right?!
Tips for Getting to Cala Goloritzé:
When you reach Baunei, follow the signs for ‘Golgo’ and Cooperativa Goloritzé. It’s around a 25 minute drive to the Golgo Plateau, where you will see a sign pointing right towards Cala Goloritzé. Follow the dirt road until you reach the car park, leave the car and then walk towards Bar Su Porcheddu. The hike starts just behind the car park at the bar and takes roughly 1 to 1½ hours. The hike back up is fairly hard-going so remember to give yourself more time to make it back up in the daylight – you don’t want to get lost in the dark on the trail!
Take plenty of water and wear trainers or hiking boots if possible. I took flip-flops to change into at the beach.
I researched boat rental and tours in Santa Maria Navarrese – which is a 15 minute drive from Baunei. There are plenty of rental companies, but if you’re here during off-peak season like me, some will only hire or offer tours on certain days. You can also hire a boat from Cala Gonone and Arbatax.
The best ones I’ve found so far are Nautica Centro Sub and Fuorirotta Charter. For later in my trip, I’ve been looking at between 60-90 euros to hire a boat by myself for one day.