Tavolara island, the smallest kingdom in the world

Tavolara is an island in the island, a limestone and granite mountain that rears up dizzyingly up from the sea, imprinting itself in the memory of anyone who visits the north-eastern stretch of Sardinian coast that runs from Capo Comino, northernmost point of the Gulf of Orosei, to Santa Teresa Gallura

If Tavolara is wearing a hat, the sirocco is blowing

Tavolara amazes those who arrive in Olbia by car, travelling from north or south along the Orientale Sarda road, those who land at Olbia’s Costa Smeralda Airport, and those who come to Sardinia by ferry to the ports of Olbia and Golfo Aranci, or by private yacht. The sight of this imposing island is just the first of the many images of a holiday in Sardinia that remain etched in the memory forever, also perhaps because of the magic of its shape, which changes radically according to your vantage point. There are those who see the shape of a woman, a cat, a man’s profile, or even those who see a prehistoric animal in its ridge. In the same way as when we look at clouds, everyone can admire this mountain in the middle of the sea and let their imagination run free.
Talking of reality that seems to be fantasy, there is a story that tells of the “Kingdom of Tavolara”. In the 19th century, Giuseppe Bertoleoni landed on the island, and in 1836, King Charles Albert of Savoy, who had arrived on the island to hunt, named Giuseppe’s son Paolo Bertoleoni, King of Tavolara.

Tavolara: where it is situated

The island is situated opposite Porto San Paolo, a few kilometres south of Olbia. 7 km long and rising up 565 metres from the sea, it is part of the Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo Protected Marine Area, which safeguards 15,000 hectares of sea and around 40 km of coastline, from Capo Ceraso to Capo Coda Cavallo.
The limestone rock ridge towering above stretches of dense vegetation is dotted with clumps of bushes and juniper trees, which defy not only the winds but also the numerous goats who inhabit the island.
The southern side of the island is particularly spectacular for those who are fortunate enough to see it close up. The vertical walls rising to a height of 500 metres and interspersed with caves and niches look like an enormous skyscraper of white rock standing out against the clear sky. On the south-east side of the island is a cave known as “The Guillotine” after the big rectangular rock overhanging the entrance that looks like a blade about to crash down. Never fear, once more it’s just imagination. On days when the sirocco blows, the force of the wind against these walls creates a mass of clouds. If Tavolara is wearing a hat, today the sirocco is blowing.

Hiking up Tavolara to Punta Cannone

Those who have a head for heights and are in good physical shape can climb from the base of the island to Punta Cannone with an expert local guide. The last part of the trail, a via ferrata tackled with ropes, carabineers, harness and helmet, leads to Punta Cannone, the peak of Tavolara (565m) with its amazing panoramic view stretching from Capo Figari to Capo Coda Cavallo. The ritual photo depicting the little statue of the Virgin Mary on the peak and the spit of sand of Spalmatore di Terra beach is a must before starting on the descent to sea level.

Tavolara and Capo Coda Cavallo Marine Protected Area

The Tavolara Marine Protected Area is located on the north east coast of the island of Sardegna and stretches from Capo Ceraso to Cala Finocchio and includes the islands of Tavolara, Molara and Molarotto. Approximately 15,000 hectares of sea are strictly protected for the natural value of the marine and island environments and for the preservations of the Posidonia oceanica meadows, polychrome sponges and fauna. As a result of marine environment protection, enforced by simple but strict regulations, Tavolara island is again a paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers. In compliance with the relevant permits for fishing, swimming or mooring, you can now dive, observe and photograph the underwater world.


Tavolara Film Festival – Una notte in Italia

The annual Tavolara Film Festival, “Una Notte in Italia”, is a celebration of Italian cinema at its best, and which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2020. Screenings take place on Tavolara in mid-July and strictly on nights when the moon is full. The event, which is held in Porto San Paolo and on Tavolara, involves and hosts film industry insiders and artists who along with the public enjoy screenings of films, docu-films and shorts. During the Festival, the Loiri Porto San Paolo town council organizes an introductory film editing course for kids.


How to get to Tavolara

Ferries for Tavolara island depart from Porto San Paolo, approx. 15km from Olbia. By car, take the SS125 towards San Teodoro/Nuoro, while the No. 154 ARST bus connects Olbia with Porto San Paolo in half an hour. The ferry company offers tickets for the crossing only or a guided tour.


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