Military fortifications, natural oasis, granite and precious minerals, a crossroads of culture, history and archaeology. La Maddalena Archipelago is all of this and much more is, a place that alone is worth a visit to north-eastern Sardinia.
La Maddalena Archipelago National Park lies in the stretch of sea between Sardinia and Corsica known as the Strait of Bonifacio. The geo-marine park covers about 18,000 hectares – 5,000 hectare of land and 13,000 of sea, 180 kilometres of coast and more than 60 islands.
Area of environmental excellence
The park is part of Europe’s network of areas of environmental excellence, and is subject to the highest level of protection: leisure boating, fishing and diving are allowed but must be authorized. Its morphology and flora make for an incredibly beautiful landscape, with almost one thousand plant species, 50 of which are endemic and others very rare. Its fauna is very particular. The Budelli pink beach, for instance, derives from the sediments of a little organism that adheres to shells, algae and corals. A typical species is the Pinna nobilis, the largest bivalve mollusk of the Mediterranean. The most common cetacean is the bottlenose dolphin, along with caretta caretta, the common sea turtle. Common birds include Audouin’s gulls and European shags.
Culture, history and marine archaeology
Known and frequented since antiquity, the islands of the Archipelago are a treasure trove of memories and submerged treasures as evidenced by the archaeological finds discovered there, including the great Roman cargo ship sunk between 120 and 110 BC in the waters of Spargi (Secca Corsara). Part of the precious cargo of amphorae and furnishings saved from raids can be admired in La Maddalena naval archaeological museum named for the archaeologist Nino Lamboglia.
Apart from Stagnali on Caprera, which houses the environmental education and cetaceous research centres, the Mineralogy and Sea museum, which exhibit minerals, fossils, sands, shells, flora and fauna, the only inhabited town in the archipelago is La Maddalena, founded in 1770, and for many years a naval base.
The archipelago’s strategic position in the Mediterranean attracted Napoleon and Nelson alike. Garibaldi lived his last 26 years in Caprera and the figure of the hero of two worlds is told in the Compendio Garibaldino.
An unmistakable and feared sea which, together with the unpredictable Strait of Bonifacio, was one of the busiest waterways in the Mediterranean.
The Budelli pink beach, like a work of art
The Pink Beach on the island of Budelli in the Maddalena Archipelago gets its name from it coral pink colour. Where does the pink colour of the beach come from? From fossil fragments that originate mainly in the Posidonia oceanica meadows, and after their decay, are deposited on the beach by coastal drift and bottom currents. The beach is one of the most highly protected areas in the entire Maddalena Archipelago, and access to the beach, the transit or anchoring of boats in the water in front of it and bathing are prohibited. It can be admired from a distance, like a work of art, so preserving its beauty and protecting the biological process that gives it its natural colour.
Among La Maddalena island beaches of clear water and fine sand, do not miss Bassa Trinita, Cala Francese and Cala Lunga, Monti d’a Rena, Punta Tegge and Spalmatore.
Take boat tour around La Maddalena Archipelago
Spargi, just opposite the Felix Group’s La Coluccia, Caprera, Razzoli, Santa Maria and Santo Stefano are all unforgettable destinations of boat tours leaving from Baja Sardinia, La Maddalena, Palau and Santa Teresa Gallura. The many coves provide countless landing points, the colours of the sea are unique, as are the rocks, sculpted like natural monuments, and the seabed is a diver’s paradise, especially the Spargiotello and Washington, Punta Coticcio and Grottino di San Francesco shallows.