Trip to Tavolara by rubber-dinghy

There is nothing better than adding a bit of adventure to your holiday in Sardinia. Sardinia is not just beach and sea and, thanks to the territorial diversity that makes it unique all over the world, you can take part in many trips to tell your friends when you get back home.

In this article I will talk about an exciting proposal that on more than one occasion we have recommended to our guests and of which they were enthusiastic.
I will tell you about a nice day on a rubber dinghy inside the Tavolara’s archipelago.

Tavolara is the massive “mountain”, also visible from the Baia Turchese Olbia residence, which stands out on the horizon in a southerly direction; its rectangular shape and its height (the highest point reaches 565 meters above sea level) make it well distinguishable from every stretch of coastline in the area.

In reality it is an island of only 6 km long and about 1 km wide placed in front of the tourist town of Porto San Paolo: on both sides it has steep limestone walls overlooking the sea; the main landing point with the tourist services, bar and restaurant is located in the tongue of land facing the coast (Punta Spalmatore). On the opposite side, there is a lighthouse for boats and a NATO military base managed by the Italian Navy which deals with terrestrial telecommunications with a very long range and very low frequency wave; the antennas are clearly visible even from the ground. This area is obviously off-limits to civilians 🙂

Baia Turchese Olbia and Tavolara in the background.

The other islands that make up this archipelago are Molara, Molarotto and Isola Piana; they are much smaller in size but still offer places to visit during your day in a dinghy.
In general, the whole archipelago is considered A.M.P. (Marine Protected Area) and there are stretches that are not passable with boats, others on the other hand where transit is allowed, but only at a speed of less than 10 km / h, while others can be freely passed by.
Before leaving, ask at the info point of Porto San Paolo a detailed map of the area so as not to incur salary sanctions of the Coast Guard.

Tavolara and Capo Coda Cavallo’s A.M.P. (Protected Marine Area)

Before starting to describe your unforgettable trip, I would like to face some points and remove some doubts.

  • First of all, driving a boat is not necessary a boat license if the latter’s engine does not exceed 40 hp, 6 meters in length and 1000 kg in weight between the boat and the engine. Navigation is not allowed beyond 6 miles from the coast (about 11 km).

From this point of view, however, you do not need to worry as in Porto San Paolo you will find many rents for dinghies for those without a boat license.

  • The second point is the following: to navigate in the middle of the sea you must pay the utmost attention. Even the most peaceful day, meteorologically speaking, can hide snares for a person who is not particularly attentive and concentrated.

Therefore, even if at sea there is much more space than in a normal city street, you will have to be particularly careful while sailing.

  • Third and last point: remember to bring a lot of water, sunscreen and caps; the summer sun of Sardinia is scorching and you certainly will not want to ruin a relaxing day at sea because of a bad sunstroke, right?


Well, let’s go!
Early in the morning, after a tasty breakfast on your veranda or balcony in one of our cozy apartments in Baia Turchese Olbia, I suggest you go to the beautiful tourist town of Porto San Paolo. Once you reach the pier, you will find lots of rubber dinghy rentals nearby (I always recommend booking a few days in advance, especially during high season) from which you can take your boat.
Loaded everything you need you will not have to do is turn on the engine and, with caution, move away from the dock.

Tavolara, Molara, Molarotto and Isola Piana.

First of all my advice is to head towards Tavolara facing the stretch of sea that separates Porto San Paolo from this imposing island.
As soon as you find the island in front, skirt the wall overlooking the sea on the south side.
As I said at the beginning of the article, there are areas where the passage of boats is prohibited: in this case, you can’t get too close to the cliffs. In general, in the whole East area of Tavolara’s island navigation is precluded: also, it’s a military area so it is not possible to dock.
However, it is absolutely not forbidden to circumnavigate the island keeping a safe distance and you can still admire the grandeur of the cliffs overlooking the sea, some caves set at sea level (Grotta Ghigliottina, Grotta del Papa) and the lighthouse. You will have to do a lot of photographs, be assured!

After your tour around Tavolara you’ll surely be very hungry: it is time to dock in the more “urbanized” part of Tavolara. Go with your boat in the spit of land called Punta Spalmatore located west of the island and here, at the pier, you can leave the boat and go for a bite to eat at the restaurant.
Nothing prevents you, of course, from bringing your packed lunch home: you can taste it on the beautiful beach right in front of the restaurant and the tourist services.

After a regenerating break, you just have to go to the pier and leave. The next stop I recommend you visit is the island of Molara with its beautiful natural pools.
To reach Molara, it will take only a few minutes direction South.
Once arrived, in the West area of the islet you will find these beautiful natural attractions visited by many tourists; the “pools”are stretches of lighter colored sea than the surrounding one.

One of the last stages consists in the modest pyramidal peak that takes the name of Molarotto, a few minutes of navigation towards the East compared to Molara. Throughout the area it is strictly forbidden to sail with boats and also this is an area that enjoys maximum environmental protection, so you can’t get too close, but nothing will stop you from taking wonderful photographs of this particular “rock” emerging from the water, like the famous pyramids of Giza near Cairo in Egypt.

To end your day by boat among the beautiful attractions of the area, the last stop I recommend is Isola Piana, on the way back to Porto San Paolo: from Molarotto proceed westwards leaving first Molara on your left and then Punta Spalmatore of Tavolara on your right; a few minutes of navigation and you will find Isola Piana.
Here the navigation is allowed and in fact you can approach with the boat and, at your discretion, throw the anchor and go swimming in one of the coves located on the south side of the island: you will find a beach with fine sand, clear water and colorful shades.

Le Vecchie Saline’s beach and Tavolara in the background.

Sardinia is also adventure, wild and uncontaminated places to discover with your partner, your family and your pets at and at any time of the year will give you unique and unforgettable emotions.

This is one of the many experiences you can have staying in one of the apartments in our green and relaxing Residence Baia Turchese Olbia.


If you need more information or would like a free quote for your stay in Sardinia at Baia Turchese Olbia, do not hesitate to contact us at or by calling +39 389 9361910.

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