I recently did a five part series rating the beaches of Italy. Of course, one of the key factors in any such rating system is the presence of a good beach bar. In Italy, this is important for people of all ages as there are few public toilets. Here are a number of Sardinian bars, where many of the best beaches in Italy are found. I remember only few of the actual names but they will be easy to find at their beaches.
Santa Maria Navarrese is located on the east coast near the Gennargentu National Park. There is a Spanish tower from the 11th century commissioned by the daughter of the King of Navarra after she was miraculously saved from a ship wreck. Just down from the tower is the town beach, highly rated in our system. A tree lined stone walk backs the sand. The bar overlooks the beach and walk. It was one of the few bars to get a full 10 in our ratings. Shaded by a large spreading tree, the bar offers a peaceful haven when you had enough beach and sun. Seating is largely outdoors on a stone terrace under the tree. The bar provides a very comfortable feeling as it sits well within the natural surroundings, tucked into a slope with shrubs and more trees. On the day we visited it was populated mostly by German tourists and the menu was in German, as well as Italian.
Oscala is a broad sandy beach about 5 kilometers south of Orosei on Sardinia’s east coast. The beach offers a great view of the coastal hills south of it near Cala Genone. These hills mark the entrance to a string of high cliff backed beaches in the Gulf of Orosei. A small, calm channel separates the beach from a pine groove where the bar is located. A man was wading in the channel collecting shell fish and another was fishing as we left the beach. The bar has a large patio and significant indoor seating. It is distinguished by the ubiquitous presence of Che Guevara in the form of posters, photos, and even tiles on the wall next to the bar. Perhaps they have screenings of Motorcycle Dairies on bad beach days.
Pepi’s Bar is located at the town beach at Orosei on the east coast. The beach is two kilometers from the center of town, linked by both an auto road and paved foot path. The bar has both indoor and outdoor seating with good white wine. You approach it on a wooden broad walk over the sand. The outdoor seating is right on the beach sand and offers great views at sunset. Both Pepi’s and the nearby Che Guevara bar at Oscala seem to be set up for year round use.
Cala Luna is one of the beaches on the Gulf of Orosei than you can only reach by boat. The water is amazingly clear, a poster child for the term, aqua marine. You can see the ripples of sun light reflected on the sandy bottom as you wade off shore. Despite the limited access, it has a regular bar that had to have been built with stuff brought in by boat. The beach, itself, is wonderful with some deep caves and great water. The bar is located a short walk inland so there is no view of the beach but it was a welcome surprise toward the end of a hot day.
Porto Rafael is a well planned resort community on the north coast near Palau. You can see the ferries going back and forth from Palau and the Maddalena Islands. The town is part of the planned community but all is done with great taste. There is a town center with a well stocked salumeria. Stone steps lead down to a small beach front plaza, lined with a few shops and a great bar with indoor and outdoor seating. The bar has live music in the high season in July and August. In keeping with its surrounding, the white wine was one of the more costly pours we encountered but we gave it a high rating anyway for the surroundings. The small town beach in front of it is okay but there is much better one about a half kilometer up the main road which is one of the highest rated beaches we visited. Our friends at Essential Sardinia have some great rentals in Porto Rafael.
The town beach at Cannigone in northern Sardinia has the more British style, Cutter’s Pub. The town is a combination of interesting old fishing village and so-so resort development. If come from the north through the resort it seems unappealing but coming up from the south you get a very different impression, with an older “real” town center. Cutter’s has a great view out to Caprera, one of the Maddalena Islands. While it does not quite match the other bars above, the place is still a good spot for wine or beer on the waterfront.
Porto Rotondo is one of the planned resorts on the Costa Smeralda on the northeast coast. This is not really a beach bar as it’s on the marina but it offered the best white wine we encountered. The bar is well placed at the entrance to the yacht harbor.
Porto Cervo is considered the crown jewel of the Costa Smeralda developed by the Aga Khan. The town features architecture harmonious with the natural surroundings and had the benefit of some of the best architects the Khan could buy. The bar is located on the broad walk, where the beautiful people gather to be seen. The crowds must have been off prepping for the night as it was deserted in late afternoon when we arrived. I found it a bit stuffy and too upscale. I am sure the prices would have topped Porto Rafael but we did not give it a chance.
There is an alternative beach rating system that is being used in the US by Dr. Beach, as John Maloney pointed out, but Dr. Beach is missing a key ingredient, the presence and quality of a beach bar or two.