costa smeralda, sardinia - hidden gems off the beaten path of the emerald coast

After spending the first few days of our trip on the (far less touristy) western coast of Sardinia, we finished up our trip on the sparkling Costa Smeralda. Rather than cram into over-packed beaches with all the German tourists, we tried to seek out some hidden gems that we could have all to ourselves...

Wild swimming Sardinia, Italy

We set up home base in Golfo Aranci, which is a sparkling town where it looks like every single building was built last year. A bit... bland and character-less for my tastes. So we set out for more gritty surroundings.

Driving in Sardinia, Italy

Armed with exceptionally vague directions, Alex piloted our rental down increasingly narrow dirt roads...

Driving in Costa Smeralda, Sardinia

With spectacular scenery as we drove further and further from humanity and deeper into the mountains.

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

We parked the car and followed a dirt path. The Italian wanted to chug a beer for the hike -- perhaps as medicine for his fractured foot!

[I am not mean enough and Alex is not stupid enough to hike on a broken foot; we didn't know that it was fractured at the time. Still, eighty-thousand points to my man for hiking in the blazing sun on the ball of his foot and not complaining once!]

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

The natural pools carved into the mountains came into view below..

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

And I immediately ripped off all my clothes and dove into the ice-cool water.

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

As Alex waited on shore for me to finish up, a local struck up a conversation with Alex in Italian and mentioned that there were better pools further down the path.

When we got there, he gave instructions to Alex, who translated for me: "Just climb down that rope into the pool."

Me: "Ok."

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

I'm not sure how well this photo captures the absolute depth: this stunning pool overlooks the mountain's valley a hundred feet below.

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Absolutely hands down the most beautiful, incredible, outstanding place I've ever been. Completely unreal.

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Life on the edge, HA HA HA HA. Sorry.

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Alex picked out the perfect spot for our picnic lunch.

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Picnic with a view...

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy
 
Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Wild swimming Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Hiking Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Hiking Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Hiking Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

The star of the picnic was this 3-euro bottle of wine (cantina santa maria la palma aragosta), which, due to the animal taking up the entirety of the label, I lovingly referred to as crab wine. [It tasted much better than crab juice AND mountain dew.]

Crab wine


Downed the whole thing (and most of the bruschetta, too!)

Hiking Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

 Picnic finished, we started the hike back up to the car.

Hiking Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Drank in some spectacular views on the drive back to civilization...

And cleaned up for dinner.

La Spigola, Golfo Arancia, Sardinia, Italy
LA SPIGOLA - VIA CRISTOFO COLOMBO 19, GOLFO ARANCI

Happy to continue my streak of almost exclusively eating mussels and the fish of the day.

La Spigola, Golfo Arancia, Sardinia, Italy

La Spigola, Golfo Arancia, Sardinia, Italy

The next morning, we pulled ourselves out of bed on a beautiful day to go beach hopping.

Golfo Aranci, Sardinia, Italy

We drove from beach to beach, looking for the beach at which we'd spent our "first date" three years ago.

Sardinia beach, Italy
Is this it?

Sardinia beach, Italy
Nope.

Sardinia beach, Italy

We never did found it. But found a perfectly delightful spot of sand that would do.

Sardinia beach, Italy

Sardinia beach, Italy

Sardinia beach, Italy

Sardinia beach, Italy

Professional review of funtanaliras vermentino di gallera: not as good as crab wine.

Sardinia beach, Italy

Sardinia beach, Italy

Once we got sick of the crappy view, we hauled home to spruce up for dinner...

... at the restaurant where we had our first dinner together 24 hours after meeting.

Ristorante Onorio e Donatella, Sardinia
RISTORANTE ONORIO E DONATELLA, Porto Rotondo

We flew back to Basel the next morning -- and Alex headed to the hospital to get a huge boot put on his foot which would chain him to the couch for the next 8 weeks. Nothin' in life comes free...