Sea Kayaking Sardinia

by Nancy Soares on July 1, 2013

Nice little rock garden at Tinnari

Nice little rock garden at Tinnari

Wildflowers - Many times I noticed how sweet the air in Sardinia smelled from the plants and shrubs

Wildflowers – Many times I noticed how sweet the air in Sardinia smelled from the plants and shrubs

Last day hike back of Capo Caccia

Last day hike back of Capo Caccia

If you smile at me I will understand ‘cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.”  – from “Wooden Ships” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash

“Pilgrimage is necessary in some shape or other…We have to come to the end of a long journey and see that the stranger we meet there is no other than ourselves.” – Thomas Merton

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

And did I say the food was to die for?

And did I say the food was to die for?

“Getting out of the house” means getting out of your back yard, your comfort zone, your habitual kayaking venues. This June I got out of the house with a vengeance, traveling to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. There is nothing extreme about Sardinia, unless it is the beauty, happiness, and friendliness of the people. But for me, this trip was still Extreme. My kayak was not my usual Tsunami washdeck but a typical touring kayak complete with spray skirt. New equipment, new paddling companions, and a completely new kayaking environment, plus flying for a day and a half to get there. EXTREME!

Our kayaks

Our kayaks

Alghero harbor

Alghero harbor

The "Fox's Burrow" Hotel in the uplands of Sardinia

The “Fox’s Burrow” Hotel in the uplands of Sardinia

The first day of kayaking our guide Claudio excused me from using my spray skirt. I love that man! As it turned out, the likelihood of tipping over or getting swamped was virtually nil. I have never paddled flatter waters. Nevertheless because of the unfamiliar nature of my equipment the first day I wasn’t very relaxed and consequently got sore muscles. No rudder and a paddle with blades offset at an angle I wasn’t used to required adaptation.

Kayak day 1 - old town walls of Alghero from water

Kayak day 1 – old town walls of Alghero from water

Kayak day 1 Maria Pia Beach

Kayak day 1 – Maria Pia Beach

Kayak day 1 - shipwreck

Kayak day 1 – shipwreck

The only time I lost it was when I tried to get into my kayak by stepping into the boat when it wasn’t anchored to the beach. Normally I get into my kayak Tsunami style, taking the boat out past the break and then jumping in butt first, swinging my legs in after. But there was no break and Claudio showed me how to get into my kayak by standing in the cockpit, sitting on the coaming, sliding my legs in and lowering my butt in last. I’m not used to shoving off the shore with my paddle and I protect my shoulders (old rotator cuff injuries) so I wanted to get in while my boat had a little buoyancy. I pulled my boat out a ways and stepped in. As some of you may have discovered, it’s hard to stand on a tippy kayak while it’s afloat and as I lowered myself in the boat tipped over. Barbara: “What are you doing?” Me as I fall into the water in slow motion: “Falling over.”

Kayak day 2 - pocket beach

Kayak day 2 – pocket beach

Kayak day 2 - Capo Caccia, an enormous limestone headland in the distance

Kayak day 2 – Capo Caccia, an enormous limestone headland in the distance

Kayak day 2 - 16th C Spanish Tower

Kayak day 2 – 16th C Spanish Tower

I also did an inadvertent seal landing. On our third day out I was getting cocky and decided to cruise through a small opening in the rocks close to shore. I paddled briskly toward the narrow channel. As I approached I saw that the channel wasn’t as deep as I had thought. I could see rocks inches below the surface and only a tiny space in which to pass through. It turned out that though I could steer great on open water, in a narrow space without a rudder I couldn’t make the kayak turn as tightly as needed and instead of slipping through the slot I slid up onto a shoulder of rock in a neat little seal landing. I shoved off with a hard thrust of my paddle, but had my center of gravity been higher I probably would have flipped.

Kayak day 3 - Isla Foradada. It's hollowed out into a large cave on the outside.

Kayak day 3 – Isla Foradada. It’s hollowed out into a large cave on the outside.

Kayak day 3 - Isla Foradada

Kayak day 3 – Isla Foradada

Roman column quarried on Sardinia, dredged up from the seabed

Ancient Roman columns quarried on Sardinia, dredged up from the seabed

We had eight full days in Sardinia, six of which were supposed to be paddling days, but we ended up paddling only four because of weather, mostly wind but also thunderstorms. On our last day on the water, Claudio and I were waiting for the others and I was gazing out at Corsica in the distance. As I watched, I saw a massive white lightning bolt connect the black thunderclouds with the sea and we heard an ominous rumble. The thunder kept coming, and at Claudio’s behest we quit for the day. As it turned out that was our last day on the water because although the thunder and lightning departed, the winds came up and continued to blow for the next three days. We didn’t miss out on the features we were supposed to see though because we hiked those places instead.

Kayak day 4 -put in at Cala Sarraina

Kayak day 4 – put-in at Cala Sarraina

Kayak day 4 - Steph and Barbara

Kayak day 4 – Steph and Barbara

Granite formations at Capo Testa

Granite formations at Capo Testa

Sardinia is very beautiful and learning new skills in a new kayak was fun. But what I really got out of the trip was how great the people are. I can’t say enough about how kind and friendly everyone was from the security folks at the airports to the people on the street, and most especially our guide Claudio and his lovely girlfriend Valentina who hung out with us some and cooked Barbara and me a delicious dinner on my last night in Sardinia. I spent my last day alone, strolling along the promenade to the white sandy beach, watching kids play foosball, watching adults play beach volleyball, listening to music, smiling at people and having every one of them smile back at me, buying cornettos and fresh squeezed orange juice at little snack shacks and drinking the local lager. Everyone seemed so chill. I thought to myself, “I really like this place!”

19th Century walls allowed for the first time by the Italian king led to trespassing and other issues between clans and villages and caused feuds which continue, sometimes with fatal consequences, today.

19th Century walls allowed for the first time by the Italian king led to trespassing and other issues between clans and villages and caused feuds which continue, sometimes with fatal consequences, today.

Kitesurfing Isola Rossa

Kitesurfing Isola Rossa

Surfers - they're the same everywhere!

Surfers – they’re the same everywhere!

Despite the photo above (and we all know about surfers) in 9 nights and 10 days I didn’t get a negative vibe from a single Sardinian. The Italians too were fantastic. And may I say one of the great things about this vacation was that in spite of the veritable Lucullan feast complete with red and white wine we had every night, thanks to all the kayaking and hiking I didn’t gain a pound!

Mmmmmm, bacon!

Mmmmmm, bacon!

Suckling pigs Sardinian style

Suckling pigs Sardinian style

Barbara and me at Castelsardo

Barbara and me at Castelsardo

Please share your thoughts and comments by clicking below. And if you’re interested in traveling to Sardinia, contact Claudio Desiati at SardinianDiscovery.com. I highly recommend him!

Claudio

Claudio

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison July 1, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Nancy, what an amazing adventure! How perfect it all was, including the stormy weather. It gave you an opportunity to explore the land as well. We adore Italy and have never been to a bad area or met anyone who wasn’t friendly and just appreciative of their life and sharing what they have with others. Glad you are home safe and sound!

Reply

Nancy Soares July 2, 2013 at 8:08 am

Hey Alison, thanks for commenting! It was truly perfect. I just got back from another kayak adventure on Kauai and something I noticed about both trips is that when things don’t go according to plan people get edgy. I am happy to say that as you say the stormy weather actually contributed to the positivity of my experience in Sardinia and Kauai as well. Plus I think the clouds contributed to the beauty of the landscapes. It’s good to go with the flow.

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Tony Moore July 2, 2013 at 5:42 am

Wow, what a trip! The kayaking, the rocky shores, the people, the towns, the history, and the food! I found myself going back to the photos of the food, especially the one with the shrimp, calamari, and lemon. Must be my Sicilian heritage…my mother’s mother came over from Messina when she was 14, and of course much of my mother’s (and aunts’) cooking was of Sicilian origin. (Growing up in an Italian neighborhood of Boston also molded my culinary tastes). I imagine Sardinian cuisine has to be very similar. Now I just have to convince my wife that we should go there for a vacation!

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Nancy Soares July 2, 2013 at 8:15 am

Hi Tony! I totally recommend a trip to Sardinia. Claudio could hook you up with all kinds of outdoor adventure. And Tsunami Ranger Deb Volturno is heading for Sicilia this fall. Maybe I can get her to do a post. Deb, you out there? 🙂

Yes, the food was amazing. Colorful and yummy! The wine is great as well. We tasted wine at a small winery one afternoon. All the wine, both red and white has an interesting flavor that I imagine comes from the unique qualities of the air and soil. Upon returning I was able to find Sardinian wine here in Ashland! And all the places we stayed were wonderful too.

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Susan Chrysler July 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Nancy,
What a great adventure! I love all the stunning scenery…from the rock formations to the Ancient Roman Columns to the beautiful water to the fabulous looking food. You are quite a good photographer. How nice to visit a place where the people were so gracious and kind. We will all have to get together soon so we can hear some of your favorite stories from your trip.

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Nancy Soares July 6, 2013 at 7:59 am

Hi Susan! Yes, it was great. Thanks for saying the photography is good – I am trying! I talked to Vickie yesterday and we’d like to get together with you and Katrina for a potluck at my place. She’s going to send out an email. We’ll talk soon 🙂

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Ginger Minoletti July 24, 2013 at 8:20 am

Hi Nancy,
Thanks for sharing your adventures. I have not been to Sardinia, so your blog really put a face on it as a destination. I am so glad that all of the travel arrangements that Bay World did for you worked out well and thank you for your business.

Reply

Nancy Soares July 24, 2013 at 9:32 am

Thank you Ginger! I had some anxiety about flying to Sardinia and making all the connections but everything went so smoothly. You made my trip about as easy as I could imagine it.

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