Tavolara

Journaling adventures beyond the known Costa Smeralda

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Next chapter of this Blog on unexplored corners of the Emerald Coast is about the wonders of hiking and rappelling on Tavolara Island.

The Island of Tavolara is off the northeast coast of Sardinia and hosts a huge calcareous dolomitic mountain that dominates the Gulf of Olbia. The island is a rectangular limestone massif from the Mesozoic era that rests on a granitic foundation of around 6 km in length and 1 km in width, with the highest point, Monte Cannone, at 565 metres above sea level.

Tavolara altezza

It’s a wonderful island located in the heart of the Protected Marine Area of Tavolara and Punta Coda Cavallo and an environmental heritage offering different types of adventurous activities such as trekking, via ferrata, rappelling, climbing, snorkeling, kayaking and scuba diving.

About the hike on Tavolara

LSN Gymnasia organizes wonderful excursions in Costa Smeralda, merging outdoor and wellness activities. For this one, we planned a 10km round trip including a rappelling adventure with the use of a harness, via ferrata kit and helmet with our guide Massimo. We met him in Olbia and crossed the small strait by boat from the small fishing village of Porto San Paolo. A cove and beach can be found at each end of the island, Spalmatore di Fuori at the northeast, and Spalmatore di Terra at the southwest, making the view of the approaching island colorful and dreamlike.

Tavolara drone

The trail begins from the beach of Spalmatore di Terra in the western part of the island and walks along the coastline in the direction of the old Lime furnace on the panoramic path. As we move deeper into the hike, we cross a trail in a juniper forest until the first rocky ledge, with rugged rocks and an impressive verticality looking up to Punta La Mandria in the southern part of the island. 

Inevitably the whole walk is done in deep admiration of the surrounding enchanting panorama viewing the whole Emerald Coast. The trail eventually takes to the Pratone Valley, a vast green plateau that is in great contrast with the dryness of the Macchia and the stiffness of the rocky ledges. 

A stiff part of the hike starts here with a few ferrata bits on the ridge that dominates the white limestone cliffs crossing the Cannon Valley and reach the highest peak of Punta Cannone. At the summit, we sat in contemplation of the beautiful view under the iconic cross and Madonnina overlooking the panorama of the Gallura region with sight of Monte Limbara, Monte Nieddu, Montalbo up to Caprera, Strait of Bonifacio and Corsica. The view is 360° and totally breathtaking.

Looking South we admire Molara, Capo Coda Cavallo and San Teodoro; looking West the whole of the Gulf of Olbia; looking North: Capo Ceraso, Capo Figari, Caprera and Corsica; looking East: the crests of the Island, some small rocky islands the extent of the blue sea. We take our picnic lunch in contemplation and awe of this beautiful sight.

As we move to descend, we walk along the northeastern side of the island and reach the top of the cliff for the rappelling jump. For those of you that have never done rappelling, it’s a form of descent from a height, such as a cliff or wall, in which you slide down an anchored rope and apply friction to control your speed. The most common way to rappel is to thread the rope through a specialized rappel device attached to your harness with a locking carabiner. In this way you are secured by the gear and you are in control of your descent. As an additional security measure the guide holds on a double rope attached to the gear at the top of the jump and catches you in case you were to leave the rope loose.

La parete è alta 30 metri e scende all’interno di una gola rocciosa che incornicia la vista delle acque e della costa Smeralda. Iniziamo quindi a scendere nel bosco, l’aria fresca e profumata della macchia ci accompagna lungo il sentiero che ci riporta sulla spiaggia dello Spalmatore di Terra e a concludere di questa bellissima escursione.

Getting back to the starting point, as we get refreshed and relaxed, it’s natural to feel the power of the adventure pulsing throughout the whole body. The legs may be tired from the hike, but the eyes are filled with wonder and the heart filled with gratitude for the beautiful time that we shared together.

Tavolare Climbing

We embark the boat back to Porto San Paolo bringing with us the magic of the island. Looking back at a distance, the island seems like a gigantic fascinating limestone turtleback and holds so much mystery.

Join us this summer for a wonderful adventure!

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