Italian Anchorages and Marinas 2013 – Part 1: Sicily & Sardinia

Published 9 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Sardinia, Isola Spargi, Cala Corsara: © Mario Borg

Anchoring is our preference when we are cruising, we like the evening breeze, the lack of mosquitoes and the free space around the boat. But not all countries offer ideal locations for anchoring like those found in the Eastern Caribbean, where the wind blows from the East 95% of the time, so leaving your boat in a busy anchorage is not too stressful.

We started our 2013 summer cruising season in May of 2013 from Cap Monastir Tunisia, where the Maltese Falcon spent the past ten months tied up to the pontoon. From Cap Monastir, we headed to Malta to get all the gear and new upholstery we had in the apartment where we had stayed for the past ten months loaded back on the boat and replace all the standing rigging.

Due to the topography of Italy, it is very hard to find comfortable anchorages at all stopovers, so be prepared to have options for your stays at some marinas – especially along the west coast of Italy.

Our aim was to head north from Malta and anchor near Marina Di Ragusa on Sicily, so on July 1st we left Malta and headed north for a 52 nm leg to:


Marina the Ragusa: N36 46.753 E014 33.018

This is a large bay with sand beaches and sand bottom with excellent holding; we only stayed here for one night as the early morning roll woke us up, so from here we headed east towards Sardinia. If you decide to hang around here, the marina to the west is a good option. The town offers a variety of nice restaurants and a few supermarkets, an open market every Tuesday and a couple of well-stocked hardware stores. There is a wonderful waterfront along the beach that goes on for miles. It is a very relaxing town mainly comprised of low-level multiplexes which are mostly vacant during the winter months.

Licate: N 37° 05.774′ E 013°55.655′

This is a somewhat protected anchorage west of the main harbor entrance at Licate. The bottom is sand with excellent holding. The town offers a variety of banks, a large supermarket within the marina complex.


Cagliari: N 39 12.075 E 009 07.574

We sailed into St Elmo Marina and took a berth for €50.00 per night. This is a very clean marina with showers and a laundry.  Took a taxi for €10.00 to Coast Guard at La Calletta to get our Constitution, afterward, the taxi took us to the very big Mercato Civico di San Benedetto, this is an amazing market with stalls selling bread, fish meats and vegetables at very good prices, it opens 6 days a week. From there we took another taxi for another €10.00 back to the marina. It is a short walk to the city center where you will find many restaurants and other attractions – mainly the old citadel.

Fuel fill at west break wall far end to the west inside before the boatyard.

Villasimius: N 39 12.075 E 009 29.349

This is very nice to anchor, with a lot of sand for good holding in about 20 to 24ft. At some places close to the new marina the holding is suspect and we had trouble digging in.  It has very nice surroundings and many little bays to choose from. Sometimes the swell gets in from offshore, but in light air, it is a great place to just relax.

Arbatax: N 39 55.272 E 009 42.436

We anchored in the first bay in 32ft over sand with very nice and calm surroundings. Holding is excellent, open to the South and South East, dingy landing is on the beach where allowed. The marina is north of the headland within the main harbor.

Golfo Brandinchi: N 40 49.924 E 009 42.249

Anchored in the NW cove in 20 ft. on a sand patch, a lot of weeds and rocks on the way in, almost went over the rocks by mistake as the CM 93 chart is not very good with the location of the rock especially if coming in from the south, you have to make sure you keep the last big rock to your port side. You will go over some depths of 9 feet but that will drop off further north you go.

Isola Tavolara: N 40 53.549 E 009 40.893

Just a short run from Brandinchi to this very nice bay with protection from all sectors. The bottom is mostly sand with dead weeds that wash in during a southerly blow, excellent holding. The view is spectacular with a backdrop of the steep rock to the east of the anchorage. We checked out Capo Coda Cavallo on the way here – looks also very nice with very good protection. A bar-restaurant ashore. Most of the island is off limits.

Golfo Aranci: N 40 59.962 E 009 37.133

We almost sailed to Olbia, but by the time we got to the third set of channel markers, we had decided we did not like the black color of the water or the surroundings, mostly cantieri (boatyards and repair facilities) one after the other, plus mussel farms everywhere. So we made a U-turn and headed out and north to Golfo Aranci, anchored in 30 ft over clear water and sand bottom. The protection is very good except strong southerly winds which could fetch steep waves by the time they get here. The dinghy can be tied up at the Lega Navale pontoon or any of the ladders attached to the nice boardwalk. Most suppliers in Town plus a couple of small chandleries and the usual restaurants and bars, pharmacy and even a Guardia Medica Turistica (Tourist medical center) where anyone can visit a doctor for a minimal fee of €10.00 – €20.00. Every evening starting at 20:00 hours the main road is closed and a market are set up, this is the time when the restaurants get busy, we found this tradition all over Sardinia. It is very nice to walk around during the evening hours. There is also a fruit and veggie open-air market every Tuesday morning, where you can find lots of local cheeses and local nougat.

Cugnana: N 41 01.552 E 009 31.231

We anchored in 9ft over sand, very good protection from most parts but open to the NNE.  The holding is suspect in some spots so make sure your anchor is set as some of the sand patches are of a very thin layer of sand over a rock base. There is a marina to the north of the anchorage. The anchorage is very peaceful with not much traffic around.

Petra Ruja: N 41 03.647 E 009 32.086

We explored this cove and to our surprise it is just fabulous, anchored in 13 ft over sand in water the color of the emerald. There are no bars or restaurants here, but it is a very nice place to just do nothing and watch the shoreline with its white sand beaches and the many rocks that jut out of the water in many places. This anchorage is well protected from the Mistral but open to the SE. By 11:00 am the place filled up with mostly small power boaters, but also included some of 70ft and 4 other 40ft sailboats which stayed outside farther.

Granu Bay: N 41 08.793 E 009 31.764

On the way here we entered Porto Cervo and asked how much for a mooring. The answer was not what we expected, but here it is for a boat 10-12 meters long = €105/night and €400.00 in the marina. So being cheap and on a budget, we scooted out of there and went into Cala Granu, which to our great surprise is a wonderful anchorage with very good protection from the SW to NW but good all round in settled weather. We anchored in 20 ft over sand in very clear water, there is a small beach at the head of the bay and then the rest is villas. It is only 1 nm, so attainable by dinghy, to Porto Cervo from here. In the evening we got swarms of mosquitos and I had a very sleepless night because of this. No wonder we were alone in this very nice anchorage. We also had a bad smell of sewage coming from outside in the early morning hours. We left that day, but still a good spot to anchor if you want to visit the place of the rich and famous.

La Conia, Cannigione: N 41 07.438E 009 26.553

Anchor just south of the “Island of India Figs” in 13 ft over sand; this is a very good anchorage if the wind is strong from the NW. It is a very good anchorage with good protection even in strong N wind, the island and reef next to the island break down the waves. It is easy to access to a very nice supermarket within a 10 min walk. Many restaurants and bars on the main road. This is worth a stay longer than just a day.


This is a group of islands just north of the north coast of Sardinia better known as the Costa Smeralda. This is a protected area where no one is supposed to stay overnight and it is also a -no discharge zone. But what we found out is that there is a lot of pressure from the very large Italian and foreign boating community against the rules, so that overnight anchoring is allowed. We did not find out for how long, but we did stay at a couple of places for more than 3 days. The Park Authorities come around and check to see if you have a permit. If not you will have to buy from the Park Authorities and pay more for it than you would if you pay online. We prepaid € 78.00 for a 15-day pass at a tourist office in La Conia. There is a lot of very nice anchorages with crystal clear water and some great snorkeling close to shore around most of the archipelago.

A permit can be obtained online from this site: Or you can ask around for a tourist office where you can buy from. The following spots are all around the Maddalena Archipelago, this has to be one of the top cruising areas in the world, and it is definitely worth a visit.

Porto Palma, Isola Caprera: N 41 11.296 E 009 27.084

We sailed north from our anchorage at La Conia with just the genoa as the land breeze was still coming from the south, so it was a relaxing sail in flat water albeit slow at 3 knots max. We arrived at Porto Palma at Isola Caprera and we were very lucky to find a free mooring. I had to get In the dinghy and handle our lines through the stainless eye on the mooring ball as there is no rope attached to the mooring to facilitate the grab, but all worked out well anyway. During the day the bay fills up with local boats and then there are the sailing schools that weave around the anchorage at full tilt, they do know what they are doing so it seemed the danger of them hitting any boat at anchor or moored is minimal. The Park Authorities came by to check our pass. By 8:00 pm all the local boats had left and we spent a nice evening watching the sunset in perfectly calm water with a southerly land breeze.

Cala Garibaldi: N 41 13.421 E 009 27.407

This is a very nice anchorage with excellent holding and protection from everywhere except N. The only problem is that one cannot drop or pick up anyone from the concrete dock at the Club Med (which is not even open) or at the old unused and broken quay to the NE corner which is a military area. I would not recommend landing on the beach as it is too busy, but one can always drop an anchor off the beach to go and visit the Garibaldi Memorial which is worth all the trouble and the long walk up to the fortress where it is located. Not many boats came here during the day and the few that came left within a couple of hours. There are some very nice little beaches that you will see on the way in from the North which is worth a dinghy trip to snorkel on.

Cala Portese, Isola Caprera: N 41 11.072 E 009 27.996

This is a very nice bay with the sand bottom with excellent holding and protection from S to NW if the NW is strong a swell will probably find its way here. You can land the dinghy on the beach and there are nice walks once you go out of the beach park.  There are about 12 laid moorings, but by the time we got there, they were all taken. The water is crystal clear and it is pleasant swimming in it at the beach early in the morning.

Cala Corsara, Isola Spargi: N 41 13.762 E 009 20.642

Very nice anchorage with protection from most points, excellent holding over sand bottom and crystal clear water – you can almost count the sand granules just amazing… Nice hiking ashore, just land the dinghy on the beach or swim to shore. Like most places around these parts of Sardinia, it gets very busy after 11:00 am but clears out by sunset. You can dinghy around to other spots on the east shore and do some nice snorkeling in emerald water.

Passo Cecca Di Porto, Isola Budelli:  N 41 17.002 E 009 21.562

Moorings are available, but one may also anchor. This island has many spots to explore with the dinghy, like along the west shores of Isola Santa Maria with very good snorkeling all over the area. There are another mooring field and anchorage to the northeast of Isola Budelli.

Part 2 coming soon!

Mario Borg


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