Wonders on the Sea


In summertime, the sea off Port Rotondo is bedecked with mega yachts, like glittering jewels set in the sea. The tempo of life on board is set by tenders that shuttle back and forth between the bay and the village, by helicopters taking off and by twinkling party lights. We are talking about Eclipse, the second biggest private yacht in the world, ship-owner Roman Abramovich, which is 163.5 metres long and boasts two helipads, 24 cabins, a mini-submarine and a crew of 70. On the Costa Smeralda you can also regularly spot Pelorus, the 97-metre super-yacht of film producer David Geffen and Topaz, built by German yard Lurssen for the Al Nahyan family, rulers of Abu Dhabi, which is prohibited from entering the Golfo di Cugnana under the Italian “Monti” directive and so anchors off Punta Lada.

Other vessels that anchor out in the bay are the Monaco-registered Moneikos owned by the founder of Luxottica and the 82-metre Alfa Nero, which has a market value in excess of 115 million euro, but can be chartered for just 800,000 euro a week….a real snip! Indeed, it has even been chartered by Bill Gates!

If you are in search of a less contemplative life, the centre of attraction for all sea-loving Porto Rotondo locals is the little blue and white New Port style house that dominates the Marina from the eastern pier: this is the Yacht Club Porto Rotondo whose acronym YCPR is emblazoned on the pennant. The club was founded by a group of dedicated sailing enthusiasts in 1985, when it was set up as a separate branch of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda headed by Karim Aga Khan, after which the two clubs … sailed off in different directions.  Two regattas organised by YCPR liven up the month of October: the offshore race “Trofeo dei due Golfi”, organised by Circolo Nautico Olbia for the “Memorial Bepi Carlini” cup, and the Regata dei Legionari race. A cannon is fired on the Sunday morning to announce the start of the challenge between sailing boats of every kind, in particular lateen sails, which compete for the Trophy provided by the main sponsor DHL (which also sponsors the Barcolana regatta in Trieste) and the “Andrea Campesi” and “Paolo Oggiano” challenges.

For sailing activities, Porto Rotondo residents’ children, but also children of guests signed in by members, can be enrolled in the sailing school at the Yacht Club from 23rd June to 5th September. The voucher received upon enrolment entitles the child to a beginner level 5-day course. The same procedure applies for those wishing to enrol children or children’s friends in water skills courses that also include a course for attaining the Jr. Padi Scuba Diver certificate (age 10-14) and a snorkelling course.

As for adults, hiring a dinghy, to share perhaps with friends, is the most popular way to reach the stunning beaches of the Costa Smeralda in total freedom. Organised trips too, are not to be overlooked, as they are ideal for exploring the Maddalena Archipelago, which Porto Rotondo locals know like the back of their hand.  Baby Tours organises trips to Spargi and La Maddalena with departures from Ira Beach, or to Olbia departing from Molo Brin, plus cruises to Tavolara and Capo Coda Cavallo. The company’s ticket office is located next to the Porto Rotondo post office. Meanwhile, the natural curiosity to “explore the depths”, leads straight to “Banchina Sporting” pier, where Patrizia and Maura run the Centro Sub Portorotondo, a PADI approved dive centre that offers international certification. Their enthusiasm also spills over into the bar just by the wall of the pier, where you can sip a delicious mirto liqueur while you consider which course level to begin with: Adventure, Advanced, Emergency First Responsible Rescue Diver, Padi, Padi Scuba, Open Water Diver….

A helicopter trip, meanwhile, is the perfect choice for a bird’s eye view of the sea! You can glimpse the islands of Soffi, Mortorio and Le Camere set in the crystal clear waters, then soar over Cala di Volpe, Romazzino and climb steadily ….towards the peaks of San Pantaleo, before heading out to dinner with your new friends.

Text by N.T