Cala Mariolu Guide: Best Things To Know (+5 Accomodation Options)

Cala Mariolu is a stunning beach located on the eastern coast of Sardinia, Italy. Renowned for its crystal-clear waters, white pebble beach, and striking limestone cliffs, it is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean.

Cala Mariolu

Name and Natural Beauty

The name “Mariolu” comes from a local legend involving a Mediterranean monk seal. According to the story, these seals would steal fish from the fishermen’s nets, leading them to be called “mariolu,” meaning thief in the local dialect.

Cala Mariolu is renowned for its scenic beauty, featuring:

  • Clear, Turquoise Waters: The water here is exceptionally clear, offering perfect conditions for swimming and snorkeling.
  • White Pebble Beach: The beach is covered with small, smooth white pebbles and sand, giving it a unique and picturesque appearance.
  • Limestone Cliffs: Tall cliffs surround the beach, creating a dramatic backdrop and adding to its secluded feel.

Cala Mariolu is part of the larger Orosei Gulf Marine Park, highlighting its ecological importance and the efforts to preserve its natural beauty. This area is not only a haven for tourists seeking tranquility and scenic beauty but also a vital habitat for various marine species and birds, making it a significant spot for both recreation and conservation.

The beach is accessible primarily by boat, with departures available from ports such as Arbatax, Cala Gonone, and Santa Maria Navarrese. For the adventurous, it can also be reached via a challenging hiking trail through dense Mediterranean scrub, offering breathtaking views of the landscape.

Activities and Attractions

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Beach Relaxation: What to Expect

At Cala Mariolu, visitors can unwind on the soft, white pebbles and sand that make up the beach. The cove is framed by striking limestone cliffs, providing a stunning backdrop for a day of relaxation. The beach is less crowded compared to other more accessible locations, offering a peaceful environment to sunbathe and listen to the gentle waves. There are no commercial facilities on the beach, so visitors should bring their own umbrellas, food, and drinks to enjoy a comfortable day by the sea.

Swimming and Snorkeling: Highlights and Spots

Cala Mariolu’s crystal-clear waters make it an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling. The underwater visibility is excellent, allowing snorkelers to see a variety of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and intricate coral formations. Some of the best snorkeling spots are near the rocks and cliffs where marine life tends to congregate. Renting snorkeling equipment in advance or bringing your own is recommended, as there are no rental services directly on the beach.

Boat Tours: What They Offer and Key Points of Interest

Boat tours are a popular way to experience Cala Mariolu and the surrounding coastline. These tours typically depart from ports like Arbatax, Cala Gonone, and Santa Maria Navarrese. They offer a range of activities, including:

  • Coastline Exploration: Tours often navigate along the rugged coastline, providing breathtaking views of the cliffs and hidden coves.
  • Swimming Stops: Many tours include stops at various secluded beaches and swimming spots where passengers can take a dip in the pristine waters.
  • Snorkeling: Some tours provide snorkeling gear and opportunities to explore the underwater world at different spots along the route.
  • Wildlife Spotting: There are chances to see dolphins, seabirds, and other wildlife during the journey.
  • Grotta del Fico: Some tours include visits to nearby caves like the Grotta del Fico, adding an element of adventure and exploration to the trip.

Hiking: Trails, Necessary Equipment, and What to Expect

For those who prefer to reach Cala Mariolu on foot, there are challenging hiking trails that offer stunning views and a sense of accomplishment. The Selvaggio Blu Trail is the most famous and demanding, suitable for experienced hikers. The trail from Baunei is another option, offering a shorter yet still rigorous route.

  • Necessary Equipment:
    • Sturdy hiking boots
    • Ample water supply
    • Sun protection (hat, sunscreen)
    • Snacks and a packed lunch
    • A map or GPS device
    • First-aid kit
    • Walking stick for support
  • What to Expect:
    • Steep and rugged terrain requiring good physical fitness
    • Spectacular views of the coastline and Mediterranean scrub
    • Limited shade along the trail, making sun protection essential
    • Potential wildlife sightings, including birds and small mammals

Photography: Best Spots and Tips for Capturing the Scenery

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Cala Mariolu is a paradise for photographers, offering numerous opportunities to capture its natural beauty. Here are some tips and spots for the best shots:

  • Best Spots:
    • From the water: Photos taken from a boat provide a unique perspective of the beach and cliffs.
    • On the beach: Shots of the turquoise water against the white pebbles and dramatic cliffs make for stunning images.
    • From the cliffs: For those who hike, the views from above the beach are breathtaking and offer panoramic shots of the coastline.
  • Photography Tips:
    • Early morning or late afternoon light provides the best conditions for photography, with softer lighting and fewer shadows.
    • A waterproof camera or housing is useful for underwater shots while snorkeling.
    • Use a polarizing filter to reduce glare from the water and enhance the colors of the sea and sky.
    • Be mindful of the environment and avoid disturbing wildlife or trampling on delicate plant life while seeking the perfect shot.

Where to Sleep Close to Cala Mariolu

When visiting Cala Mariolu, you have several accommodation options in nearby towns like Cala Gonone and Baunei. These locations offer a variety of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals, providing a convenient base for exploring the stunning Gulf of Orosei.

Best Hotels and Accommodations


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  1. B&B Selvaggio Blu:
    • Set in Baunei, this bed and breakfast is only a short distance from Cala Goloritze Beach. It features free WiFi and private parking, with a highly praised host who offers excellent local activity suggestions.
    • Highlights: Exceptional host, beautiful surroundings, ideal for hikers and nature lovers.
  2. Dommu Anna:
    • This recently renovated apartment offers a comfortable stay with mountain and city views. The accommodation features a terrace and a cozy atmosphere, with thoughtful amenities like a coffee machine.
    • Highlights: Renovated rooms, terrace with views, cozy environment.
  3. Orientale 205 Baunei:
    • This accommodation provides newly renovated rooms with excellent amenities. The flat is well-equipped, including a compact kitchen and a beautiful balcony view, making it a perfect starting point for hiking adventures.
    • Highlights: Perfect location for hikers, well-equipped kitchen, exceptional views.

Cala Gonone:

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  1. Seaview House Cala Gonone:
    • These bright apartments with stunning sea views are just 400 meters from the local beaches. The location is quiet and relaxing, perfect for a peaceful getaway.
    • Highlights: Spectacular views, beachfront location, well-equipped apartments.
  2. Sos Dorroles:
    • Situated close to Spiaggia di Sos Dorroles and Spiaggia Palmasera, this accommodation offers air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms and beautiful views.
    • Highlights: Great views, close to multiple beaches, welcoming host.

Where is Cala Mariolu?

Cala Mariolu, also known as Ispuligidenìe, is a beach located in the Gulf of Orosei, within the territory of the municipality of Baunei, in the province of Nuoro, on the eastern coast of Sardinia, Italy

How to Get There

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Access by Boat

Available Services and Ports:

  • Ports of Departure: The most common departure points to reach Cala Mariolu by boat are Arbatax, Cala Gonone, and Santa Maria Navarrese. These ports offer various boat services that cater to tourists wishing to explore the Gulf of Orosei.
  • Boat Tours: Several companies provide boat tours ranging from half-day to full-day excursions. These tours typically include stops at multiple beaches and coves along the coastline, including Cala Mariolu. Some popular providers are:
  • Gommone Rentals: Small inflatable boats, known as gommones, can be rented for a more private and flexible experience. These boats are easy to handle and allow visitors to explore at their own pace.
  • Group Excursions: Larger boats offering guided tours with amenities like on-board guides, snorkeling equipment, and sometimes meals. These tours provide detailed insights into the area and are ideal for those looking for a structured trip.
  • Private Charters: For a more personalized experience, private boat charters are available. These can be arranged through various local operators and can be customized according to individual preferences.

Hiking Options


Trails and Difficulty Level:

  • Selvaggio Blu Trail: This is the most renowned and challenging hiking trail that reaches Cala Mariolu. It is a multi-day trek that requires a good level of physical fitness and experience in hiking. The trail offers breathtaking views of the coastline and passes through dense Mediterranean scrub.
  • Trail from Baunei: Another hiking option starts from the village of Baunei. This trail is shorter than the Selvaggio Blu but still requires a moderate to high level of fitness due to its steep and rugged terrain. It is recommended for experienced hikers.
  • Equipment and Preparation: Hikers should be well-prepared with sturdy footwear, ample water, sun protection, and a map or GPS device. It is also advisable to hike with a guide, especially for those unfamiliar with the area.

Tips for Planning Your Trip

  • Early Booking: Especially during peak season (summer), it is advisable to book boat tours and rentals well in advance to ensure availability.
  • Weather Check: Always check the weather forecast before planning your visit. Sudden changes in weather can affect both boat trips and hiking conditions.
  • Packing Essentials:
    • For Boating: Bring swimwear, snorkeling gear, sunblock, hats, and plenty of water. A light jacket might also be useful for early morning or late afternoon trips.
    • For Hiking: Sturdy hiking boots, a hat, sunscreen, a first-aid kit, snacks, and plenty of water are essential. A walking stick can also be helpful for navigating the rough terrain.
    • Respect the Environment: Cala Mariolu is part of a protected marine area. Ensure to take all waste back with you, avoid disturbing the wildlife, and respect the natural surroundings.
    • Timing: To avoid the midday heat during summer, plan your activities early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

By following these guidelines, visitors can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Cala Mariolu, whether they choose to arrive by sea or on foot.

Best Time to Visit Cala Mariolu

Choosing the best time to visit Cala Mariolu depends on your preferences for weather, crowd levels, and available activities. Spring and autumn offer a balance of pleasant weather and fewer tourists, making these seasons ideal for those seeking a quieter experience. Summer is perfect for enjoying the beach and water activities to the fullest, albeit with more crowds. Winter, while tranquil, is best suited for those interested in hiking and exploring without swimming or using many tourist services.

Seasonal Insights

Spring (April to June)

  • Pros:
    • Pleasant weather with mild temperatures, ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the coastline.
    • Fewer tourists compared to the summer, offering a more peaceful experience.
    • Blossoming Mediterranean flora adds to the scenic beauty.
  • Cons:
    • Sea temperatures might still be a bit cool for swimming early in the season.
    • Some local services and amenities might not be fully operational until late spring.

Summer (July to August)

  • Pros:
    • Warmest sea temperatures, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities.
    • Long daylight hours, allowing more time for beach activities and exploration.
    • All tourist services, including boat tours and rentals, are fully operational.
  • Cons:
    • The peak tourist season means larger crowds and a busier beach.
    • Higher temperatures can be intense, making hiking and other strenuous activities less comfortable.

Autumn (September to October)

  • Pros:
    • Warm sea temperatures remain from summer, suitable for swimming and snorkeling.
    • Cooler air temperatures make outdoor activities like hiking more enjoyable.
    • Decreasing tourist numbers provide a more tranquil environment.
  • Cons:
    • Some services and amenities may begin to reduce hours or close as the season progresses.
    • Weather can be more unpredictable, with occasional rain.

Winter (November to March)

  • Pros:
    • Very few tourists, offering a serene and secluded experience.
    • Ideal for those who enjoy hiking and exploring without the crowds.
    • Mild winter climate compared to other regions, though cooler than the rest of the year.
  • Cons:
    • Cooler sea temperatures are not suitable for swimming.
    • Many tourist services, including boat tours, may not be available.
    • Shorter daylight hours limit the time available for outdoor activities.

Nearby Attractions

Cala Luna 6

Overview of Nearby Coves and Beaches

The Gulf of Orosei, where Cala Mariolu is located, is renowned for its stunning coves and beaches. Here are some must-visit spots:

  1. Cala Goloritzé:
    • Famous for its unique limestone arch and spire, Cala Goloritzé is a picturesque beach accessible by boat or a challenging hike. Its clear, turquoise waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
  2. Cala Luna:
    • One of the most famous beaches in the area, Cala Luna features a unique landscape with sea caves and a long stretch of sandy beach. It’s accessible by boat or a hike from Cala Fuili.
  3. Cala Sisine:
    • Known for its pebbly shore and dramatic cliffs, Cala Sisine offers a quieter and more secluded beach experience. It’s accessible by boat or via a hiking trail from the Golgo Plateau.
  4. Cala Biriola:
    • This small, pebbly beach is surrounded by cliffs and lush Mediterranean vegetation. It’s a popular spot for snorkeling and diving due to its rich marine life.

Grotta del Fico and Other Notable Sites

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  1. Grotta del Fico:
    • Located near Cala Mariolu, Grotta del Fico is a fascinating sea cave that was once a habitat for the Mediterranean monk seal. Guided tours of the cave reveal impressive stalactites and stalagmites, and visitors can learn about the cave’s geological history.
  2. Grotte del Bue Marino:
    • These extensive sea caves are another highlight of the region. The caves are accessible by boat and feature impressive rock formations and ancient carvings. They were named after the Mediterranean monk seals that once lived there.
  3. Piscine di Venere (Venus Pools):
    • Natural pools formed by the sea, these are located near Cala Biriola. The clear, calm waters are ideal for a refreshing swim and snorkeling.
  4. Punta Goloritzé:
    • This distinctive limestone peak is a popular destination for climbers and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline. It’s a challenging but rewarding climb for those with experience.

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