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Blue Tomato

Stormrider Guide to surfing Sardinia

Italy, EUROPE


Surfing Sardinia at Sa Mesa, Gecko

Summary

+ Fairly consistent surf - Windy conditions
+ Spots facing a variety of directions - Short-lived swells
+ Mellow crowds - Cold winter conditions
+ Historical and cultural sites - Tough access

Italy is hardly the most popular European surf destination, but surfing Sardinia is possible in the consistent winter months.

The dominant NW Mistral wind blows with such regularity and power that the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea really does get decent waves. There are waves all around it, but the west coast around Capo Mannu has a real concentration of reliable, quality spots.


When to Go

The consistent, forceful Mistral wind arrives from the WNW-NW bringing windswells that average 6-8ft with 8sec period, which can rise dramatically within hours. SW-facing spots are OK in the predominant NW winds. Winds can be variable with plentiful N and E winds. Cagliari tides never exceed 0.4m!

Surf Spots

On Sardinia’s NW-facing coast, check Rena Majore, Marinedda, Badesi and La Ciaccia, hopefully when the wind backs off. More waves break deeper in the gulf on N and NE windchop or storms from the W-NW. Silver Rock is a powerful reef producing long ripable rights and fast hollow lefts over a rock bottom and is surfable in light onshore conditions. Porto Ferro is a very consistent spot that turns on in most swells. Several performance peaks with vertical walls over sand and rock. The left reef at the south end can line-up in big windy SW swells and stay clean. Strong currents, but very good water quality. Alghero has some south-facing, storm protected reefs plus an offshore island left at Maddalenedda. The top quality righthand pointbreak La Speranza produces powerful tubes in any W swell and handles the regular strong NW winds. Fast, hollow and shallow so intermediates or better. There are beachbreaks in front of the bar and more reefs to the south. Long line-up spreads the crowd. S’Archittu shapes up long righthanders over reef in solid SW storms and it holds up with strong onshores. On the best days the three sections connect and 700m rides are possible. The last section is the most powerful. Sharp rock bottom with sea urchins and strong currents on big windy days. Around the headland, Islas Arenas offers both reef peaks and beachbreaks along this swell and wind exposed stretch. North-facing reef and beach grace the next big bay at Su Crastu Biancu and Sa Boca Tunda respectively, but the real quality reefbreaks are found out on the Su Pallosu promontory. Outside the Sa Mesa Longa reef enclosing the lagoon, breaks a beautiful A-frame on a shallow rock bottom. Sa Mesa activates on any SW, W and especially sizeable NW swells but cannot be surfed with onshore wind. Use the channel on the left of the little island to get to the line-up. Often crowded with some attitude. Very famous among Mediterranean surfers, Capo Mannu area is a true swell and surfer magnet. The long right pointbreak peels down the south side of the Capo Mannu peninsula, one of the few spots sheltered from the NW gales. Easy take-off and hollow inside with 200m long rides possible. Highly consistent and often crowded, hazards include rips, sharp rocks on entry/exit plus it’s seriously localised. Directly offshore in the NW Mistral, Mini Capo is one of the most consistent and technical waves in Italy. Mini Capo’s reef peak offers several fast barrel sections and a steep inside, which makes for a long ride. The left is shorter but more intense. Always crowded with sharp locals, urchins and rocks. Easy access from little beach on left of carpark. La Punta is another nice right slide that needs W in the swell to wrap around the corner and into the bay to wake up protected Banzai and Lo Scivolo. Next beach is Putzu Idu, a curve of pretty average beachbreak that needs a big swell to have anything worth riding. A bit further south, S’Arena Scoada is better exposed with west-facing sandbars picking up some reasonably reliable peaks. Sardinia’s surf continues down the rugged southwest coast and driving distances between spots increase markedly. Notable spots include the harbour jetty at Buggerru and the hard to find A-frame reef at Guroneddu. The islands of San Pietro and Sant’Antioco have surf in W swells but the half a dozen south coast spots around Chia also work on storms from the E and SE. A few waves will break around Cagliari and the marginal east coast in any NE-S pulses.

Statistics

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell SW -NW SW -NW SW -NW SW -NW SW -NW SW -NW
swell size (ft) 3 2-3 2 1 2-3 3
consistency (%) 45 42 23 21 26 43
dominant wind W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW
average force F4 F4 F4 F4 F4 F4
consistency (%) 59 61 59 51 54 56
water temp (C) 13 14 19 24 22 16
wetsuit 4/3 4/3 3/2 boardshorts springsuit 3/2

Travel Information

Weather
Sardinia experiences a mixed Mediterranean and oceanic climate with low rainfall. Winters are cold and windy while spring and especially autumn bring plenty of sunshine and balmy temperatures. Avoid the summer heat, droughts, crowds and flat spells. 12-26ºC (54-79ºF) are the water temp extremes. Windchill factor is high. Take booties.

Lodging and Food
Stay in Oristano for the best hotel choices or Putzu Idu for apartments and villas. The Is Benas B&B Surf Camp and Resort, Capo Mannu (fr $295/3d). A good, basic meal is $20.

Nature and Culture
Italy has 50% of the World Heritage monuments. The west coast is beautifully untouched. In winter the only lively bars are in historic Oristano.