I have found a small slice of heaven in this hamlet along the eastern side of Sardegna. It’s not the easiest to find (see note below) but I would suggest that you come here and stay for many days rather than Costa Rei or Villasmius; it’s cheaper, there is more to do, and the people are just lovely.
Note: Cala Gonone is hard to find and harder to get to. If you decided to drive from Cagliari, I highly recommend renting the GPS from the rental car company AND coming with a printout of directions (don’t use Google Maps!!! They are horrible, they give you “rural route” numbers instead of streets which no one knows (when you are lost) and, heaven forbid, Google Mapps doesn’t even tell you in which direction to head!) Why both you ask? Because there are some parts where you may have no signal for the GPS and the old-fashioned printout route is the best way to be safe.
If you decide to fly to Sardegna and only stay at Cala Gonone, everyone offers car transfers to and from the airport. Consider it! It may seem expensive, but a car hire, to just sit there and gather dust – and there’s very little free parking in Cala Gonone so you’ll be feeding a meter – is really not the best use of your money.
There are vast majority of hotel types in Cala Gonone. None have more than 4 stars and you can go down to a 2 star or even stay at one of the B&Bs peppered throughout this coastal community. I chose the Costa Dorada (http://www.hotelcostadorada.it/) which was just lovely. The staff spoke Italian with me, but they also appeared to be fluent in English, German, Spanish, and French (all heard while I was there). I requested a sea-view room and although it didn’t have a balcony – there are shared spaced on each floor so it’s not the most private – it did have a lovely view of the sea when I opened the shutters each morning. How better to start your day right?!
You come to Cala Gonone for one thing: the beach. But unlike Costa Rei, there is more to do here to occupy your time. There is a bit of shopping that can be done (all of it touristic, however), you can go hiking, and you even have a plethora or restaurants to choose from.
But if there is one thing that you must do, you must do a minicrociera along the coast! This will be a day-long trip (mine lasted from 9 – 18.30 even though it was suggested I would be finished by 17.00) and will cost you about 45 euro, but it is worth every penny. And rather than going to the Port and doing one of the large tour boats, ask your hotel to set up a smaller, more private outing. In fact, the Costa Durada has their own boat and organizes this for their guests. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about this and by the time I arrived, the boat was already booked for the days I was there. But thankfully, the Hotel called a friend who did the same thing, they got me on to the boat tour (8 people total), and the owner of the hotel even drove me to the Port and introduced me to the guides.
The minicrociera is a sun-lovers paradise so if you don’t want to be in the sun, this isn’t the best thing for you. But if you can stick it out – and most boats have a covered section and you can sleep on the boats as opposed to one of the beaches you will undoubtedly stop at for a couple of hours – do it. Don’t think about it, just do it!
Not far from the Costa Durada is the Road House Blues (no website). The food was pretty good and the service was excellent. It was however, to be warned, incredibly hot! Cala Gonone, when there is no wind, is warm well in to the evening and don’t think of asking about air conditioning (here or anywhere else!); it doesn’t happen. What I liked most about Road House Blues was the classic jazz playing the entire time I was there.
I highly recommend La Poltrona (no website). This place is phenomenal! The first night I went here, I decided to walk the 2+ kilometers to the restaurant. Unfortunately, it was hot – not to mention UP HILL which no one mentioned – and by the time I arrived, I was a sweaty mess! But the staff was patient and once I cooled off, they said that they new I was vegetarian and the chef was offering a number of different options for me! How cool? My last night in Cala Gonone was to be at La Poltrona. How could it not be?! And the chef, once again, outdid himself with options and even accommodated my need – and yess, it was a need – to have a simple home-made pasta that was out of this world!
So, if you plan to go to Sardegna for a bit of sun and relaxation and aren’t sure where to go, without a doubt, I have to tell you to go to Cala Cogone. It truly is heaven and there is enough to do there to keep yourself occupied and happy for quite some time! Enjoy!