Sardinia: 5 Sea Grottos You Must Experience

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Sardinia is one of the most beautiful islands in the entire world drawing millions of tourists every year. With the three major airports in Alghero, Olbia, and Cagliari, as well as multiple ports, it is well-connected to mainland Italy and Europe. The best time to visit Sardinia and enjoy everything it has to offer to the fullest without the crowds is early June and late September and October. Its stunning beaches rival if not surpass any found in the Caribbean, Pacific, or Southeast Asia. The entire coastline is studded with amazing rock formations and sea grottos that can be explored via water (and some on foot). In this article, we’re giving you a rundown of our top picks. Here we go! The 5 sea grottos you must experience are:

In no particular order:

1. Grotta di Nettuno 

Promontorio di Capo Caccia, Alghero 

grotta di nettuno-alghero-sardegna

The cave where Neptune, the God of the sea, takes refuge. This is technically not a sea grotto, but it had to make the list because it is one of the most captivating places on the island. Stalactites, stalagmites, and fantastic colors in this karst cave have been created by the natural salt lake, La Marmora. 

Getting Here

By land: 30 minutes by car or bus from Alghero (then 654 step-climb to the entrance)

By sea: 40 minutes by boat from Alghero (takes you directly to the entrance with no staircase to climb)

When to Visit

Open year-round except December 25th.

More Information

Visit the official website for details and ticket info at Grotta di Nettuno

grotta di nettuno-capo caccia-sardegna

2. Grotta dei Palombi

Isola di Foradada, Alghero

grotta dei palombi-foradada-sardegna

Foradada means “perforated” in Sardinian dialect and describes how the grotto has been cut out of the rock. Part of the marine area of Capo Caccia (Grotta di Nettuno, above), this grotto is a natural habitat for pigeons, seagulls, cormorants, and dogfish, or palombi in Italian. 

Getting Here

By sea: arrive by boat from Alghero (many include both the Grotta di Nettuno and Palombi)

When to Visit


More Information

Visit the Alghero Parks official website for more details

grotta dei palombi-isola foradada-sardegna

3. Grotta del Bue Marino

Between Cala Luna and Cala Gonone, Nuoro

grotte bue marino-cala gonone-sardegna

Located on the breathtaking Gulf of Orosei, the Grotta del Bue Marino was once a habitat for monk seals. The locals named the beautiful, gentle seal Bue Marino, or “sea ox”. Sadly, the species is now “critically endangered” and hasn’t been spotted on the island for over a decade.

This is one of the most popular sea caves among tourists on the entire island. It is an extensive gallery of karst tunnels and caves that branches out into three separate divisions. Petroglyphs have been found inside the cave attributed to Sardinia’s Ozieri culture (3200-2700 BC).

Getting Here

By sea: From various ports on the Gulf of Orosei including Cala Gonone where you can purchase tickets. 

When to Visit

Weather permitting, open year-round but summertime is probably ideal.

More Information

Guided tours only. Visit the Municipality of Dorgoli‘s official website for more information. 

grotte bue marino-mare-cala gonone-sardegna

4. Grotta del Fico

Cala Mariolu, Santa Maria Navarrese, Nuoro

grotta del fico-golfo orosei

Opened to the public in 2003, this magnificent sea cave was formed by an ancient river almost a million years ago. Today, you can explore the various tunnels and cavities and be awe-struck by the fantastic colors and formations. Thought to be the last refuge of the beloved seal monk in Sardinia. 

Getting Here

By sea: From various ports including S. Maria Navarrese, Arbatax, Cala Gonone, Orosei and the Caletta di Siniscola. 

When to Visit

Weather permitting, from May through October.

More Information

By guided tour only. Visit the official website for more information at the Grotta del Fico.

grotta del fico-cala mariolu-sardegna

5. Rocce Rosse 

Arbatax, Tortolì, Nuoro

rocce rosse-arbatax-sardegna

Just when you think that you’ve seen almost every color on the spectrum that the island has to offer, you discover there’s more: the “Red Rocks”. Stunning sculptures of rusty red porfido (an igneous rock) that jut out of the turquoise sea in an other-worldly fashion. They are described as “cathedrals” in Italian and rightly so. We’ve included them in the “grotto” list because of the square opening in one of the rocks that can be explored. 

Getting Here

Located in the Arbatax Marina near Cala Moresca beach. Parking available in the immediate area.

When to Visit

Any time of year.

rocce rosse-arbatax-tortolì-sardegna