Maddalena Archipelago (Arcipelago della Maddalena)
For decades, the Maddalena Archipelago was spared from the ravages of intensive tourism, because its largest island was a NATO base. When the base closed in 2008, Sardinia’s “yachterati” began visiting the islands, but their national park status has protected the ecosystem from unchecked development. Today, the islands retain an almost undiscovered feel, and many of the beaches are accessible only by boat. Most of the archipelago’s residents live in La Maddalena on the main island, but venture out of town a few minutes by land or sea, and you’ll feel like you have the islands to yourself.
A popular destination for divers and beach enthusiasts, the Maddalena Archipelago can only be reached from Sardinia by ferry or private boat. Join a boat tour to skip the crowded port town, and explore the coastlines and beaches farther afield. Or, opt for a scuba or snorkeling excursion.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Passengers must be agile enough to board and disembark from a boat—confirm accessibility if you have limited mobility.
The main port town of La Maddalena has several eateries, and there are a few waterfront restaurants scattered along the coastline that are accessible only by boat.
How to Get There
The Maddalena Archipelago lies in the Strait of Bonifacio between Sardinia and Corsica, about 20 minutes from Sardinia’s port city of Palau. You can get to the islands by ferry or via a private boat tour from a number of ports along the Sardinian coast.
When to Get There
The archipelago is most crowded in summer, when Italians head for its relatively remote beaches. Go in late spring or early fall for fewer people and warm temperatures perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
The Seven Islands of the Maddalena Archipelago
The largest island—and the archipelago’s main port and town—is La Maddalena, with a permanent population of just under 10,000 people. The nearby islands of Caprera and Santo Stefano are also inhabited, though there are no towns or ports on these largely wild expanses of coast and countryside. Spargi, Santa Maria, Budelli, and Razzoli are smaller, deserted islands, known for their pristine coastlines and rich marine life.
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