First let me explain how I came to choose Camping Cala Gonone as the place to base our family holiday in Sardinia.
We had hoped to go to Ethiopia but when the plans fell through I needed to quickly find an alternative destination. As I didn’t want to splash out on a long haul destination at such short notice, I headed for the Easyjet website, looking for cheap flights within Europe. We settled on Sardinia as it had been recommended by my sister and as we would be flying into Olbia, I started looking for a suitable resort within an hour or two’s drive of the airport.
Heading north would take us onto the picturesque Costa Esmarelda, the St Tropez of Sardinia where supermodels and Russian millionaires hang out on their sleek yachts. I feared that this would not be the place for a budget holiday in August, when prices are generally are sky high. So we looked south to Cala Gonone, an old fishing village which has now grown into a small resort, the sort where Italians and Sardinians come on holiday for a month with their extended families.
In these seaside holiday locations, I generally look for a campsite which lets out cabins within the site, as I couldn’t face taking a tent and all the baggage that goes with it. This is a cheaper option than staying in an appartment and you get all the facilities that the family enjoy such as a swimming pool, sports facilities and often other English children to make friends with.
I must admit that even staying in a small 4-person cabin, the prices were pretty high – it’s one of the penalties of going on holiday in August. We paid €130 per night for our cabin although the prices drop to €75 a night in low season. I reckon that it was a lot cheaper than a hotel although we probably could have found a small appartment for the same money but without the pool and other facilities. Even if we’d camped, it would have cost us around €90 a night for a family of 5, so nothing was going to be that cheap.
I did try mailing a few other campsites in the area, but I’ve found that these smaller locally run campsites are quite slow in replying to enquiries. If you mail them in English you’re unlikely to get a reply, so I always use an internet translator to write my e-mails. Also if they’re full they probably won’t bother replying to your e-mail. You can just imagine them giving an Italian shrug of the shoulders.
However, Camping Cala Gonone was pretty efficient in that respect and when we got there we found it to be a well-run family business. I must admit that my heart sank when we saw our cabin and realised how little space we were getting for our money. It was really just an overgrown garden shed with a tiny shower room and one bedroom with just enough room for a double bed and bunk beds. The kitchen and dining area was on the veranda in front which wasn’t a problem as it was baking hot every day.
The big bonus of the campsite was that it has a very nice swimming pool – even some of the larger campsites I looked at didn’t have a pool although they were right on the beach. The pool was policed by a gorgeous lifeguard who was deeply tanned and sported a different bikini every day, although it shut after lunch when everyone went to have their afternoon siesta. Right by the pool is a basketball and tennis court but it felt too hot to have a serious game. There is also a cafe, restaurant and small shop on site and the pizzas were freshly made in the pizza oven to eat in or take away. The site is shaded by many pine trees which was a big bonus in the summer heat.
The campsite is on the edge of the resort, with just a short walk down the hill into town, where you can find plenty of cafes, restaurants, gelaterias and souvenir shops. Beside the port where you can take boat trips, there is a small beach and further down the road is another larger beach. All the beaches were packed from morning to night and I was pleased that we could go for a short swim and then easily walk back to the campsite.
Most of the activities here are around swimming, diving and snorkling. There are wrecks you can dive on and many boat trips from the port to the sea caves and smaller beaches. Although there are other activities such as mountainbiking, climbing and canyoning, we realised that these were best done in the spring or autumn as it was way too hot in the height of the summer. On other parts of the coast, you can find sailing, windsurfing and surfing, but it was too sheltered for this at Cala Gonone.
I’d recommend Cala Gonone as a pleasant place to stay for a few days, especially for the boat trips in the Gulf of Orosei and as a base to venture inland. But I’d probably avoid it in the high season where both the prices and the temperatures are sky high and everywhere is packed out.
You can see all my Sardinia photos on Flickr here.
More Sardinia articles to enjoy
Other useful links
Camping Cala Gonone website