Wearing hiking shoes or riding a bike, with binoculars and smartphone always at hand. ...and, of course, a lot of curiosity for exploring nature. This is what you need if you want to dive into an ‘aquatic’ world very close to the sea, yet distant in terms of characteristics and ways of experiencing it: these are the wetland, marshy areas of Sardinia, ecosystems populated by often rare examples of plant and animal life, where a delicate balance reigns between man and the environment. Ideal destinations for relaxing walks, especially with the warm colours of sunrise or sunset. The sea is sometimes only separated from a pond by a strip of sand, like at Villasimius, in the protected marine area of Capo Carbonara: behind the pure white beach of Porto Giunco you will find the Pond of Notteri, with its blue waters coloured by the pink of its famous inhabitants, the flamingos.
Not just one, but four wetland areas stretch out close to the beaches of Porto Pino and Le Dune (or is Arenas Biancas), in Lower Sulcis, where you can observe herons, cormorants and yellow-legged gulls. On the subject of dunes and strips of sand, you can’t help but think of La Cinta, one of the ‘picture postcard’ stretches of sand at San Teodoro. Behind its arch, a lagoon opens up, another habitat chosen by the flamingos and a destination for birdwatching enthusiasts. Further south, along the Marina di Orosei, the stretch of beach that takes the name of su Petrosu is ‘protected’ at the back by the lagoon that, along with the river Cedrino and the marsh of Osalla, make up the oasis of su Barone, a site of community interest, included in the Natura 2000 network, where the birdlife is accompanied by a wide variety of fish and molluscs.
Also in Orosei, very close to the golden beaches of Cala Liberotto and Cala Ginepro, steep hills of pink granite form the spectacular setting for the lagoon of sa Curcurica, a ‘precious part’ of the Oasis of Bidderosa, which has numerous stations for observing the aquatic birds that live there. The pond of Longu, in Posada, is also included in a protected area: it is the Oasis of Tepilora, surrounded by elevations and dotted with woods and springs. You can try your hand at kayaking, SUP, diving and snorkelling in the pond, while the trails running around the shores are perfect for riding your mountain bike and electric bike. In Ogliastra, the pond of Tortolì is the ultimate wetland area, separated from the sea by a long pine forest and by the beach of Isula Manna. Further south, you can’t miss the mixture of wild sandy shores and wetlands of Sarrabus, close to the beaches of Feraxi and Colostrai.
Cagliari is surrounded by lagoons and ponds. To the west, an area of 1300 hectares represents one of the largest and most important wetlands in Europe, including the Lagoon of Santa Gilla, the Conti Vecchi Saltworks and the pond of Capoterra. Almost 200 species of birds live there. The Pond of Cagliari is one of the two nesting sites of the pink flamingos, while the other is at the opposite end of the capital city and is also linked to salt: the Park of Molentargius-Saline. You can explore it by taking guided tours on foot, by bike, by boat or by electric bus, observing the industrial plants of the ‘city of salt’. The pond-salt pan combination also exists at Sant’Antioco, in the Lagoon of Santa Caterina. Meanwhile, in San Vero Milis, near the crystal-clear sea of s’Arena Scoada, you can witness a salt crust covering the pond of Sale ‘e Porcus that appears in the summer, thanks to the evaporation of the water.
Also in the Sinis peninsula, the typical image of the Pond of Cabras is that of the fishermen aboard the is fassonis, boats made of bundles of reeds and marsh grasses, as they fish grey mullet, from which they produce the exquisite fish roe known as bottarga. Fishing also characterises the nearby Lagoon of Marceddì and its picturesque village. Visit it during the celebration of Madonna di Bonaria in August, when the procession takes place in the lagoon, followed by succulent fish banquets. Sea, historical cities, nature parks and lagoons also characterise the landscape of the Coral Riviera. Stretching between Alghero and Fertilia, in the Park of Porto Conte and near the beach of Maria Pia, lie the 97 hectares of the Lagoon of Calich, a triumph of 350 species of plant life, with numerous native species, where you can listen to the bewitching rattling ‘song’ of the plants.