Santa Maria Navarrese is a small coastal tourist town in Baunei, in the province of Nuoro, Sardinia.
This central eastern part of Sardinia is currently enjoying a moment as a highly sought-after tourist location. However, Santa Maria Navarrese is considered an outsider in the region, largely due to its distance from Baunei (just under 10 km) and its different climate. Whereas Baunei is known for its mountainous climate and inland location, Santa Maria Navarrese is set on the coast and is close to the border with the province of Ogliastra.
The town was founded in the 1950s by settlers from the wild region of Baunei. The town itself was built around a Medieval church dating back to approximately 1000 AD. Legend insists that the church was built at the behest of a princess from the northern Spain territory of Navarra, whose boat had landed at the town’s harbour during a storm. If the legend is to be believed, she instructed the church to be named after Santa Maria, then added a tribute to her region as a flourish.
As well as the church, there is also a watchtower on the beach from the 17th century, plus oleasters (Eurasian olive trees) dating back a thousand years. The main draw for visitors is the town’s unspoiled natural appearance. It occupies a gorgeous portion of the coast that leads southwards to towns Tortolì and Arbatax.
Tourists can arrive by boat and embark on other boat trips from the coast. The port was awarded a Blue Flag award in recent years and can be a lovely place to hang out. Visiting Santa Maria Navarrese never gets dull. The town’s beaches and caves – just off the Gulf of Orosei – must be seen, either by renting a car or walking around.
Cala Goloritzè in particular, a UNESCO World Heritage site no less, is one of the most beautiful beaches, with its marble stones, white sand and crystal blue waters. Visitors love arriving there for diving and snorkelling.
Punta Goloritzé is another unique area attraction that appeals to rock climbers or daredevils paying a visit to the island. The huge limestone spear is just over 140 metres tall with several climbing tracks. Reaching the summit gives you amazing views over Cala Goloritzè and the island in general.
Another beach along the eastern coast of Sardinia is Cala Luna. Visiting this beach makes it very hard to believe you are still in mainland Europe. The beach features natural caves, deep clear waters and golden sands.
The nearby Mediterranean restaurants serve homemade pasta, freshly caught fish and meat from local farmers. Once the sun goes down, you can enjoy pizza washed down with the finest Sardinian wine.
The area is is also best known for the Selvaggio Blu trekking trail, which begins at Santa Maria Navarrese and ends at the beach of Cala Sisine, 40 km away.
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