Beach villa away from the crowds

Our villa was on a peninsula looking out towards the Maddalena islands. Thick white stone walls and big open terraces, it was perfect for the two families we were. It didn’t have a pool but a path through the scrubby trees took us to our own little beach. On only one day was anyone else on it. We found tiny, sweet clams in the sand at the waterline and the children dug them up by the bucketload for lunch. Days were beach-focussed. The local town, Palau, was functional rather than pretty which suited us fine; it was lacking in tourist hordes but had a good supermarket and was perfect for family pizza in the evening.


Just beyond was the glorious beach of Isola dei Gabbiani. A spit of golden sand leading to the ‘island of the seagulls’, one side was big waves and kites, the other gentler water with swimming and windsurfing. Almost everyone on the beach was Italian – acres of tattooed, bronzed flesh, but it had a happy, windswept family vibe.

Another day we hired a speedboat and explored the Maddalena islands, ending up with ice creams and a drink in the pretty port of La Maddalena itself. On Thursday we ventured east to the weekly craft market of San Pantaleo. A picture-postcard small Sardinian town, we picked out excellent linens, crocheted bags and artisan crafts, but it was our only experience of brash American voices and overpriced coffees and we drove back to the calm of less lovely Palau with relief.

Villa Porto Ulisse sleeps up to 12 and costs from £4,230 p/w