The Italian island is guaranteed to suit the whole brood. Here I reveal how…
Baby travel in Sardinia
There are two universal truths about Sardinia. Firstly, it’s fringed with beaches that look more like the Maldives than the Med. And secondly, Sardinians adore babies. Combine the two and your bambinos will be smitten: with sand-digging, sea-paddling and showers of attention. Babies love a good beach. And the thing about Sardinia is that many of its curves and coves are spectacularly calm and shallow. Head to Tuerredda on the southern coast, and nab a spot on its buttery sand, where umbrellas and sunbeds are for hire, and little ones can potter in the shade and paddle in gin-clear waters for hours. Elsewhere, the popular resort of Villasimius fizzes with activity during summer, and its beaches are exceptional with sedate warm waters, perfect for tentative first steps. And when your little ones need a snooze, load up the buggy and trundle beyond the beach and along a resort’s promenade: most are incredibly buggy-friendly and backed with playgrounds. The good news, too, is that Sardinia is set up so well for babies. Most hotels have thought of everything with all the gear on demand – cots, changing mats and baby baths – but anything you’re missing, you can hire from Italian firm, MammaMamma.
Toddler travel in Sardinia
Like any self-respecting Italian region, Sardinia excels big-time when it comes to spot-on kiddie staples. Pizza, pasta and gelato are all on the menu to keep the kids happy at mealtimes. But it’s not just food that’ll enamour toddlers. Don’t miss a trip on the Trenino Verde (the little green train): a diesel engine train that rambles through miles of serene Sardinian countryside. There are six different routes to choose depending on how long your little ones will stick it out for, but the Mandas to Seui is your best bet with young ones. Watch their faces squeal with excitement as it speeds away to a series of whistles and onwards, past waving locals, before ascending and dipping into the mountains where green valleys transform into dizzying mountainsides that’ll make the whole clan swoon. Animal-loving tots will also fall head over heels for the island’s agriturismi (farm stays), where they wake to the sound of cockerels, eat freshly picked oranges on shady terraces, and pet farm animals before letting off steam in miles of rural space. Alternatively, decamp to Bluefan Aquatic Park with its epic water slides and pools – always a winner with toddlers.
Tween travel in Sardinia
Keep your tweens in check with a trip to Laguna di Nora – a fascinating lagoon on the western side of the Nora promontory where pink flamingos stride through the lake’s shallows. Stalk these creatures on a canoe trip with your brood and dip into the visitor’s centre for a wildlife lesson in the area’s aquatic fauna. But to really grab their attention, book a snorkelling tour in its dreamily-clear water that’s a gentle intro for novices. Back on land and out of the blasting sunlight, Cappo Caccia’s Grotta di Nettuno (Neptune’s Grotto) – an enchanting and cavernous cave network – will fire up young imaginations with staggering forests of stalagmites and stalactites. To make them feel like true pioneers, descend into the caves via the Escala del Cabriol – a hair-raising staircase that drops for 110metres – and get them to count each step: all 654 of them, before clambering along narrow walkways and into the darkness.
Teen travel in Sardinia
Teenagers can be a hard-to-please bunch. But even they can’t ignore the pull of the island’s good-time vibes and will explore its pockets and nooks of adventure with gusto. The surf scene is cool and friendly and will welcome newbies to the west coast’s pounding waves with a pro lesson. Still in the water, the north-coast’s resorts of Palau and Porto Pollo are big on watersports: kite-surfing, diving and windsurfing are all on the bill. A trip to Sardinia’s largest national park, meanwhile, is a must: the Parco Nazionale del Golfo di Orosei e del Gennargentu is a playground for off-road biking, caving and canyoning, and a chance to discover the island’s craggy beauty. An all-round crowd pleaser though is a horse-ride along Piscinas Beach on the south-west coast. With its waves of orange sand and trails lined with fragrant juniper, beach grass and olive trees, you’d be hard pressed to find a more insta-worthy beach. And a horse ride darting over its dunes – some of which tower up to 60 metres – is not something they’ll easily forget.
Sardinia is a pro at keeping everyone hunky-dory, whatever the age, not least because it has a consistently sunny disposition. Plot a course to the Capo Carbonara promontory, a protected marine park that’ll charm your entourage, where sweeping bays sit cheek-by-jowl with dunes and coves. Take it in turns to watch the tots craft sandcastles and pad about, whilst you dive its knockout waters or wander along the walking trails beneath white-chalk cliffs, or pile the whole family into a boat for a trip along the coast. Away from the water, sensational scenery and wildlife pops up in every direction at La Giara di Gesturi – a high basalt plateau that’s home to Sardinia’s indigenous wild ponies. Walk amongst its scrubland and ancient woodland – smothered in heather and wild orchids come spring – and wind towards one of the area’s paulis (pools), where it’s possible to spot these creatures drinking on the fringes.