Back in 1962, flamboyant millionaire Karim Aga Khan established a consortium to buy a strip of unspoiled coastline in northeastern Sardinia. Each investor paid roughly US$25,000 for a little piece of paradise, and the coast was christened Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) for its brilliant green-blue waters.
These days billionaire jet-setters cruise into Costa Smeralda’s marinas in mega-yachts like floating mansions, and models, royals, Russian oligarchs and balding media moguls come to frolic in its waters.
Starting at the Golfo di Cugnana, 17km north of Olbia, the Costa stretches 55km northwards to the Golfo di Arzachena. The ‘capital’ is the yachtie haven of Porto Cervo, although Porto Rotondo, a second marina developed in 1963, attracts plenty of paparazzi with its Silvio Berlusconi connections and its attractive seafront promenade.
Inland from the Costa Smeralda, the mountain communities of San Pantaleo and Arzachena offer a low-key counterpoint to the coastline's glitz and glamour.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Costa Smeralda.
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Costa Smeralda.