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Tavolara: Curiosities, Legends and Information

Curiosities, legends and information about Isola Tavolara, the kingdom in northern Sardinia off the coasts of Olbia, Porto San Paolo and San Teodoro.
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Dolphin watching

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Dolphin watching

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Island of Tavolara: the world's smallest kingdom

Tavolara and Molara are two enchanting islands in the north Sardinialocated off the coast of Olbia, Porto San Paolo and San Teodoro.

Discover the curiosities, secrets and legends about this stretch of sea rich in history, the things to do in Tavolaraactivities not to be missed and important information about the area.

How was the kingdom of Tavolara formed?

Legend #1

The king of Tavolara was a peculiar historical figure who ruled over the island of Tavolara, located off the north-east coast of Sardinia, Italy. The history of this 'monarchy' began in 1836, when a fisherman named Giuseppe Bertoleoniknown as 'John I', proclaimed himself king of Tavolara.

Initially, the proclamation of the kingdom was something of a joke, but as time passed, the figure of the king of Tavolara gained prominence among locals and visitors to the island.

John I, the first king of Tavolara, established his 'court' on the island and began to exercise a kind of symbolic authority, welcoming tourists and visitors, issuing "fancy 'passports' and even forging relations with other government authorities.

After the death of John I, the 'dynasty' of the kings of Tavolara continued with his descendants. His son Paul I succeeded him as king, followed by Charles I, and so on. The figure of the king of Tavolara, however, always remained symbolic and devoid of real political powers, considered more a historical curiosity than an actual monarchy.

Over the years, the 'kingdom' of Tavolara has continued to exist as a kind of tradition and tourist attraction on the island, and the descendants of the family of John I have retained the title of king of Tavolara, even though they have no official role in the government of the island or Sardinia.

Legend #2

It seems that it all began when King Charles Albert of Savoy landed on the island and while staying there he got to know and familiarise himself with the local residents. Upon his departure he made promise to recognise the independence of the Kingdom of Tavolara with the Bertoleoni family leading the small kingdom.

In the small and atmospheric cemetery of the kings of Tavolara, which can be visited on the island with a short walk, rests the descendants of the family.

Important: at the end of your visit to the small cemetery of the Kings of Tavolara, remember to close the small entrance gate.

More legends about Tavolara

Tavolara is such an evocative island that it has always inspired fantastic tales. Besides the story about the Kingdom of Tavolara, another legend attributed to the beautiful island of Tavolara are the gold-toothed goats.These legendary goats of Tavolara They are often spotted during a walk on the island and are also sometimes spotted from the sea during a boat trip as they graze the cliffs.The goats of Tavolara actually have teeth of a golden colour, this particular pigmentation seems to be due to a small endemic herbaceous plant present on the island.

2 Enchanting Islands: Tavolara and Molara

Tavolara: Curiosities, Legends and Information
Tavolara view from Cala Girgolu

Tavolara and Molara are the two main islands that are part of the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara and Punta Coda Cavallo. The surrounding area and these islands are full of attractions and things to do.

During a holiday in northern Sardinia an excursion to Tavolara is a must. You can walk and snorkelling in Molara in one of the Marine Protected Areas richest in life in the entire Mediterranean.

The Islands of the Marine Protected Area

The Marine Protected Area of Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo includes the Island of Tavolara, the Island of Molara, Molarotto and the peninsula of Capo Coda Cavallo.

This small and enchanting archipelago on the north-eastern east coast of Sardinia has many surprises and boasts enchanted legends and stories.


Island Tavolara Profile Viewed from the North West
Island Tavolara Profile Viewed from the North West

The Island of Tavolara is located in Sardinia on the north-eastern side, between the municipalities of Olbia, Porto San Paolo and San Teodoro, just north of Budoni.

Tavolara is a predominantly limestone massif that rises in a sea of granite. The island has a rectangular, parallelepiped shape, with various emergences. From a distance, it presents itself to the traveller as the profile of a woman lying on the sea.

To some it reminds one of petrified ship with a long rudder, for others depending on the perspective from which you look at it it resembles a Egyptian mummy.

The Island of Tavolara is over 560 metres above sea level and its top, Cannon Point, you enjoy a panorama of unparalleled beauty. On days of Sirocco, the hot, humid wind that blows from the south-east, the island of Tavolara is encircled by a crown of clouds, the famous Tavolara cap.

On the island, the annual Tavolara Film Festivala major film festival that is incredibly atmospheric thanks to its exclusive location.

The 2 Sides of Tavolara

Tavolara: Curiosities, Legends and Information
Blue Sea with Island of Tavolara in Background

The Island of Tavolara is formally divided into two parts east e west.

To the west is the part that turns towards Porto San Paolo, with Cala Tramontana and Spalmatore di Terra that once presumably joined Tavolara to the coast of Sardinia. In this area there are a few houses with a very small town centre and small landing places for boats.

To the east is Punta Timone with the military base. It is a base managed by the Italian Navyimportant for its central position in the Mediterranean Sea.

In this area are the imposing rock arch, the lighthouse and in the vicinity of the base and telecommunications antennas.

The Paths of Tavolara

The Island Profile of Tavolara
The Island Profile of Tavolara

To best visit the Island of Tavolara we suggest a hike around the tiny town.

One thing to do at Tavolara is the walk that leads to the cemetery of the kings of Tavolara and to Spreader tip.

Passing near Cala Tramontana a sandy path leads to the cemetery and then to a long tongue of sand and rocks where the two seas meet.

The route is full of infographics describing the environment, during the walk it is possible to spot flora and fauna peculiar to the island and some endemic species.

Particularly interesting is also the Prolagus path (a rodent considered probably extinct) leading towards Punta la Mandria.

The visit is completed by the enveloping and intoxicating fragrance characteristic of the Mediterranean scrub and typical plants of the island.

The Beaches of Tavolara

Tavolara View from South West
Tavolara View from South West

The western part of Tavolara where the ferries land is dotted with enchanting beaches and coves.

The first beach one encounters is right next to the landings. Long, white, surrounded by nature and blue water.

Continuing along the path you come across Cala Tamontanaa delightful pebbly beach that is reserved and not very crowded.

Passing the Cemetery of the Kings of Tavolara, a 10-minute walk along the back path takes you to Spreader tip. A long tongue of sand and rocks where the two seas meet, a must-see.

Tavolara Restaurants

There are 2 restaurants at Tavolara and both are certainly recommended, open for lunch and dinner. Eating at Tavolara is a unique experience, by the sea in nature with the sound of the waves.

Lunch and Dinner at Tavolara
Tavolara's restaurants 'La Corona' and da Tonino 'Re di Tavolara' are open for lunch and dinner. They offer a menu of fresh fish and local delicacies, local products and fresh pasta.

Restaurant prices at Tavolara are appropriate for the location, the service offered and the excellent quality of the food served.

Aperitif at Tavolara
At Tavolara you can enjoy a sunset aperitif at La Corona's Lounge Bar, on the sofas in the shade of the gazebos. The bar serves excellent cocktails and a fine selection of wines. Excellent appetisers and finger food.

Bar at Tavolara
At the end of the walk, you can also make a refreshing stop at the cafés of Tavolara. The two refreshment stands offer ice cream, ice lollies, coffee, soft drinks and sandwiches.


Tavolara: Curiosities, Legends and Information
Cala Girgolu with Island View Tavolara at Sunset

The island of Molara is a granite emergence of special significance for its lush and unspoilt nature. Molara is aprivate island which formerly housed a Pope in exile.

In the north-western part of the island are the remains of a ancient churchnear cala Chiesa. There is also a freshwater spring which allows the cattle on the island to live.

What to see in Molara

Since it is a private island, it is not possible to land on Molara without permission. Excursions are mainly to the natural pools of Molara.

The Pleasures are a particularly popular and visited stretch of sea because of the incredible colour of the water. A mirror with particularly blue water and a shallow seabed of fine sand.

Bream, damselfish and bream are the protagonists of the snorkelling at the Molara Pools.


From Tavolara heading south-east one encounters a wonderful emergence characterised by low vegetation where there is a large colony of birds, including cormorants, marangonians and gulls.

The granite islet of Molarotto is an integral reserve area. Access to the area is not permitted in order to better preserve the unspoilt nature.

At the edge of the integral reserve area, the marine fauna explodes in a myriad colours and life forms.

The Brothers

Not far from Molarotto, near the edge of the integral reserve is the emergence of the Fratelli, a group of reefs particularly rich in life.

Snorkelling at the Scoglio dei Fratelli di Molara reserve always exciting encounters. Its exposure to the open sea often makes it possible to see passing fish, tuna amberjacks and the leccia.

In the Fratelli seabed at a depth of about 16-18 metres is the wreck of the Omegaa cargo ship that sank during a storm in the 1970s, the remains of which now offer shelter to fish and sponges.

Capo Coda Cavallo

The Capo Coda Cavallo peninsula is characterised by beaches of fine sand and crystal-clear water. The beaches of the headland are beaches to see absolutely, among the most beautiful in the area. All shades and gradations of blue can be experienced in the waters of Capo Coda Cavallo.

In the vicinity of the Capo Coda Cavallo peninsula are some of the most beautiful beaches including Cala BrandinchiLu Impostu, Salina Bamba, Baia Salinedda, Cala Suaraccia, Cala Girgolu and the Valle dell'Acqua.


At the end of the Capo Coda Cavallo peninsula is the small island of Proratora where the archaeological excavations conducted have unearthed artefacts from theRoman Age.

The excavations revealed that thesettlement was probably aimed at the business of selling food, presumably products related to marine produce such as fish or shells and salt.

Proratora thus bears witness to what the "sea resource"has been and still is important, fundamental and to be preserved.

What to do in Tavolara and Molara

Snorkelling at Tavolara and Molara

Snorkelling means putting on a pair of fins, putting on a mask with a comfortable snorkel and enjoying the wonderful underwater panorama. Snorkelling is a relaxing sporting activity that allows you to think about nothing and empty your head.

When snorkelling, you become a child again and spend some time away from your troubles looking for new animals or perhaps to watching a fish go about its daily business.

Starfish, urchins, moray eels, octopuses and on lucky days even a St. Bernard the Hermit in the midst of moving.

To do snorkelling it is not necessary to be an expert swimmer, but it is necessary to be familiar with the water.

If you are not very experienced and wish to, you can ask for a buoyancy jacket that will help you not to get tired. Consider that short wetsuits are often provided to help you float.

A snorkelling tipWhen you are given the mask, put some saliva on the inside of the lens before wetting it. Lather the saliva and rinse with seawater.

If you do not immediately put the mask on after this practice leaves some water inside waiting to start snorkelling. To neophytes this barbaric practice often seems strange, but professionals do it all the time, without thinking about it, because this way the mask does not fog up.

Another very important thing is never, never pull starfish out of the waternot even for a few seconds because you cause them irreparable damage.

Trekking at Tavolara

Trekking Tavolara Punta Cannone
Trekking Tavolara Punta Cannone

The Tavolara excursion is a classic of the trekking in Sardiniaundoubtedly one of the most beautiful and evocative hikes to do in the area.

A dinghy is used to reach the island. The start of the trail is from the slopes of Tavolara, in the area of Spalmatore di Terra, where theattack of the trek to the summit of Tavolara.

With a short via ferrata you reach the summit from which you can enjoy a panorama breathtaking views of Sardinia and Corsica.

The Marine Protected Area of Tavolara and Punta Coda Cavallo

The Protected Marine Area of Tavolara - Punta Coda Cavallo was established in 2003 and covers the municipal territories of Olbia, Loiri Porto San Paolo and San Teodoro.

This stretch of sea of particular value and environmental significance extends south of Golfo Aranci of Capo Figari and the Gulf of Olbia.

The MPA was created for the purpose of protection, preservation and conservation of the marine area concerned, together with the dissemination of the importance environmentally friendly in the area.

In order to preserve the area, a differentiation of zoneswith different rules and the possibility of carrying out activities there or not:

  • zone A of full reserve (such as Molarotto and the eastern portion of Tavolara Punta Papa)
  • zone B of general reserve (mainly areas of Tavolara, Molara, Capo Ceraso and Capo Coda Cavallo)
  • Zone C of partial reserve

Watch the zoning of the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo.

Flora and Fauna

Brown grouper living in the depths of Protected Marine Areas in Sardinia
Brown grouper living in Protected Marine Areas in Sardinia

The flora and fauna in the Marine Protected Area are particularly interesting and noteworthy.

In the avifauna, the most prominent are thegolden eagle, peregrine falcon, the osprey, the herring gull, the Corsican gull, the little egret, the cattle egret and the tern.

As part of the protection of biodiversity in the Mediterranean, the Life Project Puffinus Tavolara for the preservation of lesser berta which nests on the island and is considered a vulnerable species.

Marine Fauna
With regard to marine fauna, mention must be made of the brown grouperthe snapper, the corvina, the barracuda. The bream, salpa and damsel, which are present in large groups and often reach considerable size.

Large Mammals
Present and often spotted, along with the dolphins even large marine mammals such as the sperm whalewhale and large cartilaginous fish such as the pacific basking shark.

The flora at the same time is no less impressive. In the underwater environment, special note must be made of the prairies of Posidonia oceanicaa plant that originates real underwater forests which provide shelter for a multitude of animals and preserve the coastline from erosion.

On the shores and slopes of the islands, the Mediterranean maquis reigns supreme. junipermyrtle, lentisk, cistus and helichrysum. The scent of the Mediterranean maquis in the archipelago of Tavolara is a sensation that cannot be forgotten.

Excursions to Tavolara and Molara ⚡

Frequently asked questions

Of course. Each type of excursion includes several swimming and snorkelling stops to allow you to fully appreciate the nature and the wonderful sea around you.

Bring a swimming costume and a beach towel for swimming during stops. If you feel like it, bring a sweater/sweater as well, it may be useful for the return trip. Also bring a hat and sunscreen, but remember to ask the crew for instructions before using the cream, on some boats there may be special regulations about not slipping and possibly ruining the boat deck.

The route for the ascent to Tavolara is of medium difficulty, but no special skills or experience are needed to tackle it. Your guide will provide you with all the necessary information. It is required that participants do not suffer from vertigo as there are exposed tastes.

If you are a beginner you don't have to worry, the guide will take care of everything, you just have to have fun, enjoy the route and the arrival at the summit. Before starting the experience there is an introductory briefing where the route is explained and the main techniques and operations are described. It will be exciting, nay, unforgettable!

The guide will provide you with all the necessary equipment for this experience: helmet, harness, lanyard, carabiners. You will need to carry a rucksack, a pair of comfortable walking shoes, long trousers, T-Shirt and sweatshirt, packed lunch, water (about 3 litres), a swimming costume, a beach towel if you wish to bathe at Tavolara at the end of the excursion.

Tavolara: curiosity ⚡

Frequently asked questions

The island of Tavolara is located in a marine protected area surrounded by crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life. This makes it an ideal place for snorkelling and diving.

Mount Tavolara: The island is dominated by Mount Tavolara, a limestone mountain about 565 metres high. It is possible to hike to the summit, and once there, one can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Beaches: The island of Tavolara is surrounded by several fascinating beaches, some of which can only be reached by sea. Among the most famous are the Prince's Beach and Spalmatore Beach.

Peregrine Falcon Nest: The island is known to be an important nesting area for the peregrine falcon. Ornithology enthusiasts may be fascinated by this opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures in a natural environment.

There are also two restaurants that can only be reached by boat

It's either bad or good! Rhymes aside, when Tavolara has a hat, so when the top is hidden by clouds, it means that there is a Sirocco. The Sirocco is the wind that blows from Syria, from the southeast. This wind is predominant in Sardinia during the summer season and brings humidity, unlike the Mistral - mistral - which blows from the northwest and is a predominantly dry wind.

Tavolara is 565 metres above sea level. The summit of Tavolara is Punta Cannone.

Tavolara has an area of approximately 5.9 square kilometres.

During a holiday in and around Olbia, a boat trip to Tavolara is a must! Tavolara is rich in history and unspoilt nature. Definitely among the things to see are

  • Molara
  • the Natural Pools
  • the Bay of Coda Cavallo
  • the islet of Proratora, site of important archaeological finds

Tavolara has no owners. The western part of the island is public, with a few houses, bars and restaurants. The portion facing east is a military base and therefore formally under the control of the Italian Navy.

Today, formally the king of Tavolara is Tonino Bertoleoni. The Bertoleoni are a family of Genoese origin who moved to the island in the early 1800s.

Tavolara can be reached exclusively by boat. You can see it by taking one of the ferries that leave daily from Porto San Paolo. The ferry makes a tour of the area and stops at Tavolara.

Another option is to take a boat or raft trip. Every day there are many tours departing from Olbia, Porto San Paolo, San Teodoro and .

Molara: curiosity ⚡

Frequently asked questions

Molara is a private island, the owner of Molara is a family from Olbia. On Molara, as private property, it is forbidden to make excursions without a permit.

Molara is located about one mile south of Tavolara, between the territories of Olbia, Porto San Paolo and San Teodoro. Molara is the second largest island in the Marine Protected Area Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo.

Top 5 tours Tavolara

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