Cala Coticcio is one of the most popular beaches in the Maddalena Archipelago, in the northeast of Sardinia. Among the islands of the archipelago, Caprera is one of the most famous, as it was home to Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian unification hero. Of course, it’s also well known for its beautiful natural beaches and the many hiking trails that provide stunning coastal views.
Cala Coticcio, also known as Tahiti for its emerald-blue sea, is a small beach protected by promontories of granite rock. To reach Cala Coticcio you’ll need to tackle a difficult trail – keep this in mind if you have no hiking experience whatsoever! If you are a keen hiker, then you should not miss the opportunity to see Cala Coticcio, especially if you are planning to visit the Maddalena Archipelago.
To learn more about this beach, continue reading my guide: you will find useful information about Cala Coticcio and how to get there, as well as basic rules to follow during your visit.
Make sure to also read my posts A Guide To Caprera Island, Sardinia, The Best Beaches In Sardinia and A Complete Guide To Maddalena Archipelago.
Everything You Must Know About Cala Coticcio
Cala Coticcio Beach
Cala Coticcio is a tiny cove characterized by fine, soft, light-colored sand. The crystal clear waters combines with the pink tones of the granite rocks and the green of the typical Mediterranean scrub – in other words, this is a piece of heaven on earth.
Cala Coticcio is a natural and wild beach: there are no bars, bathrooms, beach umbrellas or sun beds. In other words, it is as natural as it gets. Therefore, bring food, water and everything else you may need for the time you spend there. Keep in mind that beach umbrellas are not allowed on the beach, so you will be exposed to the sun – though I am almost certain that you will spend your time swimming, as the water is absolutely perfect there.
Cala Coticcio is not the most suitable beach for families, especially with very young children – unless they are keen hikers, in which case they will absolutely love it. Indeed, to get there you will have to hike to the beach and back, so consider visiting only if you are truly prepared for the hike!
Although this is a beach worth seeing, reaching it is not so easy, as it can only be done through a guided hike. Cala Coticcio is a very small beach, part of La Maddalena National Park and highly protected, so admission is limited to a maximum number of 60 people per day. The entrance fee is €3, to which you have to add the cost of the mandatory guide. More about this in a bit!
The best photo spot
For the best photos of Cala Coticcio, you will have to climb a large boulder that overlooks the beach – the guide will know to point you there. It’s not easy, so you may want to wear shoes for that.
For colors that truly pop out, you should plan to take your photos at peak hours – mine were taken around 3:00 pm, but keep in mind the peak hours vary with the season!
The hike to Cala Coticcio
The only way to get to Cala Coticcio is via a guided hike – as this is a highly protected beach staff from the National Park is present at the starting point to make sure there are no trespassers.
You will have to book a guide: you can find a list of available guides on the site of Maddalena Park here. The page is in Italian or French, but don’t worry, here’s what you have to do: click on “elenco delle guide” and this will bring you to a list of guides. Contact whichever you prefer either via email or whatsapp.
I recommend Eleonora Amoroso: she’s an excellent local guide, speaks great English and she is truly passionate about her island! You can find her at +39 335 582 9321 and she also has a site you can review here.
The cost of a guide is €25 per person – they all charge the same amount.
If you are planning to visit Cala Coticcio in the summer, you should book well in advance, since the demand for visits in July and August is really high. Keep in mind that there are 4 daily guided tours to Cala Coticcio for a total of no more than 60 visitors (15 per group). This means that there won’t be more than 30 persons at the beach at the same time!
Tours depart at 8:00 am (back at 1:00 pm), 9:00 am (back at 2:00 pm), 1:30 pm (back at 6:30 pm) and 2:00 pm (back at 7:00 pm).
In addition to the guide, you also have to pay a small fee to access the National Park. The cost of the ticket is €3, the payment should be made through the Italian App PagoPA, indicating “Excursion to Cala Coticcio” in the payment reference, as well as the day and time of the visit.
You can do this directly on the official Maddalena Park website here. The site is in Italian but rather self-explanatory – just click on “Esegui Pagamento” and select the number of people you want to pay for. Print out copies of any payments, in order to show them to the staff before the excursion, if asked.
As for the hike, the trail is moderate to challenging, but that depends on how fit you are. Hiking shoes are absolutely necessary. You will be walking for about one hour (mostly downhill) to get to the beach, and along the same trail (and uphill) to head back. The trail – which is well marked – has some steep spots where you need to be very careful. The guide will stop for shade and to point out interesting vegetation and wildlife along the way.
Factor in about 5 hours to visit Cala Coticcio – this includes the two hours of trekking (to get to the beach and to return to the car) and time spent at the beach.
There is nothing in terms of services along the hike or at the beach, so it is a good idea to bring water and food with you. Remember it will be really hot during the summer months!
Where to park to access the trail
To get to the beginning of the trail by car or motorbike, you need to take the road to the Garibaldi Museum and follow the signs to Batterie Arbuticci. Then turn left and continue straight until you come to a dirt square. You can park your car along the road too.
Your guide will send you the exact GPS location of where you are meant to be, and there are signs on the main road that points you toward the trailhead anyways, so you don’t need to worry about getting there!
Boat tours to Cala Coticcio
A few boat tours of La Maddalena Archipelago will take you near Cala Coticcio. Remember however that boats can’t actually get to the beach but they will dock nearby and you can swim or snorkel there. In most cases, you will only have limited time at the beach.
To book your boat tour to Cala Coticcio, click here.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Boat Tours Of La Maddalena Archipelago.
Important rules of behavior for Cala Coticcio
There are a few very important rules to follow when visiting Cala Coticcio, to respect the environment and protect the ecosystem, and also to avoid getting fined. Guides will make sure to keep you accountable!
NO UMBRELLAS – Although the beach is not equipped, you still cannot bring your own umbrella and place it on the sand. The only shelter from the sun is found close to the rock formations and under juniper trees, so bring plenty of sunscreen with you.
DON’T LAY BEACH TOWELS – Only straw beach mats can be placed on the sand, to preserve the precious sand. You can use a towel to dry up, but don’t lay on the sand.
RESPECT NATURE – It is absolutely forbidden to light fires, hang things on junipers or harass animals (there are plenty of goats along the way and even close to the beach) and marine life. Local guides will go after anyone and report whoever chases animals or picks up any marine creature, whether it is fish, marine starts or jelly fish. Killing jelly fish is forbidden by law and can result in a fine.
DON’T STEAL SAND – It is forbidden to take sand, shells or pebbles from the beach. This actually applies to anywhere in Sardinia. If caught stealing sand, you will be subjected to a fine. Read more about it here.
KEEP THE BEACH CLEAN – If you are bringing water and food to the beach, remember to pick up the trash and bring it back with you. There are no trash cans in Cala Coticcio.
NO PETS – Unfortunately, dogs can’t access Cala Coticcio.
Check out my post The Best Dog Friendly Beaches In Sardinia.
Other nearby beaches
There are many other beautiful beaches to visit in Caprera. One of the most popular is the Spiaggia del Relitto which owes its name to the presence of a wreck (relitto) of a boat that burned down in 1956, visible directly from the beach.
Another beach similar to Cala Coticcio is Cala Brigantina, which can also be visited on a guided hike.
Where to sleep near Cala Coticcio
To easily access Cala Coticcio and Caprera’s other beautiful beaches, you can find B&Bs and hotels on the island of La Maddalena, which is connected to Caprera by a bridge. My personal choice is Hotel Villa del Parco, which actually has small apartments that are fully equipped in case you prefer self-catering but serves the most delicious breakfast every morning. They also have their own tour company that runs boat tours around the archipelago.