The Isola di Mal di Ventre (Mal di Ventre Island in English) is located in the Sinis Protected Area, on the west coast of the central part of Sardinia. The island is exposed to strong winds, so in the past it was known in Sardinian language as Malu Entu (which could be translated as “bad wind”). The sound assonance in Italian made it become “Mal di Ventre”, which literally means “stomachache” but which does not even remotely refers to the actual meaning of the name in Sardinian.
Head over to my post A Guide To The Sinis Peninsula.
Although sailing to the Isola di Mal di Ventre and around it is still as difficult as in the past, the island remains a favorite destination for tourists and locals alike, as the area offers beautiful natural landscapes and beaches where visitors can enjoy the crystal clear sea and the pure wilderness of Sardinia at its best.
If you are planning a trip to the central part of Sardinia, then be sure to visit the stunning Isola di Mal di Ventre. For more information on the island its best beaches, and for tips to plan your visit, please continue reading my guide.
You should also read my post A Guide To The Islands Of Sardinia.
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What To Know About Isola Di Mal Di Ventre
Mal di Ventre Island
Measuring more than two and a half kilometers (about 1.5 miles) in length, the island of Mal di Ventre is characterized by the typical Mediterranean scrub vegetation. The alternation between arid and green spaces creates an evocative landscape. The territory of the island is almost completely flat, and hosts various animals. In fact, the island of Malu Entu is home to sea turtles, rabbits and several species of birds, such as falcons and seagulls.
Merciless winds, turbulent waters and the roughness of rocks known as Libeccio’s Teeth have filled the island’s seabed with shipwrecks. Among them, a spectacular 36-meter (118 feet) Roman ship, which was used to transport lead ingots. Despite various navigational challenges that make the island difficult to reach by boats, the past civilizations managed to reach it. In fact, there is a ruin of a nuraghe on the island, as well as archaeological evidence of the presence of Phoenicians and Romans.
In the past the island was used for fishing, as well as a strategic military outpost. During the last century, the Isola di Mal di Ventre was also used by shepherds, but nowadays it is completely uninhabited, apart from tourists and locals who visit during the summer.
The beaches of Isola di Mal di Ventre
The wild and unspoiled beaches are one of the main attractions of the island. Below you will find the ones that in my opinion are really worth seeing.
Cala Maestra and Cala Ponente
Among the best beaches of the island, Cala Maestra is located in the northern part. The gravel and the rocks bathe in the crystal water, while the seabed is full of marine life, ideal for snorkeling enthusiasts. Similar to Cala Maestra, Cala Ponente beach is even wilder, with granite rocks resting on the shore, washed by a fantastic turquoise-blue sea.
Unlike Cala Maestra and Cala Ponente, the beach at Libeccio Point – the most popilar on the island) proves to be more suitable for families, as it is characterized by light-colored sand and shallow waters. However, the presence of rocks proves suitable for those who want to do some snorkeling. From this beach it is possible to admire the islet Coscia di Donna (woman’s thigh), where monk seals were spotted in the late 18th century.
Cala delle Tamerici and Cala dei Pastori
In the northern part of the island, you will find Cala delle Tamerici and Cala dei Pastori, two wider beaches characterized by quartz granules and washed by an azure sea with shallow waters. Cala dei Pastori owes its name precisely to the shepherds who, until the last century, brought their flocks to graze on the island. You can also find the remains of the shepherds houses, right there on the beach.
Cala del Nuraghe
The beach is named after the nuraghe itself, a must-see for history buffs. The nuraghe ruins consist of a keep, a secondary tower and the defensive walls. The building is located a few meters from the shore and it is the evidence of how ancient people were attracted to the island, especially for the presence of fish.
The island of Malu Entu is an unspoiled place, so you will not find restaurants, public toilets or other services. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you bring with you food and water for the day, as well as what you need to be able enjoy your day at the beach – including lots of sunblock!. The beaches on the island are not equipped, and the flat territory does not offer much protection from the sun, so remember to bring a beach umbrella.
Rules of behavior
Mal di Ventre Island is located within a protected area. Therefore, you must respect several rules of behavior during your visit.
DON’T TAKE SAND – As in other beaches in Sardinia, it is strictly forbidden to pick up and take away sand, pebbles, stones or shells from the beach or shoreline. For more information, read this post.
KEEP THE BEACHES CLEAN – Don’t leave trash on the beach. Keep in mind that you won’t find any trash bins on the island, so be sure to bring some bags to pick up the trash and bring it back with you, so that you can dispose of it accordingly.
RESPECT THE MARINE LIFE – Don’t pick up crabs, starfish, jellyfish or other marine life out of the water, since you could harm them. Also, be respectful of the turtles populating the island, as well as the various species of birds you may encounter. Remember that this is a highly protected marine area so fishing is prohibited.
How to get to Isola di Mal di Ventre
The only way to get to the island is by boat, typically departing from Mari Ermi beach and occasionally Putzu Idu. You can either book a guided tour, or rent a small zodiac (anything under 40 horsepower does not require a license) and go by yourself.
Keep in mind that you still need to have at least some sailing experience in case you decide to rent a zodiac, since the island winds could be quite unforgiving and are not to be underestimated. You will also have to follow some important environmental rules – you are not allowed to drop your anchor anywhere where there’s posidonia seaweed as this is protected, and some parts of the island are completely off limits.
The cost of renting a small zodiac for the entire day is in the range of €200 in total, plus gas.
That said, I strongly suggest to book a taxi boat or a zodiac tour. The price is around €25 for adults, €15 for children up to 8 years old, while it’s free for children up to 2 years old.
Several places in Mari Ermi will offer both taxi boat, zodiac rental and guided tours only during the summer months. Make sure to book in advance, but you will have to allow a bit of flexibility as the area can be very windy and it’s not advisable to go to Malu Entu when the wind is strong. I recommend Sea Next as one of the most reliable companies. You can get in touch via whatsapp at +39 3792664042 or 3476461745 and 3400846082.