No trip to the west coast would be complete without a trip to Cape Caccia. Reading about Sardinia and meeting people along the way, this was pretty much top on our list of must sees. Though taking the boat to the Cape seemed enticing, we hopped on our little monkey bike. Drove up to the cliffs to see what the Cape had to offer. The drive up is incredibly beautiful and definitely one not to be missed. Just before we reached the headland, we parked on the side of the road. The road aptly named ‘panorama’ with views over the the sea, cliffs and surrounding coves. (click to enlarge image).
Capo Caccia stands out at 186 meters high over the small limestone bay, at the northwestern tip of the island. It was named after the local aristocracy who enjoyed pigeon hunting (‘caccia’) from boats at the foot of this vertical peak. Perched on top of the peak 186 metres above sea level is Cape Caccia lighthouse. This is the tallest lighthouse in Italy. Unfortunately, the area in and around the lighthouse is a military zone, so visiting is off limits.
There are a number of sea caves at the base of the cape such as the huge underwater Nereo Cave and Nettuno Cave. The caves were discovered in the 1700’s by local fisherman. Nereo is underwater and for once we are gutted we don’t have our diving kit with us or we’d be off having a toot. Instead we opted for a jaunt over to Neptune’s Grotto. You can reach Neptune by boat fro Alghero or by the treacherous 645 Escala del Cabirol (goat’s steps) staircase carved into the rocks in the 1950’s.
The walk along the goat trail down to the cave was amazing and lucky for us we arrived just as the tour was about to star. We paid our €13 per person entrance fee (cash only) and joined the back of the tour. Inside, a haunting fairyland of stalactites, stalagmites, sea lakes, carved stones and plenty wow’s.
It was stunning beautiful as we slowly tread along a narrow walkway surrounded by curiously shaped stalactites and stalagmites, nicknamed the organ, the church dome, warrior’s head and so on. At its furthest point the cave extends back for 1 kilometre, but it is off limits to the public including several freshwater lakes deep inside the grotto.
The tour lasted about 45 minutes and was in both Italian & English although we couldn’t really hear any of it. But we weren’t too fussed as we had our own personal guide. Being at the back meant we had the ‘end of the line’ guide. The one that keeps everyone moving forward and ensures no stragglers. Well this guide was lovely and she filled in all the gaps and pointed out the key highlights of the tours. A bit like our trip to Skocjanske caves.
As we finished the tour we watched people rejoin their boat tour. Oh my god! It was like a death run. The boat got as close as it could to the cliff, lowered a moving footbridge and waited for passengers to be flung on board. The torrents of the waters and waves smashing into the cliffs meant that anyone and everyone who put their foot on the bridge got bashed or flung in to the air in some shape or form. You could see people were absolutely terrified but had no choice but to board. My heart stop beating just watching them.
The climb back up goats trek was a strenuous climb. We followed the path as it wandered upward and along the carved rock face, very similar to the Kings Path. The views up to the sky or down to the ocean were breathtaking, literally. With each step I grew breathless and propelled myself onwards by pushing my hands against my knees. Occasionally pausing for breath with a hand on the wall, but the scenery and setting were so memorable, wild and fabulous that I was dragged on…by Craig hurling me up as I looked like a rather ripe beetroot.
Thankfully, I was rewarded with a cool bike ride home and a delicious pistachio ice-cream.