We have arrived at one of our favorite Sardinian beach towns, Santa Maria Navarrese. The laid back village has a state-of-the-art yacht harbor and an endless town beach dotted with restaurants built into the pines. The combination of forest scents with the cooling sea breeze is perfect for relaxing at the end of one of Sardinia's hottest summers ever. We are staying at the Nascar Hotel which has nothing to do with American NASCAR. The hotel owner explained that nascar is an old Sardinian word for a local flower and that she was surprised when first questioned by American guests about car racing. This is the third time we've stayed in this hotel and it is wonderful to be "home" again. The hotel is run by a family that has lovingly restored and recreated their ancestral home - a mill dating back to the 1800s. The room decor is inspired by the sea and the colors of the surrounding nature.
The hotel is a wonderful base for exploration. Each night after returning from adventures by the sea, guests can dine on cuisine caught daily in those same waters.
Special Sardinian dishes include Fregola (a local pasta that resembles orzo) with shellfish and a zuppa (soup) of mussels and little clams in a tomato-based broth. The pasta dishes are different from the Southern Italian ones they resemble at first glance. The cheese pastas, for example, are stuffed with the local goat cheeses and are uniquely delicious.
An advertisement in town caught our eye today. It had a picture of a beautiful beach with translucent azure water and said "you can be in the tropics in 15 minutes." This town is a launching point for boat trips that take you off the beaten path to some of the least accessible and most spectacular beaches in the world. Next stop for us will be onboard a one-day trip to paradise.