The Pink Sand Beach Sardinia Italy

The Pink Sand Beach Sardinia Italy

Here's Everything You Need To Know About Italy's Only Pink Sand Beach On The Tiny Budelli Island Off The Coast Of Sardinia

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There are many famous beaches in the world, but less than 20 of them are pink sand beaches.   

Of those pink beaches, only one is in Italy.

But before you book your next trip to Italy in hopes of luxuriating in pink sand and turquoise water, there are some important details about Italy’s only pink beach that you need to know.

As an American who moved to Italy, I’m going to share everything you need to know about this Pink Sand Beach in Sardinia Italy.

Map of Italy and Sardinia

Where is the Pink Beach Located?

In the middle of the northwestern Mediterranean Sea is the beautiful Italian Island of Sardinia. 

At the tip of the northern coast of Sardinia, below the French Island of Corsica, is the La Maddalena Archipelago with many smaller islands located within it.

One of the islands of the archipelago is Budelli Island.

This very special island has many beautiful beaches and natural beauty but of all the island’s beaches, there is one that is extra special.

"Spiaggia Rosa" Means "Pink Beach" In Italian

The beautiful Spiaggia Rosa which translates to “Pink Beach” is one of the hidden gems of the Island of Budelli.

Unlike the rest of the island’s beaches which are covered in fine white sand, “Spiaggia Rosa” has pale pink sand.

Location Of The Pink Sand Beach Sardinia Italy

Why Is The Sand Pink?

Unlike many of the other pink sand beaches in the world, the pink sand on this most special of Sardinia’s beaches is not due to red coral reefs which have broken down and mixed with the sand to create a pink hue to the sand.

On Budelli Island, the color of the sand is from tiny dead marine creatures that live in the roots of the marine grasses along the shore.

Tiny Marine Creatures

When these red-colored marine creatures, called “Miniacina miniacea”, die and mix into the sand, the composition of the sand changes as it is mixed by the gentle waves.

And that is the secret to the pink sand of Budelli Island.

Pink Sand Beach On Budelli Island Sardinia

Why Can't Tourists Visit The Pink Beach Of Budelli Island?

Actually, until 1998, tourists were able to visit the pink beach on Budelli Island.

But when hoards of French tourists from the nearby Island of Corsica and thousands of foreign tourists from cruise ships discovered the famous pink beach, is when problems began.

Private boats from the nearby Island of Cabrera, Sardinia, and the Italian peninsula, starting in the 1970s, began to bring hoards of curious tourists who had heard about this very special island with pink sand.

But rather than simply enjoying the beach and taking photos, tourists began stealing tonnes of sand from the small beach.

Tourists Were Stealing The Pink Sand - By The Ton!

For the next 3 decades, the amount of sand that was stolen from the beach was so great that the pink color of the sand almost completely disappeared.

That’s when in 1998, the Italian government stepped in a closed the beach to all visitors for the preservation of the island – classifying it Zone A an “uncontaminated territory” and giving it full protection.

To this day, “Spiaggia Rosa” is still closed to the public and is a protected area.

No one is allowed to even walk along the beach or swim in the shallow water of the bay in front of the beach.

In spite of decades of sand theft, in recent years, the pink sand has naturally begun to return to the fine sand of Spiaggia Rosa.

Budelli Island Sardinia Italy Pink Sand Beach

Is There Any Way To See The Beach Even Though It Is Closed?

Yes, But You Need A Plane Or A Boat

Although no one is allowed onto the beach itself, there are a few ways to catch a glimpse of the pink sand beach on Budelli Island.

By Air:

You can take a small plane over the island and see the beach from the air. This is one of the best ways to get photos of the geomarine national park.

By Sea:

If you take a boat trip to the small island through the Archipelago of la Maddalena you can get a distant view of the pink beach from the clear water of the Mediterranean.

During the high season for tourists in the summer months you will find yourself in the company of many other boats with people anxious to see the pink beach.

By Land:

The best way to see the beach is from the limestone cliffs of Mount Budello which is on the island! If you go during the low season for tourism in the spring or fall you will certainly have the best experience seeing that part of the national park of Budelli.

Old man in a chair on a beach in Italy - pink sand beach

Budelli Island Has Not Always Been Uninhabited

In 1989, a retired Italian teacher named Mauro Morandi decided to follow a lifelong dream and sail a catamaran to Polynesia.

However, after just a few days at sea, as he was in sight of the beautiful Sardinian beaches, he began to have trouble with his sailboat.

So Mauro decided to stop at a nearby island and make some repairs to his boat.

The island he randomly chose happened to be Budelli Island. After spending a few weeks on the beautiful island, Mauro decided not to sail to Polynesia after all.

He had found his own private paradise.

His Own Private Island

So, for the next 30 years, Mauro Morandi lived all alone on the island.
He made a home for himself out of an abandoned World War 2 structure and he lived there until 2021.

At the age of 79, after sharing the island with sea birds, sperm whales, and tourists, the Italian government decided Mauro Morandi was not allowed to live on the island as it was not his own private land and he had no legal right to be there.

When the story broke in the Italian news media in 2016, many Italians were outraged that the gentle, old man who had carefully cared for the island and had protected it for 3 decades, was being forced to leave.

Millions of signatures of petitions from sympathetic Italian citizens poured into the Italian Department of Parks asking that the man be allowed to live out his final days on the island.

But after 5 years of legal battles, the final ruling came in 2021 that Mauro must leave his beloved island home.

Mauro is the sole and single person to have ever been known to live on the island of Budelli for such an extended period.

Pink Beach Italy

Development Deals

Over the years, many developers have tried to turn the island into a luxury resort.

New Zealand banker Michael Harte was one of the most prominent people who tried to claim ownership of the island and build a hotel and resort at the end of the 20th century.

He believed a giant white hotel would be a thing of beauty contrasted against the green of the Mediterranean scrub brush. But there was a legal battle with an Italian developer who owned a real estate company, Michelangelo Antonioni, who claimed that it was legally his private property and he held preemptive rights as the original owner over the best beaches on the island.

For many years, a legal battle ensued.

But fortunately, thanks to new regulations, no one was allowed to build on the island.

Many Italians were pleased that the government intervened and they didn’t have to witness Sardinia robbed of one of its beautiful natural island treasures by having Budelli Island’s top beaches turned over to tourists and its natural beauty destroyed.

Thanks to these conservation efforts, Budelli Island remains one of the best places to see a “Pink Sand Beach” in the world.

Pink Sand Beach Sardinia Italy

If you have been drooling over gorgeous stock photos of pink sand beaches recently and you want to be the envy of friends and family by visiting a pink sand beach on your next vacation, you may want to reconsider Sardinia as your place to do it.

While this Pink Sand Beach In Sardinia Italy does indeed have some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy and the world, including Costa Smeralda and Santa Maria, as you read in this article, for many different reasons, Budelli Island is not a place where you are allowed to get your toes in pink sand.

Thank you for reading and sharing:


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Author Info:

Picture of Nathan Heinrich

Nathan Heinrich

Nathan is a writer, designer & horticulturist. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of "All Roads Lead to Italy" Magazine & host of the Top-10 Travel Podcast, "I'm Moving To Italy!". Nathan was born and raised in a 6th generation farming family in Northern California, he is currently, a dual Italian citizen, living in the Prosecco Valley of Northern Italy, near Venice.

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