The Calm & Local Charms Attracting Superyachts to Portisco

By Sam Watson
17 Apr 2024

Think of Sardinia and it’s likely you’ll picture an array of white yachts in turquoise bays, a backdrop of lounge vibes and laughter, the splash and clink of crystal, and the heady scent of Prada or Chanel. For decades, Sardinia has been the place to see and be seen and for anyone who’s anyone, its spell endures. But for those in search of a slower pace and a slice of authentic Italia, Portisco is that haven away from the crowds, and a gateway to a host of local attractions only minutes off the usual track.

“Portisco is where you can experience more traditional Sardinian charm,” says Adrian Grijincu, manager of IGY Portisco Marina. “It’s not as jet set, it’s a bit calmer, but we deliver a very high quality service for superyachts and there are lots of interesting things to do and see close by.

“There’s no denying that competition among the marinas in Sardinia is very tough but we have our own strengths and we are constantly working to improve the quality of our services. We don’t have the advantage of being located at the heart of a city but equally when the mistral blows – and it can be very strong here – Portisco Marina is very well protected.”

Serving superyachts and their crew

Each year IGY Portisco Marina welcomes a broad mix of vessels up to 90m, the busiest months being June to September with peak demand for berths in July and August.

“Last August we were literally doing jigsaw puzzles, moving boats internally to create more space for larger vessels along the docks,” explains Adrian. “We tend to attract a lot of captains looking for a convenient base when the owner chooses to step ashore for a period of time. They can sail around the corner and spend a few days with us to carry out cleaning and maintenance, and our on-site concierge is on hand to recommend local suppliers or to assist with local activities and restaurant bookings.

“Day to day, our main focus is customer care and we’ve raised our game by introducing a number of new services, for example pick-ups and drop-offs, storage services, handling of parcel deliveries and also boat washes, all of which has been well received by our customers. We’ve also improved the parking and transitioned our berth booking and accounting system.”

Stepping up a notch, IGY Portisco Marina also has a number of courtesy cars available for crew to use during their stay. “It’s always a pleasant surprise for them!” says Adrian. “When I greet them on the dock with a set of keys, they often can’t believe it’s a complementary service with nothing to pay. Sometimes they have already booked a hire car at great expense – an eight-seater vehicle can cost up to €1,000 per day in high season – but often they struggle to find anything available at all at peak times. It’s proving to be quite a draw among yacht crew, so this year we’re expanding our service by partnering with a local car rental agency.

Attractions in and around Portisco

Local cuisine and upscale diningSardinia is renowned the world over for its incredible food, and whether owner, guest or crew, there’s no shortage of excellent restaurants in and around Portisco serving everything from pizza and pasta to seafood and sushi. For upscale dining, there’s a choice of Michelin starred restaurants in every direction, including Il Fuoco Sacro in San Pantaleo (Italian), Deste in Porto Rotondo (Italian contemporary), Finger’s Porto Cervo in Porto Cervo (fusion), and Dulchemente in Olbia (seafood), to name just a few.

Beaches and sporting activities

For a quiet moment soaking up the rays, there’s a beautiful beach in walking distance of the marina, or for water sports enthusiasts, a number of concessions in the marina offer activities including scuba diving, snorkelling, and kite surfing. Another option just a kilometre away is Rena Bianca Beach, a long strip of white sand surrounded by rocky cliffs and lush flora, considered to be one of the most beautiful stretches along the northern coast.

Hiking and horse riding are also popular activities on the island, while avid golf fans can head to Porto Cervo to enjoy a round at the famous 18 hole course at Pevero Golf Club.

Bareboat charters are big business too, with six charter companies operating out of IGY Portisco Marina, representing a total fleet of 100 boats from 12-25m. Fridays are the busiest day in the marina, being changeover day for weekly charters, but we are planning a new road to provide a second point of access to ease any congestion.

Marine protected areas

An hour to the north, in the Bocche di Bonifacio between Sardinia and Corsica, lies the national park of the Maddalena archipelago consisting of over 60 islands and islets under special protection. A paradise for beach lovers and divers alike, 180,000 kilometres of coastline offer an abundance of pristine sands, hidden coves and rugged cliffs sculpted by the winds of time. Highlights include Budelli, Caprera, Razzoli, Santa Maria, Santo Stefano and Spargi, while divers should head to Spargiotello, Punta Coticcio and Grottino di San Francesco.

In the other direction, 50 minutes south of Portisco, lies the protected area of Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo consisting of 40 kilometres of unspoilt coastline considered by many to be among the most beautiful in the whole of Sardinia.

Local villages and historical landmarks

Just beyond Portisco and well worth a visit is the aforementioned village of San Pantaleo, a beautiful hamlet with narrow streets and colourful shutters, and a vibrant market square showcasing the works of local craftsmen and artists. Surrounded by rocky hills of pink granite and wild nature, San Pantaleo is also ideal for scenic hikes and trekking.

For lovers of history and archaeology, the area around Portisco has a number of important historical landmarks, among them the Stella Maris, a white washed church built in the 1960s by Michele Busiri Vici, famous for its rounded architecture and fascinating collection of artwork.

Another attraction is the abundance of megalithic towers called Nuraghe, built by the Nuragic civilization dating back to the Bronze Age in Sardinia. A particularly good example is the Nuraghe La Prisgiona which has a large tower surrounded by a settlement of over 90 huts across five hectares, visible to visitors from a safe perimeter.

Fast forward to the 19th century and the Fortezza di Monte Altura, built to defend la Maddalena, offers panoramic views “between heaven and earth” and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful of its kind in Europe.

As the team at IGY Portisco Marina prepare for the busy months ahead, Adrian is excited and looking forward to another great season: “In many ways Portisco is a rough diamond full of attractions and opportunities to grow. Last year we had the best August in the marina’s history and this year again we already have a greater number of enquiries.

“Most importantly, the job is about customers, about people, about understanding their needs, listening and observing. Every day is a new day with a new challenge and it makes the whole business very interesting.”

For further information about IGY Portisco Marina or to reserve a berth, please visit the website or contact [email protected].