This seaside area has all kinds of different landscapes, and all are beautiful. Behind the low lying areas and sandy beaches you’ll find the Stagno di Cabras and the Mitras and Sale Porcus lagoons, that together make up one of the largest wetlands in Italy and are the home to many species of aquatic birds. The coastal area has rocky seascapes and limestone cliffs above the sea like those called Su Tingiosu and Capo Seu, the promontory called Capo S. Marco or the rocky outcrop called Scoglio del Catalano. The land is covered in typical Mediterranean vegetation: mastic trees, rosemary, asparagus and cistus and, closer to the water, some rare plants like Limonium tharrosianum, Poligala sinisica and viola corsica.

The Isola di Mal di Ventre only has low, grassy plants due to the strong Mistral winds that blow here all year. The wide variety of underwater seascapes is the perfect catalyst for biodiversity. Sandy areas have wide meadows of Posidonia oceanica that grow at up to 40m depth and are home to a variety of fish and invertebrate species. These meadows, in the areas around the islands Mal di Ventre and del Catalano also grow on rocky platforms along with coralligenous colonies. More coralligenous life grows on the sides of large granite boulders along with colourful sponges, stony coral and violescent sea-whip. There are also lobsters,

mantis shrimp, groupers, Mediterranean perch, red fish and octopus, while in the clean, clear waters of the Marine Protected Area you can also spot dolphins and small whales.

You can take fishing trips with local fishermen. Scuba divers will find lots of choice spots off Isola di Mal di Ventre and the Scoglio del Catalano, like “Secca di Mezzo” where you can see schools of barracudas and loggerhead sea turtles, and the shipwrecks called “relitto

olandese” and “Vaporetto”.

Marine Area Protected

The Marine Protected Area is located along Sardinia’s western coast, north of the Oristano Gulf, between Cabras and Su Tingiosu, and is an area that is very important both historically and naturalistically. Founded in 1997, it covers an area of 25.672 hectares, of which 529 are a zone A integral reserve. The Marine Protected Area includes the Peninsula of Sinis from Capo S. Marco to Capo sa Sturaggia, the small granite island Mal di Ventre and the basaltic Scoglio del Catalano. The island’s name comes from local dialect: “Malu Ventu” means the Mistral wind. The wildlife preserve is tied to the dunes at Sinis and Is Arenas, formed by the wetlands at Cabras, Mistras and Sale Porcus, whose international importance was recognised in 1982 at the Ramsar Convention where they were declared wildlife preserves. There are yellow buoys on the water and topmarks on the shore to signal the zone A integral reserve and the external perimeter of the Zone C. The Marine Protected Area’s rules are being updated and soon there will be a new institutional decree and new rules and regulations.

Useful Contacts

Comune di Cabras (Ente gestore)
piazza Eleonora, 1 – 09072 Cabras
tel. 0783/290071
Sede Amministrativa
via Tharros – 09072 Cabras
Centro Visite
S. Giovanni di Sinis, piazza della festa
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Capitaneria di Porto di Oristano
tel. 0783/72262

By Boat

The Golfo di Oristano is surrounded by Capo Frasca to the south and Capo San Marco to the north, both of which stick out from the low coastline and are easy to recognise. Marina di Torre Grande is at the north, just east of the fort by the same name, close to the estuary of the

Stagno Cabras. You must enter from the southeast through a canal that is delimitated by buoys. The entrance is partially silted in and only has 2m draft; it’s a good idea to contact the

Capitaneria di Porto before entering. You can also drop anchor off Torre Grande, but along the entire Promontorio di Capo Frasca you may not anchor even though the area is not part of the wildlife preserve.

Mal di Ventre is low lying and sparsely covered with vegetation. The island runs towards the northeast and is surrounded by sandbars. On the southeast side there is a small bay whose waters are 3-4m deep. The beaches at Is Arutas and Mari Ermi are popular spots with sand that is actually shiny, rounded grains of quartz that look like rice. These beaches are defined “fossils” or “mature” and there are only about 50 other beaches as old in the world. In fact, it takes the ocean millions of years to select and work stone down into grains this size and shape.