Although declared a marine protected area (MPA) in 1997, it was only in 2003 that the Tavolara and Punta Coda Cavallo MPA acquired its own operations management, which not only co-ordinates and regulates all activities in the area, but also works increasingly to promote the MPA and turn it into a real added value for local tourism and ancillary activities.
The Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo MPA safeguards some 58 square miles of sea and approximately 25 miles of coastal territory among the most beautiful of Sardinia.
The coast, characterised by Palaeozoic granites, is dotted with pretty coves where Mediterranean maquis – with magnificent specimens of juniper, strawberry tree and mock privet – grows to the water’s edge. However, the island group which forms the heart of this area’s biodiversity is what makes this land/seascape particularly fascinating. Tavolara, its massive limestone form rising sheer from the sea, is in stark contrast to the smaller, rounded, granite islands of Molara, Molarotto, Piana and Dei Cavalli.
The underwater environment features vast meadows of Posidonia oceanica, a marine phanerogam which gives origin to the most fertile Mediterranean ecosystems, and various forms of Mediterranean coralligenous at different depths which generate exceptionally beautiful scenarios, a real magnet for underwater tourism.
This varied archipelago encompasses major natural features which, since 2004, are protected by the MPA management authority made up of the three coastal municipalities of Olbia, San Teodoro and Loiri Porto San Paolo.