Britons wishing to explore a unique beach in one of Italy’s most beloved holiday destinations, Sardinia, are warned breaking the strict rules enforced to safeguard the fragile ecosystem will come at a hefty price.
The Pink Beach, or Spiaggia Rosa in Italian, is located in the stunning La Maddalena archipelago, north of Sardinia, and takes its name after the colour of its sand.
The pinkness of the sand, located on Budelli Island, given by crustaceans and corals accumulated on the shoreline, has attracted to the beach’s shores thousands of tourists and locals for decades.
However, the beach started losing its colour after too many people pilfered the sand, taking away the key elements colouring it, and unknowingly damaged the sea grass by stepping on it.
As a result, in the late 1980s the Italian Government decided to issue a decree to safeguard the area, which effectively barred people from walking and sunbathing on the shoreline.
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While this move has been successful in bringing back the pink colour to the beach, between 50 to 100 people every year are caught red-handed breaking the rules.
Fabrizio Fonnesu, director of the national park of the Maddalena archipelago which safeguards the area, told Express.co.uk: “We normally see the bulk of trespassers in the first few months of the summer season, when many are not aware of the regulations and abuse the protected space.
“As the summer goes by, and there are more boats in the areas discouraging bad behaviours, the numbers drop sensibly.”
Each rule-breaker can be slapped with fines as high as £430 (€500).
Many of the trespassers are caught not just because they are spotted by the Italian coastguard, sailors and fellow tourists but also because they share online selfies and pictures taken while on the Pink Beach, which much like the rest of the island can be reached only by boat.
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Within just the first week of June, a total of six people were spotted behaving against the rules in the area of the Pink Beach, which earned them a total of £1552 (€1800) in fines.
Mr Fonnesu noted the beach isn’t entirely off-limits. Rather, it is possible to view it from a distance from a boat stopping in the nearby Roto bay (Cala di Roto) or by walking, accompanied by guides, through a path on the beach bordered by fences.
The fines, the park’s director said, are slapped when “people cross the fences or enter the beach to sunbathe and dip in the water”.
Besides collaborating with the coastguard to make sure trespassers are punished, the park can only educate people on why walking on the beach ruins its sand and enforce the regulations.
To monitor the high number of tourists who still want to visit, while following the rules, Budelli island, the park issues tickets providing the authorisation to enter the whole archipelago.
Mr Fonnesu said visitors started to arrive much earlier than expected this year, which prompted the environmental body to bring forward the sales of the tickets by several weeks in comparison to 2022, when they started being issued in mid-July.
The director expects some 1,200 boats will approach the Maddalena archipelago every day over the coming months.
Despite the restrictions applied to visitors, tourists continue to love the beach, with many taking to social media and Tripadvisor to leave outstanding reviews.
One, who visited the beach in July 2021, described it as a “must-see”, saying: “This beach represents one of the historic beauties of the island, even though it lost part of its original traits due to the pilfering of the sand. It remains a unique place to admire from a boat.”
Another, who sailed to the beach for a guided tour in June last year, said it was a “beautiful experience and tour”.
He added: “After almost three decades, the pink is coming back, thanks to nature and despite men and visitors who over the years took away as souvenirs plastic bottles filled with the pink sand.”
The tourist added he “sincerely hopes” the regulations will remain in place to allow nature to restore itself.
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