Early the next morning, I hike up the Selvaggio Blu a short ways to where a sheep herder’s camp is built from fitted rock walls. Some day I’m hiking this, I decide, picking my way through sharp stones back to camp.

Later that morning, we head for Santa Maria Navaresse. Close to coast. Around the next corner, a curious feature in the cliff draws Francisco's attention. A curved triangular cave opens outward at water level, resembling quite obviously, a female body part. Above there is a hanging cylinder of rock, resembling the male’s counterpart.

"The sexy woman and the sexy man," says Francesco, grinning wildly at me. Ada rolls her eyes.
"She seems better endowed than him," I note.

Rounding the cape, Pedra Longa comes into a view. A rising tower of rock. Francesco points it out. "Very nice," he says. I wonder if there’s a phallic pattern to the points of interest along this Italian coast.

What I know for sure is there’s a ruggedness to Orosei. We paddle past the floating corpse of a calf that tumbled from the cliffs overhead. As the waves impact the cliffs, they push against large cracks and small grottos. From within comes a sucking sound, as the interior air is compressed. Then it gurgles and crashes outward in small aquatic eruptions.

The trip is drawing to a close, but first, one final grotto. The grandest of all. A limestone amphitheater the size of an opera hall, with a boulder-strewn orchestra pit. Thick stalactites hang from the ceiling like the tassels of a stage curtain raised above the sea.

The approach is shallow. Our hulls scrape on rocks with each trough of the waves.

"Tourist boats, no come here. Only kayak," says Francesco.

"Close to coast," I say. A new mantra for a whitewater kayaker won over by the Sardinian sea.

  Page 3: The Truth about Sardines