08 August 2016 | Porto Conte (position: 40.36.244'N 08 11.188'E then 40 35.875'N 08 12.876'E)
Neptune's Grotto is located at the foot of Capo Caccia in the National Park of Porto Conte. It's a vast cave that is accessible via a short boat trip from Alghero or by road before heading off on foot down and along a very well maintained stepped path.
Rather than catch a bus or tourist boat, us cheapskates decided to dinghy ashore and walk.
We left the dinghy at Cala del Bollo, a sandy beach where we found a huge eroding rock with hole large enough to fit our wire strop through and lock the dinghy... perfect! Then we headed off and upwards along a track which provided stunning panoramic views of Porto Conte.
At the top we started our descent down the 'goat's steps', some 656 steps (no we didn't count them) cut into the sheer cliff wall, dating back to 1954 which zigzag down the cliff before running horizontally along to the grotto entrance which is at sea-level.
Bruce leading the way
looking back up the cliff-face where we've just walked
We missed the start of the guided tour by just a few minutes (too busy stopping en-route to take in the views) but were allowed to catch up with the group instead of waiting to join the next group (which happened to be a full tourist boat).
The combined length of the cave system is estimated to be around 4 km, but only a few hundred metres are accessible to the public. Inside are passages with impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations, and a saltwater lake. It's impressive, millions of years old in the making including some horizontal stalactites believed to have been formed from very strong winds blowing into the grotto.
€13 entry is paid at the entrance to the cave and includes a half-hour guided tour. Our tip if you're walking - do it in the morning when the steps are in the shade! We wouldn't like to say how it gets in the late afternoon sun.
The return journey... back up those same steps!