Capri boat tour – the best way to spend a day in Capri

Isle of Capri Italy

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Thinking of taking a Capri boat tour? Cruising around the isle of Capri is one of our life’s favorite experiences, so make sure that you do. Here’s what to expect.

As you tour Italy‘s Amalfi coast your gaze inevitably rests on the island in the distance. It is the legendary island of Capri and it is best seen from the clear waters that lap its rocky shores. Without a doubt, of all the amazing things to do in Capri, the one thing you must experience is a boat tour around the island.

Capri, Italy

map of capri italy

The isle of Capri is the stuff of legend and that is not a throwaway line. The Ancient Greeks spoke of Capri in the story of Ulysses. It was off the island’s craggy shores that Ulysses resisted the temptations of the Sirens, beautiful mythical creatures who lured sailors to their deaths with their enchanting voices.

Rising up out of the Bay of Naples, you feel Capri before you even arrive. And its presence stays with you forever. The island’s majestic peaks and rocky terrain contrast with the bluest sea you ever saw. Today Capri is the playground of the world’s rich and famous and it’s easy to see why.

The island has a captivating beauty that has to be seen with your own eyes.

Highlights of a Capri boat trip

Sorrento Capri boat tours

You join your boat at Marina Grande if you are staying on the island or have arrived by ferry. Otherwise, a day trip to Capri that includes this tour is an easy option from Naples, Sorrento or other towns on the Amalfi Coast.

Either way, your skipper takes you anti-clockwise for your tour of the island. Make sure your camera is charged and you are looking your glamorous best, this is the place for a million photo opportunities.

Here are some of the highlights you can expect on your boat tour of Capri.


Faraglioni seen on day trip to Capri tour

The iconic rock formations known as the Faraglioni, are some of the most enduring images of Capri. I gasped when our boat turned around the coast towards these monoliths towering in the distance. It’s such a spectacular sight.

As you approach your skipper will tell you with a wink that it is good luck to kiss your loved one as you pass through the middle of the Faraglione di Mezzo. And so, of course, you do!

Punta Carena

Punta Carena Lighthouse Capri - best boat tour of capri

People have lived on Capri for thousands of years – even Roman Emperors. So you see man made beauties alongside the natural wonders. I loved this old stone bridge with the sea glistening beneath.

The Punta Carena lighthouse has been standing watch on the island’s south-west coast since 1866 and is said to be the best place to watch the sun set on the isle of Capri.

Emerald Grotto and White Grotto

Capri grotto tour

No filters required on these photos! The sea is really that gorgeous turquoise color.

Apart from the famous Blue Grotto (more on that below), Capri has a White and Green grotto where the sea changes color reflecting the limestone in the rocky seabed and rock formations overhead.

The Blue Grotto

capri italy blue grotto capri tours

But did you see the Blue Grotto? I hear you ask. No, sadly we did not. We saw the entrance which is that tiny opening beneath the shrine in the image above. Despite the sparkling seas, it was too rough for boats to enter. It’s a good idea to set your expectations that you may not be able to go and if you do manage to enter the cave, it’s a bonus.

I won’t lie. I was bitterly disappointed when I heard that the sea cave was not included in our tour.  But in the end, we chose not to visit the grotto . We enjoyed the other grottoes instead and enjoyed our time on the island.

Tours of the Blue Grotto are run separately from Marina Grande and you pick them up when you arrive on the island. It is not possible to prebook these tours. 

Check our tips on visiting the grotto below – your visit is subject to the weather and tides so it’s not always possible to go inside anyway.

Capri island tour options

Private Capri boat tour Italy - capri boat rental

Capri boat tours are not created equally. There are pros and cons of choosing a boat cruise of the island and unsurprisingly it comes down to variables of price, tour length and quality of experience.

Sorrento to Capri day tour

capri italy tour

We took a semi-private boat tour of Capri from Sorrento that suited our needs perfectly. We were picked up from our accommodation and transferred to a small harbour close to Sorrento. Our family of four joined 7 other people on a luxurious cruiser for the journey. The boat tour takes a maximum of 12 people and it was extremely comfortable.

You can sit at the back of the boat or do as we did and lounge on the front deck as your cruiser speeds towards Capri. The advantage of a small boat is immediately obvious as you approach the island. To get close to the grottoes and inlets your boat needs to be nimble. We managed to get close to all the highlights mentioned above and I even had a gorgeous kiss on the cheek from my son under the Faraglione di Mezzo!

Our skipper was a cheeky chap with lots of jokes and interesting pieces of information about the island. He was not only in charge of steering and quips but also managed to serve us some drinks and a delicious tomato and mozzarella panino each.

visit capri

We docked at Marina Grande for four hours of exploring at leisure and then, with fresh winds whipping our hair and sun on our face, we cruised back to the mainland looking longingly at Capri behind us.

The tour lasted approximately 8 hours, so it’s a full day excursion. Other options included a stop for swimming and snorkelling (it was a bit cold for that when we visited) and a private bus tour to Anacapri which we did not take. There were wifi, towels, and snorkel gear on board.

With transfers both ways included in the €100 per person price, we thought the Capri small group boat tour was great value > Check boat tour prices and book now

TIP: You can also book a fully private tour from Sorrento to Capri. This is worth considering if you have a large group or just want to enjoy the island on your own. > Click for more info and prices

Day tour from other spots on the Amalfi Coast and Naples

amalfi coast day trip to capri

Similar day tours of Capri leave from towns along the Amalfi Coast and from Naples and Salerno.

If you want to take this option, do check on the size of the boat, time spent in Capri and number of people onboard.

READ: Our guide to the Best things to do in Positano – beaches, views, restaurants & more!

Private Capri Island tour by traditional gozzo boat

private boat capri
© Can Stock Photo / maisicon

For an intimate and perhaps the best boat tour of Capri, why not hire a traditional gozzo boat to transport you around the island. This looked to me to be the most romantic and classic way to explore Capri by water.

As you can see they are small vessels and may not suit those prone to seasickness or families (like us) with young children. I think teenagers would love it and especially enjoy jumping off the boat when the weather is warm. This option would also be great if you have a group of friends or family to share the cost

The gozzo boats take up to 6 passengers and can be hired at the port of Marina Grande or you can > check the prices and book here

Two hour island tour from Marina Grande Capri

Marina Grande Capri - tours of Capri leave from here

If you are staying on Capri (how wonderful) or arriving by ferry from Sorrento or Naples, you can take a tour of the island leaving from Marina Grande. This two hour tour includes visiting the grottoes, stopping for a swim if the weather is fine and trying the local limoncello liqueur – it’s refreshing and delicious! > Check boat tour prices and book now

I would only take this option if you are on a very strict budget or have limited time. We saw several of these tours on the water and made the following observations:

  • The boats that take these tours are large and packed full of people all craning over each other to take photos
  • Cruise time is less than an hour so there is very little time to stop and enjoy the experience
  • It is impossible for these boats to reach some of the beautiful grottoes due to their size

You can buy tickets for these tours at the ferry terminals

Tips for your tour

sorrento to capri by boat

Our day in Capri was one of my ultimate travel highlights. Here are some tips to make sure your day is as enjoyable as ours was:

  • take sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat to shield you from the sun
  • bring a bottle of water and a small snacks in case you get hungry
  • a light sweater or cardigan is useful for the journey home
  • a swim suit is a must if the weather is warm! Most tours provide towels but check in advance
  • make sure your camera and phone are charged and you have a spare battery or power pack – you will take a million photos

Lastly, have an idea of things that you want to see and do on the island before you go. Unless you are happy simply gazing at the views. And that is completely fine too! I have given you some ideas below.

LISTEN: Transport yourself to Capri by tuning into our podcast episode: Come Away to Capri

What to do in Capri in a day

spectacular views on a private boat tour capri sorrento

After our boat tour, we docked at Marina Grande and had four hours to explore the island at leisure. We took the funicular to the town of Capri, wandered its cobbled streets and marvelled at the panoramic views of the island from above.

After stopping for lunch in the chic Piazetta – visit the Pulalli wine bar (amazing) – we strolled a little further through the town and visited the Giardini di Augusto for incredible views of the island.

Just when we thought the views couldn’t get any better, we found the Certosa di San Giacomo monastery where you can enjoy the surrounding beauty in relative solitude.

Our leisurely pace meant we didn’t have time to visit Anacapri or take the chairlift to Monte Solaro. They are both an absolute must for our return visit. I would also have loved to visit Villa Jovis, the ruins of an ancient Roman palace built by Emperor Tiberius. And shopped for beautiful sandals at one of the many boutiques.

And of course, I would have loved to have seen the Blue Grotto

Tips for visiting Capri’s Blue Grotto

blue grotto tours capri italy
© Can Stock Photo / AntonioGravante

Are you intent on seeing the Blue Grotto?

Here are some tips on visiting Capri’s most famous attraction that we learned from the skipper on our boat

  • The best time to visit is between 09:00 am and 14:00pm when the light creates the most spectacular effects
  • How brilliant the blue of the grotto appears is in direct proportion to available sunlight. Therefore it will not be as alluring on an overcast day
  • You reach the Blue Grotto by boat from Marina Grande [cost €18 per person] or bus from Anacapri.
  • Opening times for the Blue Grotto are 09:00 am to 17:00 pm. In adverse weather conditions, the site is closed
  • Blue Grotto tours cost €14 [2023] for the rowboat and entry to the cave. There is no charge for children under 6 years. Tickets can be purchased at the grotto entrance
  • You enter the grotto in a small rowboat and must lie down flat to get through the entrance. You then spend 5 minutes in the cave enjoying the spectacular natural wonder
  • Queue times to enter the grotto can be well over an hour in peak season

A few hours is not nearly enough to explore the beautiful isle of Capri. But I just know I will return one day.

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