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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.
What's in this article
- 1 Capri, Italy
- 2 Highlights of a Capri boat trip
- 3 Capri island tour options
- 4 Tips for your tour
- 5 What to do in Capri in a day
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
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 highlights
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!
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
No filters required on these photos! The sea is really that gorgeous turquoise colour.
Apart from the famous Blue Grotto (more on that below), Capri has a White and Green grotto where the sea changes colour reflecting the limestone in the rocky seabed and rock formations overhead.
The Blue Grotto
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.
Our tour of the island did not include a tour of the Blue Grotto but it is possible to take a separate trip there from Marina Grande and some tours do include it.
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.
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 and wanted to explore the island.
Capri island tour options
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
We took a semi-private boat tour of Capri from Sorrento and it 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 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 grottos 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.
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. 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 was wifi, towels, and snorkel gear on board.
With transfers both ways included in the €85 per person price, we thought the Capri small group boat tour was great value.
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
Similar day tours of Capri leave from towns along the Amalfi Coast but of course are a lot longer.
If you want to take this option, do check on the size of the boat, time spent in Capri and number of people onboard.
Tour from Naples to Capri – 6 hour guided tour by hydrofoil from Naples – >click here for more information
Amalfi to Capri by boat – 9 hour boat tour to Capri along the coast from Amalfi town – >click here for more information
Praiano or Positano to Capri – 8 hour day trip on a traditional gozzo boat – >click here for more information
Private tour by traditional gozzo boat
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 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
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!
One hour island tour from Marina Grande
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
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
What to do in Capri in a day
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 – 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
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 or bus from Anacapri.
- Opening times for the Blue Grotto are 09:00am to 17:00pm. In adverse weather conditions the site is closed
- Blue Grotto tours cost €15 [March 2018]. 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 beautiful Capri. But I just know I will return one day.
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Have you visited the famous isle of Capri and taken a boat tour around the island? Were you lucky enough to see the Blue Grotto in all its glory?
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