If you’re looking for a fresh perspective, head to the sea. As you tour Italy‘s Amalfi coast, spectacular cliff built towns and villages on the mainland, 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.
You can catch one of the many ferries that dash across the Bay of Naples from Sorrento and explore the island by foot. Or, do as we did, and take a private boat tour of Capri taking in its beauty from the water. Fresh salty breezes and dappled sunlight on turquoise waters made for an enchanting day trip from the Amalfi Coast.
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.
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 boat tour of the Isle of Capri
Rising up out of the Bay of Naples, you feel Capri before you even arrive. The island’s majestic peaks and rocky terrain contrast with the bluest sea you ever saw. Your skipper heads towards the main town, Marina Grande and then steers anti-clockwise for your tour of the island. Here are some of the highlights
The iconic rock formations known as the Faraglioni, are some of the most enduring images of Capri. As your boat turns around the coast towards them you see them towering in the distance. 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, Capri
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 boat tour of the island did not include a visit to the Blue Grotto. This is because it can take a very long time to queue to enter the cave and it is possible to a separate tour from Marina Grande to visit the Blue Grotto.
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 sea cave. We enjoyed the other grottos and wanted to explore the island.
Tips for visiting Capri’s Blue Grotto
Many people are intent on seeing Capri’s Blue Grotto, and it is an incredible sight – check out some pictures of the Blue Grotto to see why. 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
✪ The grotto tour costs an additional €14 [In May 2017]. There is no charge for children under 6 years
✪ 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
Capri boat 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.
Semi-private day tour from Sorrento
We took a semi-private boat tour of Capri 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 a few 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 lasts 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.
Private tour by traditional gozzo boat
If you want an intimate tour of Capri or have a group of friends to share the cost, 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. There is a picture of a gozzo boat above.
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. The gozzo boats can be hired at the port of Marina Grande.
One hour island tour
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 grottos due to their size
Take me back to Capri!
After our boat tour of Capri, 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.
Our leisurely pace meant we didn’t have time to visit Anacapri or take the chairlift to Monte Solaro. I would also have loved to visit Villa Jovis, the ruins of an ancient Roman palace built by Emperor Tiberius.
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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