Capri is a beautiful island located to the south of the Gulf of Naples in Italy. Rising out of the Tyrrhenian Sea, much of the island has a rugged coastline – home to caves and grottos that have been eroded out of the limestone and sandstone cliffs by the waves of the sea. From the first time you approach this island and dock at the Marina Grande, you will feel the spell of romance that has been cast over this beautiful location.
For more than 30 years I had been interested in seeing the blue grotto on the island of Capri. The blue grotto is an underground sea cave that is only accessible by lying in the bottom of a small rowboat and entering the mouth of the cave. Its renowned iridescent turquoise blue waters have been a fascination to me since I was very young.
Staying in Sorrento meant that I could finally visit the island of Capri, and the blue grotto, on a day trip by ferry. I was travelling with a group of family members, and we all got up early, to be at the front of the line at the port. We paid extra for the jet boat ferry so we would have the most time possible over on the island.
Getting to the Blue Grotto using Public Transport
Arriving at Capri, we went directly to the line for the Funicular which would take us up the hills and drop us in the Piazzetta which is the centre of the town of Capri. From there we walked straight to the line for the bus over to Anacapri. Once in Anacapri, we changed buses again in the depot for the bus down to the blue grotto, where we would wait for the little rowboats that would take us into the grotto. Finally, we arrived at the cliff side path leading to the grotto – and there were NO row boats! ? !
It was closed!! Apparently, it was too windy to be able to enter the cave. I walked dejectedly back to the bus stop, where the bus driver informed us that it would be closed all day. Well, I guess he could have told us that BEFORE we paid our bus fare and wasted our time taking the bus trip down to the closed grotto!!
I was so disappointed I could have cried. After all these years to be so close, literally 1 meter from the entrance, and miss out on seeing it was heartbreaking! I tried really hard to get over it but it kind of spoilt my day.
La Scala Fenicia – Anacapri
We walked around Anacapri and went to the top of La Scala Fenicia to stand in awe at the magnificent view out over Capri, back towards Sorrento and the Gulf of Naples.
We didn’t want to take the hike down the stairs, so headed back to the village for some lunch in a lovely little restaurant where we all ate too much food!
Back to Capri
Back on the bus to Capri for a wander around the streets, but my heart wasn’t in it. So I sat in the most expensive coffee shop in the square (quite by accident! ) and sipped on my €8 glass of orange juice while I waited for the others. Finally, we headed back down on the funicular to the port just in time to catch the last ferry back to Sorrento.
I know that it all seems rather anticlimactic, and luckily, that’s not the end of my association with Capri.
Second chances are golden
On our last day in Sorrento, my Uncle and his wife suggested we go back to Capri and try for the grotto again. The weather looked more favourable on the forecasts, and as we set off on the ferry again, it was turning out to be a beautiful day.
This time when we arrived in Capri, we booked an island tour by boat. It was a magic experience as we were taken cruising around the coastline of the island enjoying the sunshine.
Faraglioni Rock Formations
We were taken to caves and to the Faraglioni Rock Formations, and actually right through the arch in the Faraglione di Mezzo.
Onwards and around the Punta Carena Lighthouse, and finally we arrived at the cove which marked the entrance to the blue grotto.
The Blue Grotto experience
To my extreme delight, the rowboats were there this time! Hooray! I was finally going to get to see the blue grotto.
We waited, bobbing up and down in the sea for about an hour, and then it was our turn. The boatman was a lovely Italian man who helped us into his boat and took us over to the ticket boat. He explained the admission price and that he worked for tips separate to that. I gave him a €5 tip because I was hoping for a long boat ride in the cave. Before we went inside the cave he made my uncle and his wife kiss for a photo. Cute.
We had to lay down in the boat while the boatman pulled the rowboat through the opening using chains anchored into the walls of the cave. When we sat up again, we saw the amazing colour of the water, even in the darkness of the cave.
My uncle asked our boatman if he could sing, and he said he would. He took my hand and sang me an Italian love song while he was rowing around in the cave (much to my extreme embarrassment). He had a nice rich voice, but he made up the words to the famous arias he was singing, which made me giggle. No matter, he tried very hard to make our trip special, and he even took us around the grotto twice. The echoes in the cave were great and all the other boatmen were singing for their passengers as well.
With that, our ride was over and we were taken back through the entrance of the cave and returned to our tour boat. The blue grotto was all that I had imagined and more, and I am so happy that I was able to see it.
Arriving back at Marina Grande once more, we found a restaurant to have some lunch in because we were starving by then! After lunch, we went walking along the beach ( which had more rocks than sand). We were swimming in the waters at the beach with a view across the Gulf of Naples and Mt Vesuvius in the background. What a fantastic way to spend a day!