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The Worshiped Blue Grotto: Capri’s Fascinating Sea Cave (Is It Really For Everyone?)

The Blue Grotto, an enchanting sea cave on the idyllic island of Capri, captivates countless visitors each year with its ethereal blue glow. This natural wonder is a highlight for those exploring the Mediterranean and a staple of cruise itineraries that include the ports of Naples or Sorrento.

Steeped in history and natural splendor, the Blue Grotto has long been celebrated for its otherworldly beauty and the magical play of light within its watery depths. The cave’s interior is bathed in an iridescent blue light from sunlight streaming through an underwater aperture, which casts an illuminating shimmer across the cavern walls.

Venturing into this mystical space requires a short but intense boat ride. Visitors glide into the grotto aboard small rowboats, laying down to clear the cave’s narrow mouth. This intimate approach may add to the excitement (for some) and enhance the sense of mystery.

The Blue Grotto | Photo of narrow entrance into cavern with guide chain
The narrow single-file entrance to the Blue Grotto. Captain of row boat pulls group using chain. (Credit: E. Warren/Family Cruise Companion)

Yet, despite its undeniable allure, the Blue Grotto experience may not be the perfect fit for every traveler. To guide your decision, we’ve outlined some essential advantages and drawbacks.

The Allure of the Blue Grotto

 Reasons To Visit the Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto in Capri is an enchanting destination that offers a unique experience for cruise ship travelers. These are common reasons to plan a visit:

  • Stunning Natural Beauty: The Blue Grotto is famous for its mesmerizing blue waters, illuminated from below, creating a surreal and vivid aquatic environment. This natural light phenomenon is due to sunlight passing through an underwater cavity and reflecting off the white seabed, lighting up the cave in a brilliant blue glow.
  • Unique Experience: Visiting the Blue Grotto involves a small boat ride into a dark, mysterious cave, making it a unique and memorable adventure. The entrance to the cave is just large enough for a small rowboat to squeeze through, adding an element of mystery to the experience.

The Blue Grotto | photo inside the cavern
Inside the famous Blue Grotto. Rowboats enter and exit through the same portal, making a circular pass around the cavern. (Credit: E. Warren/Family Cruise Companion)
  • Photographic Opportunity: The intense blue of the grotto’s waters, contrasted with the cave’s dark shadows, provides a perfect setting for stunning photographs.
  • Historical Significance: The grotto has been known since Roman times, and historical artifacts suggest that Emperor Tiberius used it as a personal swimming pool.
  • Iconic Attraction: The Blue Grotto is one of the Mediterranean’s most iconic and popular attractions and part of Capri’s cultural identity. Visiting this famous site is a bucket list item for many travelers, making it a must-see during a cruise that stops near Capri.

What’s Not In The Brochure

While you’ll encounter many beautiful descriptions of the Blue Grotto when you are reading up on potential cruise excursions, what’s not obvious from the typical tour description is exactly what all is entailed to get into the Grotto. 

There may be a reference to taking a picturesque ride in some small watercraft where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs, etc. What’s probably *not* mentioned:

Many tour boats hover outside the Blue Grotto, and passengers wait to transfer to rowboats.
Many tour boats hover outside the Blue Grotto, and passengers wait to transfer to rowboats. (Credit: E. Warren/Family Cruise Companion)
  •  You will be waiting in a line of boats for at least one to two hours, waiting your turn to enter the Grotto. The area’s seas are often choppy, and the heat, choppy seas, and extended wait time can elicit motion sickness from folks who have never had it before. 
  • Nor will it likely be mentioned that when it is your “turn,” you have to transfer from your small watercraft into a much tinier boat that fits about 6 people. The transfer is done on the open water – where personal items and persons can easily slip into the ocean. 
Photo of bottleneck of rowboats outside entrance to the Blue Grotto.
The bottleneck of rowboats at the cavern entrance. (Credit: E. Warren/Family Cruise Companion)
  • Once you have secured a spot in the tiny boat, everyone must lay down in the bottom of the boat (a bit of squeeze) to sail into the grotto itself because the ceiling of the entryway is just that low.
Photo of captain piloting rowboat with passengers.
Captain rows the boat to the Grotto entrance as passengers lay flat. (Credit: E. Warren/Family Cruise Companion)

Reasons You May Want to Skip It

The parts that are usually left out of the excursion brochure present reasons why some travelers might consider skipping it in favor of other excursions when visiting Capri:

  • Crowds and Wait Times: The Blue Grotto is extremely popular, and during peak tourist seasons, the wait times can be very long. Visitors often have to wait in crowded conditions on small boats, which can be uncomfortable, especially in hot weather.
  • Accessibility and Comfort: The entrance to the Blue Grotto is very small, requiring visitors to lie flat in rowboats to pass through. This can be challenging for those with mobility issues or claustrophobia. Additionally, the ride can be bumpy and unsuitable for those who get seasick easily.
  • Brief Experience: The actual time spent inside the cave is only a few minutes– probably due to the high volume of visitors. Some may find that the brief encounter does not justify the cost(about a $20 entrance fee) or the hours of waiting.
Photo: Inside the Blue Grotto with rowboats circling the perimeter of the cavern.
Inside the Blue Grotto with rowboats circling the perimeter of the cavern. (Credit: E. Warren/Family Cruise Companion)

Capri and the surrounding area offer numerous other beautiful and interesting attractions that might be more rewarding and less stressful depending on who is in your travel party. 

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Visiting the Grotto

Here’s what you need to know about visiting the grotto.

On arrival, anticipate a queue, especially during peak tourist seasons, as travelers eagerly wait to enter the famous cave.

Tour boats in Capri waiting to ferry passengers to the Blue Grotto.
Tour boats in Capri waiting to ferry passengers to the Blue Grotto. (Credit: E. Warren/Family Cruise Companion)

Tours and Prices

Various boat tours are available for the Blue Grotto visit, with prices averaging around $150 for a multi-stop tour that includes a visit to the grotto. Tour versions booked through your cruise line may be closer to $250.

Payments include the entrance fee and the services of a skipper who will guide your rowboat through the narrow cave entrance.

Remember that weather conditions play a crucial role; unfavorable weather can cause the grotto to be closed for safety.

Best Times to Visit

Plan your visit in the morning to witness the Blue Grotto’s mesmerizing blue hue at its best.

This timing leverages the sunlight’s angle for optimal color within the cave.

The best time to visit coincides with the grotto’s opening hours, generally from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but it’s always wise to check ahead as these can vary depending on the season and weather conditions.

Early mornings are typically less crowded, offering a more tranquil experience free from the bustle of peak hours.

Safety and Accessibility

To enter the grotto, you’ll board small rowboats from one of two directions. Due to the small size of the cave’s entrance, you’ll need to lie back in the rowboat as the boats enter one at a time, guided by the rower who navigates the grotto using a metal chain attached to the cave walls.

The grotto can be inaccessible during rough seas, high winds, or overcast days when sea conditions change quickly. Swimming is not permitted. (Even though you aren’t supposed to swim, there appeared to be people in the water when we were there. It was unclear who they were or what they were doing.)

Be aware that the grotto may be closed in winter due to adverse weather conditions.

Closing Thoughts

For many, the Blue Grotto captures the allure of Capri’s, offering visitors a unique blend of adventure and serenity. The enchanting interplay of light within its waters makes for a memorable experience despite the potential entry challenges.

Elaine Warren

Founder & Crew Chief

Elaine founded this website after publishing the book The Family Cruise Companion’s Guide to Cruising With Kids. She has sailed on 40 cruises (and counting). She loves helping families navigate their way to an adventure-filled, fun, and memorable vacation.

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