Capri Island by Sea

You haven’t really seen Capri island until you’ve seen it from the sea!

No visit to Capri is complete without a tour around the island by sea, skirting the dramatically craggy coastline and taking in the shimmering caves and hidden coves. Capri island is the air laced with the scent of flowers and lemon trees, spectacularly beautiful scenery, numerous signs of a truly ancient past and a deeply pervasive sensation of tranquility. A magical island which has become a living legend!

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When we arrived at Marina Grande on Capri island we discovered an enchanting, romantic island that has been a luxury getaway since the days of the Roman Empire. Once off the ferry boat, the beautiful site of stunning cliffs, piercing blue water and ripe vegetation invites you to visit Capri island. There are two towns on the island, Capri and Ana Capri, and they are both charming and chic with fascinating shops and art galleries and wonderfully luxurious hotels and restaurants. The streets are always narrow and interesting and often steep as Capri island is entirely mountainous.

In order to see the entire Capri island, boat rides are offered to explore the coast. With the towering rock formations contrasted by the calm sea, the view of the island from the boat is incredible. There are two options for visiting the Capri island by boat: organized tours that lasts between 1 or 2 hours and costs 17 euro/person and individual tours when you rent a private boat, with or without crew. Organized tours are the perfect solution for visitors who have little time to spare (those on a short day trip, for example), whereas an individual tour with a private boat rental is ideal for travelers who have the time to enjoy the charms of Capri island by sea at their leisure.

Because we had only few hours for visiting Capri island we caught an organized tour from the Marina Grande. During this cruise I realized just how beneficial it’s having your own boat, often jumping into the sea and swimming to small rocks to experience the depths below and what it would be like if I could actually live out one of my childhood dreams of being a mermaid. Still not possible? Really?

So if you want to spend a day on the sea surrounding Capri island the best way by far is to rent a boat just for you! Rent a boat and you’ll be able to sail around the island, exploring Capri‘s secret inlets and lesser known sea caves at leisure and even drop anchor for an hour or so, for a swim in the sparkling clear sea…

Visiting Capri island by boat means you can closely observe the wonders that surround its coast: Marina Grande and the Statue of Scugnizzo, the Faraglioni rock formations and The Natural Arch, the Grotta Azzurra, Grotta Bianca and Grotta Verde,  Villa Malaparte, the Bay of Marina Piccola and the Lighthouse at Punta Carena. These are just some of the unforgettable sights on a trip sailing around Capri‘s spectacular coastline.

Leaving Marina Grande first thing you will see is the Statue of Scugnizzo – a bronze statue of a young boy with a welcoming wave, greeting seafarers to the island  .. and saying goodbye (I suppose!)…and then you’ll be amazed by the colors of the sea!

Monte Tiberio or Tiberius’s Leap – 1000ft cliff from which Emperor Tiberius ‘hurled his sexual conquests and victims into the sea’ – is really imposing and the crystal clear waters that surrounds him are absolutely breathtaking! One of the first coves we visited was Grotta del Corallo where we had to wait to see  the corals because only one boat can enter at a time. It was dark inside the grotto and quite difficult to get a photo, especially with the rise and fall of water !

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One of the most interesting caves I’ve seen here besides famous Blue Grotto is – Grotta Bianca – easily visible from the sea. You can best appreciate its beauty if you disembark and climb up the steps in the rocks which lead inside the cave via a small tunnel dug out of the stone. Only in this way tourists will be able to see the white stalactites and stalagmites and enjoy the view of the sea from above, through the mouth of the cave. One large stalagmite inside the grotto resembles  a statue of Madonna but it’s also difficult to get a good photo of this. From the same bay as Grotto Bianca, but this time looking way up, we could see the “Arco Naturale”, which shows a sculpture resembling a natural bridge balancing on 2 pillars of rocks. This strange natural phenomenon, together with Faraglioni and Grotto of Matermania are one of the most famous tourist spots on this part of the Capri island

The Natural Arch is the visible remainder of an ancient Karst cavity, destroyed by the landslides which broke up parts of the Capri island. Its pleasant position, in the midst of thick pine forest which reveals glimpses of the sea constitutes one of the most attractive motifs of the whole Capri island.

Grotta di Matermania can be seen only if you follow the narrow and extremely steep flight of steps on Via Tragara – a large terrace with fabulous view over the Faraglioni rocks. It is formed by a cavity roughly 30 meters long and 20 meters wide, with a median height of 10 meters. In the Roman period, the Grotta di Matermania was transformed in to a luxurious nymphaeum, where the islanders met to indulge in the “pagan” pleasures of life! Scholars have attributed the cult rituals which were performed in the cave to the divinities Mitra or Cibele, goddess of fertility. After the cave there are another 200 steps to climb before arriving at the Natural Arch.

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From the sea, the famous Casa Malaparte, residence of the eponymous writer, Curzio, can be seen in all its avant-garde splendor. Dominating Punta Massullo, the outcrop on which the edifice was built, Casa Malaparte starkly contrasts with the beautiful natural environment which surrounds it. Unfortunately, at the present time, the building is not open to the general public.

Thinking about Capri island now, one of the first images that comes to my mind will, no doubt, be that of the amazing Faraglioni: the three spurs of rock which rise up out of the sea, within meters of the island’s Southern coast. Faraglioni have always constituted the most famous and popular image of Capri island throughout the world. The rocks have each been given a name: the first, still attached to the land, is called Stella, the second, separated from the first block by a stretch of sea – Faraglione di Mezzo and the third, Faraglione di Fuori or Scopolo, meaning the head or promontory stretching into the sea.

The Scopolo sea stack provides the unique habitat for the Podarcis sicula coerulea. The rock is, in fact, the only place in the world where you can find this lizard, the blue color of which is said to be the result of the amphibian’s vicinity to the sea and sky. The average height of the Faraglioni is 100 meters. The Faraglione di Mezzo is characterized by a central cavity, large enough to allow for the passage of a small boat. Our guide told us that apparently cruising through the arch of the Faraglioni whilst kissing your lover – with your eyes closed – gives you eternal love and happiness !!  Sooo .. that’s what we all did on the boat!

The extraordinary rock formations, called the Faraglioni, are truly a magnificent sight!

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If you like the idea of spending a day on a beach with view of the Faraglioni, you’ll love the pretty little bay of Marina Piccola: which lies directly opposite Capri’s giant sea stacks.

Marina Piccola is the bay where, they say, Ulysses was seduced by the sirens.

On the sunny south side of Capri island, sheltered from the wind by a steep wall of rock, the bay is almost always warm. In fact, even in mid-winter you might easily spot the locals bathing in the sun (if not in the water!) here in Marina Piccola, buses stop in the square close to the small Church of Sant’Andrea. A short flight of steps leads down to the beach and the Siren’s rock where, legend has it, the Sirens seduced Ulysses. There are two stretches of ‘free’ beach in Marina Piccola, both in the vicinity of the church: Marina di Mulo and Marina di Pennauro. To get the most of the sun, you’ll need to arrive early in the day: the sun leaves the bay at around 4pm.

Marina Piccola – once an old fishermen village – now,  it’s become home to the rich and famous. This evocative town is one the most well equipped and fashionably famous seaside resorts of Capri island, as well as being a small landing place for the nautical enthusiasts and tourists who have the possibility of mooring their crafts here, along a naturally protected and sheltered coastline.  Marina Piccola is symmetrical to Marina Grande since it constitutes the main landing place and the principal port of call for navigational service. Marina Piccola has its own particular character, more cozy, graceful and attractive; alongside its delightful coves. Along the rocky spurs which are outlined along the eastern side of Mount Solaro, one finds the Grotto of the Ferns which dominates the underlying Marina and which represents one of the most important prehistoric sites of the Capri island. Today the enchanting vision of Marina Piccola can be enjoyed by those who reach it by means of either the road which bears the same name, or by the evocative Via Krupp.

At their feet, the Fontelina bathing establishment, with its sea edge platforms and restaurant, should not be missed. The view which extends from the Faraglioni across the whole of Marina Piccola and beyond is quite exceptional. The cuisine is deliciously simple. The service is impeccable. The Fontelina is famous throughout the world and to lunch here is a quite unforgettable experience!

After we passed the Bay of Marina Piccola we can see another amazing grotto – the Green Grotto, once known as the Grotto dell’ Orefice. The Green Grotto it owes its present name to the emerald tones that, at certain times of the day, depending on the light, color its waters.

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The Lighthouse of Punta Carena dominates the Southwestern coast of Capri island. Looming behind the lighthouse, there is the precipice of the Migliera, lined with defense walls built by the British at the start of the 19’th century in order to protect Capri island from invasion. In front of the lighthouse, the sea extends all the way to Sicily. The light house, ‘Faro’ in Italian, was built in 1866. The second tallest in Italy (after Genoa), it is among the most important of all those guarding over the Tyrrhenian Sea . At Punta Carena the seabed descends extremely quickly and, at only 500 meters from the coast, is already 600 meters deep. This has to be the best place on the whole Capri island in which to sit and watch the sun setting over the sea, an aperitif in hand.
Sensational in the summer, Faro is wonderful in the winter too – when the sea is at its most powerful. Caressed by crystal clear water and bathed in the sun all day long: it’s not surprising if Faro is the islanders’ favorite beach.

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If you’re planning a trip to Italy make sure to stop on Capri island for at least a day of breathtaking sights and relaxing atmosphere.