Swimming the Blue Grotto on Capri

Swimming in the Blue Grotto

Years ago, when I was on a month-long journey through Italy, everyone suggested that I visit the island of Capri. But everyone who had made such a recommendation told me that they had only visited for the day. They had all followed the same path: bussed to the top on the island’s winding roads, rode the chairlift at the peak for the panoramas, walked the markets, and then, ultimately, booked a boat tour into the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto, as the picture above shows, presents water so blue–so spectacularly illuminated–that if they could capture that color and set it in a stone, it would be the new must-have engagement gem.


Staying on Capri


I looked into staying overnight on Capri, but it was a bit too pricey. Since I wasn’t much for day-trips, I inquired about working at a hotel. The property was in Capri’s uppermost city, Anacapri. But the job fell through and I hadn’t even learned about my pre-employed firing until I was at the hotel. I guess the owner felt guilty that I hadn’t received his email and thus offered me a room at a steep discount, allowing me to spend the night on the island and stay within my budget.


I did, for the most part, do what was expected of every day-tripper, from riding the chair lift to walking the seaside town. But instead of boating into the Blue Grotto, where a line of boat passengers waited their turn to paddle into the small cave, snap a photograph, and exit quickly so that the next wave of tourists could spill into the hole, I opted for the beach.


At the beach, the jellyfish were abundant. To make a game of it, I and a few other Anacapri-over-nighters jumped from rocks into the water and swam back to shore, carefully navigating through the field of poison. Even though I had managed to avoid any direct contact with tentacles, I was chemically singed from all that venom that had spent the afternoon steeping into the broth.


At early evening, after emerging from the shower and allowing the coolness of the shade to soothe my jellyfish wounds, I heard a young couple discuss swimming in the Blue Grotto. I told them that I thought the only way into the Blue Grotto was by boat. They asked if I wanted to join.


When we arrived at the cliffs, we watched as the last of the tourist boats sped off. When all the day-trippers were headed back to the mainland, we jumped into the waters. My body stung. The seas thunder-clapped against the mouth of the cave and the walls. I followed the young couple into the cave. We were without a boat, we were without a clock, and we were floating in the most beautiful blue that everyone else had paid to get zipped through.




Since only boat tours have access to the cave during “business hours,” the only way to swim through the Blue Grotto is to stay on the island. To save on a room, stay in Anacapri, where the views are more stunning and the pizza and pasta more reasonably priced, yet just as sumptuous. You can always find Italy vacation rentals that are luxurious or more affordable properties that allow you to save what was once lira. Or if you’re lucky, get hired to work at a hotel, lose the job, and then encourage guilt for the discount.


Photo by Moyan Brenn (snapped, obviously, during “business hours”)



Posted on by Noah Lederman in Europe

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