The Blue Grotto is Capri’s number one tourist attraction, and being a bit cynical of the hype, I almost decided to give it a miss. However, after having the ‘grotto’ experience I was forced to change my opinion. Sometimes things are popular because they are amazing.
How to Reach the Blue Grotto
To reach the Blue Grotto you can either catch a bus from Anacapri or a boat from Marina Grande. We caught the former and unfortunately ended up waiting on the steps until a whole boatload of tourists on Capri tours had been ferried across and back again by the boatmen. However, the money Gods were on our side. When our turn came and we were ferried across to the larger boat to pay they said it was only €8.50 (as opposed to €12.50) as it was a Sunday.
Entering the Blue Grotto
The seas were quite choppy as we were rowed closer and closer to the entrance, a small half-moon shaped cavity in the rock. The boatman shouted out that we needed to lie flat on our backs and keep our hands inside the boat. I then realised there was a chance of doing serious damage to yourself if the boat was slammed against the entrance by the waves!
I was curious to see how the boatman got through the entrance seeing as we were all lying flat and he was standing upright. The most I could gather, from craning my neck, is that he pulled the boat through by a chain and did a kind of gymnastic manoeuvre to get himself through.
Inside the Blue Grotto
Inside the cave I was surprised that the water was indeed an intense sapphire blue. I think my expectations were lowered since sometimes things are named ‘The Green this’ or the ‘The Blue that’ and when you see it, it isn’t at all.
It was very dark except for the eerie glow of the blue water. As we were rowed around, the boatman gave us a 30 second history lesson then broke into song. I don’t know what he was singing but the acoustics were incredible. It felt like being transported back to ancient times when the Roman Emperor Tiberius used the grotto as his personal bathing pool.
He suggested we trail our hands in the water for good luck, then our time was up and we were rowed once more towards the light. It was even more choppy coming out, and several times the boat crashed against the rocks on the side. Then with a big tug on the chain by the boatman we were birthed into the open air.
I wished we could’ve stayed in there longer and seen the remains of the ancient landing place and underground tunnel that the Romans created. However, there were more boatloads of tourists to ferry through, and only so much room in the grotto.
Why the Water is So Blue
I have since discovered that the geological explanation for the searing blue colour is a source of light which comes in through a larger opening (about ten times the size) beneath the entrance way. The two are separated by a bar of rock 1 – 2 metres thick. You can’t see this second opening when you’re in the cave, only the upper entrance which appears as a spot of brilliant white light.
This underwater video by a swimmer in the cave shows both openings clearly.
Check out this article for more information on the history of the Blue Grotto.
(Photo by photographerglen)