Out of all the things we did in Italy this May, the boat tour around Capri seems to be high on everyone’s list, and it’s not hard to see why: the turquoise water, the illuminating grottos, enormous houses built onto sheer whitewashed cliffsides… What’s not to love?
I have now done Gianni’s Boat Tour twice: this past may, and in September of 2015. And for good reason—just read the reviews; they don’t lie: Five stars across the board for this company and this tour. It’s family-run by Gianni and his brother, Paolo, who are both super nice guys.
Both times, it just so happened to work out that our visit to Capri was sandwiched in between the Amalfi Coast and Florence, so both times, we had to take our luggage with us on the ferry and to the meeting point right off the docks in Capri.
It’s a little bit of a pain to lug it around, sure, but Gianni’s Boats will either take your luggage on the boat with you, or allow you to leave it in the little mom-and-pop sandwich shop that serves as their meeting place for tours. (If you leave your luggage at the restaurant and you’re worried about your valuables, either lock up your luggage or take your valuables on the boat with you.)
Both times, I booked the three-hour boat tour around Capri, but they offer a few other options in Capri, as well as Sorrento and Amalfi Coast tours. The three-hour tour is a flat fee of 200 euros. Split amongst four women, that’s not too shabby for three hours—and best of all, you are the only ones on the boat! (Even with only two people…totally worth it to have the boat all to yourselves.)
I love their boats. They are classic wooden boats that are open on the top so you have an unobstructed view of the island and the water the entire time you’re sailing. The bow of the boat is entirely cushioned, so you are comfortable the entire time.
Now, if you’re looking for a speedboat adventure where you zip around the water, then this boat ride probably isn’t for you. But if you are looking for something relaxing and heavenly, then this tour is absolutely for you. After a few days of go go go, it felt wonderful to just lie back and take in the natural beauty around me, plus I have always found it soothing to be out on the water.
(Caveat: The waves were pretty rough once we rounded one side of the island, but honestly, that just made it more fun. I love it when it’s wavy! Weeee!)
Also worth noting: If you want to go into the Blue Grotto, I believe it’s 14 euros per person. Because it’s the main attraction in Capri, there are usually boats lined up waiting to take people inside. Sometimes it can be an hour or more before you get in, maybe more.
I’ve seen pictures of the blue grotto and its breathtaking neon blue waters, and I have no doubt that it’s an incredible experience. However, both guides said it’s not really worth the wait or the money to go in. Instead, they took us into several “mini grottos” in different little nooks and crannies around the island, and the effect is still the same; the light hits the water so that it glows, and their size makes them no less impressive or awe-inspiring.
We had a beautiful sunny day for this excursion, but I will warn you, it’s a wee bit chilly along the coast in May. For us, anyway, it was too cold to go in the water.
When my husband and I did the same tour in September 2015, it was a different story. Still brilliantly sunny, but much warmer, and the water, while refreshing, was not too chilly at all.
One thing to NOTE, however: If you go swimming in the Mediterranean in fall: WATCH OUT FOR THE JELLYFISH. I cannot stress this enough. Jellyfish stings hurt, you guys; they hurt a lot.
Let me paint you a word-picture:
Our captain anchored us a little ways away from a cave. He said, go into the cave, there’s a little beach inside. So my husband and I swam into the cave, my husband wielding his favorite new toy, the GoPro camera, and me just minding my own business and admiring the sheer beauty of my surroundings, when I felt sudden and excruciating pain on my arm. I yelped and whipped around, only to come face-to-face with a jellyfish. And wouldn’t you know it, the bastard stung me again before I could get away!
I was freaking out, back-peddling, trying to get away from my now mortal enemy, the jellyfish (think Arya Stark’s list of people she wants to kill, except in my case, the people are all jellyfish), while my husband was diving around without a care in the world or an idea of what was happening to me.
When he finally came up for air, he looked over at me, and I calmly told him, “I’m pretty sure I was just stung by a jellyfish,” and when I emerged from the water on the pebbled beach inside the cave, he looked at me, saw the gash on my arm, and was like Huh. I guess you did.
So we swam back to the boat a few minutes later, me already having PTSD over getting stung again, and when I pulled myself up into the boat, our captain looked at me and said, “Oh, you found a jellyfish. It’s mating season.”
First of all, DUH. Second of all: A little warning would have been nice!
BUT I was determined not to let the jellyfish ruin my good time (on this particular trip, I had already crashed a Segway [a story for another day] and gotten food poisoning, but I was in Italy, dammit, and I was going to enjoy myself). So I sat on the boat, breathing deeply the fresh salty air, once again being entranced by my surroundings, while I held an ice cube on my stings.
TIP for you: Apparently the old peeing-on-a-jellyfish-sting remedy is a myth. So, you know, maybe don’t ask your S.O. to pee on you to relieve the pain. (My husband did not per on me. Just to be clear.) But so you know, in case the devil-jellyfish strikes again and you’re its next unfortunate victim, vinegar is supposed to neutralize itching and pain.
I had the jellyfish marks on me for a least three to four months post-attack (okay, maybe “attack” is a little over-dramatic). I had one big slash on my right arm and a little slash and tentacle marks on my left. I was actually fortunate that the tentacles didn’t stay attached to my arm (shiver). But regardless, moral of the story, watch out for jellyfish in the Mediterranean. Just keep an eye out, and you should be fine.
And absolutely make visiting Capri a priority if you’re going to Italy. The whole Amalfi coast is breathtaking to be sure, but there is something so magical about Capri; it almost doesn’t seem quite real. If you’ve got a day to spare (we didn’t) spend the whole day there, have lunch and gelato on the water, wander the shops (buy sandals, if you’re into that kind of thing; Capri is known for their shoemakers), and, if you’ve got a little extra time, find your way up Anacapri. I imagine the view is spectacular from all the way up there.
Side note: When purchasing your ferry ticket, don’t necessarily trust the ticketers when you ask them what time you should leave to arrive in, say, Naples by a certain time to, hypothetically, make your train from Naples to Florence. Just so ya know.
It could have been that the waves slowed us down (recall that we were concerned we wouldn’t even get to go to Capri because the ferries weren’t running at all the previous day), or it could just be that good old Italian transportation is super undependable.
Commence one of the most frightening yet amazing taxi rides of my life. This taxi driver was a man on a mission; he ran red lights for us, he wove in and out of traffic like a madman and got us from the port to the train station in under ten minutes. Best of all: We made our train! We were sweaty and winded and exhausted, and the earlier effects of our super-relaxing boat ride had worn off, but we were on our way to Florence!
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