Tucked beneath the famous highway that skirts Italy's Amalfi Coast, the Emerald Grotto (Grotta dello Smeraldo) is one of the most popular attractions on this iconic stretch of coastline. Discovered in 1932 by a local fisherman, this marine cave is known for the turquoise water that fills the cavern with an emerald-green light when the sun’s rays filter up through a fissure beneath its surface. It’s covered with limestone stalagmites and stalactites more commonly associated with inland karstic caves and is popular among travelers to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.
The Emerald Grotto can only be entered with official grotto rowboats, and lines to enter can be long during summer as these rowboats only seat about 20 passengers at a time. To avoid the long wait by land, book a tour with a private boat and arrive by sea. Visits to the Emerald Cave are often included on half- and full-day Amalfi Coast tours from Sorrento and Naples, as well as on boat excursions to the islands of Capri and Ischia.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visitors can only enter the cave by small rowboat, which may be uncomfortable for those prone to seasickness.
- The Emerald Grotto shouldn't be confused with the Blue Grotto, another popular marine cave located on the nearby island of Capri.
- Entering and exiting the small rowboats may be a challenge for those with limited mobility.
- Many private boat tours include stops at the Emerald Grotto and the nearby Fiordo di Furore, a picturesque fjord along the coast to the west.
How to Get There
The Emerald Grotto (Grotta dello Smeraldo) is located in Conca dei Marini between Positano and Amalfi. You can reach the grotto by land along the SS 163 coastal highway and take the elevator down to the cave entrance where rowboats await. Otherwise, you can arrive by sea with a private tour from Amalfi, Positano, or Sorrento and transfer to a rowboat to enter the cave.
When to Get There
The sea cave is only open from May through September and is best visited between noon and 3pm, when the color of the water is most vivid.
The Nativity Scene at the Emerald Grotto
An underwater Nativity scene was created in the cave in 1956, and divers place flowers around the manger each Christmas.