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Nature has been very generous in creating a small karst cavity in Conca dei Marini: the Emerald Grotto (Grotta dello Smeraldo). It is flooded by the sea waters, where the sun's rays filter through an underwater opening and create suggestive light effects: it is an outstanding experience.

by Barbara Iovine

Located a few kilometers from Amalfi and Positano, the Emerald Grotto is a famous natural attraction known all over the world. The reflections of the light on the water and the original sculptures, created by the presence of stalactites and stalagmites, create the illusion of being in an ancient temple. The beauty of the landscape, coupled with the discovery of the cave and its legendary history, makes a visit to this indoor pool truly unforgettable.

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The Emerald Grotto - Conca dei Marini

The discovery of the cave: between history and myths

For years, the presence of this enchanting place has been considered just a legend. It was only in 1932 that the fisherman Luigi Buonocore, during a boat trip, brought to light this sublime cave, making its discovery “official”. However, in various ancient texts, the presence of a cave in that area was already assumed, even if unfortunately there was no precise information about its position. How is it possible that no one has ever seen it before if it is only a few kilometers from Amalfi and Positano?

It is interesting to know that as early as 1800, English tourists and later other local inhabitants came across it. Its hidden position, difficult to reach and to track, turned its presence into a rumor, a sort of legend.

It was only with its rediscovery in the twentieth century that the cave has been appreciated. Thanks to the engineer Ruggiero Francese who organized several inspections with men of science, today we value not only its history and indisputable beauty but also the precious ecosystem that it jealously guards. 


The Emerald Grotto: the blue temple in the sea

Its name derives from the particular plays of sunlight, naturally created inside. The sun's rays cross an underwater opening and, filtered by the rocky walls, reach the open sea outside, creating chromatic effects with unexpected shades: from cobalt blue to turquoise, up to the emerald green. These intense nuances of green are not limited only to water. They fill the entire space inside the cave, and also color the rocky walls with a thousand reflections. The environment fulfilled by an enchanted aura becomes a blue temple in the sea, rich in unforgettable emotions. 

The Emerald Grotto - Stalactites and stalagmites

The cave

Visiting Tips

There are two different ways to visit this must-see attraction. You can either choose to reach it from the coastal road SS 163, via a staircase and then an elevator that will take you directly to the cave entrance, or choose the most suggestive method, by sea. In the second case, there are several excursions available, which will take you from the nearby ports to the entrance of the cave. Here, after paying the entrance ticket, you can access the cavity aboard small boats, with a guided tour of about 20 minutes.

The perfect time to enjoy the experience is with a very calm sea and maybe around 1 pm so that you can fully appreciate the magic created by the particular shades of the Grotto.  

A visit to the enchanting Emerald Grotto

Inside the cave, surrounded by this surreal atmosphere made of chromatic colors, soft lights, and rocky walls, it is impossible not to appreciate the mystical calm of the place. The structure conformation suggests that in ancient times it was placed above sea level, in dry conditions. The formations created on the walls themselves, affected by the karst phenomenon, over the years, have become an invaluable piece of art: worked by the time, the sea, and the air, they made numerous stalactites and stalagmites that create columns about 10 meters high. The bizarre shapes of these natural formations stimulate the imagination of visitors, who often see strange similarities with fantastic animals and objects, but also with famous characters, such as “Garibaldi's head”, “the Venetian shawl” or even “the organ pipes”: unique pieces of art!

A last noteworthy masterpiece, although it comes from man and not from nature, is the peculiar underwater nativity scene that the seabed houses at a depth of four meters, since 1956. This artistic creation, made of Vietri ceramic, is visible from the surface thanks to the transparency of the crystalline water and has become a real symbol of the place. Every year during the Christmas period a group of divers, that came from all over Italy, plunges to lay votive symbols.
Also, in the summer the square in front of the cave becomes a stage for theatrical, musical, and cabaret events.

The Emerald Grotto is a charming place to be visited at least once in a lifetime. We will never stop thanking Luigi Buonocore for making its position official and for giving everyone the joy of being able to visit such a sensational place, transforming what was believed to be only a legend, into a wonderful reality. 

  • In the cave, there is a rare species of coelenterates, Anemonactis Mazeli, which lives in places where there is no light. Source:
  • Inside the cave, Italians see Giuseppe Garibaldi’s head, but American tourists see George Washington and the French Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • The cave was the film set of the television drama “Capri”.
  • The entrance ticket to the Grotto, which can be reached by land or by sea, costs €6.
    You can organize your excursion by the sea with Battellieri Amalfi: group departure from 20 pax. The round-trip ticket costs €10 per person. The entrance ticket to the cave is excluded.

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