The Blue Grotto or “La Grotta Azzurra” as it’s known locally, is truly what you see in the image above – there has been no modification to it at all. The naturally formed sea cave glows in blue and silver thanks to a small opening at the mouth of the cave that allows just enough sunlight in to create reflections off of the salty sea water. The water filters out the red from the light as it reflects, and the result is a glowing azure blue. Items placed in the Blue Grotto seem to glow in silver due to the small air bubbles that gather around the item, further filtering the light and thus creating a silverish shine.
Accessing the Blue Grotto is a process and you’ll probably want to make a day of it by staying locally for a night – first, you will need to pay roughly $15 dollars to the tourism staff on site. From there, you’ll board a small 4-person row boat which will take you to the mouth of the cave. Now you, and everyone on the boat will need to lie down because the opening is only 1-meter wide. Once inside, the Blue Grotto opens up to be about 60 meters long, and 25 meters wide. At which point, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of it. Unfortunately, swimming in the Blue Grotto is strictly prohibited. Take your photos quick because the tour only lasts about 5-10 minutes.
Now that said, obviously the joy here is to swim in it – in order to do so, you’re going to need to break some rules (or it has to be a very quiet day at the tour office). In some rare occasions, on days where the Blue Grotto is not busy, some boat operators have allowed for some quick swims in the water. The alternative method is to wait until 5:30PM, at that time the tour office closes and the workers leave for the day – you’ll be able to swim freely (albeit illegally). Now that said, there is risk involved as rough seas can easily slam you against the rocks as you try to access the opening. Also note that the Blue Grotto is generally closed during the winter months due to adverse weather (so don’t plan to visit between November and March).
Swim like an Emperor in the Blue Grotto
Overall, the Blue Grotto is a must experience bucket list item! Where once Emperor Tiberius considered his personal swimming hole, you too can for a few moments experience life as a Roman emperor, or at the very least take in an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.