The Amalfi Coast in southern Italy is one of the most beautiful, romantic places on earth. Old seaside villages clinging to cliffs. An abundance of incredible food options. Postcard views around every corner. A visit to the Amalfi Coast will never be forgotten, and the best way to see this Italian gem is from the water.
I spent 4 days on the Amalfi Coast as part of a bigger Europe trip to Amsterdam, Greece and Italy in early October and the boat tour I took off the Amalfi Coast was one of the highlights of the entire trip.
To get this out of the way, the Amalfi Coast is expensive. If you live in cities such as New York or Los Angeles, like I do, restaurant prices might seem on par. But relatively speaking, especially for southern Italy, it's a bit pricey. But with the price comes experiencing a place like nowhere else on earth. There’s a reason everyone wants to come here for their honeymoons. I bring up the price just to keep this in mind to curb your expectations of what a boat trip on the Amalfi Coast might cost.
Boating Tour Options
You have a few options when booking a boat trip along the Amalfi Coast. These will be determined by your budget, your starting location, and what type of experience you are looking to have.
There are several jumping off places to get a tour of the Amalfi Coast. The biggest nearby city and where most people fly in from is Naples. You can enjoy a full day trip tour of the Amalfi Coast from Naples although it may not be ideal as you will spend some time getting to and from the coast, making it a longer day trip.
Sorrento is a popular place to stay right at the beginning of the Amalfi Coast and can be a great jump off spot for tours down the coast. Positano and Amalfi are the other two popular towns on the coast that offer tours, as well as the island of Capri. I would personally stay in one of the towns on the Amalfi Coast for a few nights and base yourself in Positano or Amalfi. I stayed in Positano for 3 nights and 1 night in Capri, and we took our boat tour from Positano.
Type of Tour and Price
The other factors in choosing which type of excursion you’d like is the price and the experience. For a quick, cheap experience, there are ferries that run between Positano to Amalfi several times a day. Those tickets are about $20 euro round trip and the ferry takes 20-25 minutes. This is a great way to explore the town of Amalfi (and Ravello) as a day trip from Positano, as I did. (If you are staying in Amalfi, you can take the ferry to discover Positano). Sorrento and Capri also offer ferry transportation so all these places are pretty well connected by ferry. You can buy your tickets online in advance or get them at the ticket offices at the ferry dock.
But if you are looking for a true experience on the coast, I wouldn’t suggest only taking these public ferries. The trips are very fast, and you won’t be able to soak in the views. In some cases you might not be able to really see the views if you are sitting underneath (with dirty windows) or have to take photos and look past rows of people sitting on the top deck. I would suggest using these ferries as transportation to the other towns although you can get good views on them.
The other options are joining a non-private boat tour, or hiring a private boat excursion. As you can guess, the private boat tour is the more expensive option but gives you privacy and flexibility. The non-private boat tours can range in price and how many people will be joining you. A common price I was seeing in my research was about $150 with up to 8 people on board plus the skipper. Private boats vary in pricing as well and the average I was seeing was between $700-$1,000 per boat with up to 6 guests. If you have a small group, or are on a honeymoon (or money is not an issue) I would definitely recommend the private boat. This is what my girlfriend Monika and I did and had an incredible experience.
What to See
The Amalfi Coast has gems all along the waterfront. A full 5-6 hour tour will give you plenty of time to explore the coast with time to swim in the water. The two most popular itineraries I was seeing were the standard boat trip up and down the coast, or one that goes to the island of Capri. Since we were already going to spend one night on Capri, we opted for the boat tour of just the coast.
The main areas of interest on the Amalfi Coast to see on a boat tour will start with Positano and nearby town Praiano. As you head further south, you’ll see the scenic fishing town of Conca dei Marini and the imposing Fiordo di Furore.
Lastly the end of the coast leads to the towns of Amalfi, Ravello, and Atrani. Some tours stop in Amalfi with time to get off and explore. Our driver recommended against that and instead pitched us getting a seaside lunch in his hometown - which was a highlight for us that I’ll explain in more detail below. The entire coast is stunning and some of the hotels and ancient watchtowers you’ll see are incredible.
We were lucky enough to find Amalfi Coast Private Tours and booked a 6 hour private boat ride leaving from Positano for only $500 euro. Our captain Carmine was full of knowledge as he was born and raised on the coast. His expertise was vital in both commanding the sea and giving us a glimpse into the more authentic side of the coast. This was most on display when he took us to his home village, Conca dei Marini, for a seaside lunch.
Lunch on the beach at Conca dei Marini was a highlight not only of the boat trip, but also for our whole time in Italy. When we anchored in the bay, a tiny motorboat picked us up and transferred us to the shore. This town was about as wide as the beach cove and had a very authentic feel, which was refreshing in such a touristic area. We had one of the best meals on our trip with fresh seafood and a bottle of rose as we watched the locals swim in the bay.
Our captain stopped a few times for us to swim. The first was a giant sea cave. It was a little terrifying swimming into a hole in the side of the mountain but once we were inside it was such an unreal experience swimming in this giant cave. As we tread water we looked up to see stalactites hanging over us. On a different stop, we swam into another cave on the coast that we could actually walk onto land in. After a few swims we were ready to kick back and enjoy the rest of our rose bottle while Carmine drove us back to Positano.
Another highlight of the tour was seeing Positano, Amalfi and Atrani from the water. Atrani is such a magical looking town and was very exciting to photograph. We stayed in Positano but never got the view of it like we did on this boat ride. Seeing the coast and these towns from the water gives a much different perspective.
If you can afford the private tour it is worth it, but if you’d prefer to opt for something more cost efficient it is still worth seeing the coast from the water. I took hundreds of photos on this day trip and every time we turned a corner my jaw dropped with what was coming up ahead. If you are headed to the Amalfi Coast you might as well do it right and take a boat ride along the coast, because it’s a trip you’ll never forget.