The Emerald Grotto (Grotta dello Smeraldo) in Amalfi

The Emerald Grotto just outside Amalfi is one of the natural highlights along the Amalfi Coast, a blend of dazzling beauty and historic legend.

Set in the village of Conca dei Marini just a few kilometers outside the bustling town of Amalfi, this small karst cave was formed naturally over the millennia and gradually filled with seawater. When sunlight filters through the turquoise waves of the Mediterranean into the grotto through underwater openings, the light becomes tinged with a magical emerald color that sends sparkling reflections up the cave walls.

The Stuff of Legends

The story of how the Emerald Grotto was discovered is a unique one and has become the stuff of legends over the years. For centuries locals had spoken of a mysterious grotto along the coastline, but no one was able to actually prove its existence. In 1932, a fisherman named Luigi Buonocore accidentally stumbled across the cave, becoming an instant celebrity and earning his place in local lore.

Thousands of years ago, the grotto was probably located above sea level, leading to the growth of dozens of stalactites and stalagmites, which can still be seen inside. The Emerald Grotto is now home to an underwater nativity scene made up of ceramic statues and each year at Christmas divers place flowers at the tableau.

Where is the Emerald Grotto?

The Emerald Grotto, known in Italian as the Grotta dello Smeraldo, is located in Conca dei Marini, just a few kilometers outside Amalfi. This delightful village is worth a visit in its own right, with its postcard-perfect jumble of whitewashed houses on the cliffside above the water and timeless fishing village atmosphere.

The entrance to the grotto is located about 3 kilometers from Praiano along the coastal highway 163, the famed scenic drive that skirts the coastline and connects the villages along the Amalfi Coast.

Visiting the Emerald Grotto

The grotto can be accessed by both land and sea. By land, you can visit on your own by leaving your vehicle in the small parking area along the SS 163 highway and taking the stairs or elevator down to the Grotta dello Smeraldo entrance. If you don't have your own car, you can book a private transfer or stop to visit the grotto as part of a private driving tour of the Amalfi Coast.

After purchasing your ticket, board one of the small rowboats from the pier for a guided visit that lasts about 30 minutes.

Information about the Emerald Grotto

Hours: daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Price: EUR 5/person
The Emerald Grotto may close without advance notice due to adverse weather or sea conditions.

Alternatively, you can also visit the Emerald Grotto by sea by taking one of the boats that depart daily from the Pennello pier in Amalfi. Tickets cost EUR 10 round trip, but keep in mind that the price does not include entrance into the grotto and tickets to the cave must be purchased separately.

The most fun and flexible option for visiting the Emerald Grotto is booking a private boat with a skipper to tour the coastline by sea, stopping at the grotto along the way. Your boat can take you to the entrance where you can board the small rowboats that actually enter the cave. Some small-group shared boat tours departing from Amalfi, Positano, or other towns along the Amalfi Coast also stop at the Emerald Grotto as part of their tour itinerary.

Book a boat tour that includes a stop at the Emerald Grotto

When is the Best Time to Visit the Emerald Grotto

Like all sights and attractions along the Amalfi Coast, it's best to avoid visiting the Emerald Grotto on summer weekends or during the month of August when the coastline is crowded with tourists to avoid the traffic and long queue to enter.

If you can, visit on a sunny day with calm seas to best appreciate the emerald light inside the grotto, which is strongest with clear skies and minimum waves.

The Emerald Grotto may close without advance notice due to adverse weather or sea conditions.