Capri Beaches & Pools
Contrary to popular belief, Capri has several beaches and bathing spots available for public use.The most popular public beach is at Marina Grande, it is very popular with families because it offers safe swimming. Go early to grab a spot because it can become very crowded during high season.
Other public beaches can be found at Marina Piccola and Bagno Tiberius. The free bathing at Bagno Tiberius is particularly lovely because of it's cove like setting. Marina Piccola also offers stunning views from it's public spaces. Shade sets in around Marina Piccola mid afternoon, so plan on a morning visit if you want to catch some sun, otherwise it is a lovely place for a late afternoon swim on a very hot Capri summer's day. Facilities at these locations are limited. Marina Grande and Marinia Piccola offer public toilets a short stroll away from their beaches. Bagno Tiberius does not have any public toilets available at all.
Rock terraces dotted around the island also offer opportunities for free bathing. Some are close to beach clubs and you can use their kiosks to buy snacks etc without any hassle. Ladders give access to the water from the rocks. These terraces are available at the Blue Grotto and Punto Carena. Public toilets are available near the Blue Grotto bus stop. You will need to make a purchase at the da Antonio kiosk if you wish to use the facilities when visiting Punta Carena.
There isn't a lot of room on these rock terraces so things can get very cosy, very quickly. They are a great option for an early morning or late afternoon swim, when things aren't so busy. Otherwise, it is a matter arriving before 10.00 or after around 15.00 to have some room to yourself.
There is a nude beach just off the Via Krupp. It is located about 150 metres from the last bend in this famous road down to Marina Piccola. At this point, you should notice a path to your left or right, depending on the way you came. Follow the path until you come to a Grotto about 4 metres above sea level. It is likely you will spot others sunbathing nearby. It is a predominantly nude spot but you won't be hassled if you choose to wear swimwear.
Divers and strong swimmers may want to check out a local secret at Caletta di Masola close to Faro di Punta Carena. Take the bus to Faro and follow the Fort Trail. This path has recently been upgraded with ceramic signage, but you can easily follow the path to the stairs leading down to the sea. Be aware, however, that this spot can be treacherous for the untrained or the social swimmer. There is a cute rock pool that you can use to cool off while you sit on the stairs and enjoy this very rustic view of the sea.
Free bathing on Capri is such a pleasure. There is a friendly low key vibe and a very local feel to the experience. Don't expect beach showers, life guards or lots of opportunities for water sports. This is sun worship, old style. Bring your own lunch and something to drink and settle down for the day. The combination of brilliant sunshine and crystalline water is something you will never forget. Deeply, deeply relaxing.
Private Beaches and Swimming Pools
The private beaches of Capri are a hit and miss affair. Some offer fantastic value, wonderful food and friendly attentive service while others are all about posing, selfies and status. As with all beach clubs, the experience depends on what you are looking for when you choose to spend some time in the sun with a price tag attached.
The price of a day at a private beach on Capri varies from the affordable to obscene. A sun lounger and umbrella can cost anywhere from E 15.00 per person all the way to E 44.00 per person. You will also pay extra for towels, a deckchair or a cabana. Happily, prices tend to stay consistent and don't chop and change from day to day.
Some beaches also offer a shuttle service by boat costing around E 5.00 each way. You pay for your day on arrival and will not be refunded if the weather turns bad. You can also just have lunch at the club without renting a chair etc. Let the attendant know what you want on arrival to avoid any confusion. Annoying, we know, but most of these beach clubs charge a cover for entry,use of showers,toilet & lockers regardless of whether you are there to dine or swim.
Now we come to the sticky subject of tipping. Some beach clubs are notorious for only giving good service in return for hefty prepaid tips! You know the score; you arrive bright eyed, looking forward to your day, only to discover that a good position on the beach or rock terrace is only available if you reserve your seat with a lovely, big tip.
Certain clubs in Capri are a total scene. Regulars will pay big bucks for prime seating. The only way to avoid this is to have your concierge book you a place before arriving (you had better be staying at a five star or it won't count), look like a supermodel or be a celebrity. If you don't fit this criteria , you will be relegated to beach Siberia. This can happen, even if you tip well because prime spots are always “reserved” for the young, beautiful and famous. You may also find that the closest row of sunbeds to the sea are reserved for locals only.
When you arrive, you will usually be asked if you prefer full sun or shade. Think carefully before answering, if you choose shade, you will be assigned a place at the back of a terrace well out of the action. As annoying as these things can be, these clubs can still be lots of fun. The people watching opportunities are stellar and the locations divine. Remember, you still have access to that beautiful sea, no matter where you are sitting in the pecking order!
Once again, a tricky subject. Some beach club restaurants offer excellence in every regard but sadly they are few and far between. Most rely on the stunning views to distract diners from the mediocre food and service. Beware of extra costs, like cover charges and mysterious mark ups for fish and wine. If you take a private boat tour around the island, you may find yourself summarily dropped off at a beach club restaurant of your captain's choosing. This type of thing never seems to end well, so either plan your dining earlier and ask to be dropped off there or take a leap of faith and keep an eagle eye on your bill!
Some beach clubs offer kiosks which allow you to enjoy lunch in situ. Eating a simple bufalo and tomato rosetta roll with your legs dangling into the sea is a lovely experience. You can buy takeaway coffee, water etc as well. If you do choose to self cater, be very discrete and you shouldn't have any problems.
Each area on Capri offers a different vibe. Marina Grande is fun, family friendly and relaxed. Service is uniformally excellent. Marina Piccola is touristy, lively and rife with restaurant rip offs which may spoil your day so watch out! Some beach clubs offer swimming pools so you can choose poolside lounging or relaxing by the sea. A good choice for those new to the island but watch out when dining. This cannot be emphasized enough.
The Faraglioni clubs cater to high end clientele with the vibe that follows. They are the places to see and be seen. Service often depends on how much you are prepared to spend. Crowding can be an issue so those looking for privacy may choose to splash even more cash on a cabana. The restaurants blow hot and cold, great food one day, terrible the next. The pay off for this frustration is the stunning location. It is absolutely breathtaking and very romantic. If it all gets too much, just slip into the sea and stare out at the epic Faraglioni looming in the near distance. Very Fellini, very Capri.
The area around Faro di Punto Carena is a favourite with locals and those staying in Anacapri. At Lido del Faro, there is a friendlier vibe, a private swimming pool to enjoy, along with great food and attentive service. Those wanting a private/public experience can choose to sunbathe on the rocks and hire a deckchair from da Antonio, the legendary kiosk which also serves simple, excellent food to the bold and the beautiful alike. This is our favourite location for a day in the sun on Capri. Perfect for those who genuinely love swimming in the sea and relaxing under the Mediteranean sun.
The beach clubs of The Blue Grotto range from the relaxed chic of La Gradola to the full luxe of Il Ricco. Dine at this high end adjunct of the Capri Palace Hotel and you get to use the beach club for free. Be warned though, you will pay lots for your meal and some may find dining with towel clad bathers rather odd in such a fine dining locale. Club Nettuno is an aquired taste. Prices change and the vibe is more akin to places like Nikki Beach in Cannes. Lots of young and old hipsters, selfies galore and noise, noise and more noise! There is also a gym available and the Beach Club turns into a nightclub during the summer with special events held regularly. Fun for those who like lots of diversion in the sun and the sea.
Generally speaking, Capri's private bathing establishments are better value than those on the riviera. There is something so unique about this extraordinary island and the magical sea surrounding it that you can forgive almost anything.
Beating them at their own game.
WARNING: What follows is not for the faint hearted and we are not suggesting you copy our appalling behaviour but if you want to know how we manage to sit in the best locations at the toniest spots, read on...
The thing you need to understand about staff at these clubs is that they hate it when a guest makes a fuss. Usually when someone complains, they shrug and wander off. You never see them again. They are counting on you being so enthralled by gaining entry into this exalted place that you will quieten down and put up with Beach Siberia, bad, slow, food service etc. Be brave instead! Push back!
When we go to one of these clubs, we dress well. If you dress well, you immediately carry a certain authority.Linen shorts and tunic top or a light linen shift, roman sandles and lovely beach bag is a simple look that says “I belong”. After paying, we do not follow the beach attendant, we simply look for two empty spots close to the sea, in the most private location possible and sit ourselves down! By this time, the attendant will be somewhere across the other side of the club expecting us to be right behind him. When he realises we are not there, he stomps over and crossly tells us our seats are reserved.
This is the time to steel yourself and stand or rather sit your ground. Smile brightly and tell him, you wish to sit here. He will repeat that your spots are reserved. Smile again and tell him you cannot see a reserved place card. Do not lose your temper, charm is key. He will pout and his lovely eyes will grow darker as he ponders what to do next. You are counting on the fact that he does not want to create a scene nor does he want to come right out and ask for a tip. He is thinking that you are either mad or very well connected and it is not worth finding out which is which. He will leave and you will have your prime spot for the day.
Now, there are risks of course. You may find yourself shown the door, you may come face to face with an irate club manager who is having none of your nonsense but it is much, much, more likely that you will be left in peace. Don't be shy about ensuring you get value for your money. Take charge of your own experience and don't be pushed around. The best part is watching the jestset wondering who you are and why you have the best seats in the house!