So Easy To Take The Water Along The Amalfi Coast By Boat
During our 3 week stay in Sorrento in late October we had planned to rent a boat and tour the Amalfi Coast by boat. Wanting to re-visit our favourite seafood restaurant in the marina in Praiano, we thought that a trip by private boat might be an interesting option. We unfortunately left this to later in our stay and while we didn’t get quite the trip we had envisioned, it was great to explore the Amalfi Coast by boat!
There are a a couple of options for renting a small boat in both the main Marina Picolo in Sorrento and in the marinas on either side of Sorrento (Sant’ Anna, Piano di Sorrento or in Meta). Since we had left it so late, we figured we would try the busier main marina. They of course tried to sell us a boat and a skipper but with 25 years in the navy (most of it as a Diving Officer), David would be as good or better than anyone they might offer. We price shopped at two spots but both had the same price – 150€ for the day plus gas. Only later did we find out that both booths were really the same company and same boats. Our gas for the day was about 85€, right about where they had said it would be.
For most of our stay, the seas had been quite calm but unfortunately on the day the boat was available, the sea and winds were a bit higher. I didn’t doubt David’s ability to pilot the boat but he was worried how bouncy the ride would be. The winds were gusting to about 20 knots (the speed at which whitecaps started to form) but we were assured that the winds would be quieter when we got around the point on the Positano and Amalfi side. We vacillated for 30 minutes about going or cancelling and finally decided we wanted the experience.
David did the paperwork while they gassed up our 5.4m rhib (rigid hulled inflatable boat). While they had asked about David’s boating experience when we first inquired about renting, all they required when we rented was one piece of ID and they never even took a credit card. Not sure that was normal practice but it couldn’t have been easier for us.
The boat was brought to the main dock and we threw our bags in. I had sorted laughed at David as he continued to put layers on that morning but I would regret not bundling up a little more. We had our plastic reef shoes for in the boat so didn’t have to go barefoot since they had us remove our street shoes. Our bags included sun screen (which helped me avoid wind and sun burn in my face), lots of water and micro fibre towels in case we decided to swim (bathing suits were our first layer).
Heading For Positano
Pushing off the dock we mugged for our first pics and headed out of the quieter water of the marina. David played a little to get a feel for the boat and then increased the speed to flatten us out. Sitting just in front of the helm console where David was driving from, I had a great view with wind and sun beating on me. I generally found it bearable when I had sun and wind but when the sun was gone, I quickly chilled down. As David had warned me, when we were running at regular speeds the ride was quite bumpy. By the end of the day I felt quite beat up.
But while the boat ride itself was less than desirable, the experience was great. On our first leg we headed off from Sorrento with Capri right ahead. While most boat renters head to Capri, this was not on our agenda this trip.
We rounded the first big bend following another boat and found the waters a little calmer but not quite the gentle ride we had been promised. We had a great trip along the coast seeing the various small villages at the sea level. In many spots there were solo houses or just steps visible down to the water. We were sure that locals had forever been creating steps and paths down to the water and the numerous little beaches in the coves along the shore.
The landscape was fascinating with exposed layers visible on large rock faces. One rock outcropping in the water, which had clearly at one time been connected to the match in shore rocks, looked like a face when seen from one angle. As we traversed past, it turned into yet one more pile of rock.
As we came closer, the town of Positano came into sharp focus. We had visited by bus one day but you didn’t get the full view of this colourful town on the steep hill unless you came at it by water. We slowed right down and cruised by taking our new set of pics.
Now it was my turn at driving the boat and I had a ball. It had been a long time since I had last piloted a boat but this one was quite easy with a quick refresher from the captain. I had a ball exploring the Amalfi Coast by boat.
Praiano For Seafood Lunch
It was not long before we came up to the familiar coastline that was Praiano. We had stayed in Praiano the previous year and we knew to watch for the gleaming dome of the church, the gulley before the road tunnel and the walkway with swimming ladder at our previous hotel. When we went close to shore to try to see into the grotto by the hotel platform, we startled a pair who were sunning naked.
Rounding the final bend we turned the boat into the bay for the Praiano marina. We had been prepared to pay for docking and the 10€ fee got us an experienced hand to take care of the boat after he helped us off. It must have amused the locals to see us show up for lunch as we heard people commenting on the people who came in the rubber boat.
Since we had come all that way without checking to see if our restaurant was open, we were pleased to see the Petit Bar Mare still open. They had enclosed part of the patio to extend the season but it was warm and cozy inside this patio area. We were greeted by momma and Salvatore, not sure if they remembered us from the previous year or whether we just entered as if coming home.
While I still remembered the great carbonara pasta I had last year, this time we were pigging out on seafood. The mussels were huge, almost filling most shells. The seafood risotto for two was chock full of seafood.
We passed on wine but enjoyed our limoncello and liquirizia as digestives after the meal. I would not be so happy on the bumpy ride back that I had eaten so much! Bidding goodbye until next year, we recovered our boat and left the cove.
The wind had not settled down as promised so we decided to head back rather than head further along the Amalfi Coast. Some parts were quite rough but a couple of times we slowed down and stayed close to shore and just slowly moved along. This let us warm up and sit back lazy for a bit. Rounding the final major bend at Capri was as rough as we had feared but we knew we were in the final stretch.
By the time Sorrento was in sight we decided to pass on a detour to Meta. David docked with ease and we wobbled away until our legs adjusted to the firm ground.
We would definitely try this again but plan for a better weather day. We might putter around Capri or take over one of the small beach coves along the coast. Maybe we will even try a sailboat next time!
The small rhib was great for the two of us and I found no reason to want someone else to captain the boat.
What is your favourite way to explore the Amalfi coast? Have you done the Amalfi coast by boat? Should we have taken a captain?