Blue Flag 2013, Polignano is called "Pearl of the Adriatic" for the twelve kilometers of coastline characterized by a crystalline sea and by the succession of caves dug by the action of the sea. With a boat trip of approximately 1.50 hours, you will discover each cave, including the famous Grotta Palazzese, bays with crystal clear water, and enjoy amazing landscapes.
Duration 1.50 hours
Available Every day
Small Group Max 10 people
Meeting point Port of San Vito
Each 90 minutes
The so-called “Pearl of Adriatic”, Polignano a Mare is known for its unique high cliffs and jagged coastline, incredible caves excavated in the rocks, caves accessible only from the sea. The erosive action of water, wind and the karst phenomenon have created a charming landscape. Of course, the best way to enjoy this show is from the sea perspective: with this boat tour in Polignano a Mare, you will admire the play of colour and light of these unique caves and have the chance to swim in the crystal waters of the coast. Often Mother Nature enjoys being an artist and you cannot miss to admire this masterpiece.
Program of the Polignano a Mare and sea caves boat tour:
Meeting point in the port of San Vito (Frazione di San vito 342 – Polignano a Mare) and start of the boat tour.
Just below the town is the Grotta Palazzese, the largest of the grottos, considered one of the “seven scenic wonders of the world”. This particular cave was used for royal banquets at the request of Italian nobility since the 18th century. Today the natural sea cave hosts a unique restaurant, which is sort of suspended between the town above and the Adriatic Sea 74 feet below.
The tour continues with a stop at the Ardito Cave: as you enter the cave, you will see how small beams of sunlight find ways to penetrate the rock and illuminate the unique play of colors on the cave walls.
Further along, we find the Chiangella Cave, named after the cries of the weeping mothers desperate for news of the fate of their daughters who were kidnapped during the raids of the Saracens and pirates and the Cave of Nuns, named after its most frequent visitors, the religious, who could swim peacefully away from curious eyes.
The tour continues with a stop in Lama Monachile, one of the most beautiful sights in all of Polignano a Mare. A beautiful bay, this is the foundation upon which the city is built and a must see when visiting Polignano.
Further along, you can see the majestic Island of San Paolo or “Rock Hermit”; it owes its name to the legend that tells of a mysterious person that had chosen this rock to pursue a life in solitude and meditation.
Among the other points of interest, you will see: Episcopina Cave, Favale Cave, Port’Alga, Cala Paura and Rondinelle Cave. In addition, during the tour there will be a stop for swimming.
The price includes: Professional English-speaking skipper – Aperitif with prosecco and “taralli” – Equipment for snorkeling.
The price does not include: Hotel pick-up and drop-off.
Do not forget: Swimsuit – Beach towel – Sunscreen – Sun hat – Camera.
At the very top of the ranking of the most beautiful beaches of Polignano a Mare there is definitely Lama Monachile, a lovely beach wedged in a strip of land between sea caves and rugged coasts, just ten minutes away from the city center. Due to its unique landscape and crystal clear sea, Lama Monachile has been awarded with the European Blue Flag and by Legambiente as one of the most beautiful locations on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Lama Monachile is very frequented by tourists who come here to enjoy for free the unique panorama and the amazing sea. But the beauty of Lama Monachile is fully enjoyable especially from the sea looking towards the inland, where the small beach appears between the dramatic coasts and it almost seems to reach the heart of the town of Polignano a Mare. In 2nd place among the most beautiful public beaches of Polignano, immediately after Lama Monachile, there is Cala Sala, or more commonly Port’Alga, a pristine and scenic beach, preferred by many locals inhabitants. Small but characteristic is then Cala Paura, a fishing village and a very romantic place, it is the destination of the famous procession by sea in honor of the Saint patron of Polignano. Other beaches worthy of note are Cala Grottone, Porto Cavallo, Ponte dei Lapilli, Cala Incina, Cala Fetente and the beach of San Vito.
Right in the heart of the city you will find the most characteristic beach of all Polignano a Mare: Lama Monachile. This beach, also called Cala Porto, is a real postcard drawn between the crystal clear sea and the houses of the village. Its delta shape, which encloses the white beach between the two high and jagged coasts, is due to the flow of a river that existed millions of years ago and that created one of the many lame, “blades” in English, of the Bari coast. The “blades” are just the sign of the streams that flew through the area and that, due to geological phenomena, have dried up leaving only a bed of sand. This charming beach of Polignano a Mare, surrounded by sea caves, cliffs and houses, boasts the European Blue Flag and 4 awards by Legambiente.
Polignano a Mare is dotted with caves and caverns developing under the houses and making this landscape unlike anything else in the world. Visiting all the caves of Polignano is almost impossible, as a matter of fact there are over 70 of them between larger and smaller ones, but it is definitely a must to discover the legends, the colors and the history of the main caves accessible by boat. The most famous cave is Grotta Palazzese, an ancient feast hall for local nobles and now home to one of the most exclusive restaurants in the world. Grotta Ardito, on the other hand, is especially well known for the fabulous plays of light that is possible to admire inside it by the beautiful natural white column, located at the entrance of the cave, called Colonna d’Ercole (Pillar of Hercules). The mystery and the history surround all the places of Polignano a Mare as the Grotta del Pianto, where you can retrace the history of the Saracen raids, the Grotta delle Monache, chosen for its structure by discreet bathers, Grotta delle Rondinelle, with the legend of ill-fate that hovers around it and the Grotta dell’Arcivescovado that seems to hide secret passages.
Grotta Palazzese is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World and it is accessible mainly by sea. It is mentioned in the encyclopedias of Diderot and D’Alembert, described in the Voyage Pittoresque à Naples et en Sicilie of the Abbot of Saint-Non and immortalized by the famous French engraver Louis Jean Desprez in 1778. It is also said that Queen Joan of Anjou during her visit to Puglia, fascinated by the beauty of this place, allowed herself a few hours of intimate happiness. It is its structure, carved into the limestone rock under the inhabited city, that makes this cave particularly suggestive: once inside, an unexpected scenario is revealed. Grotta Palazzese has an internal diameter of over 30 meters and inside the cave a small pebble beach appears, in addition to an unusual hanging terrace: you will feel like you are stepping into a whole new world! The cave is open from Easter until October and there are several boat tours that allow you to reach this magical destination starting from Polignano a Mare. It will be impossible not to be fascinated by this spectacular cave lived by the ancient aristocracy of the area.
Grotta Palazzese, or “the palace cave”, is called like this because it was once part of the estate of the Leto family, feudal family of Polignano a Mare in the 18th century. It was the Letos in 1713 that took over the cave and used it as a particular ballroom annexed to the Palazzo Marchesale. The idea of Giuseppe Leto, realized by a clever architecture, was to connect the Palace to the cave that, therefore, becomes the full-fledged grotto of the palace. Nowadays this spectacular cave is the seat of the homonymous restaurant, one of the 10 most exclusive outdoor restaurants in the world.
Just below Largo Ardito, not far from the centre of Polignano a Mare, you can find Grotta Ardito. Its name comes from the family that owned this place, precisely the Arditos. In 1824, the prelate Joseph Ardito had built and embellished houses and had the rock excavated to create a staircase of 48 steps to reach the cave. The stairs were used until a few decades ago by the inhabitants of the neighborhood Pozziglioni and it seems that the stairs have always been shared with the community as demonstrated by the Latin epigraph that says “Do not be afraid, foreigner, you are not descending into hell but, on the contrary, you are going to a very pleasant place to bathe and sunbathe”. But today it is no longer possible to use the stairs to go down. Coming from the sea, right at the entrance of Grotta Ardito you can also admire a beautiful natural column carved into the rock, called Colonna d’Ercole (Pillar of Hercules), just like one of the famous pillars of Ulysses' epic journey. In short, while from Largo Ardito you can park your car in peace and enjoy a beautiful panorama, below, inside the cave, there is a play of lights in the crystal clear waters that is definitely worth a visit!
Grotta delle Monache or “the nuns’ cave” takes its name from the local tradition according to which the nuns of the nearby hospital could bathe here during the summer months far from prying eyes. Also here, a staircase was built from the ground floor, which is no longer accessible. The grotto consists of a single large elongated cave that goes down to a small beach.
For some it is Grotta del Pianto or “the crying cave” in English, for the Apulian it is definitely Grotta della Chiangella: here, as in the case of Grotta delle Rondinelle, you can hear a particular sound. The sound of the waves and their echo inside the cave almost seem to recall the cries of a woman. And since the Salento was the victim of Saracen raids, according to the popular tradition this particular sound remembers the cries of the mothers afflicted by the fate of their daughters, raped and stolen during the attacks of the enemies.
To the south east of Polignano a Mare, 300 meters away from the coast, lies the island of San Paolo: a small island characterized by the typical crag of the area with high and jagged coast, due to the erosive action of the sea and the wind. The island is about 20 meters high above sea level and represents a unique panorama from the sea where you can take wonderful pictures. The island of San Paolo is also called Scoglio dell’Eremita (“the hermit’s rock” in English) by the inhabitants of Polignano a Mare for an ancient legend passed down from father to son.
Story goes that a missionary returning from the Holy Land, or for others a Basilian monk fleeing the East and on pilgrimage to Puglia to spread the Gospel, enchanted by so much beauty, had decided to establish his residence on the island of San Paolo. Here, isolated from the world but close to civilization, the hermit spent the last days of his life surrounded by the peace of an uncontaminated place and in solitude, devoting himself only to prayer and contemplation. The man was then adopted by the local community, as a matter of fact many fishermen stopped on the island to deliver him essential goods. Until one day one of the fishermen found the abandoned body of the hermit and provided for his burial. Since then the island of San Paolo also took the name of Scoglio dell’Eremita (“the hermit’s rock” in English) and according to the legend, it was in his honor that the memorial chapel of Sant'Antonio Abate was erected on the island in 1612, and then, according to local sources, used as a lazaret in 1837 for the victims of cholera. Today on the summit of the island, a large cross stands that many attribute to the remains of the chapel but that, much more probably, was a tribute of some faithful on the occasion of the feast of San Vito in 1901.
According to the popular belief the Grotta dell'Arcivescovado (or “the archbishop’s cave” in English) represented a way out for the prelates during the enemy raids. Inside the cave, indeed, it is possible to see a narrow passage that was thought to be the exit of secret tunnels connected directly to the archbishop’s palace, once located where today Piazza San Benedetto stands. Hence the name of Grotta dell'Arcivescovado (or “the archbishop’s cave” in English). However, the narrow cave, after a few meters becomes a blind alley and completely impracticable, for this reason there is really no records of these legendary secret passages.
Many confuse Grotta sotto Favale with Grotticella sotto Favale. Actually they are two caves near each other along the coast and both of them are located under the ancient residence of Filippo Franco Favale, a scholar of local history. The Grotta Favale is a very suggestive cave that deserves to be looked at in two different ways: looking at the top and, then, looking at it from the inside towards the outside, that is towards the light that comes from the sea. Groticella sotto Favale, located on the right of Grotta Favale, is instead a natural marine habitat: its seabed is full of collapsed rocks in which the small marine inhabitants hide; it is no coincidence that this is one of the preferred spot for very patient fishermen. Inside the Grotticella under Favale some vases dating back to the Roman era were found, evidence of the presence of an ancient manufacturing Roman colony in Polignano a Mare.
When you enter the Grotta delle Rondinelle or “the cave of the swallows” in English, pay close attention to what you hear: this is one of the most famous caves of Polignano a Mare, but its fame is mainly due to a local legend handed down from generations. According to this legend, inside the Grotta delle Rondinelle, every year a swallow settled itself and built its nest. Until one day a storm destroyed the nest built by the swallow with so much love. From that day on, every sound that you hear close to cave is considered a bad omen. That explains why this cave takes the name of “cave of the swallows”.
Polignano a Mare is 33 km. away from Bari and can be reached by car, train or bus in about 30 minutes. Polignano a Mare is directly connected to Bari via public transports departing every hour, while from Bari to Polignano there is a bus that leaves approximately every 4 hours.
If you are wondering what to see in Polignano a Mare, you must know that its reputation lies largely in its caves, over 40 of them, which embellish the landscape. The karst phenomenon, the wind and the water erosion have created a landscape that is unlike anything else in the world, where the town, miraculously perched on the coast, rests on the caves that break the cliff. So if you want to know what to see in Polignano a Mare, after having made a tour of the historical center with its monuments and its streets, you must surely consider a boat tour to discover the most beautiful caves of the coast.
Port’Alga or Cala Sala is not too far away from Polignano a Mare: it is about 7 minutes by car from Polignano a Mare or it is accessible, of course, by sea. Its main feature is the stone door that stands on the rocks and that makes Port’Alga one of the most particular and photographed glimpses of all Polignano a Mare. Compared to other beaches of Polignano a Mare, here it is possible to admire some stretches of wild Mediterranean scrub that increase its beauty. Port’Alga is one of the local’s favorite places and it has been the location for many events of the maritime tradition as the paranza by the sea, which consists in cooking and eating, mostly seafood freshly caught, all together on the beach.
Cala Paura, also known as Cala Paguro, is not far from the center of Polignano a Mare. The cove has both a not equipped beach with rocky areas and sea cliffs and an equipped sandy beach; it appears as a small fishing village with houses and characteristic small boats. Cala Paura is famous for being the destination of the procession by sea in honor of the Saint patron, San Vito, whose celebrations are held every year on the 14th of June.
Yes, in case of bad weather/sea conditions the tour might be cancelled. In case of cancellation we are happy to offer our customers the choice of an alternative date or, in case of inability to rebook, the full refund.
Polignano a Mare and sea caves boat tour
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