Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Beach Spiagga Grande

A Guide to the Beaches of Positano

Amalfi Coast Travel Best Beaches in Positano

After receiving such a great response about my Guide to the Beaches of Amalfi, I’ve decided to expand the series to cover another favorite spot on the Amalfi Coast. Of course, I’m talking about Positano! Now these aren’t your usual top beaches of the entire Amalfi Coast type guides. These narrow down to the beaches you can easily reach in or nearby a specific village and provide the sort of tips you’d expect from an insider.

What lovelier insider could you ask for than Eleonora Baldwin? You likely know her from the popular website Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino. Eleonora is also co-founder of Casa Mia – a cultural association that provides food and wine experiences in Rome, Florence, Sicily, Naples & Amalfi Coast. She also happens to love Positano just as much as I do. Ready to hit the beach in Positano? Let’s go!

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Guide to the Beaches of Positano

Whether for its unique architecture, crystal coves, stellar food or the small alleys and stairs that snake up its sensational vertical village, Positano is one of the Amalfi Coast’s most loved destinations. Portrayed in novels, in art and sponsored by an entire movement in the 1970s, Positano is a magnet for anyone enamored of the Mediterranean and the local Italian joie de vivre.

The majority of beaches on the Amalfi Coast are for the most part rocky. Forget long sandy stretches: shores in this part of Italy are pebbly coves pulled from towering cliffs, with rapidly plunging deep blue sea underfoot.

Positano is often known for its main central beach, but the “natural crèche village” boasts on the other hand several beaches to choose from. For a soak in Positano’s azure waters, you can pick one of the ones listed, and lounge there all day, or hop from one to the other, chasing the sun as it starts to dip behind the mountains as the evening approaches.

 

Spiaggia Grande

Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Beach Spiagga Grande
This is Positano’s main beach, easily recognizable thanks to its colorful rows of umbrellas. Stretching east from the town for about 300 meters, part of this beach is managed by one lido called L’Incanto, which rents out sun beds, chairs and umbrellas and provides guests with changing rooms, showers and a fine restaurant. At the end of the beach is the “Scogliera” a rocky terrace that accommodates topless sunning and the night club Music On the Rocks.

In the middle of the beach, in the “spiaggia libera” – the free beach of Positano, where you can just throw down your beach towel without paying rental fees – there is a small jetty from which boat excursions and rented boats depart to and from Capri and small coves nearby; while at the far west end is the actual dock for larger boats and ferries.

 

Fornillo

Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Beach Fornillo

Legend has it that in this smaller, more secluded beach, at the time of Emperor Tiberius, were a series of furnaces for bread baking (hence the name “fornillo” which is a dialectal shift of the word “forno,” Italian for oven). By way of a romantic path that climbs west, away from the Positano dock, you can reach the neighborhood of Fornillo, and its lovely beach. If you’re looking for a more quiet day, away from the crowds, but don’t want to travel outside of Positano, this is your best bet.

If you’re not staying in Positano proper but driving there, you can choose to reach Fornillo by way of either the Strada Statale, and then negotiate the climb down (and then eventually back up). The best thing to do in that case is park your car at the Pupetto lot which is owned by the same people who run the namesake lido on Fornillo beach.

 

Laurito

Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Beach Laurito

Laurito is Positano’s best kept secret. Small and wild, Laurito for decades has been the place where locals escape the noise and crowds of summer. The name derives from the abundance of laurel shrubs that grow wild in this small cove.
The small stretch of pebble beach is managed by two businesses: a small non-descript hotel and a fabulous restaurant. Da Adolfo is a fantastic, family-run informal eatery that serves super-fresh fish on a deck just a few steps from the shore. Throw on a sarong and order your meal and a carafe of white house wine with peach slices.

You can reach Laurito via a steep ramp of stairs that plunge down from Hotel San Pietro, connected with public Sita and Flavio Gioia bus lines. But the best way to get to Laurito is by boat. From the Positano dock, Da Adolfo runs a shuttle gozzo (local fishing boat), which departs every half hour, and which is easily recognizable by the red fish sign on the mast. Making a reservation is smart, especially if you want to relax on a sunbed after lunch.

 

Arienzo


The Arienzo beach is also known as the “300-steps beach,” because that’s the number you’ll be counting down (and back up!) to reach it from the Strada Statale main road. The walk down is fantastic, since the switchback ramps are immersed in perfumy greenery, and from here you can peek into some of the Amalfi Coast’s most luxurious villas hidden in the verdant corners of the mountain.

The beach has a free section, as well as a lido that rents out beach chairs, sunbeds and brightly colored umbrellas. Given its southwest exposition, Arienzo is also the one Positano beach that enjoys the longest amount of sunlight past 6 p.m.

Driving out of Positano headed towards Amalfi, pass Hotel San Pietro and keep going for another 800 yards until you reach the stairs down to Arienzo beach. If stairs are not your thing, there is also a nifty boat shuttle service from Positano and Praiano.

 

Discovering Hidden Beaches by Boat

Amalfi Coast Travel Positano by Boat Eleonora Baldwin

In addition to these fabulous Positano beaches, you can always rent a small power boat and reach secluded coves and inlets to enjoy the pleasure of having tiny, secret beaches – that are only accessible by sea – all to yourself!

West of Positano, along the coast, you can moor your gozzo or gommone (rubber dinghy) in beautiful and secluded swimming spots, where the crystal waters and cicada song carry you into Homeric dreamland. One is La Cattedrale – a sheer rock wall that descends into the blue Mediterranean sea from 200 meters above, with flat rock formations surfacing from the water that appear to have been designed purposely for sunbathing – the other is Il Germano, a protruding rock that resembles the profile of what legend has it was a German officer. Both places are perfect for snorkeling and diving off the side of your vessel, or just to lazily relax, floating away from beach crowds.

Insider tip: start your day early. On most of Amalfi Coast beaches the sun sets behind the mountain in the mid-afternoon. In order to enjoy the full day of swimming and sunning, wake up early and hit the spiaggia!

 

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ELEONORA BALDWIN
Food and lifestyle writer and Italian culinary/travel show host, Eleonora Baldwin provides insight on the Rome dining scene, as well as private culinary tours of Rome and other cities, for small groups through her co-owned company Casa Mia Italy Food & Wine.

She is the author, editor, photographer of popular blog Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino. She has contributed to numerous travel and lifestyle publications, and her writing appears regularly in several online food columns. Her first cookbook-memoir is due for publication in 2016.

Amalfi Coast Beaches Colourful Sun Umbrellas at the Marina Grande Beach in Amalfi - Horizontal

A Guide to the Beaches of Amalfi

Amalfi Coast Beaches Swimming at the Marina Grande Beach in Amalfi

Planning a trip to Amalfi this summer and looking forward to some beach time soaking up the sun? It’s definitely a must during your stay on the Amalfi Coast. But did you know you had a choice for where to go to the beach in Amalfi? While it’s not very large, there are several beaches you can choose from right in Amalfi. I’ll introduce them to you all and you can pick which one to visit while you’re here. Warning: You might have to visit them all to pick your favorite!

 

Marina Grande

Amalfi Coast Beaches Colourful Sun Umbrellas at the Marina Grande Beach in Amalfi - Horizontal

This is Amalfi’s main beach and you’ll spot it easily during the summer months with its rows of brightly colored beach umbrellas and sun beds. The beach is right in front of the center of the town across from Piazza Duomo. Every time the umbrellas change color it means you’re at another stabilimento balneare, or area where you can rent a sun bed, umbrella, usually take a shower and change and often have access to snacks, drinks or full meals. You’ll find many different options for where to settle in for the day along Marina Grande beach.

For a more local (although locals definitely use the sun beds and umbrellas, too) and budget experience, head to opposite ends of the beach where you’ll see people have just thrown down beach towels or set up their own camps with umbrellas. Especially at the far end of the beach in the photo above is the most popular spiaggia libera, or a free beach, in Amalfi.

Insider Tip: Most of the beaches on the Amalfi Coast are rocky and this is definitely the case in Amalfi. Think large pebbles. If you’re just planning a quick trip to the beach or spend most of the time in the water then the spiaggia libera is a great choice for you. If you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach, I’d highly recommend renting a sunbed since the rocks are not very comfortable.

 

Lido delle Sirene

Amalfi Coast Beaches Lido delle Sirene Beach in Amalfi - Near the Hotel Aurora

If the Marina Grande beach might feel a little too crowded for your taste, then walk along the harbor to the other end of Amalfi where you’ll find the Lido delle Sirene (Mermaid Beach) just beyond the confine of the port. It’s not a long walk, just about 10 minutes leisurely pace. Here you won’t find a spiaggia libera, but you will find an excellent beach service with shower, plenty of changing rooms and a restaurant overlooking the beach. Enjoy sandwiches on the beach or take a break from the sun and enjoy the views from inside the restaurant. Many locals, especially if they live elsewhere and come back to Amalfi for a period in the summer, reserve a sunbed for every day at this beach.

 

Porto

Amalfi Coast Best Beaches Harbor

As you walked along the harbor from Marina Grande beach to the Lido delle Sirene, you might have spotted a small  beach area covered with towels and surrounded by docked boats. This beach is usually just referred to as the porto, or port, and is a very popular spiaggia libera with locals. It’s especially a top choice for families with young kids since the swimming area is shallow and the sea is calm. Although it can get a bit rowdy with kids playing during the summer!

 

La Marinella

Amalfi Coast Beaches La Marinella

This little beach is tucked beside the restaurant La Marinella and they offer a small beach area and deck with sunbeds and snacks and drinks in the bar nearby. The water here tends to be remarkable clear and sparkly, which is oh so tempting when you walk by above. It’s another popular spot with families, especially with very young children, since there’s plenty of shade below the deck, the water is calm and the swimming area small. While it might not be the top choice for your holiday beach day, it’s fun to stop and peek down as you’re strolling by. Generations of Amalfitani have taken their first dip in the Mediterranean at this beach.

 

Bonus … Santa Croce

Amalfi Coast Beaches Santa Croce Beach Near Amalfi - Horizontal

I know I said this was a guide to the beaches in Amalfi, but just take a look at that photo. Can you blame me for wanting to squeeze in one of my favorite beaches on the Amalfi Coast? This is the Santa Croce beach, which while technically located in Amalfi is only reachable by a short boat ride. (They’re used to be access via steps from the road high above, but those met an unfortunate end one stormy winter a number of years ago…)

There are two options for reaching Santa Croce beach from Amalfi. One is to pay a small fee and take one of the boats that departs from where all the ferries depart in Amalfi. They are smaller boats and have a ramp that can be lowered down in the front, which is how you get off at Santa Croce. You can see one in this blog post from last summer about Santa Croce. As soon as you step off the boat you’ll see why this beach is so very special. The water here is just magical!

Beautiful Sea at Santa Croce Beach Near Amalfi

The other option is to arrive at Santa Croce by the boat service connected to one of the two restaurants at Santa Croce. My favorite way to reach Santa Croce is to take the small boat run by the Ristorante Da Teresa. When you arrive there’s a small pier that leads to their beach area (with the bright orange umbrellas) surrounding the restaurant. You can rent sun beds and umbrellas and either eat a feast on the beach (they make amazing panini and fried calamari or my favorite – a mix of grilled veggies) or dine at the restaurant. Excellent food! And don’t forget the carafe of local white wine with peaches. We often get that for lunch down on the beach and they’ll give you skewers to spear out the big chunks of peaches. Yep, that’s heaven right there!

White Wine with Peaches overlooking Santa Croce Beach Near Amalfi

With this guide you’re now set to hit the beach in Amalfi. If you have more than one day, I recommend visiting different beaches since they all have their own vibe and experience. Even the water can be remarkably different from one beach to the next. Most of all, enjoy your time al mare in Amalfi!

A Day at Santa Croce Beach

Most Beautiful Beaches of the Amalfi Coast

– My favorite beach on the Amalfi Coast – Santa Croce

Anyone who has spent time on the Amalfi Coast or lived here has a favorite beach. The beautiful beaches and tiny little coves that dot the coastline certainly can make that a hard decision. While I have quite a few that would be contenders, there’s only one that could be called my favorite – the Santa Croce beach. Located just a short boat ride west of Amalfi, it’s isolated enough to feel far away from the world, but still relatively quick and easy to reach.

Most Beautiful Beach on the Amalfi Coast

– Arriving at the Santa Croce beach not far from Amalfi

There are two restaurants with beach access at Santa Croce–Ristorante da Teresa and Ristorante Santa Croce–and they both offer boat service back and forth from Amalfi if you are dining at the restaurant or renting a sunbed for the day. For a small fee, there’s also a separate boat service to Santa Croce if you’d just like to throw down a towel on the free part of the beach (beware … very large stones!) or want to get to the beach on a larger boat. There’s a ramp on the front of the boat that drops down to the beach.

How to reach Santa Croce Beach Amalfi Coast

– The boat service to Santa Croce for a small fee

We’ve always gone to Ristorante da Teresa, which you can spot from the sea with its bright orange umbrellas. They have a covered dining patio for relaxing meals overlooking the sea, or you can eat on the beach as well.

Beautiful Amalfi Coast Beach

– The view of the beach from Ristorante da Teresa

I’m in love with the orange umbrellas and their shocking color against the clear blue sky. I could lay and look at them all day long. (Yep, I’ve tested that.) Deep down in my soul I must have a thing for complementary colors.

Amalfi Coast Best Beach

– I could look at this view all day

Oh, and I definitely have a thing for beach picnics at Santa Croce, especially when they involve fried calamari with a dose of freshly squeezed Amalfi Coast lemon, insalata di mare and a most divine parmigiana made with zucchini instead of eggplant. And the summer essential – refreshing white wine with slices of sweet peaches.

Where to Eat on the Amalfi Coast

– Lunch on the beach from Ristorante da Teresa

What better way to finish off a beach picnic than with fresh fruit? Ristorante Da Teresa also does excellent panini and the restaurant is out of this world for fresh fish. Even if you’re not a beach person, you can enjoy the boat ride to the restaurant and dine overlooking the sea.

Amalfi Coast Travel Picnic Beach

– The perfect beach dessert

The beach at Santa Croce is not for the faint of heart as it’s quite rocky. Adventurously rocky. I love exploring and climbing over the rocks along the beach, perhaps even more than swimming in the water. It opens to the most beautiful views of impossibly blue pools sparkling in the sunshine. Look closely and there are tiny crabs crawling over the same rocks and lots of other little things to discover.

Amalfi Coast Travel Santa Croce Beach Rocks

– This is what I love

 

Amalfi Coast Travel Beautiful Beach Blue Water

– Mesmerizing scenes

 

Amalfi Coast Travel Most Beautiful Beach

– Dreamy sea views at Santa Croce

After a bit of climbing and swimming, it’s back to the sunbed to enjoy a view like the one below. This is good for the soul. Very good! It has been a rare experience over this busy summer and with my recent trip back to America. But when it’s rare it’s even sweeter somehow.

Amalfi Coast Travel Beautiful Beach Summer

A much needed day at the beach

Winter Sunshine

Marina Grande Beach Amalfi

Glorious sunshine in Amalfi

There’s nothing quite like when the sun comes out in February after a rainy spell. There’s the warmth of the sunshine to dry everything out, but also that sense of spring on its way. It’s hopeful, warm and irresistible. And not just for the Amalfitani! We took an afternoon stroll in Amalfi this afternoon and had fun spotting all the people out enjoying the sunshine – tourists, locals, fishermen and kids playing soccer on the waterfront promenade.

Sunshine and Shadows in Amalfi

Sunshine and shadows while out walking in Amalfi

When the sun shines the best way to enjoy it in Amalfi is with a walk overlooking the beach and along the harbor. The water was temptingly blue, but still quite cold.

Amalfi Coast Travel Winter Sunshine Amalfi 1

Playing in the cold mountain stream water

Yet there were people wading along the water’s edge with their winter pants all rolled up. A few people were out on kayaks, too.

Marina Grande Beach in Amalfi February

Testing to see how cold the sea feels

But the really smart people had claimed a spot on the Marina Grande beach and were soaking up the sun. It was strange being dressed in winter clothes looking down on a scene from the summer!

Marina Grande Beach Sunbathing

Early sunbathers on Marina Grande beach

There were more people in Amalfi than in past weeks, perhaps couples taking advantage of the lovely weather for a romantic Valentine’s weekend trip to Amalfi. You’d have to know where to look, but the first signs of the coming busy season are starting to pop up here and there around town.

Sunshine on the Sea in Amalfi

Conversations on the beach

The sunshine on the steps of the Duomo had attracted a nice crowd of more urban sunbathers. It’s a good spot!

Piazza Duomo Amalfi

On the steps in Piazza Duomo

We’re a little starved for sunshine here, but that’s mostly because we’re so spoiled the rest of the year. But once February arrives … spring is around the corner!

 

A Summer Swim at Santa Croce

Amalfi Coast Travel Santa Croce Beach Amalfi

Arriving by boat to the tiny Santa Croce beach west of Amalfi

The waves splash against the side of the small boat as it turns toward shore and the brilliant orange umbrellas at the Santa Croce beach. Somewhere in the mountains soaring above the Amalfi Coast road twists and turns its way through Vettica, a hamlet of Amalfi, and closer by the buoys bounce up and down in the waves. This little rocky cove is a piece of heaven on the Amalfi Coast – miles away from all the hubbub in Amalfi just a short boat ride away. I know I’ve written about Santa Croce beach several times here on Ciao Amalfi, but it’s just one of those spots that calls to me again and again. And when you step off the boat and are greeted with this view, how could you not be smitten?

Amalfi Coast Travel Santa Croce Beach Clear Water

Stepping off the boat to quite a view!

The clear water and and rocky beach are two of the reasons this is such a remarkable spot. The restaurants just steps from the water serving fresh fish and Amalfi Coast dishes complete the perfect setting. When we go we take the restaurant boat shuttle for the Ristorante Da Teresa, which departs from the Amalfi harbor near the Hotel Bussola. The boat brings you right to a small pier between the rocks where you can easily debark and find a sun bed nearby. Tip: If you want a bed along the water’s edge, head to Santa Croce earlier in the morning!

Amalfi Coast Travel Santa Croce Beach Ristorante Da Teresa

The landing for the boats from Ristorante Da Teresa

But the view from the second row is pretty darn nice, too. I’ve always been fond of the color orange, and it makes such a striking view against the back drop of the blue sky and sea. This is a view that soothes the soul and relaxes the muscles.

Amalfi Coast Travel Santa Croce Beach Umbrella

Settling in for an afternoon at the beach

Looking west from the beach you can spot the Arco Naturale, a natural arch, that is a popular spot for swimmers and rock climbers who scramble up and dive off the top. Not me, naturally. I’m the one sitting on the sun bed taking photos.

Amalfi Coast Travel Santa Croce Beach Arco Naturale

Looking toward the Arco Naturale from Santa Croce

If you don’t want to take one of the restaurant shuttle boats, there’s a boat service that connects Amalfi with Santa Croce and the nearby Duoglio beach. Every once in awhile the peace is interrupted by the boat ladder flopping down onto the pebbly beach and and the crew calling out the next departure times for Amalfi.

Amalfi Coast Travel Santa Croce Beach Boat

The boat service from Amalfi to Santa Croce

We enjoy going with the Ristorante Da Teresa boat service because we’re always so tempted by the delicious scents wafting out from the restaurant that we either take a break from the sun to enjoy lunch on their gorgeous terrace or have sandwiches or fried calamari right down on the beach. Oh … and don’t forget the local white wine with slices of fresh peaches. Really, this is something you don’t want to miss!

Santa Croce Ristorante Da Teresa

Looking from the Ristorante Da Teresa to the beach

This year in addition to the large, covered dining area there is a new spot (above) with tables and umbrellas that looks like the perfect spot for enjoying a panino or coffee. Nearby the stairs leading down to the beach caught my eye … that’s what you call a stairway to paradise!

Santa Croce Steps

The stairway to paradise

There’s a moment when I just can’t stand it anymore and I grab my camera and go for a stroll to take photos. This is beach where you’ll definitely want to make sure you have flip flops or beach shoes of some kind, because the stones are large and hot after baking in the sun all day.

Amalfi Coast Travel Santa Croce Beach Swimming

A tricky but very rewarding swimming spot

Getting into the water can also be a bit challenging with the stones and rocky beach, but once you do it’s well worth the effort. Sometimes it’s easiest to just get as close to the water as you can, stash your flip flops somewhere nearby where the waves won’t wash them away and just do an oh so elegant … splash! Don’t worry, that’s pretty much what the locals do, too.

Amalfi Coast Travel Santa Croce Beach View

A dreamy view at Santa Croce

Before leaving I had to catch just one more image of the rocky beach and an orange umbrella framing a perfect view of a white sailboat. What did I say? Yes, definitely a slice of heaven!