The Blue Cave, also known as the Blue Grotto (Modra špilja), is a stunning natural treasure located on the island Biševo, five kilometres south of Vis island. The cave is famous for the mesmerising blue light filling the space at a certain time of day, when the sunlight hits the sea surface through an opening on the vault. The light reflects off the water and the white seabed, wrapping the whole interior in a layer of iridescent blue.
The cave used to be accessible only by diving until 1884, when an artificial entrance was built above the sea surface to enable small boats to sail in. Over the years, the popularity of the cave increased up to the point where a visit to the location entails waiting in line – we’ll take a wild guess and say the recent surge in visitors has something to do with all the gorgeous photos featured on travel websites. Is the cave worth the wait? Definitely, but there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.
Sailing to Biševo
Biševo is the most remote inhabited island of Croatia and the channel between Vis and Biševo is easily one of the most exposed and dangerous crossings in the Adriatic. Be aware that even on the calmest of days, the sea will still be rougher here as it is exposed to all winds, particularly from the West. If the winds are strong and guests have weak stomachs, sailing is perhaps not advised. Also, if weather is less than ideal, it is worth calling ahead to check whether the cave is open.
By Private or Chartered Boat…
We understand you have your own boat and tender and you think it makes sense to be able to go in by yourself, but unfortunately, this is not permitted. Due to obvious safety issues, only official boats from Biševo can enter the cave, prior to this it was absolute chaos. Just imagine – no organisation, everyone trying to enter at will and people swimming in a small, confined space within a hair’s breadth of propellers… it was a recipe for disaster, which is exactly why it is now protected and entry limited.
Mežuporat is where the ticket office and official boats leave from for the Blue Cave, the harbour is generally full, so you can anchor in the cove – depths around 8 m – and tender your guests across when ready.
Porat (Biševska Luka) is a bay with a sandy beach; it is not possible to anchor close to the beach due to shallow depths, so we recommend anchoring further out and you (or your guests) can swim to the beach and enjoy.
Salbunara is another gorgeous bay with a sandy beach, ideal for anchoring and you can tender to the ticket office of the Blue Cave from here.
Porat and Salbunara are not safe during SW or Westerly winds.
You will wait, you can’t swim, but it’s still worth it.
There is no avoiding waiting in a queue during peak times. But, there are toilet facilities and a café near the ticket office, so guests can enjoy a coffee while they wait.
To save disappointment (before you sail across to Biševo) inform guests they will enter the cave on an official boat, the cost of the ticket is approximately 70 kuna (€10), they may need to wait for an hour or more in high-season and, regardless of photos – you cannot swim in the Blue Cave.
But, it is still worth it. I always thought it was a tourist trap until I did it for myself and saw just how magical the cave is in real life – even if only for 15 minutes…
You cannot enter the blue cave by yourself, but you can take your own tender into the Green Cave. The Green Cave is another natural phenomenon and is located on the southern side of Vis island on the small islet of Ravnik. Please advise your crew and guests, that though you can swim in the Green Cave, caution is advised – as there are boats coming in and out of their own accord and propellers + limbs = well, you get it.
Don’t have your own boat? Book a Tour.
As the cave can be reached only by boat, the safest move is to book a tour in one of many travel agencies on the coast; do some research first and make sure to pick an agency with good reviews. Most of them embark in Split and offer various island-hopping tours, but you’ll find a lot of options if you want to depart from one of the islands in central Dalmatia. One such option is Hvar Tours, a renowned agency known for private guided tours of Vis island that include a visit to the Blue Cave.
When we talked about the attractive destination, Hvar Tours’ managing director Ante Lacman referred to the growing problem of tourist crowds that might turn the trip into an unpleasant experience. Apparently, the cave has become such a mecca for curious visitors that the entire high season (June-September) has the tourists waiting in line for a minimum of 30 minutes – and that can extend to 3 hours on days when the area sees the most traffic.
(Blue Cave, source: Flickr)
You definitely won’t be bored, and being a part of a queue in Biševo waters might be the most incredible waiting experience of your life, as you’ll be surrounded by astonishing scenery and you can always take a quick dip while you wait. On the other hand, the delay might mess with the tour’s schedule, causing the rest of your programme to be pushed back an hour or two. There’s no sense in getting frustrated: remember you’re at one of the most striking locations in the world, and that food, wine and more amazing sights await further down the line. There’s also a bar at Biševo at your disposal near the cave – leave it to the tour manager to get the tickets and relax while you wait.
The best time to visit the Blue Cave is the window between 11 AM and 2 PM, when the sun hits the water at just the right angle, amping up the light colour to an overwhelming degree. Unfortunately, the prevailing cave-craze means that exact time window will be the most crowded, so it’s recommended to go a bit earlier in the day – a departure from Hvar at 8:30 or 9 AM is perfect if you want to get to the cave on time to experience it without waiting surrounded by dozens of other boats. If your starting point is located even further, such as in Split, ask your preferred agency if an earlier departure is available.
Time spent in the cave is limited by the concessionaire to 15 minutes per boat, and swimming inside the cave is currently frowned upon. Taking photos, however, is not. Make some memories.
The experience doesn’t end once you’re out of the cave. The tours usually include a visit to the other gem on Vis, the Green Cave – a similar wonder of nature wrapped in a layer of gold-emerald light. As Vis is a treasure trove of sights and places to explore, use the chance to spend as much time on the island as you can. Apart from the caves, you’ll probably be taken to Stiniva bay, a spectacular inlet that was voted best beach in Europe by the European Best Destinations in 2016. It’s not hard to see why:
(Stiniva beach, source: Flickr)
When it’s time to do some actual sightseeing, the towns of Vis and Komiža offer plenty to see, as well as multiple abandoned historical villages and military facilities on the island; Vis used to be closed off to the tourists until 1989, as it served as an army base. When you find yourself in a crowd waiting to see Croatia’s most famous cave, it’s hard to imagine a whole island being a tranquil, untouched piece of paradise.
Most tours include multiple swimming breaks at some of the most attractive spots around the island, and there’s always a lunch or dinner at the traditional taverns and restaurants on Vis where you’ll be presented with authentic local delicacies and quality wines from the region. For an idea of all the delights that can be packed into a single day spent on the Adriatic, take a look at this schedule provided by Hvar Tours, or this shorter tour focusing on Blue and Green Caves.
Imagine a morning that starts with a dip at the world’s most beautiful beach, followed by bathing in striking colourful light of the Blue Cave – doesn’t it sound like a perfect day?