The Blue Cave is one of the most popular attractions along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia drawing thousands of visitors every summer. As popular natural wonder, you will see photos of it throughout Split and Dubrovnik. Because of its popularity, it is one of the few places along the Croatian coast where I would recommend planning ahead prior to your visit.
I learned a few key lessons from my visit to the Blue Cave and I am here to share my inside tips with you. This post summarizes everything you need to know about visiting the Blue Cave in Croatia!
What is the Blue Cave?
The Blue Cave, or the Blue Grotto as it is sometimes known, is located on the small island of Bisevo, a part of the Vis Archipelago of islands off the coast of Croatia. The cave was formed by the wave erosion as seawater carved into the island’s limestone rock. The cave is fairly small at 24 meters long, 15 meters high, and 12 meters deep.
Discovered in the 1800s, the cave was only accessible by scuba diving until 1884 when an artificial entrance was added to allow for small dinghy boats to enter. The original natural entrance to the cave is what gives the cave it’s iconic blue color. The sunlight enters the cave through this entrance, hitting the ceiling and floor of the cave to create an iridescent blue glow that spreads through the cave.
How do you get to the Blue Cave?
First of all, the actual visit to the Blue Cave is not managed by the tour agencies or operators that you buy your ticket through, but by national tourism agency who controls the flow of visitors in and out of the cave. The Blue Cave can only be visited with an organized tour operator and private charters or personal vessels are not allowed inside the cave. Once you actually do the tour, you will see why—entering and exiting the cave can be challenging and only experienced boat operators are capable of making the journey.
Most visitors will come to the Blue Cave from the nearby islands of Hvar or Vis, but there are also full day tours from Split. If you come on your own sailing vessel, there is a small bay (called Mezuporat) in front of the entry point for the Blue Cave where you can anchor while you wait for your official tour to begin.
If you aren’t getting there on your own vessel, then you are likely to make the crossing on your tour’s vessel. A majority of the departures from Vis (the departure point I did) leave from the adorable seaside town of Komiza, which is well-worth exploring before or after your Blue Cave tour. Be aware that the crossing from Vis to Bisevo is known to experience high winds, and even on calm days, the crossing can be rocky. We were told to take seasickness medication if we are prone to motion sickness.
Once you arrive in the Mezuporat bay, you will get off the transport vessel onto land where you will wait in line with all the other visitors. You can only access the cave through the official providers, which depart from this bay every 10 minutes. There is a small cafe and seating area there as well as bathroom facilities while you wait.
Details About Your Blue Cave Visit
The cave is only accessible for about 4-6 hours a day due to tidal activity, so it is important to check the schedules before planning your visit. Depending on the season, the ideal time to visit the cave is between 11 AM and 12 PM because the sunlight reflects through the water at the right angle to illuminate the floor and interior of the cave. All visits to the cave are limited to 15 minutes.
Tickets can be purchased in advance through the tour operators in Split, Hvar or Vis, or you can purchase them on arrival at the park entrance. Visits are always subject to weather restrictions, so it is best to check ahead about conditions.
There are two types of tickets that you can purchase for the Blue Cave—regular or fast-track—and all the tickets are numbered so that there is no confusion about your spot in line. The waiting area can get a little chaotic during high season, but there is a ticket counter sign showing the next 12 tickets to board the vessel to avoid mob mentalities.
During high season, the regular ticket line can reach 2-3 hours (for a 15 minute visit remember!) and my Intrepid Travel guide gave us the insider tip of buying the fast-track ticket. Of course you pay almost double the price for this fast-track ticket, but it allows you to bypass the whole line. We waited for less than 15 minutes to board our tour and our entire excursion was done in less than 1.5 hours. I would highly recommend paying the extra price for the fast-track tickets!
Inside the Cave
The entire visit inside the cave lasts 15 minutes. Yes, that is it. No more, no less.
You will enter the cave through the small man-made hole, which requires you to duck and huddle inside the boat. It is a pretty small entrance and this was definitely the most exciting part of our visit to the Blue Cave!
You are not allowed to swim inside the cave and your boat will hold a total of 12 passengers. The licensed boat operator will give you a small history lesson and explanation of the cave while you are inside admiring this cave. You do a full circle of the cave before exiting and there are never more than 3 boats inside the cave at once.
What to Know Before You Go
I was visiting Croatia in the height of tourist season, so there was understandably a massive crowd at the Blue Cave. As I mentioned above, crowds can wait for a visit to the cave for 2-3 hours during this time of year. If you’re visiting in July or August, you should plan for crowds.
Lack of Shade in Waiting Area
Before boarding your tour vessel, you will wait at Mezuporat bay which has little to no shade. The only shade is inside the cafe’s patio, where you need to be a paying customer to sit. I would recommend bringing a hat or umbrella if you are worried about sun exposure or heat.
The small cafe in Mezuporat bay has all the basics you might need—food, water, coffee, etc—but it is massively overpriced and crowded. You are allowed to bring a bag with you on the tour, so I would recommend packing it full of snacks, water and sunscreen prior to your departure in the morning.
Is it worth visiting the Blue Cave?
I’m a little torn about this question. The cave itself is truly stunning and very unique, and I’m definitely happy that I saw it.
The rest of the experience was pretty disappointing. The crowds were overwhelming and the value for our money was not great. I think a full-day tour that includes over stops in Bisevo, like the Green Cave and secluded swimming holes, would have made it feel more worth it.
My recommendation for the Blue Cave, but Croatia more generally, is to visit in the off-season if you truly want to appreciate the natural beauty of this unique destination. I could imagine that visiting the Blue Cave in September when there are only a few other boats around would be a lovely experience!