The Amalfi Coast is a popular summertime destination for vacationers who want to soak up the sun—and the chic ambiance—of this storied stretch of coastline. But travelers to the Amalfi Coast who arrive expecting long stretches of uninterrupted sandy beach may be in for a surprise. Beaches along the Amalfi Coast are carved into the dramatic cliffs that characterize the coastline, meaning they tend to be small, but stunningly situated. The waters off the Amalfi Coast are celebrated for their cleanliness and clarity, and are great for swimming, snorkeling, floating on a raft, or paddling a kayak.
A few things to know about Amalfi Coast beaches:
- In the summertime, many are fee-only, covered with "stabilimenti"—rows of lounge chairs and umbrellas that can be rented for a daily fee. Some will have small "spiaggi liberi" areas (free beaches) where beachgoers clamor for towel space.
- Be aware that water depths tend to increase rapidly, so less confident swimmers should stay close to shore.
- Some beaches are rocky and some have rock formations underwater, so aqua-socks are advisable.
Athough there are scores of terrific beaches from which to choose, we've narrowed it down for you with this list of the 10 best beaches on the Amalfi Coast.
Marina Grande Beach, Positano
While it's not a beach for getting away from it all, Positano's Marina Grande aptly represents an Italian in-town beach in the summertime—a sea of umbrellas and lounge chairs against a backdrop of colorful buildings climbing up the hills, with cliffs in the distance. You'll find this beach crowded and a bit chaotic in peak season, but its convenient location and services at the ready (bars, restaurants, shops, water-sports rentals) make it a one-stop-shop for beachgoers.
Marina Grande Beach, Amalfi
As in Positano, Amalfi town's beach, Marina Grande, wins a place here because of its convenience, relatively larger size, and the fact that visitors to Amalfi can reach it without a car, bus ride, or long hike. It's packed in the summertime, with rental loungers stretching right to the high tide line. Two big pluses—there are some fine seafood restaurants behind the beach, and boat traffic from Amalfi's harbor is to the west, meaning the beach waters stay calm and reasonably clear.
Beaches of Vietri Sul Mare
Vietri Sul Mare's long string of sandy beaches are easy to get to, popular with families, and crowded in the summertime. There are free beach spaces tucked in among the sea of paid beach areas, and there's an especially large free area at La Baia, the beach closest to Salerno's busy harbor. Heavy boat traffic from the harbor means that the waters here, while still mostly clear, lack some of the high visibility of other Amalfi Coast waters.
The good news about Maiori Beach? At nearly a kilometer long, it's the longest beach on the Amalfi Coast. Plus it's sandy and wide, with a nice shallow area at the shoreline. And because there are no cliffs surrounding it, it gets a lot more hours of sunlight than most Amalfi Coast beaches. The bad news? It's packed with "stabilimenti," or beach rentals, meaning there's precious little free sand. If you're fine with paying for lounge chairs and umbrellas, this is a great family beach.
Il Duoglio Beach, Amalfi
Just under 2 kilometers west of Amalfi, Duoglio Beach requires some effort. There are 200 stairs to get down to the beach but once there, you're in paradise, Amalfi Coast-style. This small beach backs up to dramatic cliffs and has rocky areas great for snorkeling. Its waters are sheltered and clear. Be sure to get here early in the day, as the cliffs block the sun by early afternoon.
At the foot of the relaxed little town of Cetara, between Vietri Sul Mare and Maiori, low-key Cetara Beach is ideal for those seeking a beach that's populated with more locals than tourists. The small beach has more free space than stabilimenti, and a natural breakwater offshore keeps the waves to a minimum. The shops and eateries of Cetara are just steps away.
La Praia Beach
Set foot on Praiano's La Praia beach and you may feel like you've walked into a movie. Surrounded by towering cliffs, this tiny beach has a beautiful swimming area and a mix of free and paid sand. This is another beach to hit early in the day, before the afternoon sun falls behind the cliffs. A coastal footpath departs from the beach.
Fornillo Beach, Positano
A 10-minute walk on a coastal footpath leads from Positano's busy Marina Grande beach to smaller, more chilled-out Fornillo Beach. Though it's still busy in the summertime, Fornillo is much less hectic than the city's main beach, and has a good section of free beach area. Like most beaches along the Amalfi Coast, it's backed by a good selection of bars and restaurants.
Cauco Beach, Erchie
Erchie's main beach is perfectly fine, except for its lack of free bathing areas. But if you've got a boat or a kayak, or you're a strong swimmer with a pair of fins, you can quickly reach "hidden" Cauco Beach, a shallow cove beach bookended by two Saracen towers. Even though you're right under the sleepy village of Erchie, the adventurous route to reach this beach makes it feel very much away-from-it-all.
Arienzo Beach, Positano
Hearty visitors to Positano willing to climb the 300 steps down to Arienzo Beach—and 300 steps back up—will be rewarded with a pebbly beach that's about half free space, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and crystal clear waters. A lone beach bar and restaurant is there to quench thirst and cravings.