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If you’re wandering along the harbour in Split, you’ll see countless advertisements for boat tours to one of the most popular tourist attractions in Croatia, the Blue Cave.
It’s one of the most popular day trips from Split, and, if lots of people go there, it must be because it’s good – right?
Well, not necessarily.
Having seen all the adverts for visiting the Blue Cave, I decided to buy myself a ticket for this 5 Island boat tour from Split. The tour included a stop at the Blue Cave and so, intrigued, I happily boarded my tour boat, ready to see what was, apparently, one of the best tourist attractions in Croatia.
I have some strong opinions, guys. And today I’m sharing my honest opinion on whether or not the Blue Cave is worth adding to your Croatia itinerary.
But first, let’s set the scene.
Where is the Blue Cave?
The waterlogged sea cave we call the Blue Cave is in a bay on the island of Biševo, an island in the Adriatic sea about 70km from Split in Croatia.
This tiny island has a population of like, nobody, and pretty much exists as a base for visitors to the Blue Cave to kill time whilst waiting for their tour boat. Aside from a bar/cafe for Blue Cave visitors, you won’t find much else on the island.
What is the Blue Cave famous for?
The Blue Cave is famous for… well, being blue.
As the sun hits the ocean, the inside of the cave glows with a silvery-blue light from the water. This is because a small natural opening in the cave lets in a few rays of sunlight which cause the water to glow and shimmer.
Entering the cave from the heat and brightness of sailing around in Croatia in summer is a shock to the system, but once your eyes adjust it’s pretty mesmerising to see the eerie blue glow in the cave.
Originally, the cave was discovered by local fishermen and was only accessible by diving, but an entryway was blasted into the rock once the painter Baron Eugen von Ransonet visited in 1884 and spread the word of its beauty around Austria.
Since then, the Blue Cave has been growing in popularity with tourists. It now attracts over 100,000 visitors every summer!
For one cave, that’s insane!
How to get to the Blue Cave in Croatia
From Split, Hvar or Komiža there are countless different tours to visit the Blue Cave. For the best bang for your buck, I recommend the 5 Island Tour.
Not only is the 5 Island Tour totally awesome, but since the Blue Cave is approximately a 90-minute journey away from Split by speedboat, getting to the Blue Cave costs a pretty penny in fuel.
So, instead of just journeying to the Blue Cave and then returning to Split, you may as well get more value for your money and make a full day of it, right?
It’s often the case that booking at the location can save you money on tours. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for the 5 Island Tour. Pretty much all the tours, regardless of the company, charge around €99 for the day. It isn’t any cheaper to wait until you arrive in Croatia, and the tours often get fully booked in summer – so it’s a good idea to book in advance.
What is the 5 Island Tour?
The 5 Island Tour is a 10-hour speedboat tour jam-packed with activities and sightseeing. It is, in my opinion, the best way to go island hopping in Split. The 5 Island Tour takes in the Blue Cave, Komiža, Stiniva Cove, the Blue Lagoon, and Hvar Town.
It’s not a cheap tour – at around €99 for the day, and I was skeptical that the tour would be worth so much money. But it absolutely was! It was a long day, but I wish it was even longer as I had so much fun!
Can I visit the Blue Cave in Croatia without a tour?
Unfortunately, you can’t visit the Blue Cave by yourself.
The only boats which are allowed to enter the cave are those owned by the company on the island. You could charter a boat to go straight to Biševo, but you’d still have to wait around in the queue.
You’d also still only be able to enter the Blue Cave on one of the Blue Caves’ official boats. So overall, you may as well just join a normal tour and save some money.
Can I swim in the Blue Cave?
If you’re wondering if you can swim in the Blue Cave, the answer is, unfortunately, no. In fact, with boats limited to spending around 5 minutes inside the Blue Cave, you’d struggle to have the time to even if you were allowed!
The Blue Cave was an entire waste of time, and it’s surely the most overrated attraction in Croatia!
There. I said it.
I had heard it was one of the best things to do on an island hopping tour from Split. Normally, when things are popular, it’s for a reason. So I was pretty darn excited to see the Blue Cave.
But after visiting it for myself, I’m scratching my head over why so, so many people visit the Blue Cave, and why so many tours include it on their itinerary. For once, I’m truly baffled!
On arrival at Biševo island, our tour guide told us we could wander around the island as he purchased our tickets. These cost around 10 Euros and were included in the price of our tour.
Top tip: when booking your tour, double check the details to make sure your entry to the Blue Cave is covered by the price of the tour!
After purchasing the tickets, the tour guide distributed them to us, with each ticket having a number. He then pointed out a digital screen displaying the ticket numbers. When your number appears on the screen, it’s your turn to board a boat set for the Blue Cave.
Thinking we would be waiting around for like, 20 minutes, I took a quick stroll around the island’s harbour before returning to check the numbers.
They had only moved on by 5 or so.
Shrugging, I headed to the harbour bar with a couple of others on the tour. I ordered an iced coffee, sat back and waited, certain our number would be called any minute.
Guys, it took two hours for our number to be called.
There’s absolutely nothing to do on the island but drink at their bar, so I was slowly losing my mind. It’s also impossible to anticipate how slowly the number-calling really goes. It feels impossible to go too far away in case you miss your number.
I may be being salty here, but after my experience at the Blue Cave, I truly believe that no cave in the world would be worth waiting for two hours to see.
When our tour group’s number came up we clambered into a boat run by the people on the island and travelled a couple of minutes to the entrance of the cave.
Our boat squeezed through the narrow opening in the rocks, we sailed around the small cave for a maximum of five minutes, and then we left.
I felt like I had been scammed.
The entire ‘Blue Cave’ experience lasted under 10 minutes. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this. I was absolutely furious that we had wasted two hours waiting in line to see the Blue Cave. During that time, we could have been exploring a different tourist attraction or island that was, you know, actually good.
I think if we had gone straight there I would’ve been fine with it. But the fact that I waited over two hours to visit the Blue Cave had me angry. I wish it was not on the tour itinerary at all!
So – Is the Blue Cave Worth It?
Here’s the thing.
The Blue Cave sucked.
But the 5 Island Tour? That’s an entirely different story.
The 5 Island Tour from Split was easily the best thing I did on my trip to Croatia. It was a freaking epic day! I firmly believe that, although the Blue Cave is the most famous attraction on the 5 Island Tour itinerary, it’s actually the worst part of the trip!
So, although I don’t recommend visiting the Blue Cave, I do recommend the 5 Island Tour. And so, I guess, since the Blue Cave is part of the 5 Island Tour itinerary, it’s worth visiting overall.
However – would I recommend visiting the Blue Cave on a tour only visiting the Blue Cave, or on a Blue and Green Cave tour (which takes in the nearby Green Cave)?
No I would not.
I’m not throwing shade here. I bet, 10 years ago, visiting the Blue Cave was pretty fun, and definitely worth the stop.
Nowadays, though, with Croatian tourism booming and so, so many people flocking to the Blue Cave during summer, it’s absolutely not worth it. You lose so much time sitting on an overcrowded dock just for 5 minutes in a cave.
Although the Blue Cave is overrated, I was surprised to find out that getting there was actually the best bit!
For this reason, I actually recommend visiting the Blue Cave from Split in Croatia… Provided it’s on the 5 Island Tour. You’ll have an amazing day that you’ll never forget! When it comes to the Blue Cave, though, just go in with low expectations and prepare yourself for the wait.