Island Delights - why Capri is best appreciated in the shoulder season

Glamorous Capri has been a long-time favourite of the affluent, and its appeal hasn’t diminished

We’re bobbing along at a steady pace. We wave and nod at the dozens of yacht inhabitants we pass as we hug the coastline of Capri. The conditions are perfect: the water appears almost silky smooth, gentle and calm with only the odd bounce caused by other boats whizzing by. 

The October sun is beating down on my milk-bottle legs, sounds of Harry Styles’ Watermelon Sugar ring out from the yacht’s sound system and my glass is constantly fizzing thanks to regular top-ups of prosecco.  I’m sailing on a yacht with a group of female travel executives, kindly organised by the teams at Elegant Resorts and Capri Palace Jumeirah, which is home during my stay on the island.

We sail to the dramatic Faraglioni – one of Capri’s most iconic sites – and even cruise through a cavity in one of the towering rock formations that jut out from the water off the island’s shores. And just when I think the day can’t get any better, our skipper drops anchor and encourages us to jump overboard.

Within seconds I’m wading against the tide attempting to reach Grotta Verde, named for the emerald-green hue of the water found within the interior of this rugged natural cave. The intense colour, caused by the reflection of the sunlight on the rocks and seabed, combined with the sparkling light dancing on the walls of the cave, makes the experience utterly magical, and one I won’t forget in a hurry. Back on board, we continue our circumnavigation of the island, catching glimpses of nearby Ischia, Capri’s laidback neighbour, and learning about local life from the crew.

Fashion forward

Our final stop is Capri Palace’s elegant outpost, Il Riccio Beach Club. From the yacht, we clamber up a zigzag staircase cut into the side of the island. The beach club’s culinary offering is simply exquisite. We enjoy generous lashings of the most delicious melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella, perfectly cooked octopus and platters of carpaccio and ceviche of different varieties.

The seafood here is divine, but for me the real standout is the dessert offering. Guests head into a dedicated ‘sweet room’ where they can pick as many desserts as they can devour. Tiramisu, homemade gelato, almond cake and cannolis . . . paradise! Il Riccio is also home to an exclusive Dior pop-up shop that stocks the Dioriviera collection.

This very fashionable collaboration means Dior soft furnishings can be found around the beach club, the beach huts are adorned in brightly coloured Dior prints and even the small Technogym has been glammed up by the fashion house. Capri has long been synonymous with glamour, style and opulence; it’s a hotspot with fashionistas who flock to the array of designer brands scattered throughout the island’s pristine cobblestone streets.

Chanel, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton and Bvlgari all call Via Camerelle home. Head to one of the many piazzas, grab an Aperol spritz and watch in awe as men in Gucci loafers and women in skyscraper Louboutins dart in and out of boutiques like it’s a sport. Of course, to match this clientele, the luxury hotel offering needs to shine – and it does. Capri Palace Jumeirah, JK Place Capri and Hotel Caesar Augustus are among the best, and Hotel La Palma Capri – part of Oetker Collection – is attracting much fanfare, having opened this month (June). 

You’d be wrong to think that Capri has nothing more to offer than shopping. Ancient beauty lies in abundance on this little four-mile-long isle in the Tyrrhenian Sea. For a dose of history, head to the ruins of Villa Jovis, a Roman palace built by Emperor Tiberuis, or for a slice of more recent history visit Villa San Michele, a stunning property that often houses art displays in its flora-filled grounds. The island’s two towns, Capri and Anacapri, are incredibly different.

While Capri is the place to be seen, the latter is far more laidback and home to many locals. A winding road connects them, and I highly recommend taking advantage of the brightly coloured open-top Fiat taxis that whizz visitors around. A visit to the highest point on the island is a must. I felt at complete peace as I took the 12-minute-long, single-seat chairlift up the side of Mount Solaro. Enjoying the views over the cobalt waters in complete silence gave me an opportunity to reflect without distraction.

The chairlift departs from Piazza Vittoria in Anacapri, but active adventurers might prefer the hour-long hike to the top. Once there you’re rewarded with panoramic views of the Gulfs of Naples and Salerno and Mount Vesuvius. You’ll also see the island of Ischia and the jagged limestone Faraglioni rocks rising out of the bright blue water, perfectly punctuated by endless ribbons of white caused by the array of yachts zipping around below. Many likely embarked on the same sailing around the island as I had 24 hours earlier.

Avoid the crowds

This was my second visit to Capri – my first was in the height of summer many years ago when I was just one of thousands upon thousands of day trippers descending en masse. I liked the island, but I didn’t love it. Second time round, I was travelling out of season in early October and although the island was still busy, it was far more enjoyable and much less intense.

At this time of year you’re not jostling with countless others to take a photo, or queuing for what feels like a lifetime to buy some gelato, plus the evenings are still mild and the sea is a wonderful temperature, having warmed up during the peak summer months. I can now firmly say I adore the island, but would only visit in the shoulder seasons. Lenin is quoted as once saying: “Capri makes you forget everything”, and I completely agree.

Whether you’re bobbing around on a yacht, devouring seafood platters and lashings of prosseco, or enjoying a perfectly silent solo chairlift up Mount Solaro – nothing else will matter while you’re enjoying Capri, an island built on beauty and indulgence.

Book it: Elegant Resorts offers seven nights in a Deluxe Double Garden Side at Capri Palace Jumeirah from £3,380 on a B&B basis. The price is per person and includes economy flights, private transfers and UK lounge passes. elegantresorts.co.uk

Hollie-Rae Brader

Hollie is editor of Aspire’s print and online products. She is responsible for the running of the club and ensuring the content produced and the events organised are relevant to the Aspire audience. She was previously deputy news editor and cruise writer for sister title Travel Weekly. She loves exploring new destinations and is gradually ticking new countries off her list. She most enjoys writing about cruise, South America and Japan. Before working in the travel industry she held news reporting roles at the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star.

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