Under the sea on the Italian island of Sardinia is Neptune’s Grotto, one of Europe’s most famous caves.
The route from the nearby port of Alghero to Capo Caccia, where the grotto is located, hugs the coastline for nearly the entire way, offering top-down views of the shimmering royal blue waters, including the Bay of Porto Conte, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and lush foliage. In order to access the grotto, guests must descend the 654 steps to the entrance. Called the goat’s steps, they are the perfect complement to the underground wonderland that awaits. The steps, which were cut into the cliff’s wall in the 1950s, allow for an immersion into the surroundings and provide unparalleled views of the cliff interacting with miles of sky and water from all angles and heights, interrupted only by the occasional seagull.
The caves, however, are the main attraction. Replacing the jagged limestone cliffs and deep blues of the sea and sky are organ pipe-like stalagmite and stalactite, limestone formations made from years of dripping freshwater, entirely enveloped by a golden hue and reflected by a clear, 390-foot-long lake. Especially enchanting are the eccentric concretions, thin threads of calcite that appear to defy gravity and branch off in every direction, intertwining and creating delicate tangles of rock.
Neptune’s Grotto was discovered in the 18th century when a local fisherman from Sardinia spotted an opening in a cliff while fishing off the coast.