Sailing the Amalfi Coast on a Catamaran – All About Our Trip on Board Dawn in Italy!
When it came to planning a trip to Italy this year, we wanted to do something a little different than the typical Amalfi Coast trip that we’ve all seen on instagram a thousand times. My husband and I had already been on our honeymoon in Italy, and knew we wanted to go back to the dreamy Amalfi Coast, but we wanted to do it a little differently this time.
The first time we were in Amalfi, we actually ran into a group of couples getting a drink at our hotel who were doing the Amalfi Coast by yacht, they talked about all of these hidden gem islands and little inlets of the Amalfi Coast I had never heard of, and it sounded like absolute heaven. We thought to ourselves “Dang, they are living the dream.” Maybe one day that will be us! I’ve watched enough Below Deck episodes to know how fun that must be to be on a chartered sailboat with your friends or family, so, when I learned about Dawn, a stunning sailing yacht that sails Italy, I started researching more into what it’s like to sail the Amalfi Coast, versus staying in hotels on land, and I was actually surprised that when you run the numbers, the cost (for a luxury trip) is pretty similar either way (I break down all of the costs of sailing Italy on a private charter more under Costs below). So the decision becomes, would you rather be on a boat or be on land? For me, that answer is always be on the sea. With five-star service, amazing food cooked up for you by the INCREDIBLE chef, a captain sailing you around everywhere you want to go, and all the water toys you could dream of, there’s just nothing like waking up at sea with the whole ocean and coast as your own personal playground. Sailing is such an elevated way to experience Italy and the Amalfi Coast, and we had an absolute dream-of-an-experience that I’ll be raving about for the rest of my life!
So I of course wanted to share all the details of our trip, as well as everything you need to know about the yacht we sailed on, so you can start planning your own for next summer before they book up!! (if you do end up reaching out about booking, be sure to mention Jetset Christina sent you! They’re offering anyone who comes through my blog or instagram an awesome discount if you book by the end of the year! Details below!)
Here are my tips and itinerary for sailing the Amalfi Coast, and answers to some common questions I got during our trip!
Table of Contents
Our Itinerary – Where we sailed in Italy:
We took off from Porto Salvo (located a taxi away from Naples airport), and sailed to Capri, where we had been before and knew we loved. From there, we went to Ischia, an incredible gem of an island that is the Amalfi Coast’s best hidden secret, and from there we went to Positano, before ending the trip in Amalfi. Our exact itinerary is below and all we got up to!
How does it work to sail the Amalfi Coast on a private charter?
When you hire a private yacht for your trip to the Amalfi Coast, the luxuriousness of the experience starts from the second you book.
What to expect when sailing on board Dawn Sunreef Charter & our exact itinerary
Leading up to our trip, Dawn sent us a thorough preference sheet to fill out outlining our likes and dislikes, food and beverage requests, and anything and everything you can think of to make our trip amazing. They then followed up with a phone call to go over the trip and itinerary, and we couldn’t wait to be on board! I could tell we were in great hands.
When we arrived, Captain Brahm helped to set up a ride from the airport for us, so getting to the boat was seamless. We arrived to the port and immediately had help with our bags as we were led to Dawn – our new home for the week – and we were SO excited, and greeted with champagne (what a way to start the trip!) they gave us a tour around the boat and we relaxed upstairs on the deck while we waited for the rest of the group. We did this trip as a family and with a couple friends of ours along with my parents, (who helped a ton with our baby boy, who was 14 months at the time). In total, we were 7 of us, plus the three crew!
After everyone arrived and got their sea legs, it was off to the first port (Capri!). We sailed away while we had the MOST delicious lunch cooked up by Chef Tess, with lots of rosé flowing for everyone, of course. We were already living la dolce vita. The seas were smooth and stunning and within a couple hours, we were pulling into the most scenic view maybe in the world – the marina of Capri. WOW. I had been to Capri before, but never like this. I couldn’t believe this was reality when we anchored in Capri for the night, and we watched the sunset over the Faraglioni. It was absolutely UNREAL.
Stop 1: Capri
We had dinner at sea while anchored among the most stunning views I’ve ever seen, and we stayed on the boat for the night (though if you wanted to, you can go into port at night or anytime you want!). The next day, we took a little boat tour around the Faraglioni, led by our captain, which was so much fun, and felt like the best way to see Capri, on our own boat versus fighting the crowds for big boat tours, and then we hung out on the yacht on the water all day.
If I did it again, I would have had a beach club and lunch reservation at La Fontelina – where we went on our honeymoon to Capri – but they book up months in advance, and we didn’t have a reservation in time, so we had to save that for another trip!) but we had the best time hanging out on the water. I also recommend going into port and exploring all that Capri has to offer – from the shopping, to the hikes and views. You can really do whatever you feel like when you’re on a sailboat – which is the beauty of it!!!
Stop 2: Ischia
Italy’s best kept secret – the island of Ischia, is a magical, less-discovered island on the Amalfi Coast near Capri. Ischia was one of the stops I was most excited about while sailing the Amalfi Coast on Dawn. I had heard such great things but had never been!
Ischia is famous for its pastel-hued houses, gorgeous landscapes, natural hot springs, and historic castles. It’s like Capri’s much less expensive, much more understated, much less discovered little sister. And that’s what everyone loves about it! We had so much fun exploring here. I’d recommend making a reservation at Club Scanella beachclub (very understated, nothing fancy, but a beautiful natural pool beach club!) and I’d also recommend just walking around and shopping town!!
We bought some trinkets in town and art at Galleria Mario Mazzella and it is so beautiful! Then we were back on board the yacht for sunset and had so much fun jumping off the boat and enjoying happy hour as the sun set over the harbor. We then had the BEST dinner of ravioli followed by lobster, freshly made foccacia bread, and chocolate souffle! YUM. And of course lots of delicious local wines. The next morning we woke up and Captain Brahm had moved the boat to the other side of the island where we had a perfect view of a gorgeous castle, and spent the morning e-surfing, paddle-boarding, jumping off the boat, and enjoying some more delicious food from Chef Tess! We could have gone into port to explore the island with the castle, but we were having too much fun!
Stop 3: Positano
That afternoon, after a full day of water-filled fun, we cruised over to Positano, where we’d anchor for the night. We took some photos with the epic backdrop, the boys hopped in the donut for the most ridiculous tubing adventure around Positano, and then we changed to head into Positano for the night! We left the baby with my parents on the boat and it was double date night! We had so much fun heading to Franco’s for drinks (get there early! They open at 5 but there will be a wait!), watching the sun set over Positano, grabbing gelato, and then heading back to the boat for a delicious dinner and we all laughing until our bellies hurt over an intense late night game of liars dice.
The next day, we enjoyed more Positano time (lots of recs for Positano in here) and then headed to Amalfi!
Stop 4: Amalfi
In Amalfi, you can either spend the day exploring Amalfi town or head up the hillside to beautiful, idyllic Ravello! I truly love both, I love being on the water in Amalfi, but Ravello has my heart. I recommend doing both!!!
We had the boat drop us after our charter in Amalfi directly at our hotel (Hotel Santa Caterina), which was such an amazing way to end the trip. We then spent a night there, and headed to Ravello to spend a couple more nights at the Belmond El Caruso – one of our favorite hotels in the world! I definitely loved getting to experience both the by-sea and by-land versions of the Amalfi Coast! It was fun to finish off the trip with some relaxing nights at these STUNNING properties. But nothing beats the yacht!!!!
What time of year is best for sailing Italy?
Anytime May through end of September is a great time to be sailing in Italy. We traveled to the Amalfi Coast early-to-mid September and it was an amazing time to be there. You can trust that the captain of your boat when you rent a private charter will make sure you’re always finding the best weather and calmest seas possible! Sometimes itineraries need to stay slightly flexible for that reason, but they’ll make sure you have the best trip.
Here’s where Dawn is sailing next year (Summer 2024)
The following are the dates currently still open for Charter on Dawn in 2024 season:
May 13-23, Location: Portofino, Cinque Terre, Portovenere (OK sign me up, this itinerary is SO GOOD!)
June 11-23, Location: Ischia, Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi, Ravello, Positano, Possibility also for Ponza (This is our itinerary!)
July 17-August 16, Location: Sardinia with Olbia as the main hub (I think sailing Sardinia would be INCREDIBLE as well, Sardinia is one of my favorite places!!!!)
September 3-September 10, Location: Capri, Amalfi, Ravello, Positano, Possibility also for Ponza (this is our itinerary!)
Also – If you book by the end of the year by emailing [email protected] and mentioning Jetset Christina, you will receive a 5% discount!
All about the sailing yacht we were on – DAWN Sunreef Charter
Dawn, the boat we sailed on, is a 60 ft / 18.3 m luxury catamaran that fits up to 8 guests. For a full boat tour, watch this reel I made on Instagram here. It’s super spacious with plenty of room for entertaining and dining on the decks or lounging on the many sofas. There’s also the beautiful hammocks and decks that all offer spectacular sea views as you anchor at port or sail from spot to spot. This dreamy yacht is operated by a dedicated and experienced crew of three people, led by Captain Bram ensuring top service and a memorable summer yacht charter experience in Italy.
DAWN also has the BEST selection of all new water toys, including inner tubes, waterskis, and donut toys, an AwakeBoard e-surfboard (my FAVORITE – so much fun!!!!!), diving scooters, wakeboards, and stand-up paddle boards.
How does it work sleeping on a sailboat?
It’s very comfortable!! Here is a layout of Dawn – you can see there are four comfortable cabins, each with their own bathroom!
We traveled with our baby boy and even were able to JUUUUST barely squeeze his pack n’ play into our room.
our bathroom on board
Our bedroom on board
hanging on the upstairs deck
The Costs & Exactly What’s Included When Sailing on Board Dawn Sunreef Charter
The best Amalfi Coast hotels these days are at least $1500/night (if you’re going 5-star), and even more depending on which hotel and which room you’re eyeing, add in dinners around Capri, Positano, and Amalfi which are about 3-400 euros per couple per night, add in transportation costs, any other day activity expenses (beach club access, boat tours, lunches etc), and you’re easily looking at $12,000-$15000 and up per couple for a luxe week on the Amalfi coast.
This gorgeous sailboat on the other hand costs ~ 37-40K per week (plus marina costs & groceries & taxes, so call it 50K), which comes out to about 7-8K per person if you’re doing 6 people, (it actually fits 8, if you want to bring the cost down more), and the yacht comes with a private chef (who makes the most decadent, DELICIOUS meals every meal!) a captain, a deckhand, a customized trip and itinerary perfected to your group’s preferences, AND all the fun water activities of your dreams (think : boat tours in Capri on your own private boat, donuting or paddle boarding around Positano, and I’m now obsessed with the e-surf board!!!). So really the costs are about equal to if you were doing Italy by luxury hotel vs luxury at sea, but can you think of a better way to live the la dolce vita dream than this?
What is the food like on board Dawn?
The food was SOOOO good on board. Every meal I felt like we were at a 5-star restaurant. Chef Tess catered to our preferences and what we liked, which was a lot of fresh seafood, and a lot of healthy, fresh ingredients as well as some Italian influence, of course! It was truly amazing what she was able to prepare on board for us. I am still SO impressed – she definitely will WOW you every meal.
Do you get seasick staying on a sailboat for a week?
If you are comfortable on the water and usually comfortable on boats, you will be fine. Catamarans are more stable than other types of boats and the seas of the Mediterranean aren’t usually rough. However, if you usually get seasick, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend living on a boat for a week 🙂 or at least bring medication if you do! There was one of our party that was seasick one of the days and a couple people that needed dramamine at one particularly bumpy time to stay comfortable (definitely bring the non-drowsy dramamine with you)!
What should I pack for sailing the Amalfi Coast?
Definitely try to not overpack when traveling by boat! There’s not a ton of extra space, and you’ll likely have to store your suitcase under the boat after you unpack since the rooms don’t have too much space. Here’s what I recommend as essentials.
One pair of sneakers for going into port (you’ll be walking a lot in Italy!) but you won’t need shoes on board (you don’t wear shoes on the boat!)
One pair of nice sandals or dress shoes for any nights out in port
Money – I recommend bringing two credit cards (one to use, and one to have as a backup), and a debit card for getting out cash. I also like to bring my credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. I also like to have some Euros on me before arriving to town so that I have some cash (you can order these through your bank and it’s usually a better exchange rate than at the airport!)
A beach bag – a lightweight beach bag will serve you throughout your trip for days in port, exploring towns, shopping around, going to the beach, you name it!
Check out my What to Pack for Italy post for Amalfi Coast outfit inspo and links!
Things the boat has on board so you don’t need to worry about packing!:
They already have sunscreen, towels, ball caps, and a blow dryer (!!)
Tips for sailing with a baby
We sailed with our 14-month-old son (who was just barely walking at the time) and it was definitely doable! It helped a lot that the boat was big! I honestly wasn’t really nervous once we were on the boat about him (we of course kept him under constant supervision and if there were rougher seas he would have a lifejacket on – but that didn’t really happen! He did use his lifejacket for the dinghy though anytime going into port.
Here are some things that made sailing with a baby easier for us:
Wow I can’t imagine if we hadn’t brought this! Many people tell me it’s even the highchair they use at home! But it’s SO good for travel, you just plop it onto any table (so can bring to restaurants, etc too) it’s super safe and really easy – he loved it!
It definitely made me feel safer having a lifejacket, but he didn’t need as often as I thought he would – we did use it when taking him in the water!
Our son doesn’t swim yet, but we brought a float like this one so Harrison could hang in the water with us!
This baby monitor that doesn’t use wifi!
This monitor made it possible for him to be napping or sleeping in the cabin but us be on the deck enjoying lunch or sunning or happy houring! Our usual at-home monitor relies on wifi which doesn’t work that well abroad (though there is wifi on the boat!)
What other questions do you guys have about sailing the Amalfi Coast? We had SO much fun – I can’t recommend it highly enough!! And working with the family-run team behind Dawn as our charter was the IDEAL way to do it!
How to book your own catamaran charter in Italy or Sardinia
Reach out to the DAWN team by going to @dawn_sunreef60 on instagram and shooting them a message, or filling out this inquiry form here. Be sure to let them know that Jetset Christina sent you! We loved them and loved the whole crew on board!!!
Also – If you book by the end of the year, you will receive a 5% discount – this means a standard charter in July and August will cost 40,000 euros rather than 42,000 eurosand on any other months it will cost 37,000 euros instead of 40,000 euros.
If you contact the Dawn team to book, either via [email protected] or by sending us a DM on instagram mentioning you came from JetsetChristina, you will receive an additional 1000 dollar discount, no matter when you book (which can be on top of the 5% discount, obviously only if booked by the end of the year). Be sure to let them know that Jetset Christina sent you – either in the inquiry form above or by emailing [email protected].