Monday, November 16, 2009
Ssshhh. Can you keep a secret???
When the sun shines brightly in summer from a cloudless sky, and the calm sea mirrors the vertical cliffs of the town with their flamboyant pocket gardens, we often pack hefty lunches, lilos, beach gear and tiny dog into our even tinier boat and head round to our favourite beach which our family has nicknamed La Spiaggia delle Balene. With it’s compact outboard motor strongly resembling an egg beater, our boat chugs slowly along the shores dipping dizzyingly in the deep blue waves. My third son sprints ahead with the kayak coming and going a dozen times till we arrive.
One of Positano best kept secrets, we have yet to encounter any tourist picnicking on our beach or doing more than resting on it’s shores while snorkeling in the rocky ridges between cliffs.
The locals know the Germano area well. But other than twenty years ago, when a water taxi service unloaded ten very overweight Germans, who incidentally stripped completely to sunbathe in what they thought would be a secluded beach (hence the name Whale Beach or perhaps beached whale), we have only had occasional locals for company.
For our ‘Whale Beach’ is accessible only by boat. The nearby beach has a path leading to it from the road side but very little know of it’s existence. And to glimpse the shore line from a boat, you would not really suspect that such a gem was hiding behind the jagged fallen boulders.
Being a cove that has shade on one side or another all day long, it’s rock formations frame the Amalfi coast all the way to Capri through its arched windows. The limpid sea beneath the arches dazzles, with it’s colour changing dramatically as the depth plunges. Minute fish nibble at greenery and sea urchins nestle in cracks with sea cucumbers as you snorkel past.
My family of six adores this place. Splashing happily in the shallows, fighting over the right to the water floats, climbing the ledges and diving off the cliffs, a day quickly passes. Boats come and go, sometimes a diver will emerge from the deep for a short stint in the sun before the sea reclaims him but rarely does anyone invade our territory as completely as we do.
When we see a boat approaching, we hold our breath. Frequently they are boats from hotels with their tourist guests who are showered by the boatman with tap water before being allowed to re-board the boat after their swim. They never swim to the shore.
Our dog gives up trying to follow us in to the water and resigns himself to a long wait in the shade.
Many head to this private beach around the corner or to the small one alongside it visible from the sea. If it were to be transformed into a trattoria, they would certainly have a roaring trade but thankfully the area is protected as part of a natural reserve where your anchor needs to stay firmly in your boat if you don't want to risk a fine.
So our beach remains a Positano secret. Our little jewel.
Maybe not as secret as it was in the sixties when this was painted by my father-in-law, but then you won’t tell, will you?