What a fantastic place to close beach season and year of travels. Maltese archipelago in the central Mediterranean sea is a perfect escape from a foggy autumn in London, and a great excuse to get your bikini’s out of the closet at the beginning of October. Close enough to get away for a weekend and far enough to keep temperatures in high 30°C even in the last week of September – Malta is yet another fabulous beach destination of Europe.
One of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world Malta is comprised of 7 islands located between Sicily and Tunisia. Very rich in culture and history I really wish I had more time to discover gorgeous capital Valletta, but exploring island’s beach life was too tempting to resist. I have to admit that Malta’s midland has many towns looking tired and overdeveloped with plenty of unfinished ghost hotels left behind financial crisis, but to my surprise biggest part of the beaches were left intact. Malta’s finest coastline is located on the northern part of the island, therefore instead of staying in the capital or nearby area, make your way towards Mellieha, on the other side of the island. We actually stayed there by accident as my second half managed to mix up two cities Sliema and Mellieha and book a hotel in Mellieha(and of course it was too late to cancel it), which at the end turned out to be the best base for exploring northern coast of Malta, plus it is very close to the ferry terminal from where you can get to Gozo and Comino islands. Both of them worth trip on its own – I managed to visit only Comino, where it all begun.
Blue Lagoon, Comino Island
If paradise exists, this is how it should look like. Blue lagoon is located on the Comino island, which has permanent population of only 4 residents, complete absence of cars and one hotel. Today it is a bird sanctuary and nature reserve with fantastic sea wildlife. Blue lagoon bay is placed between Comino island and islet Cominotto and it looks like a large swimming pool filled with insane azure waters and super soft white sandy base. It is an amazing place for snorkeling, diving and pure swimming. Obviously this picturesque bay attracts an enormous amount of visitors every day, compromising the pleasure of this magnificent place. Get ready to queue to get into the water, lay on a dirty hillside and have your deck chairs so close to your neighbor you can smell his feet. The view, the beach, the island is totally worth every second you spend there, but don’t expect privacy.
Get to the Blue lagoon with a regular boat shuttle from Ramla bay if you travel by car or from Cirkewwa ferry terminal if you travel by bus. Boat is 10EUR and goes every 30 minutes – in the price is included extremely loud dance music, irresponsibly fast driving and excursion to the caves around the Comino island.
It is far from being a paradise, but if you are not a fan of boat travels and crowds, on the next road from the ferry terminal you will find Paradise bay. It is very hard to praise any beach once you have seen Blue Lagoon, especially as the view of the Paradise bay is overlooking terminal building this beach has magnificent colour water and white sand, plus it has well presented restaurant & bar – what else would you need to enjoy a lovely day in the sun.
There is a bus station just above the beach and a large parking, which is free (as all the parking around the island).
Anybody staying in Mellieha that don’t feel like commuting , take a stroll down the hill to the nearby Mellieha bay – 800 meters of a sandy beach, water sports and shallow blue crystal clean waters. The road on the back of the beach and the overdeveloped shoreline takes away the magic of unspoiled nature, but you get a great view over the Mellieha town, which looks fantastic especially from a distance.
On the northwest side of the island, 15 minutes away from Melieha is a famous Golden bay, which is one of the three large sandy bays separated by large rock formations. Golden bay is probably one of the most popular one due to several beach clubs and a hotel right on the shore, which gives you plenty of convenience, but definitely takes away the magic of the unspoiled beauty. If you have a chance visit other two bays to see some spectacular views you don’t wan to miss. As suggested by name beach has a deep yellow colour sand, that look fantastic with the blue colour water.
There is a bus station just at the beach, called Golden bay.
Second beach from the Golden bay is a much longer, but narrower red sandy shore with shallow blue waters. No wonder beach is less crowded as it is well hidden behind the long stairs of 200 steps. This was probably one of my favorite beaches, because of the more relaxed environment, small kiosk on the right side of the beach serves lunch and refreshments, and if you get bored on the beach you can go for a walk on the nearby hillside discovering secret bays of Gnejna beach and the spectacular view of the rock formations, that separates two beaches.
Gnejna bay – secret part
This is the place I mentioned earlier, if you follow trails on the Ghanj Tuffieha bay and walk up the hill to the top you will see several secluded bays that you can reach either by hiking down the steep rocky paths or getting a kayak from the central Gnejna bay. Clearly you need professional hiker boots and be slightly mad to walk down the rocky path, so kayak probably is a more sensible solution – either way I was gutted I discovered it couple of hours before we had to leave to airport, so it’s on my wish list for next time. These bays are known for having clothing optional policy, but be aware of plenty of spectators from above.
Gnejna bay- central part
The central part of the Gnejna bay has a smaller yellow sandy beach with shallow blue waters. It is much quieter and more relaxed than the other two and it has boat houses carved into the rocks, which looks like ancient buildings. There is a water sport center where you can hire a kayak, to get to the secret bays of Gnejna for your own private sunbathing experience.
The best way to get here is by following road from the Ghajn Tuffieha and there is a bus stop right at the beach as well.
Where to stay?
Valletta and it’s close by Sliema and St. Julian would be a great location if you want to discover capital with a bit of seaside pleasures. There are a couple of tiny bays where you could get into the water, but especially in summer they can get very crowded. Driving to the northern beaches would be at least 30 minutes and could be too much if you are in Malta for just couple of days. Mellieha is a great location for exploring northern coast of Malta, and has some decent hotels and restaurants. Beaches are 10 minutes drive away, and ferry terminal is in the same distance.
How to get around?
We chose to rent a car, and I was taken by a slight surprise when realized that driving is on the left side of the road like in UK, luckily we have some experience, but anybody coming from rest of the Europe might need some time for adjustment. Alternatively, the bus system is so well organised you can get to any beach you want, link to Malta’s public transport website here.
Where to eat?
I have to admit that we were quite disappointed with Maltese cuisine, we probably were in the wrong places as two restaurants in Mellieha that looked really good were fully booked, but the rest of it was kind of rather average attempt of imitating Italian cooking – shame. Two restaurants in Mellieha which looked excellent, but we didn’t make it Bouquet Garni and Rebekha’s restaurant.
Here is the map to the beaches: as new google map engine doesn’t have option to zoom in to the specific point on the map, unfortunately you have to do it manually, I hope only temporarily.