10 things to do in Malta this summer – Work on your tan

Posted on July 8, 2010

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6) Work on your tan

I will immediately end your misery by saying that NO, St. George’s Bay (St. Julians) is not the only beach in Malta (don’t think I’m exaggerating or making a fuss – I”ve actually been told this by tourists as if it were 100% fact). In fact, it’s not even a real beach, but one made by the government so that those sad sad tourists who couldn’t be bothered to go beyond St. Julians could have some mock sand to lie on (it’s actually shingle, and it hurts to walk on it barefoot). The second thing you need to know is that yes, it’s all about the sea in Malta, but it’s definitely not all about the sand. While we do have our share of pretty (but remember, small) sandy beaches, the most spectacular swimming spots will have you sunbathe of rock, rather than sand.

Here are my tips for the best places to enjoy the sun and the sea:

Best for sandMellieha Bay in the North part of the island is the biggest sandy beach and is very popular with tourists and locals alike, but because of the sheer amount of half-burnt flesh strolling along this part of the island, I tend to stay well clear of it. Another very popular beach is Golden Bay, in the North-West of Malta, which despite also being swamped by visitors in the summer months, is totally worth the visit. Set among some of the most beautiful coastline of the island, it’s sheltered between two crumbling headlands, spoiled a little by the modern hotel which was built on one of them. For a little less people, go to the neighbouring Ghajn Tuffieha Bay (just a short walk from Golden Bay) but beware of the fact that the water here can be a bit rough and currents strong. For more off the beaten track locations, try Gnejna Bay (close to Golden Bay but with half the amount of  people, Paradise Bay (at the Northern tip of the island, close to the Gozo ferry) and Armier (also in the North). The best way not to be disappointed is to wipe from your brain those photoshoped tourism ads depicting Maltese beaches as boasting tropical white sand and lone sunbathers. Having said that, if you reconfigure your expectations of scale (and human density), I am sure that one of the above beaches will still manage to make you go ‘wow’.

Best for beautiful rock formations – In the sleepy fishing village of Marsaxlokk (after following a dirt road full of bumps and holes) you’ll be mesmerised by the part of the coastline known as St. Peter’s Pool (public transport doesn’t venture this far). A little beyond is Delimara Point, also without a grain of sand in sight but filled with curious and beautiful limestone formations resulting from millions of years of sea erosion. For something in the North, check out Mistra Bay in Xemxija or find a spot along St. Paul’s Bay (a town, not a bay in itself) from where you can admire the two little spits of land known as the St. Paul’s Islands.

 

-Best for lingering in Gozo – Malta’s sister island Gozo is far less touristy, so if you’re looking for a measure of peace and something close to a quiet sun and sea experience, you could spend a couple of days driving from one corner of this island to the next and discovering swimming spots. Hondoq ir-Rummien lies in the Southern part of Gozo facing Comino, Ramla Bay will surprise you with its small expanse of bright ochre-coloured sand, and Xlendi Bay will allow you to hike up the cliffs and get a bird’s eye view of your surroundings.

Best for crystal clear blue water –  The Blue lagoon in the tiny island of comino is unfortunately by no means a travel secret, which means that you will have to share this idyllic location and the beautiful turquoise water with others. But again, this one is truly worth it.

 The Bottom Line – Malta is not a secluded, difficult to reach tropical island as it is sometimes unfortunately advertised. It’s in the middle of the Mediterranean and connected to the world by a number of low cost airlines. You need to remember that if you’ve come for the beach and the sea, chances are so has everyone else. The key to a more pleasant holiday is to try and venture to those corners which few tourists could be bothered to check out (unless their hotel is within walking distance). And do me a favour…don’t even think about settling for St. George’s bay.

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @ www.travelwithdenden.wordpress.com

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Posted in: Malta