Are you thinking about where to go this summer? If you would like to spend your holiday in a safe country with beautiful beaches and excellent snorkeling opportunities, visit Malta and discover the Mediterranean Sea! This hidden gem is only a few hours flight from the main European cities, perfect destination for adventure seekers and for families as well. Let us show you the tiny, but never boring Maltese islands above and under the sea!
The Maltese Islands and the Mediterranean Sea
Malta – the place where history meets the Mediterranean culture. The Maltese Islands (part of the European Union) lie at the centre of the Mediterranean, are surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. They are 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km of Africa. Malta consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino with a total population of over 400,000 inhabitants, although these number could be the double during the summer months.
The islands are living museums – you will find huge baroque churches, medieval towers, chapels and temples everywhere you go on the islands. Walk around in the authentic fishing villages where the locals gladly chat with you about the old times and give you a part of their Mediterranean life. Have fresh sea food or traditional meals in one of the cozy restaurants and discover the breathtaking beaches!
The largest island is Malta, which is the commercial and administrative centre (the airport can be found here). Gozo, the second largest island is more rural and quiet, characterized by fishing and agriculture, a real hidden paradise with amazing nature. Comino is the smallest, mostly known about the Blue Lagoon, largely uninhabited, perfect place for an easy hike and fine swim in the crystal clear water of the lagoon.
Best time to visit Malta
3000 hours of sunshine per year, 23 0 C (73 °F) average yearly temperature during the day and warm Mediterranean Sea– it sounds perfect, isn’t it? According to International Living, Malta is the state with the best climate in the world! Let’s see what does it mean:
- Malta has a Mediterranean climate with very mild winters and warm to hot summers
- Rain occurs mainly in winter, summers are generally dry
- Malta has one of the warmest temperature averages in Europe: the coldest month is January with the average 12-20 0 C (54-68°F) during the day and 6-12 0 C (43-54°F) at night. The warmest month is August, the max temperatures are 28-34 0 C (82-93°F) and min 20-24 (68-75°F) at night.
- Malta is one of the few places in Europe which is "green" all year round (The vegetation is green, does not die during the winter, the islands start to “live” during the winter months when it is raining)
- The area has one of the highest sunshine per year rate in Europe (5 hours per day in December and 12 hours per day in July)
- The Mediterranean Sea has the highest annual sea temperature in Europe. From Jun to November the average sea temperature exceeds 20 °C (68 °F). The sea temperature is around 22 °C (72 °F) in June, 26-27 °C (79-81 °F) in August, 24 °C (75 °F) in late September and October and drops to 22 °C (72 °F) by early November.
The winter months are perfect for exploring the historical places and for taking excursions. The islands are very popular during the main summer months (from end of June till early September), the main beaches could be crowded. If you prefer to avoid the busiest time, we recommend you to visit Malta and explore the Mediterranean Sea in autumn: the weather is still fine and the sea is warm!
Best beaches in Malta
The Maltese beaches are simple beautiful! It does not matter what is your priority, you are looking for sandy beaches or rocky ones, you will find your favorites here for sure! I think the opportunities are endless, you can visit the most popular beaches but if you are adventurous, discover the hidden ones.
The most popular sandy beaches are in Malta the Mellieha Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha, Gnejna Bay and the Golden Bay. As these beaches are sandy, not really good for snorkeling, but great for lying in the sun and have a lazy day.
The rocky beaches are better if you want to explore the Mediterranean Sea with your mask and snorkel. The marine life is diverse, the sea bottom is different on each spot – it is covered with thick seaweed on some spots and with colorful algae on other ones! Let’s see a few of the best snorkeling beaches:
Paradise Bay: the main beach is sandy, but on the left and on the right side is rocky and the visibility is good, the water is shallow, very good spot for snorkeling. The beach offers a good view of the island of Comino with its imposing tower.
Cirkewwa Point: popular diving and freediving spot, there are two shipwrecks and a Madonna Statue in the deep, but snorkelers also find interesting marine life here as well as some easy swim trough caves.
Coral Lagoon: this huge open cave is an interesting natural formation, don’t miss to visit! The Coral Lagoon is not so far from the Armier Bay. If you want to explore from above, you just need to walk there from the Armier Bay, but the best is to rent a kayak in the little Armier Bay – if the sea is calm, you can go into the open cave with your kayak and swim in the cave. On the way there and back you may observe the interesting coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. After kayaking you can rest on the sandy beach of the little Armier Bay.
St Peter’s Pool: do you like jumping and making a summer BBQ? The St. Peters Pool is your place! It is difficult to reach this spot with public transport (although not impossible) so mostly locals visit it. Once you have jumped enough from the cliffs, take your snorkel stuff to observe the different fish of the Mediterranean Sea.
Ponta tal-Mig Nuna, Marsaskala: far from the city but close to the nature! Marsaskala is a small, friendly village with excellent snorkeling beaches because of the rocky shoreline.
Popeye Village, Anchor Bay: have you ever snorkeled on a movie filming location? Here in the Anchor Bay you can do it! The Popeye movie was filmed in this bay, so you might snorkel in a very unique spot. The Anchor bay is a safe bay for snorkeling, you might see here different fish, octopus and beautiful algae on the sea bottom.
Although the main beaches are very nice, to be honest, we prefer the hidden paradises! Places, where sometimes only some local fishermen and their families spend their time or only a few tourists can be found. Exploring new places takes time, these beaches are often out-of- the-way but your efforts will be paid! If you also prefer exploring secret spots, we recommend you to check the hiking routes; these will lead you to the best spots!
Comino and the Blue Lagoon
Spending a day in the Blue Lagoon is really a must-do if you are on Malta! The Blue Lagoon is a sandy lagoon with amazing clear water! The Blue Lagoon is accessible with the Comino ferries from Cirkewwa or from Sliema. You can make an easy hike around Comino before swimming, the view is absolutely breathtaking. Although the Blue Lagoon is the most popular spot in Comino, the San Niklaw Bay and the St Mary’s Bay are also lovely and less crowded. Snacks, fruits and soft drinks are available as well as sun beds and umbrellas for rent.
The Mediterranean Sea under the surface
Well, there is no tropical marine life in the Mediterranean Sea, but there are many nice and interesting species to see. Fish like Mediterranean rainbow wrasse, Mediterranean parrot fish, stonefish, octopus, squids and moray eels are very common. If you are lucky you will meet rays, seahorses and nudibranchs as well. The rocks and the sea bottom are covered with algae in different colors. Sea stars, sea urchins, fire worms and crabs are also easy to find.
Snorkeling tips: Always be careful when entering the water on rocky beaches, the rocks are sharp and slippery! It’s recommended to take beach shoes or neoprene socks with you! Jellyfish are very common in the Mediterranean Sea and some have painful stings. The Mauve Stinger purple jellyfish are painful and you can meet them every day in the sea, so we recommend to wear always a wetsuit or at least a swim suit/rash guard which protects you not only against the jellyfish but against the UV rays as well.
Photos were taken with a Nikon Coolpix AW 120 Underwater Compact Camera.