The Maltese archipelago lies in the heart of the Mediterranean consisting of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. This tiny, yet remarkable destination is one of the best summer holiday destinations in Europe with good reason. Rich history, tons of programs and activities, superb weather, and perfect conditions for water activities make this English-speaking country a one-stop-shop tourist hub. Malta, the largest island is the most visited that has beaches for all kinds of beachgoers. With this post, we wish to help those who are keen to explore the Mediterranean Sea by explaining where to go snorkeling in Malta and what marine species to see.
Table of Contents
- Best time to go snorkeling in Malta
- Best snorkeling places in Malta
- What species to see while snorkeling in Malta?
Best time to go snorkeling in Malta
Thanks to the pleasant Mediterranean climate, there is no bad time to visit Malta. The cooler winter months are perfect to explore the land attractions, while the summer is definitely about beaches and water activities! After the windier and rainy winter months, the weather settles down at end of May bringing rising temperatures and calm seas and offering perfect conditions for snorkeling in Malta!
The sea temperature is around 19-20 °C (66-68 °F) in May, 22-23 °C (71-73 °F) in June and can reach 27-28 °C (80-82 °F) in August. It is possible to swim even during winter months (many people do it) but you need to wear wetsuit, the thicker the better. In summer, it is recommended to wear UV sun protection rash guard to protect your skin against sun and jellyfish stings (read more about jellyfish in Malta at the end of the post).
The Mediterranean Sea is famous for its incredible water clarity! You can expect visibility exceeding 20 meters. However, the water can get a little murky when the sea starts to warm up and the algae bloom. Moreover, windy periods can result in cloudy water too, but when the sea calms down, it gets incredibly clear again! Although the most popular Mala beaches are the sandy ones such as Golden Bay and Mellieha Bay, to go snorkeling in Malta seek out the rocky ones that are always better if it comes to water clarity.
3000 hours of sunshine per year, 23 °C (73 °F) average yearly day temperature and warm sea. Such a perfect weather, isn’t it? According to International Living, Malta has the best climate in the world! Let’s see what does it mean exactly:
- The Mediterranean climate features mild winters and hot summers
- Rain occurs mainly in winter, summers are dry
- Malta has one of the highest average temperatures in Europe. The coldest month is January with the day temperatures 12-20 °C (54-68°F). The warmest month is August when the max temperatures are 28-34 °C (82-93°F).
- The island has year-round green vegetation.
- The area has the highest sunshine per year rate in Europe: 5 hours per day in December and 12 hours in July
- The Mediterranean Sea has the highest annual sea temperature in Europe with maximums 27-28 °C (80-82 F) in August.
Due to the island’s geographical locations, the wind and sea conditions are constantly changing. Malta lies in the center of the Mediterranean Sea and not protected by any mainland, it often happens that there is strong wind from the south with high waves, but calm with slight sea on the north side or vice versa. When planning your beach day, we recommend checking wind and wave forecasts online to find the safe bays! Windy.com is good site to do this.
Best snorkeling places in Malta
You find beautiful sandy beaches around the island like the famous Golden Bay, Mellieha Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha or Paradise Bay which are perfect for spending a great day with chilling out and enjoying the sun and sea, but if your priority is to go snorkeling in Malta, go for the rocky beaches! The main touristic beaches could be overcrowded in the peak season, therefore the water might be murky. Moreover, there is a slighter chance to spot sea creatures when many people/boats are around. Since Malta has a long, diverse coastline dotted with many smaller coves, it is easy to find places that are quieter and relaxing. Find below our favorite Malta beaches for snorkeling!
Tip: If you are on Malta, take the ferry and check Gozo snorkeling spots as well!
The area is situated at the mouth of the island’s longest valley called ‘Wied il-Kbir’. Popular with locals, this rocky beach is a perfect spot for hanging out with friends or having a BBQ. Moreover, it is a great place to practice water activities! The sandy sea bottom and shallow water make this beach a number one on our snorkeling on Malta top list! We spotted here huge crabs, different type of Mediterranean stingrays, moray eels, flying gurnard ‘flying fish’ besides the typical Mediterranean fish.
The Ghar Lapsi beach is a hidden little place with a view to Filfla (tiny outcrop of limestone, standing some 5 kilometers out in the open sea). Thanks to its remoteness and fantastic azure waters, this place is perfect if you wish to stay away from the crowd. The rocky shoreline forms a natural swimming pool providing safe conditions for kids and weak-swimmers. On the left side of the area, you can find some magical caves too that are must-visit for those who are confident in the water!
Close the island’s popular resort towns, Buggiba and St Pauls Bay, can be found the sheltered Qwara Point . This rocky beach is a nice spot for swimming as well as for snorkeling.
The inner bay is protected from the waves by natural rock formations. There is also a cave here where you can swim in if the sea is calm.
The Coral Lagoon is a huge open cave located in the North of Malta, next to the Little Armier Bay. It is not only a beautiful natural formation but also a first-class snorkeling spot in Malta. The Coral Lagoon is popular with snorkelers and divers who come to explore the underwater caves.
It is accessible with a short, 30-minute kayak ride from the Little Armier Bay, but kayaking is only recommended when the weather is calm. The entrance is about 1 meter wide, so not safe when the sea is rough. The water is shallow (3-4 meters) inside the lagoon and deepens gradually towards the open sea. Be careful outside the lagoon and watch out the passing boats!
An isolated, wild beach but definitely one of the most beautiful ones. Fomm Ir-Rih is favorite among snorkelers and people who like secret places. With fantastic views of cliffs and the deep blue sea beneath you, it is not only one of the best spots to go snorkel to Malta, but also a top location for walking or hiking.
From the parking area, a path leads down to the beach. It is steep at some points and takes around 20 minutes to reach the actual beach, therefore not many people decide to go there. Once you get down, you’ll find yourself on a long, but not so wide plebby beach. Thanks to its remoteness, the chance to spot bigger marine species like cuttlefish, rays or groupers is better than at busier places.
Note: unfortunately the wall at this beach collapsed in 2020 summer, so the only way to get to Fomm ir-Rih is by boat now.
Find Hotel in Malta!
Kalanka Bay lies close to the famous St Peter’s Pool, but not that well-known therefore less crowded. Dramatic rock formations, sandy sea bottom and deep blue water that await sea lovers here.
If you prefer privacy, Kalanka Bay is a place for you because there is plenty of space to sunbathe or having a BBQ.
Anchor Bay, Popeye Village
The Popeye Village is probably Malta’s most exclusive snorkeling spot! How many times happened to you that you swam with movie set in the background? Here you can do it since this is the place where the famous Popeye musical was filmed!
The Anchor bay is not only one of the island’s most unique attractions but also a protected bay for swimming where you can see vibrant marine life including different fish species, morey eels, octopus or even cuttlefish.
Secret beach near Paradise Bay
If you don’t mind hiking a bit in order to enjoy a day on a picturesque tiny beach, we tell you a secret! Take the road on the left after the Armier Bay roundabout and drive until you reach the edge. Look down from the cliffs and you will see a miniature Azure Window rock, with a tiny concrete ground next to it.
The path going down starts just where the dirt track ends. This place is also accessible from the Paradise bay with a short kayak ride. The view of this small arch and underwater landscape will compensate you for the hike! Interesting rock formations, small caves, sandy and grassy sea bottom surrounded by shoals of fish. Don’t forget to take food and beverages with you since there is nothing around!
Comino Blue Lagoon
Even if you don’t have time to visit all 3 Maltese Islands on your vacation, spending a day in the picturesque Comino Blue Lagoon is really a must-do if you are in Malta! The Blue Lagoon is a sandy lagoon with the most amazing turquoise water you will see in your life! It is accessible with the Comino ferries from Cirkewwa or with boat tours leaving 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, when walking around the island you can find less crowded bays like the San Niklaw Bay or the St Mary’s Bay. These areas of the island are not only more relaxed than the main lagoon but offer better conditions for snorkeling thanks to the rocky shore.
What species to see while snorkeling in Malta?
The marine life is abundant in the Mediterranean Sea. Although it is not as colorful as at tropical places, but comparing to other European destinations (the Adriatic Sea for example) it is definitely more vibrant. While snorkeling Malta, you can observe a wide variety of fish species as well as octopus, sea urchins and sea stars. Around sandy beaches, often stingrays can be spotted. The underwater rocks are covered with algae and sea sponges in different colors that often hide tiny sea creatures like nudibranch, fire worm or seahorse.
The most common fish species in the Mediterranean Sea:
- Rainbow wrasse
- Mediterranean Parrot Fish
- Painted comber
- Moray Eel
- Flying gurnard
- Doublebanded Bream
- White Sea bream
Tip: if you want to read something interesting, learn how and where can you see sharks in Malta!
Jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea
Unfortunately, there are more and more Jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea therefore you need to be careful while swimming or snorkeling. Jellyfish thrive wherever overfishing takes place so it’s no wonder that the number of jellyfish are increasing. Different species can be found in the Mediterranean Sea, some of them are not dangerous, but some of them have painful stingers.
The most common jellyfish is the Mauve Stinger. This purple species with large tentacles that has a toxin and can be dangerous for children or for those who are allergic to them, but are not deadly! Usually they cause burning sensation and redness only.
Moreover, late summer or early autumn, the yellow Fried Egg Jellyfish (Cotylorhiza Tuberculata) appear around North Malta and Gozo beaches. These mesmerizing huge jellyfish, despite their size and large numbers, are non-stinging so completely harmless!
What to do if you get stung by a jellyfish?
If getting stung by a jellyfish, leave the water as soon as possible. Remove the stingers by rinsing with seawater and pluck the visible tentacles with tweezers or scrape them off with a plastic card. If you removed all the stingers, rinse the skin again with sea water, vinegar or apply a baking soda paste on it. This will help to deactivate the remaining stingers.
Despite of the rumors, never treat the area with human urine, ethanol or gasoline and do not apply pressure bandage on it! The redness and itching should go away in a few hours. If you experience allergic reactions, seek medical help! The best way to avoid getting stung by jellyfish is wearing long sleeve rash guard and long pants!