Your holiday cannot be complete without snorkeling on Malta! This tiny archipelago in the heart of the Mediterranean is one of the best summer destinations in Europe and offers perfect conditions for water activities! Learn about the best beaches of the island and explore the crystal clear water with interesting marine species to see!
Table of Contents
- 1 The Maltese Islands
- 2 Best time for snorkeling on Malta
- 3 Best beaches for snorkeling on Malta
- 4 Mediterranean Sea animals and marine species
- 5 Jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea
The Maltese Islands
The Maltese Islands are part of the European Union and lie at the center of the Mediterranean. They are 93 km south of Sicily, 288 km of Africa. Malta consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo, Comino. Malta is the biggest and most visited of them. Since English is the second official language, a large number of foreigners choose this lovely island for holiday or even as their home. Malta has very rich history: You can discover ancient temples, baroque churches, medieval towers and lovely chapels. Summer is the official festival time! There are traditional fests every week throughout the island with tons of programs and never-ending fireworks. Walking around in the authentic fishing village of Marsaxlokk or on the historic streets of Valetta or Mdina (current and former capital city) will take you back in time. Don’t miss out the islands’ specialties, the rabbit dishes, cactus jam and fig liqueur!
Best time for snorkeling on 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 summer is definitely about beaches! After the windier and rainy winter months, the weather settles down from end of May bringing rising sea temperature and calm sea that is perfect for snorkeling on Malta as well as other water activities! 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. The Mediterranean Sea is famous for the 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 blooms. Moreover, windy periods can result in cloudy water too, but when the sea calms down, it gets incredible clear again! Generally, rocky beaches are the best for snorkeling on Malta during hottest summer months if it comes to water clarity.
3000 hours of sunshine per year, 23 °C (73 °F) average yearly day temperature and warm Mediterranean 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.
Best beaches for snorkeling on Malta
You find beautiful sandy beaches around Malta like the famous Golden Bay, Mellieha Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha or Paradise Bay which are perfect for spending a great day with chilling and enjoying the sun and sea. But if your priority is snorkeling on Malta, go for rocky beaches! The main touristic beaches could be overcrowded in the Malta holiday season, therefore the water might be murky. Moreover, there is slighter chance to spot sea creatures when many people/boats are around. Since Malta has a long, diverse coastline with many bigger and smaller bays, it is easy to find places that are quitter and good for snorkeling too! Find below our favourite Malta beaches for snorkeling!
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. Our favorite snorkeling spot! The sandy sea bottom and shallow water make this beach a number one on the snorkeling on Malta top list! We spooted here huge crabs, different type of Mediterranean stingrays, moray eel, flying gurnard ‘flying fish’ as well as 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). With crystal fantastic azure waters, this place is perfect for snorkeling on Malta where the rocky shoreline forms a natural swimming pool. On the left side of the area, you can find some magical open caves!
Popular beach for swimming as well as for snorkeling in Qwara, close to Buggiba and St Pauls Bay. The inner bay is sheltered from open water by natural rock formations. There is an open 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 on Malta. The Coral Lagoon is popular with snorkelers and divers who come to explore the underwater caves. Accessible with a short, 30-minute kayak ride from the Little Armier Bay, but kayaking is only recommended only by calm sea conditions. The entrance is about 1 meter wide, so not safe when the sea is rough. The sea 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!
Fomm ir Rih
Isolated, wild beach but definitely one of the most beautiful ones. Fomm Ir-Rih is favorite among snorkelers and to people who like secret places.With fantastic views of cliffs and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea beneath you, it is not only a perfect place for snorkeling on Malta but also a top location for walking or hiking. From the parking area, a path leads down between the rocks. 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.
The Kalanka Bay is not so far from the famous St Peter’s Pool. It is not well-known, therefore less crowded. Dramatic rock formations, sandy sea bottom and deep blue water to find here. If you prefer privacy, Kalanka Bay is a place for you because there is plenty of space to sunbathe or having a BBQ.
Popeye Village, Anchor Bay
The Popeye Village offers exclusive snorkeling on Malta! How many times happened to you that you swam with a real set in the background? Here in the Anchor Bay you can do it where the famous Popeye musical was filmed! The Anchor bay is not only a truly unique spot but a protected spot for swimming where you can see here different fish species, morey eels, octopus or even cuttlefish.
Secret beach – Mini Azure Window near Paradise Bay
If you don’t mind hiking a bit in order to enjoy a day on a picturesque tiny beach, we suggest you a little paradise! Take the road on the left right after the Armier Bay roundabout and drive until you reach the edge. Look down from the cliffs and you will see the Mini Azure Window rock, with a tiny concrete ground next to it. The path going down starts just where road ends. This place is also accessible from the Paradise bay with a short kayak ride. The view of the mini window and underwater landscape will compensate you for the hike! Interesting underwater 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!
Tip: How to choose beach for the day? Due to weather changes, Malta beaches conditions are constantly changing. Since Malta is located in the center of the Mediterranean Sea and not protected by any mainland, it often happens that the island is windy from one side with high waves, but calm with slight sea on the other side. When planning your beach day, we recommend to check wind and wave forecasts online to find the safe bays!
Comino Blue Lagoon
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 amazing clear water! 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.
Mediterranean Sea animals and marine species
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 on 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.
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 snorkeling on Malta. 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 Mediterranean Sea jellyfish is the Mauve Stinger. This purple species with large tentacles has a toxin that 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!