Malta is a year round destination: summer months are bringing perfect beach weather, winter months are excellent for taking excursions, exploring the countryside, enjoying traditional cuisine. If it comes to snorkeling on Malta, you can expect crystal clear water packed with Mediterranean marine life. Let’s see together where to go for the best snorkeling experience on this lovely Mediterranean island.
What to do on Malta: history meets sea
The archipelago consists of 3 islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Each island has its own character, they might look similar at first sight but are unique, different. Malta is the biggest island, very international, large number of foreigners choose this lovely island for holiday or even as their home. Since English is second official language, it is very easy to communicate. Even elderly people in smaller villages speak English and are always ready to help you if you seem to be lost. Generally the locals are very friendly, helpful. Grab the opportunity and have a chat with them if you can!
Malta has very rich history: you may spend time discovering ancient temples or few of the more than 360 churches! Summer is official festival time, there are traditional fest every week throughout the island with tons of programs and never-ending fireworks. Walking on historic streets of Valetta or Mdina (current and former capital city) will never disappoint you, not even restaurants and bars. Don’t miss local rabbit dishes, cactus jam and fig liqueur!
Best time for snorkeling on Malta
Weather settles down from end of May bringing rising sea temperature and calm sea. I would say this is official season start for snorkeling on Malta. The sea temperature is around 19-20 C in May, 22-23 in June and can reach 26-27 C 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. We use wetsuit/rash guard in summer too – although the sea is warm enough for snorkeling 1-1,5 hours, it is much more comfortable not feeling cold at all. Your suit also protects you against sun and jellyfish. We absolutely recommend wearing UV sun protection rash guard or wetsuit.
Frequently asked question is if it is worth to visit Malta in autumn hoping for beach weather? The answer is a big yes! I absolutely recommend autumn months for snorkeling on Malta, beaches are less crowded, weather is nice, warm and sunny, prices are bit lower. Sea temperature 24-25 C in September, drops gradually but still around 20 C till end of November.
Visibility is incredible when water is cold, sea gets a bit murky while warming up and when algae starts blooming. But don’t worry, you may expect great visibility in summer up to 20 meters. Occasionally windy periods can create rough sea, stir the water up and make it cloudy. But visibility gets better again as sea calms down.
Tip: rocky beaches with grassy sea-floor are the best for snorkeling on Malta during hottest summer months if it comes to water clarity.
Best beaches for snorkeling on Malta
You find beautiful sandy beaches around Malta like Golden Bay, Mellieha Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha which are perfect for spending a great day relaxed enjoying the sun and sea. If your priority is snorkeling on Malta, go for rocky beaches! Main touristic beaches could be overcrowded, water might be not so clean. Also there is slighter chance to spot sea creatures when to many people/boats are around. Since Malta has a long, diverse coastline with many bays, it is easy to find smaller, sometimes “secret” beaches that are great for snorkeling too! Here are our favorites:
Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq (Snorkel Around The World recommendation)
The area is situated at the mouth of the island’s longest valley called ‘Wied il-Kbir’. Popular with locals, this rocky beach is perfect spot for hanging out with friends or having BBQ. Our favorite snorkeling spot! Sea bottom is sandy, visibility generally good. We’ve seen here huge crabs, Mediterranean rays, bull ray, flying gurnards as well as typical Mediterranean fish.
Ghar Lapsi beach is a hidden little bay with a view over Filfla (tiny outcrop of limestone, standing some 5 kilometers out in the open sea). Rocky shoreline forms a natural swimming pool. With crystal fantastic azure waters, this place is perfect for snorkeling on Malta. Swim left, follow the shoreline and you’ll find some amazing caves!
Popular beach for swimming as well as for snorkeling. In the evenings, it’s also a great location for barbeques. The inner bay is sheltered from open water by natural rock formations. You can swim on the open sea side by calm water where you find an open cave, which is easy to swim through.
It is a open cave located in the North of Malta, next to the Little Armier Bay. Not only beautiful natural formation as well as first class snorkeling spot, with nice reefs around and underwater caves. Coral Lagoon is popular with snorkelers and divers who come to explore the underwater caves. Accessible with short, 30-minute kayak ride away from Little Armier Bay, but recommended only by calm sea conditions. The entrance is 1 meter wide, so not safe when sea is rough. If you are in the cave, be careful with cliff diver that jump in!
Fomm ir Rih
Isolated, wild beach but one of the most beautiful ones. Fomm Ir-Rih is favorite among snorkelers and to people who like secluded beaches. Fantastic views of cliffs, valleys, deep blue Mediterranean Sea. Fomm Ir-Rih Bay’s offers crystal clear blue waters and is a perfect place for snorkeling on Malta when the sea is calm. When it’s windy, it is not safe because of high waves, enjoy the view only by rough sea!
The way leads down via a rough, tricky and sometimes steep pathway, it takes around 20 minutes. Once you are down in the bay, you’ll find yourself on a long, but not so wide plebby beach. High chance for spotting cuttlefish, rays, even bigger groupers.
Can be found just next to famous St Peter’s Pool Kalanka bay, little bit less known, therefore less crowded. It id surrounded by stones and rocks, while sandy bottom makes the water deep blue. If you prefer privacy, take the road on the right side of Kalanka. With short walk, this dirt track will lead you to an amazing, almost unvisited bay where you can enjoy a calm summer day with great snorkeling!
Secret point – Mini Azure Window
If you don’t mind hiking a bit for spending the day on a remote, not well known location, we recommend you a little paradise! Take the road on the left after Armier Bay roundabout and drive on it until you see the edge. Look down from the cliffs and you will see the Mini Azure Window with tiny concrete ground next to. The path going down starts just where road ends. This place is also accessible from Paradise bay with short kayak ride. The view of the mini window 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!
Tip: How to choose beach for the day?
Check weather forecast, wind and wave direction. Since Malta located in the center of the Mediterranean Sea and not protected by any mainland, it happens often that it is windy from one side with high waves, but calm with slighter sea on the other side. There are several weather pages for the Maltese Islands sharing „safe bay” maps regularly, google them to find the best place to stay!
What to see undersea?
Marine life is abundant in the Mediterranean Sea, although it is not that colorful than at tropical destinations. In addition to different type of algae and sea weed, Most commonly seen species while snorkeling on Malta: Octopus, Cuttlefish, Cylinder Anemone, Rainbrow wrasse
Painted comber, Salema fish, European parrotfish, Flying gurnards, Doublebanded Bream, White Seabream, Stingray, Bullray, Mediterranean moray, Fireworm, Sea urchin, Sea star, Sea sponge, Crabs
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 over fishing takes place so it’s no wonder that jellyfish are increasing. More species can be found around the island, some of them have painful stingers. Most commonly seen species are:
What to do if you get stung by Jellyfish
Remove stingers by rinsing with seawater. If you removed all the stingers, rinse with vinegar or apply a baking soda paste. This will help to deactivate the stingers. Apply warm water or ice on the affected area, then lotion to relieve itching. Despite of the rumors, never try to treat the area with human urine, ethanol or gasoline and do not apply pressure bandage on it!Best way to avoid getting stung by jellyfish is wearing rash guard.
We wish you happy snorkeling on Malta full of unforgettable memories!