Dip in Europe’s cleanest Water
It’s summer, it’s hot and most visitors to Malta for the next couple of months will definitely include swimming among their holiday activities. The good news is that the sea around Malta has never been cleaner.
In a recent EU Bathing Waters Quality report Malta has ranked highly. In fact Malta scored a perfect ten – with an impressive 100% of monitored sites having what the report describes as excellent water quality. This perfect score was achieved by only three countries in Europe: Luxembourg, Cyprus and Malta. These three were followed by Greece (96%), Croatia (94%) and Germany (90%), all having a high proportion of sites with excellent bathing water quality. The three nations with the highest number of poor sites were France and Spain (3 % of sites in both) and Italy (1.9 %). In percentage terms, the worst countries were Estonia (6 %), Ireland and the Netherlands (both 5 %).
The result is hardly surprising for Malta, which has invested heavily in sewage treatment plants partly financed by the EU itself. Nowadays all sewage is treated through a couple of plants in Malta and one on Gozo.
Malta’s coast is about 196 km long while Gozo’s is 56km. Most of the coast is accessible along the north and east of the islands while a high wall of beautiful cliffs girdles the south and west coasts. Sandy beaches – understandably the most popular due to their relative accessibility and family friendliness– are mostly found in the north of the island. Ghadira Bay in Mellieha is the largest – and the most crowded especially at weekends. More beautiful and perhaps Malta’s loveliest sandy beach is Ghajn Tuffieha where the sands are reddish and the sea crystal clear, especially in the early morning. It does have one snag though – it’s accessed by a flight of 188 steps – easy enough to descend but perhaps a bit of a drag at the end of a sun-scorched day! Very popular also is the Blue Lagoon on Comino – rightly lauded for its combination of white sand and clear water which give the sea an impressive ethereal blue hue. Day trippers can make the Blue Lagoon quite a crowded place in high season but Comino has another lovely stretch of sand at Santa Marija Bay – this is usually much quieter. Gozo’s main sandy beach is Ramla – similarly popular at weekends but large enough to find a quiet spot at any time.
Rocky or pebble beaches are more common and these are often much more picturesque. Gozo’s Mgarr ix-Xini is one of the loveliest. So beautiful in fact that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie commandeered it for a whole summer last year while shooting their movie ‘By the Sea’. Now that they’ve gone us lesser mortals can enjoy this exquisitely fine inlet once more…
Malta’s finest rocky beaches are located in the south – the Delimara peninsula features a number of them including Peter’s Pool, where until a few years ago Malta’s late ex-premier Dom Mintoff could be spotted frequently having his dip both in summer and winter.
There are just a couple of inlets on Malta’s southern cliff coast but these are among the prettiest of the rocky beaches. Ghar Lapsi remains a quiet fishing hamlet but is a popular bathing area for people from nearby villages. Wied iz-Zurrieq is also hugely popular and boat trips to the Blue Grotto are an added attraction.
For more off-the-beaten-track swimming head for the dramatic tiny beach at Fomm ir-Rih in Malta and various secluded spots in Gozo.
Read more about beaches in Malta
and GozoNote: Swimming in rough seas is never recommended. Some sandy beaches have quite strong undercurrents – and this is normally pointed out on informative boards. The more popular sandy beaches have a red flag up when swimming is not recommended. Life guards are also present in the most popular beaches in summer.