A Unique View from the Sea
July and August are normally the hottest months in Malta with daytime temperatures sometimes exceeding 30 degrees and long hours on the go can sap the energy of the hardiest sightseer. While a retreat to the beach is a sensible option there is a way to get a unique view of Malta in a style that even most locals hardly ever experience… some of the best Malta views and that is the view of the islands from the sea.
All along the Sliema Strand a number of operators offer this tour – a day-long one normally with a lunch included in the price. We recomend the Captain Morgan Cruises. Most days in summer the sea is quite calm and your sea legs will hardly be tested.
Boats normally set off at a sensible hour in the morning – usually around 10am - and return around 5pm. After cruising out of Marsamxett Harbour one gets a close-up view of the bastions of Fort St. Elmo and Fort Ricasoli at the mouth of Grand Harbour.
Past Ricasoli the coastline is a low rocky one, sailing past the small village of Xghajra and then on past Marsascala and Marsaxlokk bays. It is past this last bay where the coastline starts changing dramatically, evolving from a series of low cliffs which gradually become higher close to the Blue Grotto on the south coast.
Past the Blue Grotto is the most breath-taking part of Malta’s coastline – an almost impenetrable wall of high cliffs stretching all the way to Gnejna Bay on the western part of the Island. This is probably one of the finest stretches of cliff coastline in the entire Mediterranean – and one which the Maltese government has attempted since 1998 to have placed (unsuccessfully up to now) on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. It is a twelve mile stretch of pristine coastline, very little changed over the millennia and with hardly any human intervention in most places. Its relative remoteness has helped preserve a unique assemblage of flora and fauna among which the best known is perhaps the endemic Maltese Centaury – Malta’s national plant. Its Maltese name Widnet il-Bahar (literally the ear of the sea) poetically describes how the plant clings precariously to cliff tops as if eternally listening to the call of the sea.
The highlights to look out for along this stretch are many: the high caves between Blue Grotto and the small fishing hamlet of Lapsi, the sheer white walls of Dingli cliffs topped with sparse summer vegetation, the high promontory jutting out of Fomm ir-Rih bay, and the arid clay slopes of Bahrija – all of which can never really be appreciated fully from a landward perspective.
After the cliffs come a succession of popular bays, Gnejna, Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay and then another stretch of wild coast eventually leading to Comino – where most boats stop for an hour or two. A swim in the crystal waters of the Blue Lagoon is hard to resist here…
The boats’ way back to Sliema is a shorter one along Comino’s western end and Malta’s north coast – passing by the popular resorts of Bugibba and St. Paul’s Bay and the St.Julians/ Paceville entertainment hub. This is a much more developed coast and a more accessible one but there are still a few highlights of note – the small islands of St. Paul’s (reputedly the saint’s shipwreck location in 60 AD), and the cliff coastline around Mellieha Bay being probably the most scenic.
ST Bayview Hotel