Five simple, pleasurable ways to enjoy Malta’s beaches even in the colder months. Christine Cachia Micallef heads seaboard to report on Malta’s winter beach scene.
Beach going in months with an ‘R’
Going to the beach is regarded by most to be solely a summer activity: hoards of people flock to the beach on a daily basis in the sweltering heat to soak up the sun, have a swim and catch up with family and friends. But the beach in winter can be a more comfortable and enjoyable outing for all the family. And with the warm and sunny days we’ve been enjoying this winter, why not?
Malta is blessed with beautiful beaches, whether of golden sand or rock, and it is a pity that we forget all about them when summer ends. The short distances and fairly mild winters are but two of many incentives that should encourage us to take up a more outdoorsy attitude towards winter and head down to the beach. Beaches offer numerous ‘out of season’ activities; I have listed just five of my favourite:
Family day out:
Initially, it may be a struggle to convince children, from toddler to pre-teen, to leave the warmth of their rooms and detach themselves from their computers, TVs and any other electronic devices they may have, to go out and spend more time outdoors. Entice them with a number of appropriate games and activities. Pack up a ball, or two, a Frisbee, or perhaps a radio controlled aeroplane and a kite, and your kids won’t want to go back home. Probably, neither will you.
Romantic walk for couples, young and old: Spending quality time with our loved ones can often be a rarity these days. Our fast and hectic lifestyles jam packed with work, family commitments, studies and children’s needs can easily whittle away any true quality time. Heading to the beach on a sunny winter’s day, away from the office and the home, can lighten our loads, even if for just an hour or two. Strolling along the shoreline, feeling the cold bite of the fresh air, and watching sunset while having a warm drink on the soft sand, sounds like a perfect date!
Peaceful me-time: Often we find ourselves needing space from everything and everyone around us. We dream of escaping somewhere for a few hours, in order to think, reflect, take decisions without being constantly interrupted by the ringing of our phones and distraction of our tablets. Unlike in summer, when the beaches are overcrowded and you have to fight your way through the umbrellas and sunbeds to find a place to stay, the beaches are almost completely empty in winter. Quiet. Serene. Clean. Accessible. Really, all you need is a book and perhaps a wind break!
Summer days at the beach are usually replaced by weekends at coffee shops and malls in the winter, going in and out of shops, bumping into acquaintances, discussing local politics over a cappuccino, and arguing over which football team deserves to win that weekend. Fun, but when done every weekend for seven months or so, it can get a tad repetitive and we might long for a change of scene. Get your friends together, agree on who will bring what (food, drink, blankets) and meet at the beach for a good chat, away from the hustle and bustle of the busier towns. Parking won’t be a problem either.
Photograph and capture the beauty of nature:
Malta boasts some of the most beautiful and well-kept beaches in the Mediterranean sea – truly a perfect setting for taking pictures. If you are feeling a little adventurous, pack up your camera and anorak, head down to the beach when the sea is rough: secure a safe spot and watch the waves batter the shore. Winter scenes make for some magnificent shots and away from watching pro eyes, you can learn to ‘go manual’ and finally crack getting the most from your dSLR investment.
Healthy body and mind: In addition to all this, fresh air is good for our physical and mental health. In winter, we tend to wrap ourselves up at home and spend a substantial amount of our free time in front of the TV. Going to the beach, breathing in the fresh crisp air, listening to the waves hit the sand and fall back to the sea, can have a calming and healing effect on us. Nonetheless, make sure you, and especially your children, are adequately dressed for the beach in winter. While it can hot up around midday, a chilly dampness sets in quickly after around 3.30pm in mid winter and the weather can be very changeable even within one day.
Our top 5 Malta beaches for winter outings:
1) Golden Bay, limits of Mellieha
2) Ghajn Tuffieha, limits of Mgarr
3) Gnejna Bay, limits of Mgarr
4) Fond Ghadir, Sliema
5) Qawra coastline
See also our Sandy Beach Guide on Google maps here.
Winter Beach Safety Tip!
It is highly advisable not to go to the beach if the weather conditions are not appropriate. Do check the weather forecast for any warnings before deciding to venture out. If you are tempted to swim, ensure you are sufficiently clad, ideally with a wet suit if intending staying in beyond a few minutes and even if the sea temperatures seem warm for the time of year. Do not swim under any circumstances if you are not familiar with the local currents; some beaches can have very strong undercurrents. In winter, there is no lifeguard present on the main sandy beaches. Stay close to shore, even if you feel you are an experienced open water swimmer.