Paradise at Exiles. The morning sun marks its path across the sky, I lie on the rocks and absorb its warmth. There are plenty of beaches around Malta to choose from, both sandy and rocky, but time and time again this is where I return to, Exiles, in Sliema. Despite the ongoing works on the Exiles Water Polo Lido, the scene is peaceful, and I am the only one at the spot, for now. It’s still early in the summer. A light breeze is always present, whether the month is May or August, and makes the heat bearable. This is beach that’s always been popular: see this old photo for a glimpse of Exiles in the 1920s.
Pros: This rocky beach is located in central Sliema, just below a local playground and an old watchtower. It is easy to get to, by car or bus, and with some patience parking space can be found as well. The sea is very deep so it is ideal for divers and those of us less professional who still like to splash about in the sea. There is a Water sports centre located at the beach where you can get all the equipment and lessons necessary for scuba diving. At night you can also opt to take a blanket and a bottle of wine and listen to the sounds of the waves rushing in and gaze at the stars. This holds most for couples wanting some time away. The scent of the sea is the best appetite enhancer I have ever come across. Overlooking this beach you will find a beach bar/restaurant called Paradise Exiles. It is ideal for light meals, with a selection of salads and breads on the menu. To make the afternoon even more pleasant, there is also a good variety of wine to choose from. Music is played on a large juke box as well; this varies from reggae to soft rock, making the atmosphere light and social.
Cons: There used to be a ladder to climb in and out of the sea, however the strong tide tore it apart this winter and it still has not been replaced. Since the bay is situated in a natural port, it tends to be a bit windy and the sea can get quite choppy. So it might not be so ideal for families with young children. One also has to watch out for jellyfish which teem in their tens when the tide is in, however having been to this beach daily for the past month I am happy to say none have been sighted so far.
Verdict: Paradise Exiles and Exiles beach, in short, are one of my favourite summer hang out spots. In the afternoon lots of young couples with babies still in their strollers come there, it is a soothing scene with the soft music and the sun and waves nearby. As the afternoon turns into early evening more people show up and the bar can get quite crowded. For those who are looking for company it is ideal, as both locals and foreigners mix at the long wooden tables and benches.
How to get there:
See bus schedules on the new bus transport system operated by Arriva which should start on 3rd July 2011. Hopefully if you’re a returning visitor to Malta, you’ll find the new bus routes and system an improvement; unless you hanker for our characteristic, old orange and red buses – they’ll still be on some routes as vintage specials; perhaps the main Sliema one as well.
See also our Sandy Beach Guide to Malta & Gozo.
Photo: Leslie Vella