Malta has a mainly rocky coastline, is largely urban, has a high density population and doesn’t have the geology or geography to serve up large stretches of golden sand. So, the questions are: does Malta have (enough) sandy beaches to cater for the summer boom? And where are they located?
When we rounded up the sandy beaches (list & map below), the small archipelago does, surprisingly, have a good range of sandy beaches, some man made granted, but on the whole tourists are catered for, wherever they’re staying. Most visitors seek sand, but some join the locals and are happy to swim off rock; OK for those who don’t have small kids at the bucket and spade age! Local councils taking in rocky coastlines and harbours have placed rails and ladders at safer points for us to plunge the depths with ease.
There seems to be enough sand to go round to accommodate 400,000+ Maltese and the swell of summer visitors. To give you an idea: in mid August last year, I went to Gozo’s Ramla Bay at 3pm and managed to plant myself right on the water’s edge. I doubt the same pole position would be possible on many an Italian concession beach! And in Malta, good sandy beaches are FREE! Unless you happen to want to hire a lounger or sunshade. You’ll need to leave some small change with the parkers though as well. Oh, and we’ve now two Blue Flag beaches – St George’s Bay beach in Paceville, and Bugibba’s strip of sand. Both man-made!
Some Beach Tips
When to arrive
Language students like arriving in droves on the beach in the midday sun. Maltese families tend to come and go very early or very late to sensibly avoid the searing heat, or to BBQ well into the evening (though some councils have banned beach BBQs for a few years now). So adjust your timetable around the students or act like a local! If you can, it’s best to avoid sandy beaches at weekends in peak summer unless it’s actually the hustle and bustle of crowds you’re looking for.
I’ve not seen any this summer yet but we can have periods of jellyfish infestation; usually their arrival is because of a north-westerly prevailing wind blowing them to shore. Some years, we’ve had reports of an early ‘blooming’ of jellyfish but apparently sea turtle numbers are up and they feed on them – so fingers crossed! Take precautions – put kids in sleeved sunsuits (a good policy anyway) and have some sting relief or diluted vinegar with you. For more on jelly fish, awareness and burns, click here.
In the main, Malta’s popular sandy beaches have seen some improvements in the past year or two: Golden Bay for instance has lifeguards (from around 10am), adequate rubbish bins and lifelines anchored on buoys to help swimmers when it’s rough seas. Ghajn Tuffieha has lifelines and a red flag system but no guards. This is reassuring. More could be done on many other beaches, but it’s a start. Most have snack bars, either temporary vans or permanent kiosks or both. But if you don’t want to eat through more than small change on things that don’t fill you up, try to take some food & water with you, especially if you’ve kids who eat every time they come out of the water!
Settings and Ambiance
The plus about Malta’s sandy beaches is that they are mostly found in natural settings in the countryside so don’t have the ugliness of built-up promenades behind them. It also means some have few facilities. So go prepared with enough sun cream, water, snacks and sting relief. Man-made beaches at St George’s Bay (Paceville), Pretty Bay and Buggiba are attractive in their own ways still, and have handy shops alongside. St George’s Bay has been awarded Blue Flag status.
Below, we list the main sandy beaches in Malta, Gozo and Comino. Click ‘Larger Map’ for locations and some details on each. We welcome your comments and experiences so we can post an honest low-down on each beach as the summer goes on.
View Malta Sandy Beach Guide in a larger map
Sandy Beaches listing
Links take you to full articles and ‘how to get there’ info.
Armier & Little Armier
St George’s Bay
Pretty Bay, Birzebuggia
Photo: Courtesy of Susan Attard.