The sea is all around us, wherever you are in Malta, the sea is never far away. The island is only 27 kilometres (17miles) long and 14.5 kilometres (9 miles) wide. The most popular BEACHES are:
Mellieha Bay is the largest beach of thirteen pocket beaches around Mellieha. It is a sheltered beach between two headlands and is situated on the Northern part of the Island.
Its sand has a low gradient slope and together with its clear, shallow water makes it the most popular family beach on the island. Mellieha Bay has most facilities and services including restaurants and two hotels. Some parts of the bay are designated for water sports and wind surfing. Beach management is operated between June and September by the Malta Tourism Authority with the cooperation of Mellieha Local Council.
It includes the services of lifeguards, a small First Aid clinic, two beach supervisors and a number of persons in charge of beach maintenance. It is an accessible beach furnished with a mobile toilet, wheelchair access and special sand wheelchair buggies for physically impaired bathers. Mellieha Bay has an old castle perched on one side while the old village of Mellieha is situated high on the opposite side.
The hinterland of Mellieha Bay was once an important salt flat and wetland, known as L-Ghadira. It is now a Nature Reserve that boasts of indigenous flora and fauna, and is popular with bird watchers who study local and migratory birds. Mellieha Bay is also referred to as L-Ghadira.
Golden Bay is one of Malta's most popular sandy beaches. Despite this accolade, it is set among countryside and is relatively undeveloped. It has easy access making it suitable for the less mobile or those with small children.Golden Bay has the facilities you need for the day - a cafe-restaurant, sun lounger and umbrella hire, and plenty of fun water sports from jet skiing and paragliding to banana boat rides.
The atmosphere here is both chic and family fun. As the second largest sandy beach in Malta, there is usually room for games. The spectacular sunsets here have made the beach a popular spot for evening barbecues. Beach management is operated by the Malta Tourism Authority from 15th June to 15th September. Lifeguards and other beach staff are present daily during this period.
The beach is generally safe for swimming but it is prone to strong currents when the wind is to the north-west. A red flag indicates when bathing should be limited to shallow waters only.The bay forms part of Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park and a Natura 2000 site.
Ghajn Tuffieha is a popular sandy beach nestling below hills and an unusually-shaped promontory. It is unspoilt and undeveloped, yet has the facilities you need to enjoy a day on the beach sun lounger and umbrella hire, pedallos and a small snack bar.
The beach can only be reached down a steep flight of steps or by a gravel track. The hillside behind is a designated natural park. The foundation managing the hillside has planted tamarisk and samphire to prevent further erosion at this beautiful natural bay.
Ghajn Tuffieha's location means it is not usually as crowded as its neighbour, Golden Bay. However its fine sand and rural surroundings make it the more alluring. The beach is generally safe for swimming but it is prone to strong currents when the wind is to the north-west. A red flag indicates when bathing should be limited to the shallow waters only. A headland to the west side of the bay separates this beach from Gnejna Bay.
All the area is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to unique geological features. Ghajn Tuffieha Bay is managed by the NGO, GAIA Foundation. Beach management includes the services of a lifeguard and safety ropes affixed along the bay.
Paradise Bay and Paradise Bay Hotel Beach are two sandy beaches at the northernmost tip of the island, close to the quay where the Gozo ferry operates a shuttle service daily for Gozo. This hotel beach is a quiet spot that offers tranquillity - a getaway with a view of a busy environment in the distance.
The beach also offers a good view of the island of Comino with its imposing tower. It is open to the public as well as for hotel residents. The water is crystal clear and ideal for family relaxation.
Gnejna Bay is located close to the rural village of Mgarr. Possibly not quite as popular as neighbouring Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha, and as a result less crowded, this bay provides you with the option of choosing a quieter spot on beach.
A long and somewhat rough walk along the right hand side of the beach takes you to an area that is popular with the more adventurous bathers. By the right hand side of the main sandy beach, there is also a stretch of flat rock ideal for sunbathing, if you prefer to avoid the sand. Some facilities are available, including watersports rentals.
The beach at Armier stretches round the shore of an open bay at the extreme northern fringe of Malta. The sandy bay faces the nearby islands of Comino and Gozo. Bars and small restaurants provide the necessary beach facilities but since the area is rural, there are no hotels or tourist establishments nearby.
Although it is generally safe for swimming, Armier Beach can be subject to rough swells because it is exposed to north winds. Armier is also popular for picnics and barbecues.
Anchor Bay is perhaps most known for Popeye Village, the set of the 1979 film starring Robin Williams as Popeye. After more than three decades, Popeye's Sweethaven village still occupies the craggy slopes of Anchor Bay, a relatively isolated cove just one kilometre west of Mellieha. The village film set is a tourist attraction and often used as an activity centre.
This tiny picturesque inlet is also used by fishermen who perch on the little quay left by the film set. A steep slope leads down to the bay. Although the waters here are generally calm, the bay is suitable only for good swimmers.
Pretty Bay is the sandy beach in the town of Birzebbuga - a small but flourishing seaside resort not far from Marsaxlokk in southeast Malta. It has been a popular bathing spot for Maltese holiday-makers for decades. Up to some years ago, sand was virtually non-existent and bathers took to the water from the flat rocks or from specially built platforms on the shoreline.
In more recent years, the bay was artificially filled with sand recovered from the sea during dredging works for a nearby project. Pretty Bay is now one of the largest sandy beaches on the island. It lies right in the town centre so there are plenty of shops and restaurants along the coastline. The bay is a good venue for water sports such as windsurfing.
Ramla is Gozo's largest sandy bay and one of the most beautiful on the Maltese Islands. The beach here is of a deep, reddish-gold hue. The bay is surrounded by countryside and nestles below steep terraced hills and the mythical Calypso's Cave. There are no hotels or tourist developments nearby, but the beach side has several snack bars and cafes.
The beach has its own landmark - a white statue of the Virgin Mary. Ramla is a superb spot to while away the hours - even in peak summer months, there always seems to be space on the beach. In winter, you can find yourself alone. The area is excellent walking country. Swimming here is safe and the waters are clear and clean.
There are some smooth, underwater boulders a few metres out in the central strip, but these are easily negotiated. On windy days, white surf rolling on the sand is an added attraction and fun for young bathers. The best approach to the bay is from Nadur or Xaghra, down a bamboo-lined valley. The road from Marsalforn, via Calypso's Cave, is rather steep and rough though it is passable by car.
Of historical interest in the bay are some Roman ruins buried under the sand near the present-day cafes, and a 'fougasse' - a kind of primitive mortar developed by the Knights which was fired from a rock-cut shaft to defend the bay during the 18th century. Beach management at Ramla Bay is operated by GAIA Foundation and includes the services of lifeguards.
The delightful sea inlet, known as Xlendi Bay, lies at the end of a deep, lush ravine which was once a river bed. Until the mid-20th century, Xlendi was a small fishing port and a restful summer resort for a few locals and Maltese. The bay is now on the must-visit list of most day-trippers to the Island, but it is worthwhile lingering a night or two to enjoy the sunsets.
The bay still retains a peaceful atmosphere and is surprisingly undeveloped though there is a good choice of accommodation from apartments to hotels; most options have sea views. Xlendi is flanked by steep cliffs. For some of the best views, climb the stairs up the cliffs to the right. Bathing in Xlendi is usually off the rocks along the bay with access down ladder into the deep crystal clear water.
On the left side of the bay, two tiers of pathways provide ample space for both a walkway and a flat space to spread out a towel and sunbathe. On the promontory is Xlendi Tower, built in 1650. It commands superb sea views and stands on a scenic coastline pitted with hand-dug salt pans.
Marsalforn, meaning 'bakery harbour', is Gozo's main seaside town. During the summer, it becomes a bustling, lively resort. There is a small but pleasant sandy bank on the harbour with safe bathing and good rocky coastline towards Qbajjar which is excellent for snorkelling.
The resort has a good range of accommodation from seafront self-catering apartments to hotels. Marsalforn is characterised by its harbour-side cafes and restaurants, many serving fresh fish. The small harbour is the main port for a fleet of traditional 'luzzijiet' trawlers and smaller fishing boats. The beauty of Marsalforn is its relaxed atmosphere, even in the height of summer.
On the tiny island of Comino you will find the sheltered, dazzlingly blue waters of this small inlet, which has appeared on screen many times, most recently for a diving scene featuring Madonna in 'Swept Away' and a spearfishing scene set in ancient times for the mini-series 'Helen of Troy'.
Boat trips from Gozo and Malta to Comino enable you to take a dip in the lagoon. Also on Comino is St. Mary's Tower, which is featured in the movie 'The Count of Monte Cristo'.