Malta is the perfect destination for a peaceful sailing holiday. The country's relaxed lifestyle and many quiet anchorages in scenic bays along its indented coastline provide visitors with plenty of things to see and places to enjoy. Situated between three continents, the Maltese archipelago offers a unique mix of cultural influences, historic sites and natural attractions, and is famous for its spectacular beaches, diving and snorkelling sites, megalithic structures and hilltop forts, great food, hospitality and charm. With very short passages between anchorages, the archipelago is an ideal destination for bareboat charters.
Each of the three inhabited Maltese islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino – delivers a different experience to sailors. The main island of Malta offers a combination of city nightlife and historic attractions, while the smaller Gozo and Comino lure visitors to their hidden bays and remote beaches that are perfect for swimming and snorkelling and provide good shelter for anchoring.
Malta is an excellent destination for week-long cruises because sailing distances between the three main islands are quite short. The distance between the marinas in the Valletta Grand Harbour and the Mgarr Marina on Gozo island is only 15nm. A tour of Gozo is only a further 25nm and, from there, it is only a short (4nm) hop to the island of Comino. The Blue Lagoon on Comino and Mellieħa Bay on Malta’s northeast coast are separated by only 6nm.
Malta is the largest and most visited island in the archipelago and the UNESCO-protected city of Valletta is the island’s top destination. The fortified old city is strategically situated on a hilltop and offers lovely vistas of the surrounding area and islands, as well as hundreds of protected monuments and buildings to see. The nearby town of Birgu (Vittoriosa), has a particular appeal for seasoned sailors and boating enthusiasts. Situated on the south side of the Grand Harbour, the fortified city is home to the Malta Maritime Museum, which houses marine artefacts that testify to Malta’s long, rich history of seamanship.
The towns of Tarxien and Paola, also situated south of the Grand Harbour, draw countless tourists each year with the Tarxien Temples site, an archaeological complex consisting of several megalithic structures that are part of the World Heritage Site of the Megalithic Temples of Malta, and the UNESCO-protected prehistoric necropolis Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum.
Malta’s largest and most popular sandy beach, Mellieħa Bay (Ghadira Bay), is situated on the island’s north coast. It is perfect for families, with clear, shallow water stretching for about 50 metres and plenty of activities to choose from, from canoeing and water-skiing to windsurfing and kite surfing. Ghadira Nature Reserve, a bird sanctuary and home to numerous rare and protected species, is located across the road from the beach.
The island’s south coast also offers spectacular natural sights worth a visit. The Blue Grotto, a system of seven caves that reflect the phosphorescent colours of the sea and the marine flora, is one of the island’s most popular tourist attractions.
The tranquil island of Gozo offers a slightly different experience, with only one real town, Victoria, and several small villages that provide insight into what Malta must have been like before development turned it into a large tourist resort. The island’s landscape is dotted with old churches, forts and megalithic temples, which include the famous Ġgantija temples, a ceremonial site for a fertility rite and the world’s second oldest manmade religious structure. The site is more than 5500 years old.
Gozo is a popular spot for snorkelling excursions and is known as one of Europe’s best scuba diving destinations. With an impressive 30m visibility, dive sites such as Dwerja Bay, Hondoq Ir-Rummien and San Blas Bay offer an unparalleled experience of Malta’s marine life.
Sailors visiting Gozo can extend their holiday and visit Sicily, located only about 60nm north of the island.
Comino is perfect for day trips from the main island. With an area of only 3.5 square kilometres, the island is a quiet nature reserve and bird sanctuary that offers refuge from the more developed destinations in the archipelago.
Comino is a popular spot for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. The Blue Lagoon, a sheltered white sand cove on the west coast, opposite the islet of Cominotto, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago. To the southeast, the Crystal Lagoon is another stunning bay perfect for swimming, diving and relaxing. Surrounded by steep hills and only accessible by boat, it is an excellent alternative to the better known and more crowded Blue Lagoon.
The Santa Maria Caves, a shallow cave system on the southwest side of the island, offers a wealth of unworldly underwater sights that attract divers, snorkellers and photographers alike, with each of the caves and tunnels harbouring its own unique attractions and inviting visitors to discover stunning rock formations and arches, diverse underwater life and mesmerizing views from the entrances.