How to pick your perfect beach in the Maltese islands
by Mr Yellow
They say life's a beach and just like life involves making difficult decisions, it can be hard to pick from the 56 beaches scattered around Malta and Gozo's shoreline when you're up for a swim. Luckily enough, there is a wide open sea of possibilities - literally!
Yet, instead of wasting time asking around and testing the waters, we're going to help you narrow down your options thanks to Which Beach, a local website and app which can help you pick your perfect beach every single time.
Whether you're looking for a child-friendly seaside spot or you'd rather venture off the beaten track to enjoy some peace and quiet far from the madding crowd, thanks to our suggestions below, you'll know exactly which beach in the Maltese islands ticks all your boxes. So get your sunscreen, towel and picnic cooler ready and let's dive in!
It's all about the location
North, south, east, west… finding the perfect beach is always best. Every coastal area in Malta and Gozo has gorgeous beaches, so it all depends on how far from home you're willing to travel to find your personal paradise.
The majority of our beaches are located towards the north of Malta primarily in Buġibba, Sliema, St. Julians and, most notably, Mellieħa. In fact, there are 10 beaches in Mellieħa alone! But there are countless alternatives in the southern part of Malta too, especially in Marsaskala and Marsaxlokk, not to mention the 13 beaches that Gozo has to offer and the four unique swimming locations scattered all over Comino. Yes, there's more to this tiny island than the Blue Lagoon!
Here's the full list of beaches you'll find in the Maltese islands:
South of Malta
- Birżebbuġa — Pretty Bay
- Kalkara — Rinella Bay
- Marsaskala — St. Thomas Bay, Żonqor Point
- Marsaxlokk — Delimara Bay, Kalanka Bay, St. Peter's Pool, Xrobb l-Għaġin
- Siġġiewi—Għar Lapsi
- Xgħajra—Xgħajra Bay
North of Malta
- Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq—Baħar iċ-ĊagħaqBay
- Baħrija — Fomm ir-Riħ
- Buġibba — Front Bay, Perched Beach, Qawra Point
- Ċirkewwa—Ċirkewwa Bay
- Mellieħa — Anchor Bay, Armier Bay, Għadira Bay, Golden Bay, Imġiebaħ Bay, Paradise Bay, Slugs Bay, White Tower Bay
- Mġarr — Għajn Tuffieħa (or Riviera Bay), Ġnejna Bay, Qarraba Bay
- Sliema — Exiles, Fond Għadir, Qui-Si-Sana
- St. Julians — Balluta Bay, Spinola Bay, St. George's Bay
- St. Paul's Bay — L-Għażżenin Bay, Tax-Xama Bay
- Xemxija — Daħlet il-Fekruna, Mistra Bay
Gozo & Comino
- Comino — Blue Lagoon, Crystal Lagoon, Santa Maria Bay, St. Nicholas Bay
- Għajnsielem — Xatt l-Aħmar
- Marsalforn— MarsalfornBay
- Mġarr — Ramla taż-Żewwieqa
- Nadur — Daħlet Qorrot, San Blas
- Qala — Ħondoq ir-Rummien
- San Lawrenz — 'Azure Window', Dwejra Inland Sea
- Sannat — Mġarr ix-Xini
- Xagħra — Ramla l-Ħamra
- Xlendi— XlendiBay
- Żebbuġ — Wied il-Għasri, Xwejni Bay
Rocky, sandy or a mix of both?
The Maltese islands have more rocky beaches, but your choice won't be limited if you prefer sandy beaches. These are usually easier and safer to explore, making them ideal for young children or elderly family members. Sand is also more comfortable to sunbathe while there's nothing better than the feeling of sand between your toes. However, you will inevitably carry some back into your car and at home so if you hate the post-sandy-beach vacuuming, you might want to opt for rocks instead.
On the other hand, rocky beaches might not always be the safest to manoeuvre around or the kindest to your feet but they are definitely more interesting to explore. Just remember that you need to wear the right type of shoes.
Some beaches even provide a combination of the two. Take the large stretch of St. Thomas Bay in Marsascala for instance - a picturesque area in the south of Malta with a good mix of sandy and rocky areas.
Enclosed and tranquil versus overcrowded and noisy
When it comes to the beach experience, some look forward to sunbathing in a quiet environment, yet others prefer socialising on a beach buzzing with people and activity.
Certain bays in the Maltese islands are much more popular than others and during peak hours, mainly late mornings and early afternoons, you'll struggle to find an empty spot. So if you're heading to Għadira or Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, two of the most visited bays, you might want to consider an early morning or a late afternoon trip.
The Blue Lagoon in Comino has become an absolute sensation of a destination. It's got water sport activities happening constantly, Instagrammable drinks sold in pineapples, whereas it's the perfect place for stargazing on summer nights. But it's constantly crowded, almost 24/7. Good thing there are other equally beautiful beaches you can visit in Comino! Go ahead and explore Santa Maria Bay and St. Nicholas Bay or the rockier and more daring Crystal Lagoon — all just a stone's throw away from Blue Lagoon.
Both Malta and Gozo have plenty of quieter alternatives. These lesser known beaches are usually tougher to get to unless you venture out to them on foot but the end experience is completely worth it! Qarraba Bay, which is parallel to Għajn Tuffieħa, together with the gorgeously pebbly Mistra Bay in Xemxija and Xatt l-Aħmar in Għajnsielem are just a few of the more peaceful beaches our islands have to offer. Imġiebaħ Bay in Mellieħa deserves a mention too — it is so secluded and tranquil that it is now also one of Malta's most popular camping locations. Need some tips on how to survive camping in summer? Read our ultimate survival guide.
Nothing beats a beautiful view
Whichever beach you pick, the Maltese islands are never short of heavenly sea views. The panorama visible from Wied iż-Żurrieq for example, which is right next to the equally beautiful Blue Grotto, is to die for. The area boasts stunning seabed filled with sea life and a shipwreck ready to be explored and photographed.
Then there's the boat-filled view from Spinola Bay, the architectural landscape from Balluta Bay dominated by the local gothic-style church and the impressive vistas from Mellieħa's White Tower Bay — all visually unique in their own fantastic way. However, there's one beach which beats them all! Wied il-Għasri in Gozo. The scenery is so magical that it could easily be home to actual mermaids. The pristine condition of Slugs Bay in Mellieħa, despite its cringe-worthy name, makes it a close runner-up.
Then, of course, there's sunrise and sunset, also known as the golden hours. The best beaches to witness these phenomena are located on the Eastern side of the Maltese islands. These include the likes of Żonqor Point in Marsascala, Qui-Si-Sana in Sliema, the very underrated Xgħajra Bay in the outskirts of Żabbar and the hidden Gozitan gem of Daħlet Qorrot in Nadur.
A romantic walk along the beach combined with a sunset is a magical moment you can achieve very easily in the Maltese islands. Savour the end to a summer evening by heading to any of our Western beaches such as Fomm ir-Riħ in Baħrija, which is also perfect for a bright starry night as a follow-up to the sunset and Għar Lapsi in Siġġiewi, where you can catch a glimpse of Filfla.
Ideal for a family (or pet) outing
Some beaches are better equipped for children and elderly family members. You'll often find that they are safer to access, easier for vulnerable people to enjoy without risking injury and have very diligent lifeguards on duty. And if someone joining you uses a wheelchair, these beaches are the most accessible and accommodating.
For your next family day out at the beach, try Qawra Point next to the Kennedy Grove family park, St. George's Bay in St. Julians or Xlendi Bay in Gozo, which has a sandy area leading into shallow waters. Santa Maria Bay is also widely recommended for families wanting to discover Comino, so much so that it is now known as one of our islands' safest beaches.
And let's not forget about our furrier family members! Not every dog is a fan of swimming, but it's good to know which beaches are ideal for your canine pal. Some of the most dog-friendly beaches on the islands are Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq Bay, Little Armier in Mellieħa and Mġarr ix-Xini in Sannat, Gozo.
Looking for a nautical adventure?
Beaches aren't just for swimming and sunbathing. There are plenty of other exciting activities you can dip your feet into. Divers from all over the globe come to the Maltese islands to immerse themselves in our clear blue waters. So why not try it yourself, since it's so close to home?
Many of our beaches are ideal for divers. In fact, Anchor Bay in Mellieħa, as well as the Xwejni and Xlendi bays in Gozo, are perfect for beginners. Perched Beach in Buġibba is probably the best choice overall, because you can easily rent diving equipment and enlist the services of an instructor all summer long. Here are the 10 best diving sites in Malta.
If diving is too ambitious for you, snorkelling is another great option. The unspoilt Kalanka Bay in Marsaxlokk, the clear greenish waters of Ħondoq ir-Rummien in Qala and the undisputed beauty of San Blas Bay in Nadur all guarantee an exciting experience when witnessing the sealife up close.
For those adventurers who would rather stay above the water, some beaches offer water sports. From canoeing and kayaking, to more exhilarating activities like paragliding and fly-boarding, some of your best bets for water sports are Ċirkewwa Bay, Armier Bay, Marsalforn Bay and the Buġibba Front.
You've been wanting to host a BBQ at the beach
Did you know that it's actually illegal to build any form of fire or use BBQ equipment on sandy beaches? Golden Bay in Mellieħa and the designated BBQ area at Għadira are the only exceptions, but you'll still need to apply for a permit from the local council. The permit must be issued within one month prior to the date of the event, whereas a €5 charge applies for a permit that covers up to 15 people. What's more, only gas BBQs are allowed in both locations. So if you're looking to organise a beachside sizzle, you need to prepare beforehand.
There are usually no issues with having a BBQ on a rocky beach. Unless you are going to be a group of more than 10 people, in which case it would be a good idea to consult the local council and check whether you still need to apply for a permit.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks…all within arm's reach
When going to most beaches in Malta and Gozo, you don't really need to pack any food or drinks with you. You're sure to find cafeterias and bars nearby, as well as the many food and drink stalls that would be set up throughout the summer.
The variety of food and drinks outlets surrounding places like St. Thomas Bay in Marsascala, St. George's Bay in St. Julians and Balluta Bay is practically endless. Other beaches, such as Għażżenin Bay in St. Paul's Bay and Daħlet il-Fekruna in Xemxija maintain a nautical theme with restaurants right next to them serving delicious fresh fish.
The environmentalist in you loves a Blue Flag
The Maltese islands boast twelve Blue Flag beaches. These are certified, on an international level, as sustainable and environmentally-friendly beaches in terms of their bathing water quality, safety, cleanliness and overall operations. Some of these exemplary beaches include Font Għadir in Sliema, Paradise Bay in Mellieħa, Ramla l-Ħamra in Xagħra and, of course, Għajn Tuffieħa.
But worth mentioning as well is Xrobb l-Għaġin in Marsaxlokk. Although it doesn't have a Blue Flag, this beach forms part of a nature park covering over 150,000 square metres. Apart from relishing in its crystal clear waters, you can explore the ruins of a megalithic temple next to the beach dating back to at least 3000BC.
Aside from interesting information about every beach in the Maltese islands, the Which Beach website and app provide a 5-day beach forecast, suggesting the best beach to visit on that day depending on the weather.