Malta is a tiny island but the country includes two even tinier islands, Gozo and Comino. I spent a day trekking Comino Island and I am so glad that I saw the island this way, rather than the touristy boat trips that were advertised everywhere. I got to see the entire island AND discovered the most amazing secret swimming lagoon that’s not on the map, with a stunning billabong (natural pool). It is the cover photo you see and I will tell you how to get there!
Stay tuned for 1 week Malta Itinerary to be published later this week!
Location: Mediterranean sea south of Sicily, east of Tunisia
Language: Maltese but English widely spoken
Ok, the truth is, getting around Malta is not the easiest thing in the world. If you don’t have a car (which I didn’t because driving there scared the crap out of me), you have to take the bus or taxis. Taxis are expensive. The bus is 2 euro per trip. You need to learn the bus schedules for your specific stop and where you are going or else you could be waiting a long time. The buses often come early so beware. Here is the link for Malta Public Transport
You have to take bus number 11 to the ferry and the stop is called Cerkewwa. From Paceville/St. Julians area, this takes 1 hour. If you are lucky and time this correctly you hopefully will only wait 10 min or so to take the 20 min ferry ride to Comino. I recommend starting this journey as early as possible, especially if you are there in high season, aka summer. It is very crowded and very, very, very hot. I am from Miami and I was DYING! Malta was the hottest I’ve ever been in my life! Sometimes I think I still smell the sweat in my luggage. No joke. Sorry for being gross. Reality.
I managed to get on an 0830 bus and 0940 ferry. Lucky! The ferry costs 10 euros rountrip. By 1010 I started my trek. The ferry drops you off right at the famous blue lagoon, which is on the northwest side of the island. At this time on a Sunday in August, many people and boats were already there. It truly is a stunning shade of blue!
My friend and I decided not to stop here and just start hiking, because it was only going to get hotter, and we thought maybe we would find a better place to swim.
See ya later blue lagoon! These views from the hike were almost better than the lagoon itself!
The next popular spot is the Crystal Lagoon, slightly south of the Blue Lagoon. Here’s where I did some cliff jumping. Just kidding. I’m too much of a scaredy-cat, but apparently people do that here. Aside from all the boats, this is a nice place to swim because of all the little caves. There is a path on the right that leads down to the water. Clearly the yachters know about this place and wake up early. Impressive!
My friend and I decided to keep hiking south around the island. It was beautiful to look back towards both lagoons and see all these natural “windows” or arches that have formed.
This tower was built in 1618 to defend the island. It is visible from Gozo island and the ferry. Interestingly, in the 17th century, Comino served as a place of imprisonment or exile for errant knights. Knights who were convicted of minor crimes were sometimes sentenced to task of manning St. Mary’s Tower, which was apparently dangerous. And lonely. Also, this represented a prison in the 2002 movie, “The Count of Monte Cristo.”
From the tower, we stopped walking along the perimeter of the island and took a path leading directly across the island to the north.
At this point I had run out of water and was sweating so profusely that my dress was soaked, as was the part of my backpack that touches me. Again, sorry for being gross! Luckily we were almost at one of the only stops on the island (other than Blue Lagoon) where nourishment and fluids are for sale! There is a food stall before you reach the hotel. The hotel has a little beach as well, but I also found this too crowded. I know, I know, I’m so picky about where I put my body in the ocean! Believe me that water looked so inviting, but I knew there was a better spot out there!
We heard of a natural window near the Santa Maria Caves so we set out looking for those. We never saw a window but we found the caves along with many diving and snorkeling boats below. From Santa Maria Bay (near the hotel), just head east in the opposite direction from the hotel and soon you will see all this gorgeous stuff!
Ok, maybe it’s technically a secret billabong. Not sure of the official definition of a lagoon, so bear with me here. I’m not a geologist. I literally stumbled upon this spot. For real, tripped on a rock, looked down and saw this.
I was like…woah. What is this gorgeous spot with NOBODY THERE! You all know by now how I hate crowds and touristy stuff, so I was stoked. It doesn’t look like it from the picture, but it’s really easy to get down there. I swear! I’m no daredevil. The best way down is on the left, towards the little natural hot tub, as I fondly nicknamed it.
How cool is this! It was warm, but not so much that you weren’t refreshed. You recall all the sweating I spoke of earlier? Getting in this water was the equivalent of having chocolate, pizza and wine all at the same time. Yes, that good.
A few other people somehow discovered this place too, but not enough that it ever seemed crowded ( I could always easily get a picture without people in it…that’s my gold standard).
This water was super clear! I was trying hard to be a mermaid but I look more like a sinking crazy person. I’ll work on my underwater posing guys. Of course before leaving here, make someone take a photo of you floating like my cover shot. So fun! I find that distance really hides body flaws. I like that.
So where is this place exactly? Should I even tell you? I only will tell because I know my readers are responsible and will keep this place special, like it deserves:). If you look on google maps for Santa Maria Caves and just walk along the coast 5 minutes north, you will see it.
Here is a map…the spot is marked with a heart:
If you make it here please drop a comment and let me know what you thought!
Coming back a huge
shit show fiasco, not gonna lie. We reluctantly left that perfect spot and knowing the long journey ahead, trudged back to the Blue Lagoon to get the ferry. We had bought a round trip ticket earlier. There are many ferries that all have the same name and it’s confusing. Also there is no proper queueing, like those of in the US or UK may be accustomed to. It’s just big jumble of sweaty confused people and we all know that not everyone will fit on the boat. Everytime a boat arrived, everyone tried to predict where it would dock exactly, then pushed and shoved their way towards that spot. Each time, the boat wasn’t the right boat.
The heat was unbearable and everybody was desperate to get on the ferry, because waiting sucks. I was on the verge of causing a major international incident if I didn’t get on the ferry after waiting over 30 minutes.
Malta…are you listening? Get a better system. Yours sucks! Sorry if that’s too “western” of me, but a little organization goes a long way. A simple queue system. Ropes. A metal bar to keep people corralled. If I arrived to the ferry dock first, I should board the boat first, before people who arrived 30 minutes later and happen to bee more pushy than me, amirite?
Once the ferry lands, the same debacle/shoving match happens to get on the bus, because everybody is going to the same place (Valetta/St.Julian’s area). Somehow I made it home without committing homicide. I bet it’s much better on a weekday or even more better in the off season.
Please don’t let the journey deter you. It was still worth it. It’s about managing expectations and sadly I had no idea what I was walking into with the ferry/bus situation but you are much better informed! You’re welcome:)