Malta's dramatic coastline has been shaped by the Mediterranean that laps at its shores, and the waves have fashioned its bays into rocky crags. The compact size of these small islands means that the sea is always close, and the Maltese take advantage of this with their love for water sports. The island boasts some of the best diving spots in Europe, while snorkeling allows you entry to a magical underwater-world, so the best beaches in Malta aren't hard to find.
Below is a guide of the editor's pick for the best beaches in the Maltese and Gozitan coasts.
Top Swimming Spot: The Blue Lagoon
It has its rivals, but ultimately, the number one spot has to go to Comino's Blue Lagoon. Its calm shallow waters, sparkling turquoise-blue sea and surrounded by a ring of rocks and clean white sand in a sheltered bay, are perfect for swimmers. Of course, this means that everybody wants a dip here, so wait until late afternoon, or stay at Comino's only hotel, to avoid the busiest times.
Other suggestions include Wied il-Ghasri and Fomm ir Rih.
Best Sand: Golden Bay
These islands aren't known for their sandy shoreline, but even so, there are a few beaches that stand out. Golden Bay, on the north west coast of Malta, boasts silky sands that curve round to slope gently into the blue Mediterranean. Visitors can also try out various watersports, take a boat trip, or dine in one of the restaurants at the bay-side Radisson while taking in the view.
Other sandy spots worth trying are Ghajn Tuffieha, Gnejna and Ghadira Bay.
Renowned for Snorkeling: Wied il-Ghasri
Malta is paradise for snorkelers, who will be thrilled by Wied il-Ghasri, an inlet on the Gozitan coast where a narrow opening leads on to a small sandy and shingle beach, accessed by steps cut into the rock. This channel provides some of the islands' best snorkeling conditions when the weather is not too rough.
Other spectacular sites can be found at Mgarr ix-Xini and Ghar Lapsi.
Complete Solitude and Seclusion: Fomm ir-Riħ
If you want peace and quiet, remote Fomm ir-Riħ is Malta's most inaccessible beach. Head for Baħrija on the north-western coast, and access Fomm ir-Rah from nearby. The steep and awkward path downwards takes about twenty minutes, but the quietness, coupled with crystal-clear water and breath-taking coastal views, make it worth your while. If the descent is too daunting, the beach is also accessible by boat.
For further tranquillity, try Migra il Ferha or Ghar ta Santa Marija.
Picnic in Peace at San Blas Bay
Gozo's San Blas Bay is a secluded cove reached after a steep walk downhill - probably the reason that it stays exclusive. If you want to get away from the crowd, and to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings while picnicking on golden sands, then it's well worth the trek for a slow and relaxed lunch with your own space, on one of the best beaches in Malta.
Alternatively, you could also while away a pleasant afternoon at Selum, the Blue Lagoon or Paradise Bay near the ferry terminal. For a more detailed beach guide view our articles on Gozo's & Malta's top beaches.