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Last updated: April 2016

No summer holiday in Malta is complete without visiting at least one of its amazing beaches. Although Malta is rich in history and culture, it owes part of its popularity to being a great location to travel to enjoy some serious relaxation time at some of the best beaches around.

A popular reason to visit Malta: Chilling at the beach.Most beaches around the Maltese islands are recognised as having some of the cleanest bathing waters around the EU, with a 100% evaluation of excellent quality, placing Malta shared first among EU states (Check out the 2014 EEA Report on European bathing water quality here – PDF download). A few beaches are also Blue Flag certified, which means such beaches adhere to standards for sustainable development, environmental management, safety and other services.

Although what makes a great beach varies from person to person, I’ve compiled a top 10 of the best beaches around Malta. Fear not, I’ve done my best to outline the pros and cons with each beach, to help you pick your sunbathing and swimming spots on your next holiday to Malta.

Considering a visit or stay in Gozo? These are the best beaches on the island of Gozo.

Looking for the best dive sites? Have a look at this article about diving in Malta.

Map of the top 10 beaches in Malta

10. Ta` Fra Ben (Qawra Point)

9. Armier Bay and Little Armier

8. Gnejna Bay

7. Paradise Bay

6. The Blue Lagoon

5. St. Peter’s Pool

4. Imġiebaħ Bay

3. Mellieha Bay / Ghadira

2. Golden Bay

1. Għajn Tuffieħa

Beautiful locations, clean beaches

10. Ta’ Fra Ben (Qawra Point)

Ta` Fra Ben Bay is named after its watch tower that overlooks the area. Although mostly rocky, the water is clean, the view is great and it doesn’t tend to get very busy here. The bay is a little sheltered which means it’s rarely affected by the swell of the open sea, in summer at least. It’s also a great spot for snorkelling with some interesting underwater life.

If you’re staying in the Bugibba/Qawra/St Paul’s Bay area this is an obvious first bathing location to check out. Much more so than the perched artificial sandy beach that’s located along the coastline at Bugibba. Having said that, if you prefer sandy beaches look elsewhere!

Pros

  • Easy to reach, easily accessible
  • Great views, clean water
  • Good place for snorkelling enthusiasts
  • Amenities and kiosks
  • Umbrellas and sunbeds rented out here
  • Blue Flag certified beach

Cons

  • Rocky and relatively small beach  – not great for those looking for sunbathing, unless you’re in time to rent a deck chair for the day.
  • Although the bay is a family-friendly place to swim (and OK for kids), the water gets deep pretty quickly

9. Armier Bay and Little Armier

Armier Bay is located in the far North of Malta, close to the tip of the tail (if you creatively picture the island as having the shape of a fish). The bay has two beaches, one known as Armier for short, the other as Little Armier. (You guessed it, it’s the smaller of the two!) Neither of these beaches get crazy busy in summer, although they’re quite popular among the Maltese some of whom set up camp (tent and all) for the day with the family.

Both beaches are considered to be rather remote and unless you’re hiring a car you can expect a bit of a walk to get there from the nearest bus stop. Although several bus routes pass through the area on their way to Cirkewwa (the place where the Gozo ferry operates from), you need to be pretty fanatical to take the challenge to walk to Armier in the scorching hot summer sun.

A refreshing swim will be a great reward, nevertheless. As far as the beaches themselves go, they’re family-friendly, relatively clean and safe, and amenities are available at both Armier and Little Armier. The shoreline is also pretty shallow so a good location to swim with kids.

Pros

  • Sandy beach
  • Beautiful location
  • Clean, clear water
  • Family-friendly, though only with own transport
  • A popular beach among locals, less touristy

Cons

  • Difficult to reach without a car. Closest bus stop is 20 minutes’ walk away
  • Part of the beach reserved for sunbed and umbrella rental operators
  • Not the best-kept beach in terms of cleanliness (summer season)

8. Ġnejna Bay

Ġnejna is a rare little gem of a beach on the West coast of Malta, which is sandy and fairly secluded and not very popular among tourists as a result. It’s good proof that being a little more adventurous and exploring your holiday location can pay off.

Being the “go to” beach for the Maltese living in the nearby village of Mġarr, it’s a nice alternative to some of the other, busier beaches. A few kiosks and public convenience sit on the edge of the beach and it’s considered to be a family-friendly beach, easy to reach and with a fairly shallow shoreline.

Pros

  • Sandy beach
  • Family-friendly, mostly sandy and easy to access
  • Largely undisturbed by man-made structures
  • Mostly visited by locals, not very touristy

Cons

  • Parking spaces are limited and parking attendant is usually present
  • Public transport won’t take you down to the beach. A steep road leads down to the beach, which is fine going downhill but your trip back uphill to Mġarr will be much more challenging.

 

7. Paradise Bay

Paradise Bay is located near Cirkewwa in the Northern most part of Malta, where the ferry to the neighbouring island of Gozo departs. The beach is set in a natural cove and is quite secluded and peaceful, surrounded by high cliffs, with great views of its rugged landscape and of the nearby islands of Gozo and of Comino.

Paradise Bay

Paradise Bay is a small but beautiful beach

It’s a small sandy beach with crystal clear water that is considered to be family-friendly with easy entry to shallow water that gradually becomes deeper. Paradise Bay generally attracts a younger crowd among locals and sometimes parties are organised here on weekends. Part of the bay is very much suited to snorkelers, with some nice underwater features and several species of fish and other sea life around.

Pros

  • Sandy beach
  • Beautiful location, a little sheltered from the open sea
  • Great for snorkelling
  • Kiosk with facilities
  • Rental of sunbeds and umbrellas

Cons

  • Limited space on the beach, gets crowded quickly

6. The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is a stunningly beautiful inlet on the small island of Comino. It is sheltered and has dazzlingly azure waters. Access to this fascinating inlet is by boat trip from Gozo or Malta. There are two white sand beaches, one on either side of the crystal clear water: the bottom of the inlet also consists of white sand.

The rest of the bay is rocky: here visitors can sunbathe or jump into the refreshing water. Snorkelling is popular due to the clarity of the water as well as the presence of several caves. No boats are allowed, so it is an especially peaceful setting.

It’s not higher up in my personal top 10 of beaches because 1) There’s no real beach and it’s more of a tour stop and 2) It’s a tourist hotspot, meaning it’s swarming with people during the summer months. Nevertheless, it’s a must-visit place in Malta, but something you should plan a day trip for.

The Blue Lagoon is a popular tourist hotspot in summer.

Pros

  • Absolutely stunning location, one of the pearls of the Maltese islands
  • Clean, clear water like you’ve never seen before
  • Great place to spend the day in summer

Cons

  • Not exactly Malta’s best kept secret – Gets very busy in summer!
  • Only reachable by boat, unless you’re actually staying in Comino
  • Not really family-friendly
  • Treacherous undercurrents not uncommon outside of the summer season

Hidden, more secluded beaches – off the beaten path

5. St. Peter’s Pool

St. Peter’s Pool is a pool-shaped bay on the East coast of Malta, nearby the fisherman’s village of Marsaxlokk. There’s no beach as such, although there’s enough room to spread out your beach towel on the flat rocky surface around the bay. It’s not a very popular beach, mostly frequented by the locals, and it’s a beautiful alternative to some of the more touristy beaches around. Getting there can be a bit of a challenge in terms of navigation, but if you’re the type who likes to get out of their comfort zone this is a hot tip.

Pros

  • Gorgeous (rocky) bay, crystal clear, azure waters.
  • Rarely gets busy
  • Space for sunbathing, despite being sandy
  • Great for snorkelling

Cons

  • Not very easy to reach
  • Not considered to be family-friendly
  • No amenities

4. Imġiebaħ Bay

Not very easy to reach but well worth the trouble getting there, Imġiebaħ Bay is a little gem that’s undisturbed by man. A small sandy beach is surrounded by the rocky shore and although small in size, it rarely gets busy here. It’s located in the North of Malta, beyond Selmun Palace (nearby the village of Mellieha and clearly designated from main roads). The minute you see Selmun Palace there’s a left turn that takes you down a long winding road.

Unless you’re a highly skilled and confident driver (especially in reverse) it’s highly recommended to park in the vicinity of Selmun Palace and make your way down to the beach on foot (15 min walk), since the road was never intended to be used by cars coming from opposite directions.

Pros

  • Small sandy beach
  • Raw nature, untouched by man
  • Quiet and peaceful – never really gets busy

Cons

  • Tricky to get to. You’ll want to park near Selmun Palace and make your way down to the beach on foot.
  • No amenities
  • Dead seaweed often washes up and isn’t cleaned by the authorities. Not a big con for me personally – part of nature

My personal top 3 beaches

3. Mellieha Bay / Ghadira

Mellieha Bay (also referred to locally as Ghadira Bay) is the largest sandy beach on Malta and one of the best beaches in the Mediterranean. It is by far one of the most popular of Malta’s beaches and with a surf that remains shallow for a good distance out and easy access, this spot is a firm favourite for families with children, who tend to set up camp for the day, mostly on weekends.

Mellieha Bay is located in the North of Malta (near the village of Mellieha, seen below up on the hilltop) and is very easy to get to, with a number of bus routes stopping at the bay on their way to Cirkewwa (where the ferries to Gozo berth.

 

Mellieha Bay / Ghadira

Mellieha Bay / Ghadira with the village of Mellieha in the background

Pros

  • Largest (sandy) beach
  • Family-friendly – Easily accessible and shallow water
  • Facilities nearby – Several restaurants/snack bars and two hotels
  • Easy to reach with public transport
  • Water sports and windsurfing
  • Beach management (June – Sep) – lifeguards, First Aid clinic, maintenance
  • Sunbed & umbrella hire
  • Blue flag certified

Cons

  • Sunbed & umbrella hire – Great facility to have when desired, though providers can be rather pushy and control designated areas.
  • Gets crowded quickly despite its size, particularly on Sundays, which also means it’s difficult to find (free) parking.

2. Golden Bay

Golden Bay is located on the Northwest coast of Malta, right next to Għajn Tuffieħa (the next beach on the list) and is a popularly visited beach which was one of the first to earn Blue Flag status.

Easily accessible and reachable with public transport, this beach offers plenty of amenities and is the perfect location for families to enjoy some sunbathing. Although the North cliff is taken up by a large hotel, the rest of the beaches surroundings are largely unspoilt and make for a great view. Golden Bay is also a popular location for barbeques, mostly on Friday and Saturday evening.

Golden Bay and a Radisson Hotel perched on one of the surrounding cliffs

View over Golden Bay from the South

Pros

  • Sandy beach, Blue Flag certified
  • Beautiful surroundings
  • Amenities, kiosks and good restaurants
  • Easy to reach by public transport and car
  • Family-friendly
  • Great for evening barbeques and admiring sunsets
  • Reasonably easy to find parking if you don’t mind a brief walk
  • Water sports and windsurfing

Cons

  • If the wind’s blowing inward the water isn’t very clear. Not dirty, just a little murky
  • Not quite untouched by man with a number of developments, including a large hotel sitting on the Northern cliff’s edge
  • Can be very busy in summer, particularly on weekends.

1. Għajn Tuffieħa (my absolute favourite beach)

Għajn Tuffieħa is my favourite beach in Malta, with some of the best scenery and sea you’ll encounter around the Maltese islands. To me, this beach is a perfect balance between being in raw nature and yet having facilities to be comfortable at the beach.

Yes, it’s a popular beach, yes, it’s a favourite among tourists as well and can get busy, but the stunning beauty, its panoramic views and clean water are just amazing. This is a must visit and well worth a bus ride from wherever it is you’re staying in Malta.

Għajn Tuffieħa Bay

North view of Għajn Tuffieħa Bay and its clay slopes.

Pros

  • Perfect balance between raw nature and man-made facilities
  • Sandy beach with clean water, great for sunbathing as well as swimming
  • Family-friendly (although it’s not the easiest beach to access – see Cons)
  • Sunbed and umbrella hire. Kiosk on the side of the beach
  • Easy to reach by public transport and car
  • Blue Flag certified beach
  • Amazing sunset views. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Cons

  • Quite a challenge to get back up the hill if you’re not in reasonable shape – you’ll need to ascend a long flight of stairs
  • Parking can be difficult to find, especially on Sundays and public holidays
  • This beach is notorious for strong undercurrents during the colder months of the year.

Beaches mentioned in travel guides that really aren’t great

Pretty Bay

There’s no doubt that Pretty Bay, near the Southernmost village of Birzebbuga, was once a great location for swimming. The construction of Malta’s Freeport in the 1980s kind of spoiled the location. The locals do swim there still but as a beach, it’s not very well maintained unfortunately either.

Bugibba Perched Beach

This is a man-made beach that serves a popular tourist area of which the coast is mostly rocky by nature. Although convenient as a location perhaps, entry to the water isn’t particularly easy and the real thing (natural sandy beaches) are worth taking a bus trip for. If you’ve already booked your accommodation, Bugibba is alright as a location, but there are better places to stay in Malta.

Relax at one of Malta's beautiful beaches

Handy beach tips to keep in mind

  • Most bays have a clearly marked swimmers’ zone, outlined by buoys. Keep inside of this zone to stay safe.
  • A bit of an obvious one: Use sunblock with a high protection factor whenever you go sunbathing. The Maltese authorities usually recommend avoiding the sun in summer between the hours of 11am and 4pm because of the high levels of UV radiation.
  • For your own safety, never swim alone.
  • Sea water temperatures (as well as daytime temperatures above water) remain relatively high until well into October usually.
  • Always keep an eye on the flag system at popular beaches (see further down below) that indicate what the current conditions are like. If you see a single or double red flags, stay out of the water no matter how inviting the sea looks. It’s not the first time people get caught out by undercurrents, usually off season.
  • Some parking areas in Malta, some of which near beaches, are overseen by a parking attendant, who is licensed by the local authorities to help manage the parking area and ask for gratuities. Be aware that you are not obliged to pay the parking attendant, although if they were of help to you it’s kind of accepted to tip 1 Euro or so. Some of these guys can be rather pushy, however, helpful parking attendants aren’t unheard of and are helpful.
  • Petty crimes are relatively rare in Malta, though think twice before leaving valuables on the beach while you go for a swim. Thefts do happen from time to time, unfortunately.
  • Although sunbed and umbrella hire is common in the more popular bays, keep in mind you always have the option to find a spot outside of the zones that are dedicated to these guys.
  • Nudity is frowned upon by the Maltese and is actually illegal. Although there’s a small nudist beach which is sort of ignored by the local authorities, it’s best to keep your swimming outfit on.
  • Men, if you’re not on the beach, please wear a shirt. Bare chested visits to nearby restaurants or shops isn’t accepted in Malta either, despite the warm weather.

Beach FAQs

What are Blue Flag beaches?

Beaches awarded a Blue Flag status meet a set of requirements including lifeguard presence, safety flag system (see below), beach supervisors and cleaners, emergency equipment, showers and public restrooms, etc. Currently, these beaches in Malta carry Blue flag status:

What do the flags indicate at beaches in Malta?

Most of the popular beaches listed above apply a flag system to indicate the sea conditions to bathers. It’s vital to keep an eye on these flags because conditions like dangerous undercurrents may not be visible from above the water surface.

These are the flags that are flown and their meaning:

  • Green flag: It’s safe to bathe here
  • Yellow flag: Low danger, but proceed with caution
  • Red flag: Bathing can be dangerous
  • Double red flag: Extreme danger, do not enter the water

Although these beaches are usually attended by lifeguards of the Malta Red Cross, they are not obliged to enter the water under double red flag conditions. So basically, if you decide to ignore the double red flag status, you’re on your own.

Apart from flags being raised, the biggest giveaway is a beach without locals around. If the Maltese themselves aren’t swimming it’s best to follow suit. When in Rome, right? In any case, swimming offseason (May-October generally) can be risky and lifeguards are usually only around between mid-June and September.

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Malta's top 10 beaches