Għajn Tuffieħa: Malta’s most beautiful beach
Għajn Tuffieħa (Maltese for ‘Apple’s Eye’, also known as Riviera) is located on the north-west coast of Malta, behind a small village called Manikata. Unlike nearby Golden Bay, Għajn Tuffieħa Bay is less accessible but almost looks untouched by man, with natural beauty all around you. The beach itself is smaller than that of Golden Bay, which means during peak season it does get a little busy at times.
With clay slopes and high cliffs are situated on either side of the bay, red sand and clean, clear water, it easily ranks #1 on my list of best beaches in Malta. I still remember the first time I set foot on this beach. It left me in awe and I’m sure your experience will be similar.
Getting down to the beach requires a descent of a tall flight of steps (over 100), which means you’ll want to retain some of your energy for the way back up. If you’re not terribly worried about your condition, it’s the perfect place for a really chilled out afternoon of swimming and sunbathing and watching the clouds passing by.
Sun beds and umbrellas are for hire here, and a snack bar is located on the side of the beach with some pretty decent food (as opposed to the regular grub you find in other places). Although there’s a parking area at the top of the steps, car spaces are rarely vacant there and cars line both sides of the main access road for hundreds of meters on busy days. It’s very easy to reach by bus, however (more info below).
Towards the South, there’s a slope beyond which you’ll find Gnejna beach. The cliff on the Northside features another one of Malta’s coastal watch towers, Ghajn Mixkuka Tower, as well as a small abandoned hotel in a rather derelict state, which for some reason hasn’t yet been demolished. I wouldn’t consider it a negative – It actually adds to the secluded feel of Għajn Tuffieħa.
Although great for swimming during the summer months, Għajn Tuffieħa is known for its strong undercurrents offseason. If you decide you want to brave the lower temperatures and go for a swim there anyway, keep an eye on the flag system which will be a good indicator of whether the sea is safe. The best rule of measure remains “do as the locals do”. As is the case at Golden Bay, lifeguards are on duty here only during the summer months.
- 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
- Sunsets. I guarantee you will not be disappointed
- Blue Flag certified beach.
- Quite a challenge to climb a long flight of stairs if you’re not in reasonable shape, although a winding road leads up to the top of the beach as well
- Parking can be difficult, especially on Sundays and public holidays
- This beach is known for strong undercurrents during the colder months of the year.
How to get to Għajn Tuffieħa
Għajn Tuffieħa is one of the few beaches that’s easy to reach by public transport, with a bus route passing by on its way to Golden Bay. The actual bus stop is called Riviera.
The following bus routes will take you to Għajn Tuffieħa:
- From Valletta: Take route 42 or 250 to St. Paul’s Bay, then hop on route 223 or 225 (Trip duration: 1h 15m)
- From Sliema and St. Julian’s: Direct route 225 takes you there in a little over one hour.
- From Buġibba, Qawra and St. Paul’s Bay: Direct routes 223 and 225 both pass through the main street of St. Paul’s Bay (from where it’s a 20-minute ride). If you’re staying in Qawra or Buġibba take a quick 5-minute bus trip from the Buġibba terminus to St. Paul’s Bay on route 48, for example (although other routes pass from the same stretch).