Ramla l-Hamra beach: Unspoilt beauty in Gozo
As with most beaches in Gozo, most are largely unspoilt by man, and Ramla l-Hamla is no exception. Although a few snack bars have been erected at the edge of the beach in recent years, this beach offers a true glimpse of what all of Malta was once like – undisturbed, peaceful and full of natural beauty.
In that sense, it’s similar to Għajn Tuffieħa, and therefore one of my favourite bays in the Maltese islands. Clean waters, beautiful beach, raw, unspoilt natural surroundings. Brilliant.
Ramla l-Hamra means “red beach” in Maltese: the sand has a reddish hue (similar to that of Golden Bay) and the beach is set on a curving bay surrounded by rocky cliffs. Swimming is safe at this long and wide beach and it is popular with families, locals, and snorkelers. The water is pretty shallow, getting deeper gradually, making it a good location to swim safely with kids.
There are no hotels or tourist establishments nearby and although it’s probably the most popular beach in Gozo, it’s not extremely busy (as it can be in Mellieha Bay in Malta, for example), even when the summer season is in full swing. Ramla l-Hamra is the only bay in Gozo that carries the Blue Flag status, having a lifeguard on duty, various facilities and a safety flag system.
Entry to the water can be a little tricky in certain places, with some parts of the bay being pebbly but overall it’s a great beach to go for a swim and enjoy some sunbathing on the sand in a peaceful and naturally beautiful environment.
Part of Ramla l-Hamra has been declared as an area of conversation by international NGOs The Gaia Foundation and Natura 2000, protecting the area’s indigenous plants and animals, as well as supporting regeneration of native vegetation communities. Some species of plants and animals are supported by the formation of sand dunes, which are a rarity for the Maltese islands and protected by the Maltese government as a Level 1 Area of Ecological Importance.
History and mythology
There’s some history to Ramla l-Hamra as well, with the Romans having built a villa overlooking the bay, richly decorated with marble and stucco and boasting its own hot bath supplied with fresh water from a nearby natural spring.
During the time of the Knights of St. John, the beach was fortified to defend Gozo from foreign threats, constructing the Vendome battery in 1715 and a submerged wall to deter invaders from landing on the beach.
On the cliffs at the western end of the beach is the mythical Calypso’s Cave (said to have belonged to Calypso, the mythological nymph as described in Homer’s Odyssey). A testament to the strong religious faith of the Gozitans (and Maltese), a white statue of the Holy Mary stands firm in the middle of the bay, having been erected back in 1881 and still weathers the elements until today.
How to get to Ramla l-Hamra
It’s relatively easy to reach by car, with several signs indicating its Northerly location, nearby the villages of Xagħra and Nadur. Parking is available alongside the road that leads to the beach.
There’s a nearby bus stop as well, so if you depend on public transport you’ll find Ramla l-Hamra easy to reach as well, from Victoria (Gozo’s capital and main public transport hub). Bus 302 takes you straight to within a 5-minute walk from the beach and the bus ride will take around 30 minutes.
- Although the most logical point of entry is the main road that leads to the beach, it’s well worth trying to get a view of the full bay to really admire its beauty. If you’re hiring a car drive up to Calypso’s Cave (just follow the signs – it’s a popular tourist attraction) and enjoy the view of the bay from there.
- At the beach, you’re usually better off finding a spot towards the back of the bay (on your right, walking towards the beach from its access road). Sometimes a number of pebbles line part of the beach and that mostly happens in the centre of the bay. It’s the spot where rainwater streams down from the valley and deposits debris.
Ramla l-Hamra is one of my Best Beaches in Gozo.