Ġnejna Bay: A Remote Sandy Beach Near Mġarr, Malta
Nestled between clay slops and limestone cliffs, Ġnejna Beach is one of the more picturesque sandy beaches in Malta, boasting unique natural surroundings, and a quieter, more secluded setting than others close by.
Located in the Western part of the island, just a couple of kilometres away from the small, rural village of Mġarr, Ġnejna Bay is a popular beach amongst most locals, as well as tourists looking for a quieter place to enjoy the sun and sea. Being a fairly large, sandy beach, Ġnejna is mostly distinguished for being surrounded by clay slopes and limestone cliffs. In fact, the only access to the bay is via a steep, winding street descending through Ġnejna Valley; an area containing one of Malta’s few remaining perennial freshwater springs which runs through the valley towards the sea.
Ġnejna is not the most polished beach that Malta has to offer, but that’s merely because of its natural features rather than human interference.
What’s Ġnejna Bay like to visit?
The unusual clay slopes and cliffs around the area enclose an orange, sandy bay which is ideal for sunbathing. The sandy bank offers a gentle descent into crystal clear, azure sea which is ideal for snorkelling, especially when exploring the surrounding clay slopes and cliffs via the water. The beach is cleaned regularly and although more secluded than its neighbours, is still fairly well maintained, with some basic amenities being available such as a couple of mobile snack bars selling ice creams and burgers and umbrella and sun bed rentals. You can also find a few paddle boats and kayaks available for rent if you want to explore the surrounding area by sea. Public toilets are also available in the parking area near the beach.
If sandy beaches aren’t for you, there’s a a stretch of natural flat limestone rock on the right side of the beach, perfect for those who don’t like the feeling of sand between their toes. The northern-most, secluded part of the bay is a bit of a nudist’s hideaway, so even though this is an illegal practice in Malta it still occurs in that part. It’s not a place you’ll stumble upon though, it’s pretty remote and not easy to reach and it’s commonly known to be the only beach around where nudists go for a dip and the authorities tend to turn a blind eye.
Ġnejna Bay’s unique, atmospheric surroundings make it a beautiful beach to enjoy. It’s situated very close to Għajn Tuffieħa Bay, but is smaller and more low key as it is more difficult to access without a car, providing a less crowded alternative than the former. Domineering above the bay, on a tall, rocky outcrop, is the Ta` Lippija Tower (also known as the Ġnejna Tower) which was built in 1637 by Vincenzo Maculani upon orders from Grand Master Lascaris. This watch tower formed part of the intricate coastal defence network constructed by the Knights of St. John, and communicated directly with the nearby tower at Għajn Tuffieha as well as with the inland Nadur Tower by means of flags by day and bonfires by night, which would, in turn, raise an alarm in the old, walled city of Mdina when corsairs were sighted off the western coast of Malta.
How to Get to Ġnejna Bay
Private Vehicle/Rental Car
If you’ve got access to a car, getting the Ġnejna Bay is very easy. Just drive to the village of Mġarr and follow the street signs. As I already mentioned, there’s only one road leading through to the bay from the village. Just drive towards the church in the village core and follow the signs. There is a good-sized parking area on the edge of the beach. It does get quite busy in summer, however, so if you don’t manage to park there, just find a spot along the road leading the the beach.
If you do park in the parking lot you’ll most often find a parking attendant supervising the area, who will expect a tip. This is not obligatory as he is a paid civil servant, so it’s up to you if you want to contribute. Most opt to spare 50 cents or a Euro or so, but this is totally optional.
There’s only one bus route that actually goes down to the bay (as opposed to others that will go as far as the village of Mġarr). However, route 101 only passes from Ċirkewwa (Gozo ferry point, way up North) through Mellieħa, then Ġnejna and vice versa.
That means that unless you’re staying in or near Mellieħa you’ll have to change buses at some point, which doesn’t make for a quick journey by public transport.
If you do decide to go to Ġnejna by bus, keep in mind that route 101 only passes once in the hour and the last bus from Ġnejna departs at 8pm. You can always take on the challenge of the 30-minute uphill walk though it’s not a challenge many will take on in the middle of summer. 😉
What I like about Ġnejna Bay
- Beautiful location with a unique geographical setting. A great way to appreciate Maltese countryside at its prettiest. The site makes for some great hiking and exploring opportunities if the weather isn’t too hot.
- Sandy beach with a gentle sloping descent into the sea. Ideal for swimmers who are not very confident as well as children. Smooth sandstone, natural platform for those sunbathers who don’t like the sand a stone’s throw away (pun intended – sorry! 😉 ).
- Not as crowded as neighbouring beaches (Għajn Tuffieħa and Golden Bay); more popular with the locals (mostly the people of Mġarr – a very friendly village from personal experience).
- Fairly easily accessible for people with mobility issues and disabilities using private transportation as parking area is located on the edge of the beach.
- Basic amenities available (snacks & drinks, sunbed & umbrella rentals, public toilets).
- Relatively easy parking with great access if you have a private car available.
Things to Consider
- Not easy to reach by public transport. No direct route to most popular resorts, passes once in the hour and closest alternative bus stop pretty far away in Mġarr.
- Not as well maintained as neighbouring beaches, although cleaned regularly during the summer season. Which is necessary particularly with inward wind.
- Even though the beach is sandy, rocks can be found in the shallow part of the bay, which might make getting into the sea slightly challenging in certain areas.
- Amenities in the area are relatively basic especially since the beach is in a fairly remote area. Not necessarily a bad thing if you’re like me: The fewer man-made structures around, the better.
- The area has been known to have some strong sea undercurrents, especially during windy weather. Just take special note of any warning flags on the beach before swimming. It’s most often a very safe place to swim, but better safe than sorry!
My Tips for visiting Ġnejna Bay
- Pack a face mask and snorkel with you. The area boasts crystal clear waters on most sunny days, which makes for great snorkelling opportunities. That being said, snorkelling in the main, sandy part of the beach isn’t very interesting. Move towards the far right or left of the bay, where the coast starts getting rocky to see the marine life.
- If you don’t have a car, an alternative way of visiting Ġnejna Bay is via the water! Hire a kayak/canoe for a few hours from the neighbouring beaches, Golden Bay or Għajn Tuffieħa (more accessible via public transport) and paddle your way westwards to get to Ġnejna Bay. You’ll recognise it from the clay slopes and a large ‘table-mountain’ like rock formation just at the mouth of the bay. You really can’t miss it.