As temperatures hit 40 ° C on the tiny Mediterranean Island of Malta, locals and tourists alike are faced with only one dilemma – where shall we go today, sandy or rocky beach?
Although hotels pools are full up with tourists bathing and licking the sun, Malta's beaches are still the main attraction for sea lovers.
According to some, there is a latent negative touch to going to a sandy beach and enjoying oneself. No matter how hard you wash and scrub there is an inevitability that the microscopic specks will keep coming out of your body for days on end.
And try, if you can, to clean the inside of your car afterwards. Ouch. Still, people enjoy the cushioning effect the sandy beach gives them while they sunbathe and, let's face it, what better way is there to keep the kids occupied than hours of endless sandcastle creating.
Malta's sandy beaches are often small and hidden away in Sheltered little bays difficult to reach, but there are also some big ones where the holidaying crowds gather in their multitudes to spend their days among the ice-cream vendors, the forest of umbrellas and the fast -food outlets. Ghadira Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, Golden Sands, Paradise Bay, Pretty Bay and Armier Bay provide the main sandy beaches on Malta, while Xlendi Bay, Marsalforn and the splendid Ramla l-Hamra beckon on Gozo. There are also two sandy beaches on Comino – Santa Marija Bay and San Niklaw Bay.
The demand for sandy beaches is ever so vociferous that the Maltese authorities have also wisely – and quite successfully at St George's Bay and Bugibba – embarked on perched-beach projects intended for the enlargement of some of the smaller sandy beaches and the conversion into sandy patches of rocky shores in a concentrated effort to fulfill demand.
As I said, picking sand out of your orifices for weeks on end might not be everyone's cup of tea. But for those who love them, Malta has just about enough beaches to make your holiday perfect.
Although sand is not Malta's largest natural resource there are still plenty of beaches to choose from, most of which are located in the north of Malta and a couple in Gozo. Getting to the ones in the north of Malta is best done by car if you are renting or by bus if not. Others, like St George's Bay, are more centrally located. Your best bet is to check out a map and see which one is closest to you!
But for those of you who are not overly enthused by the idea of sand in every crevice, Malta has an abundant supply of rocky beaches. These places which are literally littered around the island are ideal locations for taking your daily dip, towing off and relaxing without the worry of sand getting in your ears.
Of course it is a question of preference, the sandy beach vs rocky beach dilemma which spoils visitors to Malta for choice. Some of the top rocky beaches in Malta are Anchor Bay, Ghar Lapsi, Marsascala Bay, Marsaxlokk Bay, Mistra Bay, Salina Bay, St Thomas Bay, St Paul's Bay and Sliema sea front.
There are also great rocky beaches at Marsalforn Bay and Xlendi Bay in Gozo, while Comino, that strange, barren, little island caught mid-sea between Malta and Gozo, boasts, in its Blue Lagoon, perhaps the clearest water off a rocky beach anywhere in the Mediterranean. Most rocky beaches have very good facilities for showering, dining and relaxing. If you can not build sand castles, you can hire boats and go water skiing, while some of the top diving clubs operate from the rocky shores at very reasonable rates.
In the evening, it is a joy to go back there and watch anglers hooking some interesting-looking fish from the very spot you were swimming in a few hours earlier. The late-evening barbecue parties come next with their heavy cases of cool beer and enough food to feed a regiment. It is a completely different scene from daytime, one that openly dictates the tempo of life in the Mediterranean – allegro andante. It will be difficult switching back to that other tempo you left behind …. if you can even remember it.
While sand may not be Malta's strong point, rocks are something we have a plenty. So finding a rocky beach is generally as simple as stepping outside your front door. The vast majority of Malta's shoreline is open to the public and you will normally find people swimming from just about every available rocky outcrop during the summer months. Just be careful of any warning signs that may be in place. And of the sharp bits.