Go beach-hopping around Malta’s sister island - choose from picturesque bays straight out of a Hollywood film, to secluded bays that require some serious effort to reach.
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No visit to Gozo is complete without a stop at the best beach of the Maltese Islands. It’s reddish bronze sand gives the beach its name - Ramla l-Hamra - and it has thankfully been spared the onslaught of 'progress' with the few basic cafes set back away from the beach itself. Surrounded by protected sand dunes and lying at the bottom of a luscious, fertile valley, Ramla has Roman remains beneath the sand, and is overlooked by the legendary cave of Calypso, where Ulysses is allegedly said to have been held as a prisoner of love according to Homer’s Odyssey. You can reach the beach from either Xaghra or Nadur.
Ramla’s little sister, San Blas, also boasts the same distinctive red sand. Reaching this little gem of a beach is a bit of a trek but well worth the extra effort. Starting from Nadur, head down a narrow road the last part of which is closed to traffic. A pair of closed shoes would be ideal as you’ll have to negotiate that final, steep stretch of the road until you reach this oasis of peace at the end of one of Gozo’s most beautiful valleys.
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If it’s good enough for Brad and Angelina, it’s good enough for the rest of us. This bay was closed to the public while Angelina Jolie’s movie By the Sea was being filmed here a few years ago. The idyllic pebbly beach flanked by steep rocks on either side has a tragic history, as this was the place from which kidnapped Gozitans were loaded onto Turkish ships in the worst ever raid on the island in 1551. Today, the bay is a popular dive site thanks to the shipwreck Xlendi and the caves in the cliff face. And while you’re there, you might want to pop into the 16th century watchtower which is part of the network of coastal towers built by the Knights of St John all around the entire Maltese Islands.
Xwejni and Qbajjar Bays
The two twin shallow bays just outside Marsalforn are the locals’ favourite swimming spots. They are also a popular dive site, especially for beginner divers. The small pebbly beaches and rocky stretches lead into clear blue waters. A large stretch of the shoreline has been used as salt pans for generations and you can still buy a bag of hand-harvested sea salt direct from the same family that has tended the salt pans for the past 160 years.
This small sandy beach with crystal clear water is a particular favourite with the Gozitans, who often bring their picnic dinner and settle in for a balmy evening by the sea. It is particularly sought after by beginner divers. As the bay lies directly opposite the island of Comino, you can take a speed boat from there to visit the Blue Lagoon. The beach can be reached from the village of Qala.