/The Mediterranean Beauty of Malta

The Mediterranean Beauty of Malta

Malta. Where is it? How did we end up there? Did we love it? Will we ever go back?

Caves in Malta, seen on the Mermaid Cruises Boat Tour

The story begins in London, where we spent most of August trying to decide where we wanted to explore after our housesitting gig was done. For some reason the stars were aligned against us, and every arrangement we tried to make kept falling through. Scotland, Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest… time after time we’d find a promising new apartment on Airbnb and book, only to discover a few days later that their calendars weren’t up to date and it was no longer available.

Finally, only a few days before leaving London for our International Friends tour of the Cotswolds and Bath, we realized we seriously needed to sit down and come up with a plan. Somehow in our desperation we discovered a handy feature on Airbnb where you can set your criteria very open-ended (like all of Europe) and then view all search results sorted by price. What did we find? A couple of cheap, promising options in Malta.

But, uh, where exactly is Malta?

I wasn’t certain I’d ever heard of it before (don’t hate – geography isn’t my strong point), but Google informed me that it’s a small island in the Mediterranean Sea (between Tunisia and Italy), and it’s part of the European Union. Okay, cool. Plane tickets were relatively inexpensive, English is an official language, and we managed to nail down our third (least ideal) rental. The night before leaving on our tour, we booked lodging for our return.

We flew to Malta knowing next to nothing about the country and arrived to discover a rundown apartment in terrible condition (moldy sheets, rusty silverware) situated in a country that is unmercifully hot, dry, and dusty. We were overwhelmed.

But, only a few hours later, we discovered a brilliant silver lining:

Bugibba/Qawra, Malta

The water is stunning.

It’s perfectly clear and patterned in brilliant shades of blue, green, and turquoise… it’s almost like it was made just for snorkeling. There was a protected inlet only a five minute walk from our apartment, so we bought some cheap gear and spent endless hours there communing with the fish.

Snorkeling in Bugibba/Qawra, Malta

Apparently a lot of Malta’s beauty is only accessible via boat, so after two weeks on the island we booked a seven-hour excursion on Mermaid Cruises for 15 euros apiece. Kali and I didn’t actually see any mermaids, but we did sing “I’m on a Boat” all day while waving our flippy-floppies! (Not really.)

Mermaid Cruises in the Blue Lagoon, Malta

The first few hours were spent exploring tons of caves that the sea’s spent the last few millennia carving into the huge limestone cliffs. Mermaid Cruises has the smallest boat of all the big tours, so we were able to creep pretty far into the caverns before having to turn around. At one point we reached out and touched the cave wall above us!

Caves in Malta, seen on the Mermaid Cruises Boat Tour

Caves in Malta, seen on the Mermaid Cruises Boat Tour

Caves in Malta, seen on the Mermaid Cruises Boat Tour

The afternoon was spent snorkeling at the Blue Lagoon, a bay that is hugely popular, only accessible by boat, and home to some of the most incredibly crystal-clear water I’ve ever seen. In fact, the water was so clear that you could see the shadows of boats on the seafloor below, making it look like they were hovering in mid air.

Blue Lagoon in Malta

Blue Lagoon in Malta

Malta is an incredibly popular tourist destination, particularly with Europeans, and I can understand why. We may not have fully appreciated Malta when we first arrived, but I’m glad we gave it a chance!

Malta is a beautiful country, and (as usual) we took tons of photos. If you’d like to see more, you can view our facebook album.