Budding sailors or old sea dogs, we tell you everything aboutsailing in Malta and where to find the best anchorages in our beautiful archipelago! Open to the world, we interviewed the “Voilier Liberté” team. They make cruising around Malta their passion. Maeva and Gerard shared with us their passion for sailing in Malta and especially Gozo, the sea, the crystal clear water… and much more.
Living on a sailboat in Malta
Can you tell us your story and how you came to leave everything to live on a sailboat now?
“It’s simple: one day, we decided to change our lives. Passionate about the sea and sailing, we have been living on our sailboat, Hakuna Matata, a 13-meter GibSea 442, for five years. After many peregrinations in the Mediterranean, we finally chose to drop anchor in Malta.
The archipelago offers multiple possibilities, a privileged climate, plenty of anchorages with good holding and short playful stages. It is therefore the ideal cocktail for a discovery of Malta and Gozo by sailboat. Moreover, with its mild weather, you can sail all year round in Malta! Sport sailing, ballad, coastal sailing, regattas, anchorages… with family or friends, for beginners or experienced sailors.
With Maeva as your expert guide, here are the best sailing spots in Malta as well as practical tips and information:
Sailing in Valletta
In front of Manoel Island, we dive directly from the boat in front of Valletta. Breathtaking view, or a little further towards Ta’Xbiex, at the Royal Malta Yacht Club
For anchorages with Maltese friends and barbecue atmosphere, it is on the other side of Valletta that we meet on weekends in Bighi bay also called Rinella Bay (The 3 Cities). Nice, all the boats are moored together. If the weekends are hectic, during the week the anchorage is calm and the view on Valletta is breathtaking. A very good shelter, in any weather, except northwest winds. Really ideal to arrive in Malta.
Sailing to the Blue Lagoon
To party… why not moor the boat on a trunk for the day in St Julian’s Bay and enjoy the land/sea atmosphere? Perfect to discover Balluta Bay and especially Spinola Bay, the temple of Malta’s gastronomy… just a stone’s throw from Paceville, the world of nightlife.
Towards the north, during the day, we can have lunch at the entrance of Salina Bay just before St Paul’s Bay, we stop just in front of the beach of Qawra Point. Be careful, the bay is shallow but with welcoming sand and seaweed bottoms.
Under the Protection of Our Lady of Victories, the Bay of Mellieha. The chapel that overlooks has a protective Virgin of the sailors, with very old ex-votos on polychrome wood. Very good rocky bottom, we will sleep on both ears at the entrance of the bay in a recess on the right. We sometimes meet dolphins, which come to poach in the marine farms. A total pleasure.
Small idea: leave the boat at anchor and take the dinghy to the Coral Lagoon. This ancient cave with its collapsed ceiling is a walk that is well worth the trip.
Still toward Mellieha, but to the right this time, a nice anchorage at Imġiebaħ Bay. Little frequented and very pleasant during the day, if there is no north-east swell.
Sailing in Comino, the island of pirates:
First of all, go and dig in the caves, guaranteed sensations. Crystal Lagoon, like an open and idyllic circus. Lots of wonders to discover and a fantastic panorama wherever you look. We will dive from the top of the rocks, we will swim with thousands of fish. Crystal clear waters and turquoise colors guaranteed.
Blue lagoon, south entrance. We drop the anchor in the front and throw a mooring line to the shore from the back on the rocks, perfect to store more boats and avoid capricious disturbances. Less frequented stage than the northern entrance.
Blue lagoon, north entrance. This is the must of a visit to Malta. We can enjoy off-season water worthy of the Seychelles, with a few degrees less.
The caves of Blue lagoon. The island that everyone is looking at is Cominoto! The secret lies in the underwater cave that crosses the islet from side to side! Unforgettable thrills and sensations for any seasoned swimmer. Turning around, there we see mass tourism and its evils. Soup of tourists, come for the day in Promène Toutous… And the sellers of snacks and French fries who invade the vicinity of the landing to make their butter. Fortunately that we are on a beautiful boat and let us find quickly the peace of this small corner of paradise. Because yes, after 4pm, the Blue Lagoon empties and becomes yours again!
Santa Maria Bay. The last bay of Comino and the most quiet. Perfect if you want to walk around Comino during the day.
Sailing in Gozo, the unspoiled wonder:
With its limestone caves, steep cliffs, crevices and other fjords (yes yes!) they form natural refuges for a multitude of fish… and the happiness of boaters. Quieter and more authentic, we will go there only in good weather. The conditions can be very changeable and the currents can be strong, especially in northerly winds, which can make navigation more complicated. Gozo is wilder and less shaped than Malta. So the South, the West and the North are sometimes stormy following the often surprising and taciturn local winds.
At the exit of the ferry port of M’Garr, a nice spot for snorkeling and finning with lots of parrot fish.
A little further on, anchorage during the day, the fjord of Mgarr Ix Xini. This long crevasse where you moor by the back, hides at the bottom a seafood restaurant, exceptional. Exclusive location of the shooting of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in 2015 (read our article).
The most beautiful anchorage in Malta
Welcome to the land of the Dothraki and the wedding of Daenerys and Drogo: and yes, for fans of series like Games of Thrones, sail along the immense cliffs to the extraordinary anchorage of Dwejra. A real emotional moment. Gigantic caves with collapsed vaults invaded by the sea: Fungus Rock and its anchorage inspire respect. Not to mention the owls that nest in the caves that make the nights so special. The light, at the end of the day, is incredible in its caves covered with blue. No need to talk about the sunset, certainly one of the most beautiful of the Maltese archipelago. So, let’s head west!
Here is a small tour of our favorite places. There are many others, like the North of Gozo with lots of cliffs, dolphins in the open sea. We love Marsalforn for its old-fashioned charm of a sleepy seaside town… but with excellent restaurants on the port, perfect after a day of sailing. And of course the most beautiful copper red sand beaches of Gozo: the unique Ramla Bay and the more intimate San Blas. Perfect to anchor on sandy bottoms and to go for an ice cream while admiring our proud boat which is waiting for us… A real treat!
Sailing in South Malta and Saint Peter’s Pool.
Are you a fan of apnea? Perfect, go to Saint Peter’s Pool: You can find groupers, morays, sea urchins in the rock. A thousand and one wonders that make Malta a splendid destination. Only to please yourself.
Precautions to take when sailing in Malta and Gozo
Beware of the North-East wind on Gozo. Strengthening of the katabatic wind at the western point when we go up to Dwejra.
The anchorages on Gozo and Comino are only good weather anchorages.
From the North-East, strengthening of the current between Gozo and Comino. It can be difficult to switch to sailing. In case of need, by NE you can take refuge in Ta Lippija, behind the big rock that separates from the beautiful beach of Ghajn Tuffeiha. Really a great shelter.
A killer anecdote?
A Maltese specificity, the political anchorages. Maltese society is divided in two: A strong rivalry exists between the “Labour” villages (traditional Labour left) and the “Nationalist” villages (conservative right). Among many Maltese boaters, we find this local specificity with separate anchorages according to political ideas! No worries for us Europeans, they will let you get wet and will (almost) always be friendly and helpful.
Another particularity is the clusters of boats. Maltese families are big, and if friends of friends come to the party then… it’s a fiesta! They moor their sailboats and motorboats all together. It is not uncommon in season to see a dozen boats docked together. And when they put the Watts on, the whole bay benefits…
The most beautiful race in sailing: The Rolex Middle Sea Race
To all you fans of ocean racing and thrills: did you know that the 2nd most beautiful sailing race in the world is held every year in Malta? It is for the hundred or so participating boats to go around Sicily in an anti-clockwise direction, leaving and returning to Malta.
Grandiose, the departure always takes place in the Grand Harbour of Valletta on a Saturday morning in October. The result is a breathtaking spectacle of boats racing by class and category to the sound of cannon fire from theUpper Barraka Garden.
Then the sailboats sail towards the east coast of Sicily, then comes the dreaded Strait of Messina and the Aeolian Islands just behind. What could be more beautiful than racing past Stromboli and its plume of smoke, the most active volcano in Europe, and then heading due west to find the islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria off Tunisia.
Finally, in a breathtaking finish, head east to pass between Comino and Malta before the finish line in Valletta.