There are few countries in the world that maintain an air of mystery; that harbour secrets beneath the surface. But of those remaining, the Mediterranean Island of Malta is surely one of them.
Perhaps known primarily for its spectacular historic sights that are woven together by a network of nectar-shaded streets, what many fail to realise is that this postcard perfect island is primed for adventure. From endless rolling hills and rocky outcrops to stunning coastlines against sparkling azure waters, Malta is an untapped reserve for adventure seekers, a place where adrenalin highs and the unknown eagerly await.
Just a three-hour flight away, it’s already one of the most vaccinated destinations in Europe and is open to fully vaccinated (plus two weeks) adults from the UK with proof of a vaccine or NHS app certificate, now is the best time to discover all that’s on offer on this archipelago. Boasting deliciously balmy temperatures all year round, with the gauge rarely dipping below 16°C even in winter, it offers an ideal route back into the world in the wake of the pandemic. Even those taking a more cautious path towards normality will feel at ease here, where beach meets city and activities in the great outdoors are varied and accessible to all.
Surrounded by the gin-clear waters of the Mediterranean, it should come as no surprise that Malta is an internationally revered diving spot, and with travel restrictions still in place globally, one of the best places for divers to currently get their kicks. Courses are available for beginners, advanced and technical divers, and there’s a bountiful list of underwater sites to discover including caves, colourful reefs and a slew of fascinating shipwrecks, which can be reached all year round thanks to reliably unchangeable conditions.
Sitting at the top of most divers’ hit lists is the majestic Blue Hole of Gozo, about a 25-minute ferry ride from Malta. Starting in shallow waters and then dramatically dropping to 60m deep, an underwater archway leads out into the great blue beyond and into the otherworldly realm of all the creatures that call it home. The colour of the water here rivals the intensity of opals, and that’s just one of the reasons why it’s considered one of the world’s most dramatic diving locations. There are a variety of ways to dive this particular spot too, making it enjoyable for divers of all abilities, including children to a depth of 12m.
Elsewhere and there are over 100 totally immersive diving spots around the Maltese Islands to explore. From the Um El Faroud, an oil tanker that sank back in 1998, to Cirkewwa, a collection of dive sites that includes a statue of the Madonna, an MV Rozi tugboat wreck and a P-29 patrol boat wreck. That’s not to mention the beguiling Santa Maria Caves with its mystifying series of troughs and tunnels, or the Imperial Eagle, a 45m long former passenger ferry that sits perfectly upright on a sandy seabed; a 23 tonne statue of Jesus Christ ominously lingering nearby. Small wonder Malta has repeatedly been awarded the second best Diving Destination of the Year in the world by Diver magazine in its prestigious Diver Awards.
On the water and there’s an enticing array of activities available to thrill seekers. Sailing and windsurfing are popular with both tourists and locals, as is snorkelling, which is made all the more appealing thanks to excellent visibility and year-round warm waters. To get a different perspective, hop into a kayak and tour the unique nooks and crannies of the Maltese coastline from out at sea, where a completely entrancing kind of beauty makes itself apparent, particularly in the golden glow of sunset.
Back on land and there’s a rich, rural landscape to be roamed on foot, especially during the months of October to May when a textured blanket of brightly-coloured flowers carpets the island and the temperatures are perfect for hiking. There are myriad routes to attract visitors to the trail but worth particular note are the Ta’Silg route from Marsaskala to Marsaxlokk. A challenging walk that weaves between quaint fishing villages, archaeological remains and stunning seascapes, it’s a fabulous taster for everything Malta encapsulates. For added diversity, head for the Watch Towers Walk towards Marfa Ridge, which cuts through dusty farm land, scrub, wooded areas, and astounding towering cliffs with breathtaking views.
Those more comfortable on wheels can source their fix in a variety of different ways. Cycling offers a means of exploring locations that cars simply can’t reach, and on both Malta and Gozo distances between towns and villages are short, making those all-important snack and drink stops an equally important part of the trip as the cultural places of interest that line the route. Quad biking and jeep safaris are also available for the bumpier, more intense tracks, and Segway tours can be booked at various locations across the island. For anyone more inclined to head skywards, the islands are a climber’s paradise, boasting over 1,300 challenging routes of fluctuating difficulty.
Combine all of this with a vibrant food and drink scene, a wealth of accommodation for all budgets and styles and a captivating patchwork heritage unlike anywhere else in the world, and it’s fair to say Malta dazzles and surprises in equal measure. Time to swap the sofa for that long awaited sojourn, wouldn’t you agree?
Find out more at visitmalta.com