Nestled within the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean, Gozo is an alluring island gem, often dubbed as Malta’s tranquil sister. From its time-weathered buildings to rolling green hills, Gozo is steeped in cultural richness and unparalleled natural beauty. However, what truly sets it apart is its spectacular collection of beaches, which are an integral part of the Gozo experience.
Understanding the Beaches of Gozo
On Gozo, the beaches are as diverse as they are beautiful, falling into three main categories: sandy, pebbly, and rocky. Each type comes with its unique aesthetic and sensory appeal, creating a dynamic tapestry of coastal experiences.
Sandy beaches are soft underfoot, perfect for traditional beach games or lounging in the sun. Pebbly beaches, with their hypnotic sound of waves washing over stones, hold a rugged charm. Lastly, the rocky beaches, with their dramatic cliffs and geological wonders, provide a sense of awe and adventure, ideal for those who do not like sandy beaches.
The Sandy Beaches of Gozo
Located in the northern part of Gozo, Ramla Bay is accessible via public transport, by car, hop on hop off bus or by a pleasant walk from the village of Xaghra or Nadur. This expansive sandy beach is flanked by hills and adorned with dunes, providing ample space for sun worshippers and picnic enthusiasts.
Known for its distinct red-tinged sand and the iconic statue of the Virgin Mary standing in the middle, Ramla Bay offers a blend of natural beauty and intriguing mythology. Its uniqueness lies in the Calypso Cave, reputedly the cave referred to by Homer in The Odyssey, which overlooks the beach and lends a touch of mythical allure.
Ramla Bay offers various amenities for a comfortable beach visit. There are two restaurants for meals and refreshments, as well as snack and ice cream options. Shower and toilet facilities are available for convenience, with deckchairs and umbrellas for hire. Street vendors sell beach essentials like sunscreen, hats, beach toys, goggles, and inflatables for families with children.
Reachable by a steep path (very steep!) from the village of Nadur, San Blas Bay offers an idyllic retreat. This smaller, less crowded counterpart to Ramla Bay provides basic amenities, including a small kiosk for refreshments.
What sets San Blas Bay apart is its secluded, almost secret feel. The steep trek to get there only adds to the sense of discovery and seclusion. Plus, its emerald green waters create a stunning contrast with the orange-hued sand, making it a photographer’s paradise.
How to get there: Getting to San Blas Bay is an adventure. You can drive, but parking is limited and the steep descent to the bay is challenging for standard vehicles, though manageable for 4x4s. Alternatively, taxis or public buses are available, with the bus stop approximately 2 kilometres away. The ensuing walk through the fertile farmland is enjoyable, offering insight into local farming and leading you to the serene beauty of San Blas Bay.
Nestled near the village of Nadur, Dahlet Qorrot Bay is a serene pebbled beach accessed by a winding road. It offers basic amenities, including a small snack bar and boat rentals for those keen on exploring the coastline.
What makes this beach unique is its quaint, fishing village ambiance. The surrounding area is peppered with traditional boathouses carved into the rocks, lending it an authentic Maltese charm.
How to get there: Travel to Dahlet Qorrot Bay by car with ample parking, or use a taxi for a direct route. If you choose public transport, the bus stops 2 kilometres from the bay. The walk to the bay takes you through stunning Gozitan countryside, rugged cliffs and thriving farmland. Halfway through, enjoy the magnificent view of the sea and Saint Philip’s Bay. The return journey is steep, but the beauty of Dahlet Qorrot Bay makes it worthwhile.
Located on the outskirts of Qala, Hondoq Bay is a small pebbly beach with crystal clear waters, equipped with basic amenities including 2 snack bars, showers and toilet facilities.
The unique allure of Hondoq Bay lies in its remarkable views of Comino and the Blue Lagoon. Its waters are a favourite among snorkellers and divers due to the abundance of sea life found here.
At this picturesque locale, you can partake in a variety of water-bound activities. Choose from hiring a boat, a kayak or a canoe to explore the azure waters at your own pace. Alternatively, for a quick and thrilling jaunt, hop on a water taxi and find yourself in Comino in just five minutes.
How to get there: Getting to Hondoq Bay is a breeze. For those travelling by car, there is plenty of parking available adjacent to the bay, ensuring your journey is as seamless as possible. Taxis provide another convenient option, or if you prefer to utilise public transport, local buses will bring you within 1.8 kilometres of the bay.
The route to Hondoq Bay is a visual treat, offering sweeping views of Malta, Comino and Hondoq Bay itself. As you meander down towards the bay, you will be treated to a continually unfolding panorama that enhances the charm of your journey. Despite the distance, every step is a reward in itself, building anticipation for the delights Hondoq Bay has in store.
Situated near Marsalforn, Xwejni Bay is a pebbled beach known for its calm, shallow waters and salt pans, where sea salt is traditionally harvested. There are 2 snack bars in Xwejni, which server lunch, dinner, snacks, cocktails and drinks, and other restaurants close by.
Xwejni Bay’s unique attraction is its sprawling salt pans, which have been a part of Gozitan tradition for centuries. This historical aspect, coupled with the tranquillity of the bay, make it an intriguing spot for visitors.
How to get there: You can easily reach Xwejni Bay by car (ample parking space), taxi, or public transport. If taking the bus, there’s a short, one-kilometre walk to the bay from the drop-off point.
Mgarr ix-Xini, reached via a winding road from Sannat or Xewkija, is a secluded rocky beach nestled within a deep, narrow fjord. The beach has a rustic snack bar and a food truck and is also a popular spot for diving and snorkelling.
Its uniqueness lies in the serene atmosphere and the breathtaking natural scenery, including the towering cliffs that flank the bay. This spot served as a backdrop for the film By the Sea (2015), directed by Angelina Jolie, enhancing its allure for film buffs.
How to get there: To reach Mgarr ix-Xini, you can take a car or taxi. If taking public transport, there’s a pleasant 2.2-kilometre walk through the countryside from the nearest bus stop, with a valley on one side and farmland on the other.
Located near the village of Munxar, Xlendi Bay is a rocky beach with sandy patches, lined with several restaurants and cafes.
What makes Xlendi Bay unique is its mix of sand and rock, its stunning sunset views, and its proximity to Xlendi Tower, an old watchtower. This combination of natural beauty and historical significance makes Xlendi a must-visit.
At Xlendi, you can hire a self-drive boat or try watersports like canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, stand-up paddle boarding, jet skiing, and water skiing.
How to get there: To reach Xlendi Bay, you can take a car, taxi or bus. Parking can be busy in summer so you might have to park a few metres up the road. The hop-on hop-off bus also stops at Xlendi Bay.
Found near San Lawrenz, Dwejra Bay houses the Inland Sea, a small lagoon linked to the Mediterranean Sea through a narrow natural arch. There is a snack bar right next to the beach, 3 ice cream trucks and a restaurant and a diving centre in the area.
Its uniqueness lies in the Inland Sea itself and the fascinating marine life in its waters. Divers can navigate through the 80-metre tunnel to emerge into the open sea, revealing an underwater world teeming with life. There’s also boat rides available for people who want to go through the tunnel with a boat. It will also take you to see some caves around the area with crystal clear water and orange coral, cliffs, and pass by the famous Fungus Rock.
How to get there: You can get to Dwejra by taxi, car, public transport or a hop on hop off bus. There’s ample parking space to park your car. There are also several tours around Gozo that take you to the main tourist attractions including Dwejra. These tour companies use different means of transport including tuk-tuk, quadbikes and jeeps. You can book a tour online.
Located near the village of Ghasri in Gozo, Wied il-Ghasri is a secluded inlet accessible by a steep staircase. This beach offers no facilities, emphasising its untouched beauty.
What makes Wied il-Ghasri unique is its dramatic setting – it’s like a fjord, wedged between high cliffs. The narrow, secluded bay provides a sense of tranquillity, while the surrounding area is great for hiking and exploring.
Located on the southern coast of Gozo, Xatt l-Ahmar, or ‘Red Beach’, offers a tranquil retreat away from the crowd. Easily accessible by car, taxi, or a short bus ride to Ghajnsielem and a scenic walk, this bay offers breathtaking coastal views. The serene beach, composed of pebbles and rocky platforms, is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, or immersing yourself in a good book.
For adventurous visitors, Xatt l-Ahmar’s underwater world hosts three shipwrecks, now transformed into flourishing artificial reefs. Diving these wrecks promises an unforgettable experience, but requires advanced skills and a local guide. Frequented less by tourists, Xatt l-Ahmar provides an undisturbed environment, making it an ideal location for visitors to unwind and absorb the natural beauty of Gozo.
Gozo’s diverse coastline is a playground for water sports enthusiasts. From jet-skiing and windsurfing to diving and kayaking, the options are plentiful. The best beaches for these activities often depend on what you’re looking for. For instance, the calm waters of Xwejni Bay and Mgarr ix Cini are perfect for kayaking, while the vibrant marine life at Hondoq Bay offers an excellent diving experience.
Most beaches have nearby facilities or shops that rent out equipment and offer lessons for beginners. Always remember to follow safety guidelines and respect the marine environment when participating in these activities.
Visiting Gozo’s beaches is a year-round activity, though spring and autumn are particularly pleasant due to the moderate temperature and fewer crowds. Understanding beach flags – red for danger, yellow for caution, and green for safe – can help ensure your safety.
Practising ‘Leave No Trace’ principles is critical. This means taking your rubbish with you, not disturbing wildlife or removing natural objects, and respecting the natural environment.
Understanding and appreciating these differences is key to fostering responsible tourism. Gozo’s natural beauty must be protected and cherished for future generations to enjoy, which requires a commitment from each visitor to minimize their environmental impact.