Mak­ing waves

Visi­tors to Malta will find ad­ven­tures worth writ­ing home about both on and off its beau­ti­ful shores

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Globetrotter -

W hen the Phoeni­cians first colonised the is­lands scat­tered in the Mediter­ranean just south of Si­cily, they named their new dis­cover y Maleth, mean­ing ‘ haven’ or ‘safe har­bour’. Many thou­sands of years later, Malta – which many ex perts be­lieve de­rives its mod­ern name from the Phoeni­cian moniker – is still ever y bit the mar itime par­adise those early colonis­ers found. The best way to take in the full scope of the archipelago’s coast­line is to hop on a boat. There are a num­ber of op­er­a­tors on the is­lands, w ith tours rang­ing from short ex­cur­sions to Comino is­land ’s Blue La­goon to longer day tr ips around Malta’s my r iad caves and coves (joy r ide­wa­ter­sports.com). A ny­one want­ing to take to the waves in a more ad­ven­tur­ous fash­ion w ill also be spoilt for choice, as the is­lands of­fer a range of water ac­tiv ities, in­clud­ing sail­ing, SUP-board­ing, jet-sk iing and para-k it­ing. Group kayak ing day tr ips are pop­u­lar a lter na­tives to boat tours and are a great way of get­ting close to Ma lta’s prett y shore­lines ( go­zoad­ven­tures.com). There are plent y of op­por­tu­ni­ties to see aquatic fauna at close range around the archipelago, too. Snorkel ling is pop­u­lar among fam­i­lies w ith young chil­dren, while adults and older chil­dren can tr y their hand at div ing. There are a num­ber of dive cen­tres, sev­eral of which of­fer v isi­tors the chance to get their PA DI qual­i­fi­ca­tion (di­ve­malta-gozo.com).

On l and

Only three of Malta’s is­lands – Malta, Gozo and Comino – are in­hab­ited, but to­gether, they punch well above their weight in terms of his­tor ic and cu ltura l sights. Va l letta is the countr y’s capita l cit y and Euro­pean Capita l of Cul­ture 2018. Its high­lights in­clude the late 16th-cen­tur y St John’s Co- Cathe­dral, which con­veys much of its fas­ci­nat­ing his­tor y in its ar­chi­tec­tura l mi x of Man­ner­ist and Baroque st yles. More about the is­lands’ r ich past can be dis­cov­ered at the nearby Malta 5D au­diov isual show, which in­cludes 3D glasses and makes up its other two di­men­sions w ith the use of water sprays, w ind, seat move­ments and scents. The 18 -minute show brings to life the his­tor y of the is­lands and is a guar­an­teed hit w ith k ids of a ll ages (ma lta5d.com). How­ever, it would be a waste of Malta’s year-round warm cli­mate to spend any more than those 18 min­utes in­doors. Get to know the countr y’s var ied land­scape by go­ing rock­climb­ing, c ycling or hik ing across its lime­stone terrain, or if you’re in a less ac­tive mood, make the most of the quad bike hire on of­fer. For is­lands so steeped in his­tor y, there is a sur pr isingly fu­tur is­tic touch to some of the trans­port op­tions here. Seg way tours are a pop­u­lar choice, but don’t miss the Rolling Geeks Tour, in which self-dr ive electr ic cars take you around Ma lta is­land and help­fully ex plain what you’re look­ing at on the way (rolling-geeks.com). A fter a high-tech tour, w ind dow n the old-fash­ioned way: on a sun­set horse­back ride along the coast ( gold­en­bay­horser id­ing.com).

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