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