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Malta is one of Europe’s most popular destinations for sailing charters. Although small, the countryhas an enormous history dating back to the Neolithic Age and its excellent harbours have attractedPhoenician, Greek, Roman, Norman and other sailors for millennia. The country’s coastline measures140 km and offers a great variety of landscapes and beaches to explore. The northern and southernshores have plenty of rocks and high cliffs, while the eastern and northeastern coasts harbour anumber of beautiful sandy beaches and large bays.
Malta has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The summers are long, but not excessively hot, with an average temperature of 27°C, and the winters are rainy and short. Malta is one of Europe's sunniest countries, with about 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, and it has the highest average annual sea temperature, 20°C.
The sailing season lasts from April to October and the best time to visit is in the months of May, June, September and October, when the winds are steady and the temperatures warm and pleasant, but not too hot. The prevailing winds in the region are the northwesterly mistral and the dry, Saharan sirocco. The northeasterly gregale, which blows mostly in the cold season, should be avoided, as it can get quite strong.
Malta has three sailing regions: the islands of Malta, Gozo and Camino. The first port of call for boats arriving from outside the EU must be at one of the three official ports of entry. These are located at Valletta on the main island and in the Mgarr Marina on Gozo island.
The main ports in Valletta are the Grand Harbour, also known as the Port of Valletta, situated on the southeast side of the capital, with the Grand Harbour Marina and the Kalkara Marina, and Marsamxett Harbour on the northwestern side of the city. The Royal Malta Yacht Club lies near the entrance to Msida Creek in the town of Ta'Xbiex on the northwestern shore of Marsamxett Harbour.
The largest and best protected marina is the Msida Marina, also located in Valletta's Marsamxett Harbour, between Valletta and Sliema. The nearby Manoel Island Marina, which sits on the southeastern side of Manoel Island, a small island in Marsamxett Harbour, is another popular spot for berthing.
Other large ports on the main island are Marsaxlokk, a scenic fishing port in a fishing village on the southeastern coast, and Birżebbuġa bay on the southern coast, not far from Marsaxlokk. Two popular anchorages are situated at St. Julian’s, a seaside town known for its beaches and nightclubs, and at Ghadira Bay, Malta’s largest sandy beach.
Mgarr Marina is the only port of Gozo. It consists of floating pontoons and offers a number of marina facilities, including water and electricity on the pontoons, showers and toilets, a large parking space and several banks, restaurants, bars and a supermarket nearby.
Comino island has an area of only 3.5 square kilometres, but harbours several attractive anchorages. The Blue Lagoon on the western shore is one of the most stunning places in the Maltese archipelago, and San Niklaw Bay and Santa Maria Bay on the northern side of the island both offer good protection and are generally less crowded.
Malta offers a wealth of natural and historic attractions, along with plenty of beach activities and a lively nightlife. The island of Malta gets the most visiting yachts and Valletta is the best place to start exploring it. Designated European Capital of Culture for 2018, the capital is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a late Renaissance fortified city containing 320 historic monuments within a small area. The city’s main attractions include St. John’s Cathedral with one of the most impressive interiors in Europe, the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Upper Barrakka Gardens with a spectacular view of the Grand Harbour, Fort St. Elmo with the National War Museum, and the 16th century Fortifications of Valletta.
The Tarxien Temples site, a complex of megalithic structures dating back to 3150 BC situated in the town of Tarxien, consists of three separate temple structures notable for the decorations and intricate stonework. The UNESCO-protected site of Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum, a complex of interconnected chambers carved in rock and set on three levels in the nearby town of Paola, is a Neolithic subterranean sanctuary and necropolis. It is one of the best preserved examples of the local temple building culture.
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra on the island’s southwest coast are two fascinating megalithic temples overlooking the spectacular Filfla Natural Reserve. The temples date back to 3000 BC and offer a unique insight into the local history.
Mellieħa, a small town on the northern coast, is a popular tourist destination in the summer, with anumber of beautiful sandy beaches and excellent restaurants. Golden Bay is one of the island’s most popular beaches, situated next to an unspoiled countryside on the northwest coast and Long Steps Bay, located just behind Golden Bay, is a bit less crowded but just as beautiful.
The southern side of Malta harbours the Blue Grotto, a series of seven caves with stunning rock formations and deep waters that can be accessed by small boats. The caves mirror the phosphorescent colours of the marine flora and fauna and, combined with the rays of sunlight, offer spectacular sights.
The island of Gozo is popular for its picturesque hills and rich history, and makes a wonderful destination for a relaxing break. Associated with the home of the nymph Calypso in Homer’s Odyssey, the island offers a wealth of historic sites, including the Ġgantija temples and other prehistoric Megalithic Temples of Malta, some of which are UNESCO-protected World Heritage Sites and the world’s oldest free-standing structures after Göbekli Tepe in Turkey.
Gozo is also famed for its carnivals and feasts held in honour of each village’s patron saint, with religious ceremonies, live music and fireworks held throughout the summer months. Ramla il-Ħamra is the best beach on the island, known for the unusual, reddish colour of the sand and claimed as the location of Calypso’s cave.
Situated between Malta and Gozo, Comino is the best destination for those looking for real tranquility and a breathtaking natural landscape. The island is a bird sanctuary and nature reserve, and it offers some of the best diving opportunities in the entire Mediterranean. The Santa Maria Caves, an intriguing system of 10 stunning shallow caves on the northern shore, are a very popular site for scuba diving, snorkelling and underwater photography, teeming with marine life and captivating views through the entrances. The Santa Maria Tower on the southwestern coast, constructed by the Knights of St. John in the 17th century, is the island’s most visited historic site.
The Blue Lagoon, Comino’s best known attraction, is situated on the northwestern shore. The enchanting sandy bay draws numerous beachgoers each year and is very popular with divers and snorkelers. The nearby Crystal Lagoon is just as beautiful, but considerably quieter. Comino’s stunning landscape has made the island a popular location for filmmakers. Its beaches were featured in the films Troy (2004), Swept Away (2002), and The Count of Monte Cristo (2002).