But if you take a look below the surface, below the translucent waters, adrenalin junkies from all over are piercing the trembling skin of the sea, coursing through the Maltese waters and plunging deep into the heart of the Mediterranean Sea where rainbow reefs, moody caves and haunting wartime wrecks intoxicate their sober gaze.
Given its fantastic visibility, it’s crystal clear why divers and water sports enthusiasts alike find the warm waters so attractive. Clinching multiple awards, they’re truly a global tour de force to be reckoned with.
Supremely rated the Mediterranean’s number one diving destination and the world’s number two spot, as awarded by Diver and Sport Diver Magazine Awards, visitors worldwide evidently find Malta’s diving experience fully immersive. Described by the European Environment Agency as ‘excellent’, its waters rank as Europe’s second best for bathing and with Gozo praised as TripAdvisor’s third best island in Europe, these flattering accolades, reinforcing the comforting sentiment that Malta is a world class act when it comes to recreational water sports. Both at amateur and accomplished levels, Malta offers an ocean of opportunity.
If diving has you feeling a little out of your depth, though, then perhaps staying afloat on Malta’s gorgeous waters might be better suited to you. Completely tideless, the Mediterranean is truly a hotspot for swimmers seeking the freedom of setting out into the expansive smooth stretch of sea. Venture into the warm, clear water and head as far as your stroke takes you.
Or if you’d still like to travel the waters, but see yourself skipping across the turquoise exapanse in a boat, then let the wind fill your sails and explore the sea and shore through sailing and sights. The area gifts sea-explorers ideal sailing conditions, making the Malta sailing experience seriously fun and attractive for both pro racing fanatics and casual lunch cruisers.
Another way to explore the extraordinary bays, caves and quiet idyllic beaches is to paddle your kayak across the tranquil waters. You’ll find several caves to explore around Comino and also get to paddle under magnificent sea arches. Or perhaps start from Gozo, where at Hondoq Bay you’ll be able to trace shallow reefs, weave between boulders and eventually make your way to Qala Point, where you’ll find an 18th century battery.
Perhaps the precious countryside boundlessly brimming with nature is the place for you; the verdant landscape flourishes with thousands of varieties of plants and spectacular views offering some of the greatest walking, trekking and cycling routes for your footprints or tyres to tread.
The SIBIT initiative invites cyclists to take control and become their own tour guide around the islands. These carefully plotted cycle routes show real emphasis on promoting sustainable recreational transport around Malta, and are equally effective at delivering the substantial requirements for mountain bikers. This international-level scheme extends well beyond the track: the Bike Hotel system has specifically tailored amenities for the muddied trail-bomber from ‘safe storage’ guarded areas to bike rental and information on cycling routes.
The islands’ plethora of climbing routes also scales new heights of excellence. Spanning varying grades of difficulty, the high quality limestone and breath-taking backdrop of open sky and sea makes it a firm favourite among climbers of all levels. For those who like to explore on a more level terrain, the historically rich walking trails of ‘Malta Goes Rural’ will head you in the right direction and take you on a journey through 7,000 years of history encompassing Roman villas, elegant secluded castles and wonderfully scenic plains.
Malta’s rural and natural attributes are not the only features that have been both recognised and respected - it also holds three UNESCO world heritage sites: its Megalithic temples, the Hypogeum and the city of Valletta. This beautiful city will be the prestigious European Capital of Culture in 2018 – an accolade that will bring an array of culturally significant and traditional events to celebrate the distinctive identity of the Maltese lifestyle.
Settlers arrived on the islands more than 7,000 years ago, and their diets were heavily influenced by important trade routes. Malta absorbed flavours from Provence, Italy and Spain, blending various characteristics together and dishing up its own brand of cuisine. ‘Fenkata’ – the islands’ traditional stewed rabbit - is generally considered to be Malta’s national dish.
Travelling from restaurant to reef and everywhere in between is a breeze in Malta; the newly set up Malta Public Transport operates buses daily that run from early morning to late night. This is ideal for those seeking to experience the vibrant nightlife of bustling nightclubs - featuring world-class DJs, casinos, wine bars and a delicious selection of restaurants.
Besides the vibrant nightlife that attracts the younger, frenetic generations, Malta also affords qualities that accommodate the calmer and more cultured visitors. Whether you’re old, young or travelling with children, you’ll be quick to realise that it’s positively family friendly or favur il-familja, as the locals might say. But with English speaking inhabitants, you needn’t worry about the local lingo.
The Maltese really make you feel at home, providing a friendly environment where most hotels offer special deals for children and almost all are equipped with play areas and splash pools.
Overall, the Maltese Islands stand as one of the safest and friendliest holiday destinations in the Mediterranean. That, coupled with more than 300 days of sunshine, makes a compelling case for a visit. At just 3 hours away, it seems worthwhile to stop imagining and start travelling…