Your Guide to Swimming in Malta This Summer
Last Friday, June 21st, was the summer solstice. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, and officially the beginning of the summer. Although we have been having gorgeous weather for the last couple of weeks, summer is now certified. Hoorah! Summers in Malta are glorious. While Malta is not technically the warmest country in Europe, we do get the most sunshine. Thanks to the Telegraph, we can now be a smug lot with the knowledge that Valletta sees almost 3,000 hours of sunshine a year (100 hours more than its nearest rival). And the weather in Malta is nothing to be sniffed at! From now until the end of September, we’re likely to enjoy an average daytime temperature of 30 degrees Celsius and hardly a drop of rain. Read our guide to swimming in Malta this summer so you can swim safe, swim stylish and swim sea-friendly!
For most people in Malta, the summer is synonymous with the season of swimming. Jumping in the water is the perfect way to cool off on hot days. If you live and work in Malta, when you’re not swimming in the summer, you’ll probably be dreaming of the next time you will be. There are some absolutely amazing swimming spots on the island. Many of us can’t afford a pool, but who needs one when we’re smack bang in the middle of the Mediterranean? Luckily, Malta is small, which means, even if you rent an apartment in the centre of Malta, you still won’t be far from the sea. Sandy beaches are closest for those of you who rent a flat in Mellieha (or anywhere else in the north of Malta). On the other hand, if you rent in Sliema, Gzira or Ta’ Xbiex, you’ve practically got the sea on your doorstep.
With a string of beach days ahead, surely it’s time to go shopping for some new swimwear? Oysho, Calzedonia and Asos are all popular in Malta. If you prefer to try before you buy, Oysho and Calzedonia are good options as they both have shops here. However, for more choice and free delivery (and free returns), go for Asos. Isle & Aqua launched their swimwear collection recently, at Malta Fashion Week, in collaboration with Yana’s Jewellery. For a statement bikini or swimsuit, made by a Maltese designer, Isle & Aqua is the ultimate choice. You can buy Giulia Pandolfino’s gorgeous designs online or you can contact her directly to try your favourite pieces on at the Isle & Aqua studio. Don’t feel left out, boys. Gagliardi, a brand founded by Salvatore Borg, will cover your men’s designer swimwear needs. You can buy a pair of their sophisticated and stylish swimming trunks online for less than €40.
Now that you’re kitted out for the occasion, where should you go for a swim? There’s no shortage of beaches and swimming spots in Malta. Exiles is a popular choice for people who rent an apartment in Sliema. Here, the water is deep and clean. You can chill on the rocks or get a table at the beach club and take a dip in between drinks. Further south, there are many more places where you can jump in off the rocks. St. Peter’s Pool in Marsaxlokk is one of the most famous swimming spots in Malta. It’s not very easily accessible but plenty of tourists make the journey, nonetheless. For a quieter spot, you can go a little further to Kalanka Bay. It’s just as beautiful but far less well-known.
If you’re a sucker for a sandy beach, you’re in luck. Not everyone likes swimming off the rocks, but beach-lovers are well catered for in Malta. Most of the island’s sandy beaches are located in the north of Malta. Mellieha Bay is a very popular beach, especially with families. For a long way out, the water stays shallow. This is great for kids or those of you who just like to dip your toes in. On the other side, Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha are both idyllic sandy beaches. Gnejna Bay is also popular, especially amongst locals. Even further north, Armier and Paradise Bay are well worth making the trip to. On a day when you can’t decide where to go, you can let the weather help you decide. Whichbeach.com.mt is a fantastic website that tells you which beach(es) have the best conditions. You can also check out maltaweather.com/jellymap to see where’s safe to swim.
The UV index reaches above 10 on most sunny summer days in Malta. Anything above 6 is considered a high reading, and from anything above 3, you should be wearing protection. If you’re going to be out in the sun at all, you’ll need to protect yourself. Hats and protective clothing (long sleeves and loose-fitting trousers) are recommended, but perhaps not all that practical. Especially if you’re going to be swimming! Therefore, sunscreen is a must. This summer, look after yourself and the environment by paying attention to what’s in your sunscreen. Some of the chemicals that are found in many popular brands of sunscreen are harmful to the ocean and harmful to you.
According to the National Geographic, approximately 14,000 tons of sunscreen are washed into the oceans every year. Corals are bleaching at an unprecedented rate and scientists say that this is the result of chemical pollutants and ocean warming. Chemicals which are found in sunscreen, such as oxybenzone, can be absorbed by corals (and your skin!). When this happens, their growth and reproduction cycles are affected and, in the end, the coral bleaches and dies. Since 2016, half of the Great Barrier Reef has bleached, and many more reefs have been affected all over the world. We might be nowhere near Australia but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be environmentally conscious. Only last year, a coral reef was discovered off the coast of Italy and the Mediterranean is home to thousands of species of coral. If these chemicals can cause such harm to coral, who knows what damage they do to other marine life.
Before you jump in the sea, make sure you’re not wearing a sunscreen that’s filled with harmful chemicals. Even if you’re not swimming and you still apply sunscreen under your make up or on your skin, it’s going to end up being washed down your drain. Hawaii’s ban on sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate will come into force in 2021. Other chemicals to avoid include parabens, perfumes/fragrances and retinyl palmitate (vitamin A). Mineral-based sunscreens are much better for you and are more ocean-friendly. When shopping for a sunscreen, look out for a mineral formula that contains zinc-oxide or titanium dioxide. Don’t just trust a label which says ‘reef-safe’ or ‘ocean-friendly’. Even some ‘natural’ sunscreens can be harmful to ocean life. Look for sunscreen with a relatively small ingredients list, with ingredients which are ’none-nano’. This means that the particles aren’t small enough (nanosized) to be absorbed by your skin or by corals.