Surfing in Malta: the beauty of the unexpected
In one of the smallest nations in the world, you'll find uncrowded line-ups and perfect waves under sunny blue skies. Welcome to the Mediterranean swells of Malta.
La Valletta is the capital of Malta. It is also the smallest capital of the European Union. In this sunny state, there are two official languages: Maltese and English.
But if you ask a local citizen for the nearest surf spots, he might tell you that surfers are only spotted once in a while, despite the multiple reef and beach breaks that can be found throughout the country.
Malta is an archipelago of coralline limestone located in the central Mediterranean, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the Italian island of Sicily.
With 196.8 kilometers (121) of coastline - excluding the 56 kilometers of the Gozo island - Malta offers a Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.
Although the total population is of only 452,000, the country gets 1.2 million tourists, every year. They come attracted by the beautiful beaches, resorts, fauna and flora.
Interestingly, water polo is very popular in Malta, and the National team usually participates in the Olympic Games.
The official tourist office says, "Malta has beaches for everyone, from windsurfers to sunbathers". The truth is you can also surf in Malta.
The most popular beaches in Malta are located in the northern region - Mellieha Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay are usually very crowded with beachgoers.
In Malta, tides are not relevant - you're in the Mediterranean Sea. Swell patterns can't be precisely determined because there are many different winds and coastal lines in the surrounding areas (Italy, Tunisia, Libya, Greece).
You may not find a decent wave for over six weeks in the entire territory. Nevertheless, the best swells come from Northwest and Northeast, and they can't be considered rare.
The best surf spots in Malta are Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay in the Northwest, and St. Thomas Bay in the Southeast part of Malta. Selmun, Ghadira (Mellieha Bay) and Ghallis Point in the North, and the Gozo island are interesting backup sites. "Hangovers" is a top class break in the South.
The average sea temperatures range from 15°C to 26°C (59°F-78°F), so you'll only need a 3/2 wetsuit for the colder months (October-June).
In Malta, distances are never a problem. You'll need to drive less than 40 kilometers (25 miles) to reach the most distant point in the country. Good news: there's one surf shop in Sliema.
SUP, kiteboarding, windsurfing and diving are also very popular water sports in the warm shores of Malta. Give them a go if swells don't visit the country for a while.
There's a tight, organized group of surfers in Malta. They usually explore the coastline and plan their surf according to the maritime forecasts. Join the crew.