After a pretty average night in Mgarr marina (I think the more time you spend at anchor the less you like marinas…) on Gozo we picked up my parents and headed out to explore the anchorages around the Maltese archipelago. It’s a small cruising ground and as a result it gets super busy, especially at weekends.
In some of the popular anchorages on Comino such as the Blue lagoon or Qala san Niklaw we are talking about anchoring densities I have only seen in Lavender bay, Sydney Harbour on New Years Eve. Essentially, so busy you can leap frog from boat to boat to get ashore.
Most of the boats are powerboats, there aren’t many yachts and consequently there is a lot of wash as they all hoon around. But it makes for quite a spectacle and if you are of a reasonably relaxed disposition and comfortable anchoring in close proximity to other boats you will have fun as there is quite a party atmosphere!
The good news is that at night (well perhaps excluding Friday and Saturday) everyone goes home and the anchorages are quiet, if not deserted. So you are almost guaranteed to get a good spot overnight. Our mode of operation was to arrive at an anchorage sometime in the afternoon, drop the anchor where we could, toss out fenders if required and chill, swim etc while we waited for things to quieten down. Once they had, we would move further into a bay and re-anchor for the night. It seemed to work ok. The further you got from Comino the quieter things seemed to be.
There is another challenge to cruising around these islands. The wind is predominantly from the north west and there are not many anchorages offering protection from strong wind in this direction. In our 8 days here we had 3 days of F6 north westerlies and these run over a large fetch and generate chunky waves, so you need to be protected. The superb natural harbour around Valletta is always a backstop and even in July it was easy to get berths at either the Royal Malta Yacht Club or the Msida Creek marina. There are also a couple of anchoring possibilities, one just off the RMYC or another spot in Bighi Bay in Grand Harbour.
Our favorite anchorages were the Blue Lagoon on Camino and Quala tad Dwejra on the west end of Gozo. Both of which are very different and very cool spots.
The Blue Lagoon is tourist central, but it is an excellent place to float in shallow azure waters soaking up the sun, climb the surrounding cliffs and people watch. Quala tad Dwejra, by complete contrast, is serene and tranquil. A natural harbour carved out of 80m high cliffs. It feels like the end of the earth and in July there were only a handful of yachts anchord here. It also has some really sweet underwater caves to explore and given its open to the north west you are treated to an incredible sunset, every night.
Malta, Gozo and Comino make up a small cruising ground that are a great place to explore. We spent 8 days here and felt we had seen a good part of the Islands , but friends of ours on the yacht S/V No Plans Just Options spent a month there and in that time you could certainly do a lot more inland activities, if you can handle the 40 deg C plus temperatures!
If you come here to cruise, keep your eye on the wind and weather, plan ahead and you will have a great time and see some lovely spots.