The Maltese Islands are blessed with a warm and clear Mediterranean Sea and a scattering of charming sandy beaches. Golden Bay often ranks up top among the most popular beaches in Malta and Gozo and here’s why.
1. It’s Beautiful
What To Expect
A wide stretch of golden sand gives Golden Bay its name. In Maltese, it is called ‘Ir-Ramla tal-Mixquqa‘, which literally translates as ‘The Sandy Bay of the Cracked (promontory)’. The beach is surrounded by natural dunes and jagged cliffs, on which is perched a 17th century watch tower built by the Knights of Malta. The distinct yellow-orange sands give way to blue-green shallow waters that gradually increase in depth.
Located on the north west coast of the island of Malta, on the stretch of coast that includes Riviera Beach (Ghajn Tuffieha bay) and Gnejna Bay, the beach also enjoys spectacular sunsets over the horizon of the Mediterranean Sea. The natural beauty of Malta’s largest beach after Mellieha Bay earns it the reputation of being the most beautiful beach in Malta.
2. There’s Plenty To Do
What To Do At Golden Bay
Such a pretty bay naturally attracts many visitors, but not only for swimming and sunbathing. There’s a variety of activities and water sports available and several more reasons why Golden Bay Malta is popular with tourists and Maltese people alike.
You can choose to spend hours baking a golden tan on a sun lounger, cocktail by your side. Or you can kick up some sand with a little bit of beach volleyball. How about pumping a little adrenaline with a spot of jet skiing? Hire a kayak or a paddle boat if you’re feeling more chilled. There’s even a PADI dive centre that’s part of the Golden Sands Resort & Spa, which is rated among the top Mellieha hotels.
3. It’s Safe
Lifeguards Are There To Save You
Lifeguards operated by the Malta Red Cross and the Malta Tourism Authority are on duty at Golden Bay and other popular beaches in Malta and Gozo between 15th June and 15th September. When swimming off-season, follow the lead of Maltese people. They understand local weather conditions and know when to avoid risk if there are no lifeguards or flags in sight. If the locals are not swimming, avoid doing so yourself. People who get in trouble in Maltese waters are invariably naive foreigners – don’t be one of them.
4. It’s Practical
Blue Flags, Red Flags … What The Flags Are All About
Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, which are only a short walk from each other, are Blue Flag beaches. What this means is that several criteria for sustainable beach management, environmental awareness and protection, and health and safety are fulfilled. This includes the quality of bathing water and the presence of a lifeguard. In addition, there is full wheelchair access to Golden Bay. A blue flag beach is also served with amenities such as public convenience, food and beverages.
However, on arriving at Golden Bay, it’s not a blue flag you will see flying. It will be either green, purple, yellow or red. So what are Malta and Gozo’s beach flags about?
Due to strong currents at Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, a flag system advises bathers of potential danger so that they can assess whether or not to enter the water. Those who choose to bathe on a double red flag status do so at their own risk, as lifeguards are not obliged to risk their lives to save anyone in trouble in those conditions. The purple flag warns swimmers of jellyfish.
- Green flag: It’s safe to bathe here, go ahead and have fun!
- Purple flag: Keep an eye out for marine pests (such as jellyfish)
- Yellow flag: Low danger, exercise caution
- Red flag: Danger due to strong currents, avoid bathing
- Double red flag: Extreme danger, do not enter the water under any circumstances
5. It’s Easy To Reach
Getting There And Away
Whether you are driving or taking public transport, getting to Golden Bay is easy.
If you’re driving, the GPS coordinates for Golden Bay are: 35.934414, 14.344862. It is 19.5 km from the Malta International Airport and 21 km from the capital city of Valletta, approximately 35 minutes’ drive in both cases. Parking can be a challenge in peak season and on weekends, when the car park by the bay fills up quickly. However, there’s another car park at the top of the hill while a pitch that’s just five minutes’ walk from the beach is also used for parking.
If you’re using public transport, note that for Golden Bay, you must get off at the Tuffieha Bus Terminus; the bus stop for Ghajn Tuffieha Bay is called Riviera, counter-intuitive we know! Buses run frequently, however, the large number of people using the service during the peak season may still leave you waiting for the next bus; bear this in mind if you’re keen to get some place else on time.
- Bus no. 44 – first departure from Valletta at 05:45, last departure from Tuffieha at 22:25
- Bus no. 101 – first departure from Cirkewwa at 07:00, last departure from Tuffieha at 22:11 (09:00 to 20:10 in winter)
- Bus no. 223 – first departure from Bugibba at 06:50, last departure from Tuffieha at 22:47
- Bus no. 225 – first departure from Sliema at 05:53, last departure from Tuffieha at 22:35
6. It’s Welcoming
Staying At Golden Bay
Rather than getting there and away, consider staying at the Resort & Spa Malta Golden Sands. The gorgeous five-star hotel is perched on one side of the bay, with its indoor pool and outdoor swimming pool overlooking the golden sands beach.
The Golden Sands resort includes luxury apartments with sea and country views, a choice of on-site dining, a wonderful spa, and a variety of entertainment options and activities. The hotel also offers scuba diving and a variety of water sports as well as a section of private beach with waiter service! Here’s when a beach holiday in Malta is destined to be memorable for all the right reasons.
7. It Has It All
Beach Pros & Cons
- Large sandy beach with plenty of space even when it gets busy
- Beautiful, largely unspoilt surroundings
- Amenities, kiosks and good restaurants
- Water sports, snorkelling and diving
- Regular volleyball, juggling and slackline meets
- Lifeguard on site
- Blue Flag certified
- Easy access by public transport or by car
- Can get busy during the summer months, particularly on weekends
- Peak season crowds or a northwesterly wind may disturb the sandy bottom and cause the shallow waters to get murky, clearing at depth
- Seaweed sometimes lines the shore in winter – not really a con as it’s just nature’s way
- Treacherous undercurrents may bring up a red or double red flag to warn against swimming
8. It’s A Wonderful Experience
Tips To Make The Most Of Your Golden Bay Experience
- Grab a sun lounger and umbrella if you plan to spend the day – these offer greater comfort on the sand and shade from the sun
- Grab a snack, an ice cream or a smoothie in style at the
- Try some of the activities on the beach; from beach volleyball to jet skiing, there’s plenty to do
- Take a boat tour of nearby beaches
- Barbecue dinner on the beach – but remember to get a €5 permit from Mellieħa council first and to keep the beach clean
- Enjoy a sunset over the horizon, pop open a bottle of wine and have a night swim for a romantic evening under the stars
- Dine al fresco at Essence or Agliolio with views of the beach
So now you know what not to miss if you are visiting the Maltese Islands during the summer months. Whether you’re attracted by the simplicity or the luxury, Golden Bay on the island of Malta has it all to make anyone happy. But don’t be a beach bum – do make the time to discover some other amazing Malta attractions!