Comino: when beauty and comfort go separate ways (but only 15 min apart)

Between the main inhabited islands of the Maltese archipelago lies a not-at-all hidden gem, the island of Comino. It has only three permanent residents and serves as a bird sanctuary. It is also known as a habitat for various reptiles. As such, it is not overdeveloped like the island of Malta, and tenting, heavily restricted on Malta, is popular here. Despite these advantages, it′s not the land that attracts hordes of tourists to the island. Like a cumin seed from which its name is said to be derived, it adds delightful flavor to the archipelago experience.

Tourists looking at the rocks through their smartphone screens

I finally went there after visiting Malta on vacation and having moved to live here this year. I was told that May is the best time to go, and it′s best to skip the high season, but I missed that chance this year. I can see why people were giving me this piece of advice. The Blue Lagoon, the most famous place on Comino, with sea so magically blue that it could serve as an endless artistic inspiration, was littered with noisy party boats, pedestrian paths full of vendors selling stuff, so and reminded me of Sharm el-Sheikh a bit.

Fortunately, the first impression was limited only to a limited territory around the Blue Lagoon. Its breathtaking beauty makes it difficult to leave, but for a tranquil getaway, you better snap a photo and flee.

A dusty path will lead you to Santa Maria Bay – a sandy beach around 15-20 min away from the ferries and the Blue Lagoon. Some ferries stop nearby directly. Native tamarix trees make some much-needed shade, and towards noon it gets crowded. But there is enough space for everyone, the beach is calm and pleasant, under the watchful eye of bored-looking lifeguards, with sundecks available for rent and a catering van with drinks and snacks.

Swimming there is nothing comparable to the Blue Lagoon experience, which is dubbed as diving paradise thanks to exceptionally clear water. With sand being lifted by many feet and an unusually large amount of algae washed ashore this year, it feels like swimming in miso soup. But it′s very comfortable to stay there, and so my friends and I stayed there all day, alternating between the sea and the shade, and watching a curious salamander search for a hideout in other people′s takeaway food leftovers.

At different periods in history, Comino was a farming community, a pirate hideaway, and a military object. Its landscape looks quite harsh now that summer is kicking in, but I′m sure it′s even more beautiful in early spring – and great for hiking. Definitely worth visiting again.

Tips:

  • The ferry from Cirkewwa or Marfa costs 10 eur return, so it′s best to spend as much time as possible to make it worth it.
  • Take the earliest ferry possible. This way there will be a chance to enjoy some calm at the Blue Lagoon.
  • Trust the ferry people, who say that the walk to Santa Maria Bay takes 15 min, more than people at Blue Lagoon restaurants, who say it′s longer and mention the option of a minivan for two euros.
  • There are many options for food and drinks, and even prices are decent, but at least I didn′t see any shops with sunscreen and the like, so make sure not to forget it.

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