Malta Off The Beaten Path - Trek around Golden Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha and Il-Gnejna Bay

Malta is one of the most popular European islands among all those who search for the sun, fun, beaches and sea. Especially during the summer time, the most popular places in Malta like the famous Blue Lagoon or Blue Grotto are so packed with tourists that sunbeds are placed on the nearby paths and unpaved roads. Not only you can't even see the beach from where you are seated, but also you'll have to pay for it! Nevertheless, thanks to my friends who live in Malta, I was able to discover a different, more quite and exciting part of the island. If you're planning to visit Malta, don't miss the west coast! Not too many people know about it and if you are bored with the 'plasticness' of the resorts, do the trek and let yourself surrender by wonderful, original, and eerie moon-like scenery.

 

How to get to the Golden Bay

 

Malta has an excellent network of public transport, so even if you don't drive you can easily catch a bus to literally any place on the island. Having said that, don't rely too much on the timetables as the buses are often late or, at times, don't show up at all. Also, it's a bit annoying to transfer to another bus because the departure time of the second bus hardly ever matches with your arrival. So be patient and you will get wherever you want.

To get to the Golden Bay from Valletta, the capital, you can take bus number 44, from Ćirkewwa bus number 101 or 102 (the port with ferries to the nearby island of Gozo), bus number 223 from Bugibba. To find the full Malta bus network map, click here. The greatest thing about the transport in Malta is that it's very cheap - you can buy daily ticket for just 1.50 EUR or a 7-day one for 6.50 EUR (7.20 USD).

 

 The Golden Bay

The Golden Bay

 Here with a friend who showed us this hidden trail

Here with a friend who showed us this hidden trail

 The beach at Ghajn Tuffieha

The beach at Ghajn Tuffieha

 Ghajn Tuffieha

Ghajn Tuffieha

 Rocky coast of Malta

Rocky coast of Malta

 Peculiar flora along the trail

Peculiar flora along the trail

 One of the succulents

One of the succulents

 Rocks along the trail

Rocks along the trail

 The narrow path among the succulent shrubs

The narrow path among the succulent shrubs

 The only green part

The only green part

 The cliffs

The cliffs

 The path

The path

 The little red beach - view from the top of the hill

The little red beach - view from the top of the hill

 Ghajn Tuffieha Bay

Ghajn Tuffieha Bay

 

The trek

 

The trek starts at the Golden Bay, right at the bus stop. There is a beach and a few hotels very near. You'll see quite a few people on that beach and I have no idea why, because it's the least pretty part of the area. As I mentioned before, I have noticed that people usually don't care about the surroundings, as long as it's sunny and they are on the beach, they just lie down and sunbathe all day. I'm not saying everyone is like this but when I visited the Blue Lagoon beach (I will also describe it in the future), me and my friends were the only people (out of literally hundreds squeezed on the sunbed like sardines) who actually decided to hike the coastline which was quite spectacular in comparison to the Blue Lagoon beach itself.

The same was the case at the Golden Bay, everyone was staying on the main beach with resorts when only a 20 minute walk away, there was a much more attractive, surrounded by rocky cliffs, wild bay - Ghajn Tuffieha. Not too mention the trail - there was no one there except of us. All this was a bit surprising as Malta is visited by hordes of tourists.

From the Golden Bay, walk south along the cliff towards Ghajn Tuffieha. From here, it starts to get much better: the views over the coast and the see are a lot nicer. To get to Ghajn Tuffieha beach, you must go down the steps and you're there! The whole, really pleasant walk takes not more than 30 minutes!

We kept walking along the beach (don't be surprised if you see some naked people as the area is also designated as a nudist beach). Then, we reached the cliff walk among the silver rocks and quite different flora (consisting of mainly succulents) started to emerge - it all seemed unreal and outlandish.

Soon, the narrow path became steeper and dryer and any kind of vegetation that we'd seen before vanished. The landscape was empty and barren, just like on the Moon. We walked past another, little, red sand beach, climbed the sandstone hill and crossed a little crack in the surface caused by the sea water. It's quite slippery and difficult to hike this part so take good shoes with you if you're planning to do the walk.

At this point, my favorite view appeared. The bright yellow sandstone contrasted strongly with the grey, pointy hills and blue water. It was such a beautiful sight, especially at the sunset.

The whole trek will not take more than 2 hours (unfortunately it's so short!). The last beach, at Gnejna Bay is not too spectacular either. From here you can take the bus number 101 or 102 to the village of Mgar (or back to the Golden Bay) and then catch the bus 44 back to Valletta.

I was really happy to do this walk as I started to get a bit disappointed about Malta. It seemed so over commercialized and the most popular places were, to be honest, not even close to the real spectacular although unknown countries like AlbaniaGeorgiaArmeniaBosnia or Turkmenistan. Nevertheless, the west coast was the place that I enjoyed most in Malta. Much more than the Blue Grotto (which is very small) or the crowded Blue Lagoon.

 

 The quiet beach and the barren hills

The quiet beach and the barren hills

 Along the beach

Along the beach

 Moon-like scenery

Moon-like scenery

 Cracks in the surface

Cracks in the surface

 Crack in the surface

Crack in the surface

 Outlandish landscape

Outlandish landscape

 Outlandish landscape

Outlandish landscape

 A little sandstone pyramid

A little sandstone pyramid

 Another little beach

Another little beach

 The trail - looks much easier than it really is

The trail - looks much easier than it really is

 Sandstone coast

Sandstone coast

 Thistles

Thistles

 Cactuses along the path

Cactuses along the path

 Sandstone coast

Sandstone coast

 The view over Il-Gnejna Bay

The view over Il-Gnejna Bay

 

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