Go for the Lagoon, Stay for the Hiking

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

After a few days of doing absolutely nothing, we needed a change of scenery. And our first destination, just moments away from our hotel by boat to the island of Comino, was the infamous Blue Lagoon.

It has to be the most touted tourist attraction in Malta. Every advertisement and cooing salesperson offers the same thing: a white sandy shore and crystal clear waters of piercing aquamarine. Malta itself isn’t much of a beach-y destination, the shorelines are most often rocky, and any spot of sand becomes instantly crowded.

But the promise of a fairy-tale beach of perfection? Perhaps even with Brooke Shields emerging from the glistening water (that was Pete’s dream, anyway, even if the movie wasn’t actually filmed here)?

We had to see it for ourselves.

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Early in the day, it was fairly empty. That didn’t last long.

The water is as blue and clear as they say. The sand is as soft as they say.

But what did they not tell us?

That our old backyard was bigger than this beach. That the numerous beach chairs and umbrellas crammed together would make it almost impossible to move. That people claim space on the boat dock even, just to get a piece of it. Oh, and that jellyfish were waiting to sting (two people whimpered off in pain while we were there).

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Jam-packed by noon.

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And one last thing that no one talked about…the hiking on Comino is amazing.

Just behind the beach, a rocky path leads up and out. Within minutes the noise of the crowd disappears and a view of the whole island opens up. The walk leads along the jagged cliffs and the lagoon is soon seen from overhead.

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Further up the island are hidden paths back down to the water, where those elusive, desirable moments connecting with nature can be enjoyed. Where you can dip your toes without jockeying for position, and hear nothing but waves lapping against the shore.

(Similar to having founded the “Cliffs of Heck” in Ireland, we have claimed this small piece of paradise as “The Heck Lagoon”. Even if it’s not really a lagoon.)

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Walking to one side of the island and back takes just over three hours, and we saw very few other like-minded souls. It is a small island without vehicles, only one hotel, and hundreds of people and dozens of boats crammed onto one tiny side of it.

Too bad for them. But great for us.

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47 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • July 16 2012

    This is such a great way to turn an unpleasantly sardined beach day into a relaxing hiking day! The views are so inviting. How hot is it there??

    • July 17 2012

      HOT. Hence the shot of us from a distance, so you don’t see up close my sweated mop of hair and drops dripping off my face. It had to be almost 40 degs C with the humidity that day!

  • July 16 2012

    Well, I have what Tim calls an irrational fear of jellyfish so maybe Malta isn’t for us after all!
    Jennifer recently posted..Capture the Colour

    • July 17 2012

      Yeah, we didn’t go in the water at the Lagoon for that reason. And most places we went to had jellyfish warnings, although we never actually saw one ourselves.

  • Nicole
    July 16 2012

    Wow! Those colours are amazing! But the people….I don’t think we would enjoy that much.
    Nicole recently posted..Cruising down a Volcano with Maui Easy Riders

    • July 17 2012

      Yeah, the colors were pretty spectacular, as close as you can get to Caribbean blue over here I think! But it didn’t take long and we were pretty annoyed by the whole scene. The hike made it worth it though. πŸ™‚

  • July 16 2012

    Great read! That was one SMALL beach! The hike looked great!!

    • July 17 2012

      Thanks Annie! It was a tiny beach indeed!

  • Michael
    July 16 2012

    A day cruise is probably the best way to enjoy the Blue Lagoon. You can get on and off the boat anytime without having to walk over people’s stuff, lunch, drinks and transport from/to your hotel. Next time πŸ™‚

    • July 17 2012

      The crowds would still be a turn-off I think…I like the way we visited Comino! πŸ™‚

  • Holy moly that’s a lot of people on one fricking tiny beach!! Glad you escaped and managed to find Heck Lagoon. Looks awesome.

  • July 17 2012

    Haha, loved this line – “That our old backyard was bigger than this beach.”
    Your photos show so much, it indeed got so crowded! But the clear blue shots in the next few ones are just heavenly!
    Have a wonderful week:)
    Arti recently posted..Expedia Japan Office Meet: An Afternoon to Remember

  • Emily in Chile
    July 16 2012

    Tiny, crowded beaches stress me out. I go to the beach to relax, not to be trampled! I would have followed your lead and traded soft sand for privacy.

    • July 17 2012

      Exactly! I’ll take an ugly uncrowded beach over a beautiful packed one, any day!

  • July 17 2012

    Wow, that looks like a wonderful walk. So peaceful and pretty. Finding your own place on the water would be so inviting.

  • Ryan at Travel and Graphs
    July 17 2012

    This looks like a worse time at the beach than watching the movie The Beach.

    • July 17 2012

      Haha – I LIKE that movie! Except for when Leo trips out and starts seeing things, that’s just weird.

  • July 17 2012

    The first picture definitely looks like the time of day that you want to be there. While it was that empty, did you do your Brooke Shields impersonation and emerge from the water while flipping your hair from side to side?
    Steve recently posted..How NOT to Fly Families Together

    • July 17 2012

      I actually didn’t even enter the water (scared of the jellyfish)!

  • July 17 2012

    Wow! Can’t believe all those umbrellas crammed into one small area. We loved Malta but don’t remember any of that. It’s a while since we were there, though. Glad you managed to hike elsewhere and enjoy some peace and quiet.
    Julia
    Turkey’s For Life recently posted..A Day At The Olive Garden Restaurant, Kabak

    • July 18 2012

      I wouldn’t say that overall we *loved* Malta, for a few reasons, but this day was nice once we were able to get away!

  • July 17 2012

    I didn’t make it over there when I was in Malta, but it sounds like the beach is worth skipping, at least once other people show up. The island does look gorgeous though once you got away from the crowds!
    Ali recently posted..Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons in Photos

    • July 18 2012

      We wouldn’t have gone at all except that one person told us about the hiking. Surprised that they don’t advertise that as part of the attraction, it is quite beautiful.

  • July 17 2012

    The turquoise waters always look so inviting but then I think of the heat. I guess I’ll just have to visit Malta in low season as that place looks so beautiful. I can’t get over the crowds.
    Leigh recently posted..Hiking the Henry MacLeod Trail in Jasper National Park

    • July 18 2012

      YES, it was SO hot. Low season would be a good time to go – although not in the fall as apparently they get warm winds from Africa that make it even worse.

  • All this talk about Brooke Shields — I wanna know if Pete pulled off a Christopher Atkins impression. πŸ™‚

  • July 17 2012

    Wow what a great spot! Seems to redefine paradise!

  • July 17 2012

    Ugh! Those crowds look awful!

  • July 17 2012

    Now THAT looks like paradise (all the photographs without all the people, I mean – with the exception of the picture of the two of you of course) …. great on you for going in search of it!!

  • July 18 2012

    Super stunning and I’d take hiking over sunbathing any day. Not a big fan of European beaches for this very reason.

    • July 19 2012

      And, really, we’ve been on some of the most incredible beaches in the world already (the Caribbean!), it’s pretty hard to top those. πŸ™‚

  • July 18 2012

    wow, that water….

  • July 18 2012

    I went to this place a few years ago and we lucky to stay without such great crowds. The blue water was rather green, I must say. I am glad we avoided jellyfish, I mus say.

  • July 19 2012

    We”ve almost made it those year to Malta. Reading your blog I start regretting even more that we didn’t. Maybe later this year. Malta seems to have good weather most of the time.
    Laura @Travelocafe recently posted..Hamlet’s Castle and a Pure Danish Experience

  • July 20 2012

    Wow, no wonder it gets so crowded–what an amazing scene! Great way to change your plans on the go and make the best of such a gorgeous island!

    • July 22 2012

      Yes, glad that we brought our hiking boots and went on our merry way! The beach was just too much.

  • July 21 2012

    Ooo, I don’t even like hiking, but that hike looks amazing! Definitely better than that crowded lagoon.
    Amanda recently posted..Euro Trip Week 4 Round-Up

    • July 22 2012

      Many, many times better than the crowded lagoon, in our opinion!

  • Monica
    August 2 2012

    Great pics & explanation about that beautiful place! Pity that I’m going to be in Malta just for a few days with not enough time to visit Comino & other places there… πŸ™

    Netx time! πŸ˜€

    • August 4 2012

      It will still be there next time. πŸ™‚

  • Marija
    August 9 2012

    Curious, what were the things that didn’t make you ‘love’ Malta? Full disclosure: Maltese asking here πŸ™‚

    As to Comino, I always tell people it’s WAY over-rated. The water is beautiful but the beach is tiny and too popular, there are other wonderful spots on Malta and Gozo.

    I definitely would not recommend hiking on Comino in Summer. There is no shade and since it’s virtually a deserted island, if something had to happen (e.g. dehydration etc.) it could get dangerous. It’s also much more beautiful in spring or late autumn when nesting birds abound.

    Lastly, a note on jellyfish. Comino isn’t haunted by jellyfish, it really depends on water currents and warmth so you were a bit unlucky I guess.

    • August 10 2012

      Yes, I had heard that hiking on Comino is best in the spring and fall. But we still enjoyed it, even with the scorching temps.

  • August 13 2012

    That is stunning but way, way too crowded! The hike looks to have been the better option πŸ˜€
    Laurence recently posted..In photos: from the Facebook Page (Edition ii)

  • August 13 2012

    That hike looks nothing less than amazing. The water looks so clear and blue … swoon!
    cheryl recently posted..Cafe Popularna in Szczecin, Poland.

  • Tracy Collins
    October 19 2014

    We love the Blue Lagoon and always go out on a small boat so we can jump into the water that way. We also go to the island for BBQ’s at sunset – the only boat moored and have the place to ourselves until the sun goes down. I have been here numerous times and have never been stung by a jellyfish…actually never seen one as this would put me off! The main thing is to avoid the weekends and public holidays as it does become overcrowded and visit on one of the smaller boats – we use English Rose Cruises that leaves from Mellieha bay. You can swim or go for a walk while they are moored.

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