Walk 12 – Ghadira bay to St Paul’s Bay
This walk took place a week after the last walk so I’m really racing on now to complete the full trip around the island. Word has got out and this time I had a record four friends joining me on the walk – Sarah, Michaela, Lynn and newbie Claire. It turned out that the day after we did this walk the schools closed due to Covid-19 so we were very happy we managed to fit this in whilst we could.
I had randomly selected a cafe to meet at – The Terry Berry Tea Room in St Paul’s Bay. This was going to be our endpoint. Turned out, the cafe I’d chosen was really nice. What a find! We grabbed a quick coffee and assured the owner we’d be back for lunch in a few hours at the end of our walk. We all jumped in one car and drove off to Ghardia Beach where we started the walk from Munchies restuarant.
It was another beautiful sunny day with calm waters and we had a nice easy start by strolling along Ghardia beach – Malta’s longest stretch of sand. This often busy beach was totally empty today.
As we got to the end of the sandy stretch we walked past some nice little inlets. These are good alternative spots for swimming in summer if you want to get away from the umbrellas and the crowds. We even found a small cave with beautiful still clear waters. As we reached the end of the stretch we started to head off the beaten track a bit.
We then found ourselves walking through some reeds and rushes which made a change. Taco found a nice muddy puddle to jump in. Apparently, there is a water spring here which is why the vegetation changes from the usual low-level shrubs and rocky coast.
At last, we walked around the peninsula to face South and we were rewarded with stunning views. This was a section of the coast I’d never seen before and I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to feel so remote and wild. I later read that this is the most unspoilt coastline on the East side of Malta.
There was an easy trail to follow so we didn’t need to consult the book and the walking was pretty steady and easy. This section of the walk would be a good one to do with kids as no climbing and no big drops down to the sea.
We finally had our first siting of Mgiebah Bay. I know from the only time I have visited this beach that it’s not easy to access. By car, you have to drive down a very narrow dirt track and as you get close to the beach the ground turns to clay which as I discovered last time can be very messy after a day of rain. Today it was dry though and the clay wasn’t a problem.
Because this beach is so difficult to reach is it is never busy which means you often get it to yourself and even on a busy day there’ll only be a scattering of people at the most. We walked down on the to the rocks – beautiful!
From here the route in the book turned inland to go to the Selmun Palace. However, we decided to stick to the coastal path. It was a bit of a gamble as we weren’t sure how accessible it was but it just seemed too nice to leave. We could see a path onwards so we tentatively carried on.
Our gamble on the path was tested a bit when we had to do a bit of a climb to get over an inaccessible peninsula but it was all do-able (nothing like the climb Sarah and I had endured in Ghajn Tuffieha).
When we got to the top the land suddenly opened up and there were almost green fields. This hardly felt like Malta. What an amazing spot this would be to bring the kids to we all agreed – (although none of us had a clue how we might find it in the car). From here we could see below Salt pans and then a great close up view of St Paul’s islands. I certainly had never seen them from this close – it was gorgeous.
Salt pans can be found all over Malta and Gozo in secluded but spacious flat rocky areas. They are man-made, usually square-shaped and date back to the Phoenicians who used to collect salt from the sea.
St Paul’s islands are also called Selmunett and it’s called islands plural because when the tide is low the land is split into two by a shallow passage of sea (an isthmus). According to the bible Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked here in A.D.60 but he and all the passengers on his ship were able to swim to Malta. There’s a statue you can see at the end of the island that commemorates this event. I’ve kayaked to the islands before and walked around the island to this statue.
We then headed on to Mistra Bay which I have been to many times. It’s a lovely bay although the beach is pebbly and in summer the cars (and caravans) park right up close to the water which spoils it. However, you don’t get many tourists here as it’s a little bit off the beaten track and generally it has a really nice relaxed vibe. There’s also a lovely pizza restaurant called Margos with a shady garden which I’d definitely recommend if you’re not in a hurry (as the service can be S L O W).
The two local ponies were roaming close to the beach which was of great interest to Taco. They were less interested in her though.
From Mistra, we headed up a steep path with steps carved into the rock at the far end of the beach. Looking back there were amazing views of Mistra. Up here we walked through pine trees and we had beautiful views down to the water as we turned towards Xemxija.
Here we looked down at Fekruna (Turtle Bay). I’ve swum here from the jetty but I’ve never known how to reach the beach, other than by water, and I still couldn’t see a way down.
We were cracking on now and wary of the time and school pickups. We followed the road down to Xemxija – a funny little place which is on the road out of St Paul’s Bay and seems half-built with unfinished apartment blocks everywhere. Across the road is the start of a Heritage Trail on a Roman Road which is a gorgeous walk – but that’s another blog post.
We continued along the promenade in Xemxija leading into St Paul’s Bay and ended up back the Terry Berry Tea room where we had a very nice lunch. We’ll definitely be back here.