Good morning and welcome back from the Labor Day weekend festivities! I’m home in DC after a wonderful vacation and getting back into the swing of things. In case you missed it, here are the first two travel recaps from our vacation. This is the third of four!
- Istanbul in an Overnight Layover (or two)
- Malta Adventures Part 1: Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Malta Golden Sands
For part two of our Malta vacation, Matt and I made our way over to Mellieha, a town on the northernmost coast of the island of Malta.
We rented a car in Malta, which proved to be very useful as well as a fun challenge: they drive on the left side of the road AND we had a stick shift. Matt drives a stick shift at home, but driving one on the other side of the car using his left hand to shift was certainly interesting! That paired with trying to use real maps (instead of GPS) to get around, tiny streets, lots of roundabouts, and aggressive drivers = quite the adventure. It was actually a big part of the fun, though – and super helpful to have a car to get around since the public transit isn’t great! Relatively cheap to rent one there, too. (Also, a huge thank you to my Instagram follower Allison for her Malta travel tips – super helpful!)
Once in Mellieha, we met up with my college friend Kris and a huge group of her friends from all over the world who were joining us on the adventure. An enormous thank you to Kris for planning this trip for all of us! We stuffed 14 of us into an Airbnb (<—my first time using Airbnb, and I’m officially a big fan) house and it was a really great group. We had a big roof deck for everyone to hang out on and we all made dinners together at the house (or had leftovers) every night and hung out on the roof drinking wine and chilling. A couple of the girls and I did yoga two mornings up on the roofdeck, too, using the free Yoga Download app – or just making stuff up the day that the wifi wasn’t working up there. 🙂
For the first part of our Mellieha adventures, Matt, my friend Kris, her friend Kuo, and I did a scuba diving course!
We signed up through a place in Mellieha called Bezz Diving that had really good reviews online, and for good reason – they were excellent. Highly recommend! Friendly, fun, and very competent staff.
I was already scuba dive certified from study abroad in Australia way back in 2003, but the others weren’t and I wanted to hang out with them so the Bezz team was nice enough to let me go along with the group. Anytime they had to do skills for the course, they checked me on the basics as a refresher and then let me explore a bit underwater (nearby where I could still see the others) while I waited for them to finish the rest. Matt and the others did some online learning modules before we arrived in Malta, too, so once we were there it was straight to the diving, which was great!
We were up bright and early the first three mornings of the Mellieha portion of the trip for diving. Each day we did two dives and then were finished by around 1 or 2 p.m., which was really nice since then we had the rest of the day to explore and hang out with the rest of our group.
The diving in Malta was beautiful, and it was also nice that we didn’t have to bother with taking boats – all the dives we did were shore dives, so we entered by hopping right in from the rocky coast! I had my awesome underwater camera with me as my all-purpose camera for the entire trip, both in the water and out. This was the first time I took it deep underwater and it did great with action shots – it said it worked up to about 15 meters deep but I was able to use it down at 18 meters, too. I bought a floating strap (made for GoPros but it worked great for my camera) for it, too, so in case I dropped it I wouldn’t lose it. Worked great!
The trip left me really wanting to do more diving – especially shipwrecks! On our last dive, there was as cool sunken tugboat below us at one point that I was dying to go down and see. Someday. 🙂
In the afternoons after diving, our first stop was always food! We made breakfast (just bread with peanut butter and banana on our way out the door) and dinner every day at the house, so it was fun to go out for lunch. We found a great place on the beach in Mellieha called Munchie’s that we went to twice. They had really good green smoothies (!!) and salads – felt good to get some greens in!
I enjoyed their pizza as well! As you guys saw on my Instagram, hard boiled egg on pizza is a thing in Malta. It was good – nice way to add some extra protein to the mix, too!
After diving and lunch, we usually spent the rest of the day at the beach with the others! This beach and the beach at our resort (from the last blog post) in Golden Sands were the only sandy beaches of our trip – most of the beaches in Malta are rocky/rugged.
There was this awesome playground of sorts out in the water (with blow up climbable stuff, a trampoline, etc.) that you could pay 5 euros per person to spend an hour on, and we did it both afternoons. It was SUCH a blast but also INSANELY hard – I didn’t get any close up pictures but climbing on all the stuff required a ton of upper body strength, and it was all so slippery you went flying off easily, too! My arms were sore from the insane climbing and my abs were sore from cracking up! Too fun. That big white thing was called “The Iceberg” and it was soooooo hard to climb up. I made it up once per afternoon and that was it, ha!
Once the dive course was completed, we had one final day in Mellieha to work with, so a group of us (me, Matt, Kris, Kuo, and his friend Wan) decided to hop on the ferry over to Gozo, a nearby island that’s part of the Maltese Islands.
We took our car on the ferry and it was great to have our own transport once on the island! Our first stop was the stunning Azure Window, seen below.
We spent a couple hours swimming and enjoying its beauty in the morning.
The water was really clear – stunning!
Some advice if you ever go to Malta: bring water shoes! It was quite rocky getting in the water in most spots (especially the Azure Window, but really everywhere but the beach in Golden Sands and Mellieha) and I was really glad to have them with me. Also, goggles – you’ll want to check out all the scenery underwater!
Our next stop was lunch in a cute nearby town called Xlendi.
We ate The Stone Crab – delicious and great views of the water.
Xlendi is also where we bought matching hats. You’re welcome. 😉 (They are slightly different colors, but we are still twin-tastic in them. No shame.)
Our afternoon adventure involved heading to a nearby beach, where we planned to relax but instead ended up renting a two level paddleboat! Sweeeeet! While two people paddled, the rest chilled – either on the bottom level or on top. Nice way to see some of the coastline – and to get in some swimming away from the crowds, too!
From there, we drove back over to the Azure Window on the west coast of Gozo to catch the sunrise.
Perfect end to a great day: gelato.
We had to wait ages to get back on the ferry with our car (it was Sunday night, so everyone else had the same idea, apparently), but it was worth it. Such a wonderful day!
I’ll be back to share the final recap from the trip: our adventures a little bit farther south, in Sliema!