Once home to marauding pirate types and frequented by the Knights Templar, Comino Island is, today, a much quieter place (don’t come expecting cannons and swordplay). Virtually uninhabited, the island is a small slice of unspoiled, Mediterranean splendour, thanks to the fact that it’s graced by only a handful of buildings – and that cars are prohibited. For visitors coming from the mainland, or from Gozo, it’s but a 20-minute ferry trip to this little haven, where days can be spent splashing in the Blue Lagoon or snoozing on the sands of Santa Marija Bay, strapping on the scuba gear for some Comino diving, and discovering the history of the Santa Marija Tower. Buccaneers or not, there’s still much to discover on Comino Island.
The Blue Lagoon could only have been better named if it had been dubbed ‘The Turquoise Grotto’ or ‘The Aquamarine Pool’ – the point is that this gorgeous watering hole attracts both locals and travellers with its clear waters, natural beauty, and ideal swimming conditions. For those already marvelling at Comino’s small scale, note that it’s not even the smallest member of the Maltese archipelago: just look across the Lagoon to Cominotto, a tiny outcropping that can be reached by strong swimmers.
As with the rest of the Maltese archipelago, Comino Island is formed of porous limestone, and below its rugged cliffs can be found a whole network of aboveground – and undersea – caves. There are a number of opportunities to explore for adventurers wishing to strap on some scuba gear, while local Comino diving schools orchestrate group outings. The striking Crystal Lagoon attracts a fair number of divers, while Lantern Point ranks among the island’s most popular dive sites, thanks to its proximity to shore, its underwater scenery, and incredible caves and tunnels.
A striking relic dating to the Knights Templar period of Maltese occupation, the Santa Marija Tower is the most prominent of very few manmade structures on Comino Island. Originally built in 1618 as a defence and communication tower by the Knights, the tower has since been used to house livestock and even served as a quarantine hospital. Today, the square, turreted structure is striking to witness up close, and is open to the public when the flag’s flying.
In need of a few hours on a sandy beach? Santa Marija Bay is an appealingly, golden stretch of sand, and also likely to be much less crowded than the nearby Blue Lagoon. Go for a dip before donning your hat, slathering on some sun cream, and indulging in a mid-afternoon catnap.
Provided it isn’t midday in the middle of the summer – the heat on largely unshaded Comino Island can be intense – there’s no better way to see the island than during a nice, long amble. See if you can spot the wild cumin plants from which Comino derives its name while gazing over the cliffs to the sea beyond. And, for those who’ve remembered their binoculars, note that the entirety of Comino also happens to be a bird sanctuary. The keen-eyed can spot species ranging from nightjars and wood warblers to cuckoos and owls.
Are you an art lover or culture vulture holidaying in Malta? Well, you’ll be pleased to find that this Mediterranean island may be small, but it packs a punch when it comes to art and culture. Here are six recommended destinations to add to your itinerary to experience the best of Malta’s art scene.