Looking out over the glittering Mediterranean, Il-Majjistral is Malta’s only natural park. Mostly comprised of blue clay, this picturesque space on the northwest coast of the main island is filled with rock pools, jagged cliffs and diverse wildlife, stretching from Popeye village to the stunning beaches of Golden Bay.
IIl-Majjistral Park is a naturalist’s paradise and quite literally a hidden gem on the Maltese coast. Here’s what you’ll find if you dare to explore a little further.
‘Majjistral’ is the Maltese name for the region, taken from the term used to describe the fierce winds that affect the Mediterranean. The park is managed by the Heritage Parks Federation, an association of three separate groups dedicated to protecting the delicate environment, which is threatened by human intervention and natural erosion. The habitat of rare flora and fauna like Maltese sea lavender and pyramidal orchids, it’s a relatively inaccessible spot – but guided evening walks, sunset bird watching and snorkelling are all carefully monitored by the management. Over 1,000 plants have been introduced since the park opened, including olives, golden samphire and myrtle, and you can spot orchids in the spring. To find out more about the park’s plants, head to the new visitor centre in Golden Bay, a short walk from our Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Golden Sands.
Walkers can choose from five starting points to explore the park, each track promising unique wildlife-spotting opportunities including Algerian hedgehogs, Mediterranean chameleons and after dark, several different types of bats. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a western whip snake sunbathing on the rocks. But the area’s natural beauty isn’t its only draw: the park’s man-made attractions include Classical tombs, the ruins of British army barracks and World War Two pillboxes. You’ll also find abandoned beehives and crumbling girnas dotted about the dry fields; poignant reminders that this was once a thriving stretch of farmland – before the area became a military zone. If you want to learn while you trek, guided walks are available on Sundays from October to April. Whether you choose to strike out alone or follow a guide, be sure to make time for a sunset stroll across this rugged, natural landscape looking over the crashing waves below.
If you’re looking for adventure, take out a kayak to paddle along the coast between Anchor Bay and Golden
Bay. You’ll get a completely different perspective of this untamed spot. Take your pick of the beautiful hidden pebble, rock and sand beaches along the way. If you’re after the latter, the most popular choice is Golden Bay, where you can swim or snorkel. Wander along the coastal path for stunning views across the sea, but be sure to bring sturdy walking shoes – this is undeniably rough terrain. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, tuck into one of the large pasta dishes at Munchies, a friendly cafe right on the beach.