There is one particular place on the Maltese islands that truly can not be missed, especially if you love the sea and the sun. Travelling to Malta you’ll notice that the island boasts of some incredible beaches, both sandy and rocky. But nothing will prepare you for what the blue waters of Comino will look like. Comino island is a true gem, especially for those who like to enjoy the sea by boat or underwater. Beautiful scenery, combined with natural rock formations of various proportions and the reflective clear waters make the small island of Comino a real must-visit for every person who visits this part of the Mediterranean.
Where is Comino?
The archipelago of the Maltese islands is made up of three major pieces of land. The two main inhabited islands are Malta and Gozo, which is relatively smaller with a much less dense population residing on it. The third-largest island of the Maltese archipelago is Comino and sits exactly in between the two other islands. If you ever have the opportunity to travel between Malta and Gozo by ferry, you will definitely see Comino from the boat. You’ll notice a sizeable island but above all, incredibly crystalline clear water. This is what makes Comino unique – the colour of its waters. A short boat ride from Cirkewwa or Gozo can give you access to a unique spot in this small cluster of islands. The distance from the largest of the islands is very small, and a ferry ride will only take between 20 to 30 minutes. We will talk about transport in the next section below.
How to get to Comino?
Comino is only accessible by boat. There is regular ferry service which operated between Cirkewwa (Malta) and the northern side of Comino. The ride should take around 25 minutes. Similarly, if you are based in Gozo and wish to spend a day or two on Comino, you need to get a ferry from the Gozo main harbour in Mgarr. It is the same place where the Gozo Channel departs to get to Malta.
For a more detailed account on how to reach Comino, we recommend reading this article for a step by step guide.
When to visit Comino?
Lucky for you, the Maltese islands sit on a part in the Mediterranean which enjoys beautifully long summers. Since it is a sea-soaked destination, and the main point of going would be to swim in amazing waters, Comino is best visited in summer. Summer is Malta can start pretty early. The weather can heat up quickly at the beginning of May and be still perfect for swimming by mid-October.
The one variable that you really have to factor in, is whether you mind going on a beach full of people or whether is best for you to stay on the island in quiet and peace. Comino can be an incredibly busy place and its beaches can get really crowded. However, tourists tend to flock to the island at the very peak of summer that is from June to end of August. If you visit Comino at the end of September onwards you might experience fewer people. The water will stay at a relatively suitable swimming temperature by at least mid-October, so you might want to even risk and go at this time of year.
On the other hand, if you want to experience Comino in a totally different point of view, then make sure to organise a nice walk in the middle of winter. Even when not in summer, Malta experiences a lot of sun on the majority of the days. Going to Comino in winter you will find the place to be all for yourself and walking by incredible cliffs which surround the island is quite a magnificent experience. Later on in this blog, we will explore the best way to go round the island.
Visiting Malta means that you have a unique opportunity to step back in time even in the most unlikely of places. Even in places like Comino you can make room for some history exploration. But let’s start from the beginning.
Comino is referred to as ‘Kemmuna’ in Maltese. The name derives from the cumin seed which used to grow on the island. Those who invaded the Maltese islands have found various uses for this little piece of land. It was used for agriculture and as a hideaway for corsairs. In 1500, when the Knights of St John inhabited Malta, Comino served as a recreation island, mostly for hunting. For many decades the island remained uninhabited as it was considered unprotected from pirates and corsairs. But things changed in 1618 when the Knights decided to build a watchtower dedicated to Santa Marija. Still settling onto Comino was not an easy option for many and it was only in the 1700s that some families move to the island.
Eventually, the island served as a place of exile and as a secluded prison. In the 19th century, the island served another purpose, also related to isolation. When the cholera outbreak was at its highest, those infected were secluded here and separated from the main population.
Nowadays, only three people inhabit this small 3.5KM island with the number going down from the 4 permanent residents in 2017. Up until this very day, a police officer and a priest still commute to the island regularly. The island is a natural reserve and an area of conservation.
Fun fact: If you want to have a good idea of what Comino looks like, you can see it on the big screen. The 2002 hit movie Count of Monte Cristo was shot here, and the Santa Marija Tower served as the infamous and scary tower of Chateu D’If, the island where the main protagonist was jailed for long, harsh years.
Things to do and see on Comino
As explained in a previous section, Comino is equally enjoyable in summer as in winter. It all depends on what you’d like to experience and see. So let’s start with the most obvious.
Beaches which you should visit:
- Santa Marija Bay is the largest of the beaches on the island. There are fewer people here and the water is shallow.
- Blue Lagoon is the most popular spot. The incredible crystal clear water simply cannot hold tourists back and it is a true sight to see. As advised before, it can be crowded in the middle of summer but it seems that the authorities are tightening the access to the day trip boats which means that this might cause for the flow of tourists to slow a bit down.
- The Blue Lagoon Rock is a rocky area in the popular lagoon.
- St Nicholas Bay is popular for snorkelling
- Comino has an amazing cliffy coastline and you can simply take a short walk and explore a beautiful place to jump into the sea all by yourself.
- Crystal Lagoon is an incredible place to swim. Best accessed by a boat but you can walk there too.
- Discover the Comino Caves also best accessed by a boat. It’s a unique experience to see ancient rock formations mirrored in crystal clear water.
- Go scuba diving or snorkelling. Comino is hosts some of the top diving spots of the Mediterranean sea. Diving schools are available in Malta and Gozo.
If you feel a little adventurous and would like to visit Comino in winter is also possible and a thing we suggest you do if the weather is not so inviting for a nice dip in the sea.
Things to do in Comino in winter
- St Mary’s Chapel
- St Mary’s Watch Tower
- Santa Marija Battery
- Take a hike around the Island. Explore cliffs and caves along the way. Get your comfy shoes and a big bottle of water ready. Not ideal for this kind of activity in the middle of summer.
Where to eat in Comino?
Tricky question. Truth is restaurants or bars on the island are in-existent, with the exception of the only hotel on the island. However, this is a positive thing. With all the over-development going on in Malta, having a place which is not light and sound polluted by cafes and bars is a welcomed consolation. Still, on Blue Lagoon you will find some kiosks which sell fast food. The best tip we can give you is, get a nice Ftira biz-Zejt and some drinks with you and sit around on a nice beach.
Where to sleep in Comino?
Accommodation in Comino is limited to either the Comino Hotel or Camping. The only advantage of the hotel is that you’re never too far from food and drink. It also has private access to a beach. For the more adventurous, camping is the best option. Most people, however, choose to get to Comino for a full-day trip.
- If you want to experience the nice sea and away from the crowd, you can hire a private boat for the whole day and visit Comino on it. You’ll experience Comino away from the crowds on the comfort of a beautiful yacht.
- Go there early to avoid big crowds especially in Blue Lagoon.
- Get your own snorkels and go and explore quieter beaches
- If you intend to walk around the island, get good shoes. The island’s harsh rock and cliff area is no good with flip-flops.
- Camp and stay the night on this wonderful island. There is a good, well-equipped camping area perfect for an overnight stay. The campsite is overlooking the Santa Marija Bay. There is no need to apply for a permit to camp here.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen!