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The nation of Malta is actually made up of three distinct islands — Malta, Comino, and Gozo. A few days in, and in spite of its diminutive size, I’d seen only a small fraction of what Malta had to offer. But when Anders was blessed with an unexpected day off of work, he didn’t hesitate over what we should do with it — a road trip around neighboring Gozo.

The first step? Catching the ferry. I have a horrible condition, for which there is currently no known cure, which does not allow me to arrive for scheduled transportation within a non-panic inducing timeframe. Despite many valiant attempts, it appears it is physically impossible for me to arrive at an airport more than ten minutes before check in closes, or to rock up to a bus or boat more than five minutes before the doors swing shut. Doctors are currently searching for answers as to what causes this terrible travel disorder.

True to form, we made it with no time to spare, and as soon as our heartrates returned to normal, we were off to beautiful Gozo.

At under 42 square miles in size, we were confident we’d be able to squeeze in most of the island’s attractions in one day — including an underwater viewing.

Yup, we were going diving in my favorite way possible — a couple tanks in the back of the car, and a local expert in the driver’s seat. We decided to start the day with our scuba adventure and set off straight for the Inland Sea. But of course, I couldn’t quite let Anders drive through adorable San Lawrenz without hopping out of the car to grab a few photos, could I?

My travel writing professor at NYU once tried to make us promise never to use the word charming in our prose. I let the man down often, and I’m going to do it again: San Lawrenz was one of the most unassumingly charming towns I’d ever seen. And it was barely 11am.

Arriving at coastal Dwerja, we found the crowds I’d been expecting for a beautiful day in the midst of Malta’s summer high season. But immediately I could see why they came.I’ll save our diving stories and photos for another day, but suffice it to say that between the Inland Sea, the Azure Window, and the Blue Hole, Dwerja is a mind-boggling highlight that should not be missed. Basically Earth is just showing off at this point, right?

All that diving made us hungry, and we glanced at a map trying to imagine what would be the most idyllic place on the island. We settled on Marsalforn, a former fishing hamlet turned Gozo’s main holiday resort village. This being Gozo, “main holiday resort village” means there is more than one hotel within eyesight of another. It was perfect. We were drawn in by the guidebook’s promise of , but found it shuttered.

We ended up at a nearby spot serving the usual uninspiring “international” cuisine — but hey, no complaints with a view like this, right? (I mean, if you want to get technical about it I can complain under a vast array of conditions. But let’s pretend I’m a perpetually upbeat person.)

And then we were off again, this time towards a somewhat mysterious destination. A Maltese friend had raved about a tucked away spot called Wied il-Għasri, but the guidebook was a bit vague on how to get there. It’s a small island, we assured ourselves, and took off along another stunning coastal road. Along the way we passed more mysterious geological formations, a few quiet stretches of sand populated by colorful umbrellas, and a vast patchwork of still-active salt pans.

And then we saw it — a tiny white sign pointing us towards a rough path that we hoped would bring us to Wied il-Għasri. We giggled nervously as we bounced along the dirt road, but eventually came across another car and a winding path down to the water.

It was a very close approximation of I’d expect Mediterranean heaven to look like.

Once a ground of kayakers passed through and our one family of fellow beach goers hit the road, we had the place totally to ourselves. We might have stayed all day had we not run out of drinking water. Later, I read the rocky cove was a hotspot for seahorses, and I cursed not bringing our snorkel gear down.

Finally, we made our way to Victoria, the island’s capital. We would our way up to Il-Kastell, the city’s walled citadel, but were disappointed to find much of it under construction. No matter — there was cold water for sale, and fabulous views from the top.

One cool discovery as we made our way back to the car was a — the dripping ceiling and musty smell won me over immediately. Talk about giving new life to an old space.

Even outside the citadel, “modern” Victoria is a bit like stepping back in time.

For our final stop of the day, napping was a necessity. We debated between heading to Ramla Bay or San Blas Bay but settled on the former as it seemed far more likely have ice cream vendors. We predicted correctly.

One interesting note about Malta’s beaches — while I went vaguely expecting the same kind of casual toplessness I’d found in Ibiza and other Mediterranean destinations, deeply Catholic Malta took me by surprise. Instead, stern warning signs forbade any version of nudity, and the statue of a saint plopped in the center of the sand watched gravely over the merrymakers.

As the day dipped into late afternoon, we started stirring towards the ferry. But before we pulled away from the beach, I insisted we make one more stop — to Calypso’s Cave, overlooking the very beach we’d just been on. As with many of our destinations for the day, the road could barely be considered a road — in fact, it felt more like we were traipsing through someone’s farmland — but the journey was as fun as the destinations.

Yes, Gozo wowed me. In fact, I wouldn’t even hesitate to say that our casual, itinerary-free day of road tripping around the tiny isle was the highlight of my time in Malta. With its manageable size and crowds and its gluttony of gorgeous sites, I can’t think of a better destination for a drive.

Where’s your favorite place to road trip?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Many thanks to the Malta Tourism Authority for providing me with a rental car for the duration of my stay. As always, you receive my most honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.

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89 Comments...
  • Scott
    September 2 2014

    Great write-up and photos – you make me want to go back and visit!

    Also, shouldn’t you be the one in the pillary for being late, and not Anders?!

    Lastly, do you partake in the toplessness of Europe, or as an American, do you pass?

    Can’t wait to see the rest of your Malta trip!

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Ha, yeah, Anders is a pretty good sport about posing for goofy photos! And nope, I’m a puritanical American when it comes to topless sunbathing!

  • Miquel
    September 2 2014

    Holy Moly these photos are incredible. That art museum looks so awesome!
    Miquel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      It was a really fun find! And yes — Gozo was insanely photogenic.

  • Ashley
    September 2 2014

    Beautiful photos- Gozo looks amazing! Hopefully doctors will soon discover the cause of your travel disorder 🙂
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      In the meantime, all we can do is raise awareness and treat the symptoms 🙂

  • Katie
    September 2 2014

    What a jam packed day!! The diving looks interesting. I love one of those last pics with the motorbike and doorway, I’ve got a few similar shots from around the world like that – love them! 😉
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      It looks like something out of a time machine, right?! Love it!

  • Miriam of Adventurous Miriam
    September 2 2014

    Oh my, you are right, Meihoukai! This place is absolutely charming 😉
    Miriam of Adventurous Miriam recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Glad you guys approve of the term, even if my teacher didn’t 🙂

  • Chris
    September 2 2014

    Hmmm, you’re making me wonder if there’s value in trying to squeeze Malta into our trip somehow… or just plan for it in the future!
    Chris recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Depends on how much time you have… Malta definitely deserves at least a week!

      • Chris
        September 3 2014

        Remember, we are travelling indefinitely, so time really isn’t the concern.

        Cost would likely be the largest factor, and as such we were not factoring in a huge amount of time on the European continent…

  • Amanda
    September 2 2014

    GUH, it looks amazing! And how awesome that you got to dive there, too!
    Amanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Yes! And dive in such a cool way… with my own private expert guide 🙂

  • Your post title made me giggle! 🙂 What language do they speak in Malta? I noticed signs in English, but I’m guessing that might not be the native language…
    Katelyn @ Diaries of a Wandering Lobster recently posted..

    • DundeeG
      September 3 2014

      Yes, English is in fact one of the official languages of the Islands; being an ex colony of the United Kingdom. The other is Maltese which is a mix of English, Italian and Arabic.
      The vast majority of the population speak English to a marvellous degree, so don’t worry about communication issues.

    • Zoey
      September 3 2014

      We speak Maltese, however English is our second language ^^

    • Chris
      September 3 2014

      The native language is Maltese but Maltese people speak English and Maltese interchangeably as both are the official languages of Malta.

      • Marty
        September 3 2014

        Apart from Italian and quite few others can speak German or French.

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Looks like they beat me to it 🙂

  • I love your photos (I always do)! In fact I am getting the same camera as you now that I have got my tax money back. Hopefully my photos will start looking more like yours!
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Awesome! I hope you love it as much as I have 🙂 It’s a great little setup!

  • Gaga is right, this place is amazing! Can’t wait to hear about the diving!
    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel recently posted..

  • Justine
    September 3 2014

    Earth is most definitely showing off. I mean, that landscape is unreal. I expected Malta to be a beautiful destination but I had no idea about Gozo or how incredible it is! On another note I think it’s hilarious that there’s a statue of a saint watching over the beach goers!
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Ha, yeah, Malta is extremely religious — it was one of the things that very much surprised me about it!

      • Clayton Rapa
        September 4 2014

        Hi im a gozitan resident and couldn’t pass by and not noticing this comment and i would like to answer the most simple way possible , The Statue was made there a while ago to protect fishermans on seashores while working to get their catch its not there to keep Females to stop them from getting topeless :-), All the rest im happy that Gozo gave you a nice experience compliments for the beautifull photos and thanks for boosting up our beautifull island and sharing ur photos around the World !!

        • Meihoukai
          September 4 2014

          I was only kidding about the statue, but it is nice to know the real story 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Breanna
    September 3 2014

    Wow. It looks so amazing there. I’m a sucker for mountains so any excuse for a day trip to the Rockies I will take it.

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Ah, that sounds like a stunning spot to road trip, Breanna! How scenic.

  • Melanie Fontaine
    September 3 2014

    Wow, this place looks gorgeous! I’m pretty sure that’s another word that one is not supposed to use, but it seems to describe Gozo perfectly! Your posts on Malta have definitely brought the country on my travel radar – I had no idea it looked that beautiful! 🙂
    Melanie Fontaine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      That’s awesome to hear Melanie… and one of my favorite things about hitting up lesser-known travel destinations!

  • yara Coelho
    September 3 2014

    Your photos are absolutely amazing!
    yara Coelho recently posted..

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    September 3 2014

    looks amazing. I just said to Ben “have you heard of Malta” and he’s like “yeah people in england vacay there all the time and say it’s boring, my dad did work there and hated it..” ok these jaded brits are cray
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..

    • MIKE SCERRI
      September 3 2014

      WHY DON’T YOU ASK ALL THOSE BRITISH PENSIONERS WHO ARE LIVING HERE FOR GOOD

      • Meihoukai
        September 3 2014

        Hey Mike, everyone gets a say here, but just for future reference, all caps is considered a bit shout-y 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      I think it probably has the same issue with Brits that Mexico does with Americans — they stereotype it as a package holiday destination and don’t peel back the layers they would for a more “exotic” travel destination 🙂 I clearly loved it!

  • Tony
    September 3 2014

    Beautiful unique GOZO ; smaller and very near to its sister island Malta but soooo diffrent!!!!

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      It definitely had a very unique charm to it 🙂

  • Dad
    September 3 2014

    What a mouth-watering write up.(I was trying to avoid ‘charming’)Looks like you both a grand time and a lot of great photos and experiences.

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Ha! I’m sure Professor Farley would have given you an A for effort…

  • Meihoukai
    September 3 2014

    Great overview and amazing place that I love, specially the yellow funky buses…Did you have the opportunity to see the Carravaggio in the Malta Cathedral? It’s one of the masterpieces of chiaro oscuro and litteraly had me breathless!

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      No, I did not! I guess that’s a reason to go back then? 🙂

  • Michael
    September 3 2014

    This post makes us feel so proud of our tiny island! Glad you enjoyed your visit but just one day is far too short! I rent holiday houses in Gozo and it’s not the first time I heard visitors say they prefer it to Malta. Visitors come for a day trip to Gozo during their week long holiday in Malta… then the following year they come for a whole week in Gozo! That’s the trend. And for heavens sake don’t forget your snorkel gear!

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Aw, I’m happy to hear that Michael — you have a lot to be proud of!

  • Bunty Cachia
    September 3 2014

    Great blog post. Loved it so much that I put it up as my recommended link on my newsletter page on my website.

  • Sara @ Simply Sara Travel
    September 3 2014

    Beautiful pictures! I don’t know much about Malta, but I do know I want to go there after reading your post!
    Sara @ Simply Sara Travel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      I didn’t know much more than that upon arrival, either 🙂 I say go for it!

  • David
    September 3 2014

    Fantastic pictures and write up. I miss Gozo so much. My dream is to retire there one day.

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      It would be a beautiful place to do so, David! Hope that dream comes true for you 🙂

  • Corinne
    September 3 2014

    You forgot to visit Xlendi, my favourite place in the whole of Gozo

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Now I have a reason to go back 🙂

  • Cristina
    September 3 2014

    Great post highlighting some of the beautiful places in the Gozo but you should know that it was just a little of Gozo’s beauty that you visited. There are countless other places you should visit if you ever visit Gozo again!

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Well, I suppose there is only so much you can do in a day! I’d definitely go back for more, though 🙂

  • Jessica
    September 3 2014

    Wow so proud of my country. Love your photos!

    Can i ask what camera you are using please?

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Thanks Jessica, you have a lot to be proud of! Check out my Shop page for all the details on my camera gear.

  • Sarah
    September 3 2014

    Are you the ones we helped find the way out of Ghajnsielem by any chance??

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Nope, we didn’t make it down there — do we have twins running around Gozo? 🙂

  • Gillian Grech
    September 3 2014

    Thank you Meihoukai for your wonderful write up about Gozo. I actually love to get away from Malta once or twice a year and spend some time in Gozo. It is peaceful and relaxing. A truly beautiful Island.

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      I can see why you would! A true treasure, right next door.

  • Tida
    September 3 2014

    Wow nice photos ….you really made me proud that I’m Maltese …thank you for the great promotion you gave to my small but beautiful country.

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      You’re so welcome, Tida — you have a lot to be proud of!

  • Peter Paul Calleja
    September 4 2014

    I visit this paradise of Gozo for about 5 days a month, except August when it is so crowded. Miss it from the very first day that I’m back in Malta. Well done for your write up and pictures. YES GOZO IS AMAZING .AND LOVELIER IN WINTER AND EARLY SPRING

    • Meihoukai
      September 4 2014

      I’m sure it’s less crowded at those times 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

  • Peter De Courcy
    September 4 2014

    Nice write up Meihoukai. Gozo is a little jewel in the Med. I live here permanently now and feel so fortunate every day. 🙂 Come back and spend at least a week here. So much more to see and experience. Very different to Malta 🙂 Just as Ireland is very different to the UK. It’s a big island , little island thing. Being Irish I understand how Gozitans feel about it 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      September 4 2014

      I would definitely return to Gozo and stay a bit longer someday! I’d love to bring the family and rent a rambling farmhouse somewhere…

  • JoAnne Debrincat
    September 4 2014

    Wow. I’m so glad you loved our little island. I’m a pure Gozitan born and bred 🙂 and we love to have tourists around. By the way I live in Ghajnsielem and you had to pass through our village as it is the first village you step on. Hope you’ll be back.

    • Meihoukai
      September 4 2014

      You have a beautiful home, JoAnne! Glad to hear Gozitans are so welcoming to tourists.

  • Cathy
    September 4 2014

    We just came back from two weeks in Gozo, absolutely stunning with fabulous scenery and lovely people – can not recommend enough. Would love to vist out of season to see it lush and green.

    • Meihoukai
      September 4 2014

      Two weeks would be a luxurious amount of time on Gozo 🙂 Sounds like a great trip!

  • Peter Seychell
    September 4 2014

    Gozo is really a gem although I might be biased being Maltese. Very sorry to hear about your culinary dispoinwnt, the island has extensive choice of really good restaurants, not always necessarily the ‘nicest ones’

    • Meihoukai
      September 4 2014

      Yes, it was definitely our mistake going for a touristy restaurant — we knew what we were getting ourselves into 🙂 However we were too hungry to keep hunting!

  • Carla Turun
    September 4 2014

    Can this get any better??? Gozo makes Malta look mediocre….if thats possible! Love Love LOVE

    • Meihoukai
      September 4 2014

      I hope you get over there during your time in Malta, Carla!

  • Stef
    September 4 2014

    I’ve already heard so many great things about Gozo and now with all your photos, I totally wanna go there. Have to wait a bit as I’m on the Galapagos currently, but it’s definitely on my must-visit list 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    Stef recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 4 2014

      From one beautiful island to another! 🙂

  • Odette Pace
    September 4 2014

    I visit Gozo every year with my family and I simply love it!Just got back but your photos are making me yearn to return. Ashamed to say that I’ve never been to that lovely beach in Wied il-Ghasri! Sometimes we miss things in our own backyard …. will surely visit it next time! Thanks for your lovely advert but shhh! too many tourists would spoil this beautiful island.

    • Meihoukai
      September 4 2014

      Some secrets are too good to keep 🙂 Definitely hit up Wied il-Ghasri next time!

  • Simone
    September 9 2014

    Hey! I’m in one of the photos.
    It was easy catching me buying ice cream for my kids 🙂 Thanks for sharing your nice experience in our beautiful island!

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2014

      Aw, fun! Let me know if you want me to email it to you 🙂

  • Gorgeous pictures, Meihoukai!
    Karisa @ Flirting with the Globe recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 11 2014

      Thanks Karisa! It was a beautiful day!

  • Shereen
    August 5 2015

    Wow, great article! This got me really excited as I will be traveling solo to Malta next month. I’m staying for 8 days and thought that was a long time for such a small island, but obviously there is a lot to see! I won’t have a car but I heard the bus system is well connected there. I just hope I can get to these more remote places! I can’t wait, and thanks for sharing your stories!

    • Meihoukai
      August 6 2015

      I heard good things about the bus system there as well. I’m sure you’ll be fine! Enjoy your eight days in paradise 🙂

  • chanel
    January 10 2017

    We are going to Malta as one of the legs of our honeymoon! Is four days enough to see Malta and Gozo? Should we skip camino? Thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2017

      Hey there! Gozo is definitely a full day trip which would leave you three days for Malta. More would be great, but you can see a lot in that time! I only saw Comino from a boat 🙂 Enjoy!