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It was my last day in Malta. Despite the island’s diminutive size, I had yet to step foot along its South Coast, aside from landing at the airport. With an early afternoon flight and one last day with the rental car, Anders and I set off early to hit up as many last minute Southern sights as possible before I departed.

Our first stop was the colorful Sunday Fish Market at Marsaxlokk.

Marsaxlokk Fish Market, Malta

Fishing boats in Marsaxlokk, Malta

Fishing boats in Marsaxlokk, Malta

I’d heard rave reviews of the market and was excited to go somewhere that Anders had never been — though the island is small, Marsaxlokk and his home base of Buġibba are basically on opposite ends. The market sells not just fish but also fresh produce and the usual tourist junk and handicraps (I’m still under the impression that I coined that term, and hope to never be disillusioned.)

In fact, I was kind of surprised how many stalls were catering to tourists rather than local restauranteurs. It seemed the ratio of shotglasses to shrimps was three to one.

Marsaxlokk Fish Market, Malta

Marsaxlokk Fish Market, Malta

Marsaxlokk Fish Market, Malta

Marsaxlokk Fish Market, Malta

Aside from the patchwork of canvas-draped stalls, the harbor is also a main attraction. The rainbow-hues of traditional Maltese fishing boats have graced a thousand postcards, and had me running ’round the docks waving my camera around with joy.

Fishing boats in Marsaxlokk, Malta

Fishing boats in Marsaxlokk, Malta

Marsaxlokk Fish Market, Malta

Anders was extremely excited to find a boat just for me.

Fishing boats in Marsaxlokk, Malta

To be honest, while these pictures make it look pretty fantastic (see how I just casually gave myself a huge compliment there on my photography skills?) we were a little disappointed by Marsaxlokk. On the upside, I did love seeing the still-in-use traditional fishing vessels and watching locals bargain passionately in Maltese over the price per kilo for fresh eel.

Yet the market seemed to cater heavily to tourists, and the authentic bits — where there were actual fish for sale — kind of depressed us. Being enthusiastic divers and seeing how relatively devoid of sealife Malta is, we couldn’t help but think how much more beautiful a barracuda is under the water than on a chopping block.

Marsaxlokk Fish Market, Malta

But there was more to explore. On the tip of a local friend we followed the vague directions in our guidebook a short drive away to Peter’s Pools. We were quickly catching on that most beaches worth going to in Malta involve a precarious drive along a one-lane dirt road followed by a sweaty hike to the sea. We were also catching on that they were so insanely worth it.

I mean come on.

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

South Malta_13

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

As I was getting on a flight in a few hours and didn’t have anywhere to shower before doing so, we had planned to just walk down to the pools, take a few photos, and move on. And then I saw that water. Handing the camera to Anders, I bolted back to the car to get our swimsuits.

How could we resist?

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

Despite the swimming hole’s difficult access, it quickly began to fill with savvy locals and in-the-know tourists. But we didn’t begrudge sharing the beauty with our fellow bathers — it only added to the relaxed but lively Sunday atmosphere.

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

And yes — hell yes! — I jumped too.

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

We pretty much had to tear ourselves away from Peter’s Pools. Should I return to Malta someday, I’d pack a cooler and plan an entire day in this blissful spot.

St. Peter's Pool, Malta

But we were starving and Anders, ever the excellent tour guide, had a few more highlights to show me before it was time to check in for my flight. Next on the list? The famous Blue Grotto.

Blue Grotto, Malta

Blue Grotto, Malta

Though we only had time to spy it from the perfectly-placed viewing platform, and not to take one of the regular thirty-minute tourist boat rides into it, I was awed. I wrote in my post about Gozo that Malta just kind of feels like Mother Nature showing off, and this was yet another example. Seriously.

Blue Grotto, Malta

Blue Grotto, Malta

Blue Grotto, Malta

The final stop on our South Coast road trip was Għar Lapsi, a popular dive site and swimming spot for locals. It was fun to see a place Anders spends so many of his work days, and add yet another item to the long list of reasons to return to Malta someday.

Ghar Lapsi, Malta

Ghar Lapsi, Malta

All too soon, it was time to fly away from the island it seemed I’d just arrived on. And with one more sad but now familiar goodbye, I was on my way to Belgium. I hadn’t known what to expect from Malta, but left with a smile. It was exactly the week I’d needed — unplanned, relaxed, spontaneous and with so many surprises around every corner.

Thank you for hosting me, Anders — and thanks for being amazing, Malta!

Many thanks to the Malta Tourism Authority for proving me with a rental car throughout my stay.

3-devide-lines
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80 Comments...
  • Joella in Beijing
    September 17 2014

    Oh Meihoukai, it all sounds perfect! I’m so glad you had a great time and left (although sad) with a smile and many happy memories!
    Joella in Beijing recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2014

      It was truly the perfect trip. So many smiles x

  • Ashley of Ashley Abroad
    September 17 2014

    Loved this post! The turquoise color of the water… sigh. And the Blue Grotto, wow! Malta seriously seems to be showing off big-time 🙂
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2014

      I know, right?! I wish I had had time for the boat ride into the Blue Grotto.

  • Ashley
    September 17 2014

    Gorgeous photos! Peter’s Pools looks like a stunning spot- wishing I was there now!
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2014

      I’m on another beautiful island at the moment so can’t really complain but yeah, this spot was really special 🙂

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    September 17 2014

    I always have mixed feeling when I see markets catering to tourists, especially when they were originally for locals. It’s becoming a lot like that in tourist cities in India, but they usually have a local market that no tourist know about as well. Everything looks beautiful! Was wondering, in places with lots of fish, are you a fish eater? I don’t know if I ever noticed on your blog!

    OH AND I am finally getting emails when you reply to my comments! woo hoo..
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2014

      Nope, I don’t eat fish 🙂 That is great news about the comment replies — yay!

  • David Cobbett
    September 17 2014

    Thanks for posting the great pics. I am in the middle of the Nevada desert and I miss Malta so much!!!!

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2014

      I’m happy to share, David! Thanks for reading!

  • Carla
    September 17 2014

    LOVE LOVE LOVE – Another 3 places to add to my to do list… 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2014

      You’re going to love it, Carla! So happy I gave you some ideas.

  • Peter’s pools looks so inviting! There are a couple of natural rock pools in Sydney that look like that and I can’t wait till it gets a bit warmer here so I can swim in them again 🙂
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2014

      I will definitely be asking you for the details on those when I finally get to Australia 🙂

  • Amanda
    September 17 2014

    The water looks so blue and clear!! Mother Nature showing off indeed… now I have a strange urge to go swimming!
    Amanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2014

      I think you’d really like Malta, Amanda! You should consider it for a future trip…

  • kim
    September 17 2014

    Love the fishing boats and amazing blue water! Not sure if this is happening with everyone or just a glitch for me but since the website upgrade I don’t get email alerts on new posts. Weird –

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2014

      Hey Kim, thanks for letting me know about that! The emails are now coming from MailChimp instead of Feedburner… could you check your spam mail and let me know if they are ending up in there? I’d really appreciate it, thanks!

  • 2 tickets to Wonderland
    September 18 2014

    Wow! Pictures are amazing (as always) 🙂 Your compliment on your photography skills is definitely justified 🙂
    2 tickets to Wonderland recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      Haha, thank you 🙂 Good thing I have insurance in case I throw out my arm patting myself on the back!

  • Katie
    September 18 2014

    I have had the same thought about markets in my travels as you did here – so many souvenirs and just not the same vibe anymore. That water – wow!! So glad you had such a great time. Btw – you’re pictures are amazing 😉
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      Thank you so much Katie! And yeah, I guess it depends on the market but in this case I found it disappointing. If I needed shotglasses and t-shirts, I’d head to a souvenir shop!

  • Melanie Fontaine
    September 18 2014

    Wow, the color of the sea is unbelievable! Also love the cliffs Mother Nature is definitely the world’s greatest artist! 🙂 By the way, totally second your compliments on your photography – the pictures of the harbor are amazing! Until you said that your visit was a bit underwhelming, I thought it must have been a highlight in Malta! 😉
    Melanie Fontaine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      Aw, thanks Melanie! I know I say this about a lot of places, but this part of Malta is impossible to take a bad photo of!

  • Shaun
    September 18 2014

    I love the Mediterranean… and Europe overall. All great photos and a perfect way to finish the trip.

    lol, there’s a Baywatch logo on that USA boat.
    Shaun recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      Duh! That’s why it was perfect for me! (Just kidding.) 😉

  • Sonja
    September 18 2014

    Seriously amazing photography, Meihoukai! I am in love with the Blue Grotto shots. Such clarity and great colors!
    Sonja recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      It was stunning! Must go back someday to take the boat ride through 🙂

  • Brittany
    September 18 2014

    Wonderful pictures! The colors alone make me want to visit. I definitely have a new place to visit on my list!
    Brittany recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      Malta is well worth a spot on anyone’s bucket list, Brittany! Hope you enjoy it when you get there 🙂

  • Kristen Noelle
    September 18 2014

    So beautiful and blissful! Even though I’m sitting at a desk right now, I can just feel the relaxation that these photos ooze. Peter’s Pools looks completely enchanting, I would have never been able to resist either.
    Kristen Noelle recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      It was well worth a salty flight to Belgium 🙂

  • Steve
    September 18 2014

    Meihoukai, I have been reading a lot about Malta. It looks like a hidden gem of a place to visit. Thank you for making me add it to my bucket list.
    Steve recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      You are so welcome Steve! It was a nice surprise for me 🙂

  • Ron
    September 18 2014

    Malta looks great! Thanks for the tour. But the sea seem devoid of life. Malta looks seriously over fished.

    I enjoyed seeing and experiencing Malta through your eyes! Thanks.

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      I’m so glad to hear that Ron! I loved this trip — and it seems you guys did too 🙂

  • Meihoukai
    September 18 2014

    Ahhhhh, “handicraps!” I love it. Truly gorgeous photos of Anders jumping into the water. I’m always impressed with your photography skills.
    Meihoukai recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      Thanks Meihoukai, that’s so sweet! And don’t worry, I only made Anders do that three or four times to get the shot…

  • tammyonthemove
    September 18 2014

    Looks wonderful Meihoukai. Everything is so colourful. So cute. You are brave for jumping into that swimming hole. That looks pretty deep! :-/
    tammyonthemove recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      I don’t know what it is Tammy but I love jumping off things 🙂 I do get scared, but it’s so worth the thrill!

  • Justine
    September 18 2014

    I love all the colors of the boats and goods at Marsaxlokk. But it is sad to hear that all of those beautiful sea creatures are being sold at the market while underwater Malta is pretty devoid of fish. Out of curiosity, is overfishing a big problem on Malta?
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 19 2014

      From what I understand (talking to a Maltese friend studying marine biology), yes, overfishing has been a major problem on Malta. Hopefully the prominence of the diving industry on Malta will start to change that!

  • Christie
    September 19 2014

    Oh wow, Malta looks amazing! Seriously beautiful.I had never really considered going to Malta until now – looks like another destination to add to the ever-growing list!
    Christie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 20 2014

      It’s an itch that can never be scratched! Enjoy ticking off that list, Christie 🙂

  • Stef
    September 19 2014

    I now want to immediately jump in that swimming hole 😉 The weather here on the Galapagos is not so great today, I want that Malta sunshine here right now 🙂
    Stef recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 20 2014

      Ah, but it’s still the Galapagos! Someday I must go!

  • Audrey
    September 19 2014

    That’s such a colourful harbour! I love those bright little boats and the water looks sooo inviting – especially now that I can feel a winter chill in the air here in Canada!
    Audrey recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 21 2014

      I can’t accept that winter is already coming to North America! Noooo! Arriving home for Thanksgiving is going to be a big shock…

  • Chris
    September 20 2014

    Wow, another bevvy of shots for the Maltese travel bureau! 😉

    Those boats though, they look so Asian with their colour!!
    Chris recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 21 2014

      I sent this post along to the MTA, so hopefully they’ll be sharing it soon 🙂 Thanks Chris!

  • Helen
    September 20 2014

    Wonderful photos Meihoukai, I love the colours and they are edited beautifully! x
    Helen recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 21 2014

      Thank you Helen! That is a much appreciated compliment 🙂

  • James
    September 20 2014

    Talk about an action-packed last day. On the subject of tacky tourist “handicrafts”, what kind of people buy stuff like that? The fact that they make it means there’s obviously a demand for it, which makes me shudder…
    James recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 21 2014

      Ha, I can only imagine. Although I don’t begrudge anyone a solid fridge magnet or shot glass collection 🙂

  • Sheena
    September 22 2014

    Wow this post just put Malta on my travel wishlist for next year. Your photos are gorgeous! And that water hole looks sublime.
    Sheena recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 22 2014

      Malta will be thrilled to have you, I’m sure 🙂 It’s a really cool little country — enjoy!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    September 23 2014

    Uh, YEAH. I would have jumped, too! They water looks good enough to drink.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 23 2014

      A bit salty, but pretty delicious 🙂

  • Dave
    September 24 2014

    I loved Malta when I went. Unfortunately I couldn’t get to Gozo because of bad weather. I’ll make it back eventually, because I have heard it’s one of the best parts. Great pics btw!
    Dave recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2014

      Gozo is definitely a reason to go back! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for better weather for you 🙂

  • Victoria Pilipaka
    March 10 2015

    OMG, ALEX!! I literally can not rip away from you blog. Im obsessed with all of your adventures! I love this one so far the blue waters and cliff jumping look so amazing!! Happy TRAVELS

    • Meihoukai
      March 11 2015

      Thank you so much for this sweet comment, Victoria 🙂 I love sharing my adventures here!

  • Siobhan
    April 17 2015

    Hey! Thanks for this super helpful post! Your photos are beautiful! I’m planning a trip to Malta in August. After reading this I’m thinking that renting a car for a couple days is a necessity but I’m a little worried about bringing a rental car down dirt lanes, is there a risk of doing damage to the car?

    • Meihoukai
      April 17 2015

      Hey Siobhan — we were a little nervous but we took it slow and the car was totally fine! I’d just go for the good insurance if you’re nervous 🙂

  • Kelsey
    October 1 2015

    What is the easiest (and/or cheapest) way to travel to Malta? Do you recommend plane or boat?

    • Meihoukai
      October 2 2015

      I flew, and that was the only option I looked into. I believe boat service is limited. Enjoy your trip!

    • Aldo at Indulgence Divine
      February 12 2016

      I’d say that plane is easiest and cheapest, but it can be quite romantic doing it by rail down Italy and Sicily, then taking the ferry from there. Eight years ago, my partner and I did travel up through Sicily, Naples and up to Rome, stopping in our favourite cities and staying at some amazing holiday rentals. It was a journey we still mention from time to time.

  • Aldo at Indulgence Divine
    February 12 2016

    What lovely pictures! Makes me crave for the summer months. Next time you’re on the island, do pop by.

    • Meihoukai
      February 16 2016

      I’d love to return to Malta someday!

  • Natasha
    May 8 2016

    Wow this is soooo effing amazing! A good friend of mine had a boat sitting gig in Malta for like 3 months…b she never posted any pictures so I LITERALLY HAD NO IDEA IT WAS SO STUNNING!
    Now I have to go. I have to jump off those rocks. It is my new single life priority.

    • Meihoukai
      May 18 2016

      Oh my gosh I can’t believe she denied you all that natural beauty 🙂 It’s so gorgeous! Totally took me by surprise.

  • Lisa
    October 5 2016

    The colors in your photos are absolutely magnificent! 🙂

  • Roxana Serbanescu
    October 17 2016

    Hey! Really love Malta as well. I was there this summer for a week.
    Just started my blog, maybe you will take a look.
    Thanks!
    Roxana Serbanescu recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 17 2016

      It is a beautiful place. Best of luck in blogging and travel, Roxana.

  • Dali
    January 31 2017

    Your adventurous posts are delightful to read and very informative and to the point. When it comes to Malta, you outlined so well all its beauty, and I can tell, we are a family of three and we lived in Malta, St. Julians for 6 years (originally from Scandinavia). We are now back in our darling homeland but miss dearly our sunny Malta. Keep up the good work and good luck on your future travels.

    • Meihoukai
      February 6 2017

      That certainly sounds like a fabulous six years! Happy to hear I did your adopted homeland justice 🙂 Thank you for reading!

  • Hristina
    May 22 2017

    Wow! I just found your blog today while searching for Malta’s sightseeing places, so i will spend quite a lot of time reading it, it looks perfect! I travel for Malta tomorrow and basically i am a travel lover, so I enjoy reading a lot for new places. Your pictures are simply perfect. What kind of camera do you use and do you use any filters or programs?

    Thank you and greetings from Bulgaria!!!

    • Meihoukai
      May 31 2017

      Hey Hristina! Check out my “Obsessions” page for info on all my camera gear! Hope that helps!