Situated between Malta and Gozo, the smallest of the Maltese islands is Comino is a paradise for snorkelers, divers, windsurfers and ramblers. Only 3.5 square kilometres, Comino is car-free and, apart from one hotel, is virtually uninhabited. The island's main attraction is the Blue Lagoon. In summer, this sheltered inlet of shimmering aquamarine water over white sand is very popular with day-trippers.
Other beaches on the island include Santa Marija Bay and San Niklaw Bay. Comino is also worth a visit in winter, and it is ideal for walkers and photographers. With no urban areas or cars on the island, one can easily smell the scent of wild thyme and other herbs, and feel the tranquillity and mystery of the island wash over you.
Comino was inhabited during the Roman period, but did not gain its cultural and historical significance until the knights arrived. It then took on its dual role as both the site of hunting grounds and as a staging post for the defence of the Maltese islands against the Ottoman Turks.
The island had proved a useful base for pirates operating in the central Mediterranean and, though stark and barren today, it was home to wild boar and hares when the Knights arrived in 1530. The Grand Masters went to great lengths to ensure that their game on Comino was protected: anyone found breaking the embargo on hunting could expect to serve three years rowing on a galley. After WWII, Comino remained a backwater until its fortunes were revived through tourism in the mid-1960s.
Gozo is known as the tranquil haven island, a place where you can go for a change of scene and tempo, rediscovering a slower rhythm of life. The charm of Malta's sister Island is immediately apparent; it's greener, more rural and smaller, with a pace of life that flows with the seasons' fishing and agriculture.
Steeped in myth, Gozo is thought to be the legendary Calypso's isle of Homer's Odyssey - a peaceful, mystical backwater. Baroque churches and old stone farmhouses dot the countryside. Gozo's rugged landscape and spectacular coastline await exploration with some of the Mediterranean's best dive sites.
The island also comes complete with historical sites, forts and amazing panoramas, as well as one of the archipelago's best-preserved prehistoric temples, Ġgantija. Gozo also boasts a nightlife and evening cultural calendar all of its own, with some great opportunities for dining out.
All roads in Gozo lead to Rabat, which is also known as Victoria. The Citadel is visible from almost anywhere on the island, rising majestically above the surrounding countryside.
The Citadel in Gozo owes its roots to the late medieval era, but the hill has been a settlement since Neolithic times. For centuries, the Citadel served as a sanctuary from attack by Barbary corsairs and Saracens. At several times during Gozo's history, these raiders took its population into slavery.
After the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights set about re-fortifying the Citadel to provide refuge and defence against further attack. Until 1637, the Gozitan population was required by law to spend their nights within the Citadel for their own safety. In later, more peaceful times, this restriction was lifted and people settled below its walls, creating the prosperous town of Rabat, now known as Victoria.
Wied il-Għasri is very popular with divers who like to explore the surrounding underwater caves. The very narrow bay is a haven for those who seek a quiet bathing area.
Wied il-Għasri has its source at Dbieġi Hill. It winds its way through Għasri, between Żebbuġ and Ġordan Hill, and flows between and past towering cliffs into the sea. A particularly enticing spot in this area is a cave close to the shore in which a shaft was hewn up to the top of the steep cliffs. A mill made up of several pails was once rigged up at this site in order to transport sea water upward to where it was used to fill the salt pans of the nearby inhabitants.