Spotlight on: St.Paul's Bay

St Paul’s Bay is the largest town in the northern region of Malta, with 14,057 inhabitants over an area of 14.5 km2

The town’s name refers to the shipwreck of St Paul, who believed to have introduced Catholicism to the Maltese. According to the Bible, he was shipwrecked on an island while travelling from Caesarea to Rome. The site of the shipwreck is known as St Paul’s Island, some 80 metres off of the coast of Mellieha, and today it is home to a statue of St Paul, which marks the historically significant event.

Archaeological artifacts in the area show that the town has been inhabited since at least 4,000 B.C. The bay was the landing base during the French invasion back in 1798. In the 19th century, the British used the villas in St Paul’s Bay to serve as rest camps during the Second World War. After the war, the village quickly turned into a popular destination for relaxation and pleasure.

Burmarrad, Wardija, Qawra, Buġibba, Xemxija, and San Martin, as well as part of Bidnija and Mistra, form part of St Paul’s Bay.

Heading north is Mistra Bay, its headland and St Paul’s Island. Going west and crossing the island towards Ġnejna Bay and Golden Bay is the scenic Wardija Ridge.

St Paul’s Bay still retains a little Maltese village life, with a higher concentration of Maltese people living there permanently.  However, over the years, the village has changed from a place for summer residences for the Maltese to a completely international hub full of foreigners who work in the tourism industry in Malta. In fact, nowadays, St Paul’s Bay has become one of the most multi-national villages in Malta.

St Paul’s Bay has always been popular with the locals during the summer months and the increased number of residents required a new church as the St Paul’s Sanctuary was not big enough. A new church was built and dedicated to the Sorrows of Our Lady.

As a result, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is now celebrated in the town of St Paul’s Bay.

There are plenty of things to do in the town as well as the areas that surround it. There is accommodation to suit all budgets, plenty of restaurants, and easy access to some of the greatest activites in Malta.

Photo: James Bianchi

some spots in st.paul's bay worth visiting

St Paul’s Shipwreck Chapel

St Paul’s Shipwreck chapel is located along the waterfront. The chapel commemorates the site where the shipwreck survivors, including Paul, swam ashore and a bonfire was built for them by the locals. The 14th century church was rebuilt after being destroyed during World War II. It has three paintings depicting scenes of St Paul’s shipwreck, attributed to Cassarino although others attribute them to Lionello Spada, both disciples of Caravaggio. The Collegial Chapter entrusted the running of this church to the parish of St Paul’s Bay in 2008.

Wignacourt Tower

Photo: James Bianchi

This bastioned watchtower was built in 1610, by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt and designed by the Maltese architect Vittorio Cassar. Wignacourt Tower was the second tower to be built on the Maltese islands, after Garzes Tower on Gozo, which was demolished in 1848, making Wignacourt Tower the oldest surviving watchtower in Malta. The tower was the only major fortification in the north of the island, until the construction of Saint Agatha’s Tower in 1649. It had Qawra Tower (built in1638), Buġibba Battery (built in 1715) and Mistra Battery (built in 1761) in its line of sight. A coastal battery was added to the tower in 1715 to house two 18-pounder guns. Buttressing was added to the lower half of the structure in around 1761. The only entrance to the tower at first floor was approached over a drawbridge from a flight of stone steps. These steps were, unfortunately, removed in the early 1960’s as they were considered to be hindering traffic in front of the tower and an entrance was then added on the ground floor. Since 1998, the tower has been a museum, and its exhibits include models of various fortifications found on the Maltese islands, reproductions of items used by the tower’s occupants in the 17th and 18th centuries, old photos and a restored cannon. The tower was recently restored again, between November 2014 and April 2015.

ta' fra ben

Part of Qawra’s seafront, Ta’ Fra Ben is a popular rocky beach for swimmers and the perfect place for a refreshing early morning swim, as well as for snorkelling due to its clear waters and rich underwater life. In the evenings, it’s also a popular location for barbecues with the beautiful surroundings of Malta’s northeastern seascape as a backdrop. Overlooking the bay you’ll find one of Malta’s historic coastal watch towers, built by Grandmaster De Redin during the time of the Knights of Malta. You can find a bar and restaurant at the entrance to the beach and deckchairs and umbrellas are also available for hire.

cafe del mar

Welcome to the biggest beach club in Malta, the venue everyone keeps talking about, which sits magnificently on the water’s edge. It’s hard to find a bad view in St Paul’s Bay, but you can kick things up a notch by taking in the vistas from the infinity pool at Café del Mar. This place offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and St Paul’s island and is the ideal place to relax, have a swim and enjoy a drink from the cocktail bar. The main attraction is definitely the infinity pool, which reaches out into the clear blue waters with unobstructed panoramic views. Bonus points if you take a dip at sunset.

Malta National Aquarium

Exhibiting an iconic curved shell structure in the form of a starfish, the Malta National Aquarium is spread over approximately 20,000 meters squared and is the only aquarium on the island. The public aquarium has 49 tanks on display, hosting around 250 species not only native to the Mediterranean Sea but also others, hailing from different parts of the world. These include saltwater and freshwater fish, jellyfish, reptiles, amphibians and insects. The aquarium is divided into five primary zones, in which all tanks are expertly themed to replicate the species’ natural underwater environments and the exhibits are themed according to Malta’s historical landmarks. Zone 1 recreates Malta’s western

shoreline and submarine; Zone 2 displays the beautiful Valletta Harbour, Zone 3 displays wonderful species from the Tropical Oceans, Zone 4 takes you back to the Roman Times with an ancient ‘ghost shipwreck’, and Zone 5 presents incredible scenes from Gozo and Comino. If you’re on the lookout for a little adventure, then make sure to visit the Malta National Aquarium, with your whole family. After spending a couple of hours on this underwater adventure, grab a bite to eat at La Nave Bistro, a restaurant that forms part of the Malta National Aquarium Complex and caters for a wide variety of Mediterranean cuisine including pizza, pasta, grills and salads.

Snorkelling and diving

The Maltese sea is a dream for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts and St Paul’s Bay is a great place to do both. You can rent snorkelling equipment, book a snorkelling charter or snorkelling safari, take in the beautiful scenery and explore Malta above and under the water. With clear waters and rocky scenery, the Maltese islands are not just suitable but perfect for these activities. Snorkelling gear is easy to come by in Malta and you can buy or hire floatation devices from most diving centres. Get in touch with one of the many dive centres located in St Paul’s Bay to organise a personalised scuba dive trip.