Malta Inside Out


Ghajn Tuffieha, a beach trip for the fit

Ghajn Tuffieha: a natural beach, that's unnaturally empty for Malta.

Ghajn Tuffieha: a natural beach, that's unnaturally empty for Malta.

Just next to Golden Bay is Ghajn Tuffieha Bay (also known as Riviera) – which has always been my preferred of the two. The fact that there is a quite steep flight of steps to descend to get to the beach means that the location doesn’t attract the same volume of people as Golden Bay. However, since Ghajn Tuffieha is a lot smaller, in peak summer it gets crowded that much quicker. I also have the impression that the sandy area of the beach has shrunk considerably over the past few years, with the constant pounding of the waves making it even smaller than it was. In rougher weather, with larger waves, you’ll be hard pushed to find much sand at all!

Pros: Location-wise, I consider this to be the most beautiful sandy beach on the island of Malta (Gozo has my other favourite sandy beach, Ramla Bay). The fact that it is slightly less accessible gives the beach a particularly natural atmosphere. The Gaia Foundation runs the hillside behind as a ‘national park’ and they have made efforts to stop erosion by planing tamarisk trees and samphire. A derelict hotel perched on a cliff overlooking the beach adds to the beach’s more secluded atmosphere of the area. On less hot days, it is lovely to hike around the cliffs surrounding the bay and, in spring, the beach is surrounded by flowers and greenery which, sadly, all but dries up in the hot summer months. A watch tower from the time of the Knights stands on a cliff at one end of the bay; and a fascinating rock formation on the other. A walk further inside the beach towards the rocky section can provide some (relative) privacy which is hard to find on Maltese sandy beaches in summer. An ideal place to take a book to, lie down on the sand in, and just relax.

Cons: The undercurrents in this beach can be extremely strong. Therefore it is not advisable to swim here when the sea is rough. Some people have ignored this in the past and a few have even lost their lives. There is a flag system now, giving various info on swimming conditions, and a string of buoys and lifelines out in the bay. But unlike at Golden Bay, there are no lifeguards on duty. Then there are those STEPS! I know many people hate them (especially on the way back after a day at the beach). The sandy space on the beach is rather small. It is not the most suitable of beaches if you are accompanied by small children. You also have stones to negotiate to enter the water, and a few nasty underwater rock. So keep eyes peeled, especially with kids in tow. There is just one (largish) kiosk on the beach with patio seating, which is good for those looking for something a bit less intrusive. Those looking for more action, music and fun should probably look elsewhere.

Verdict: Good for those fit and active enough to walk down the steps to get to the beach! Ideal for couples seeking some seclusion; not ideal for families with young kids. Great for late afternoon-evening swims, BBQs, and sundown -so photographers, get that camera ready!

How to get there:
From Valletta: Buses 47 or 52 – every 30 mins from 6.00am till 7.30pm.
From Bugibba: Buses 70 or 652 – every 20 mins from 8.00am till 9.00pm (Winter till 7.10pm).

Map: it’s the middle bay on the map.

View Malta Sandy Beach Guide in a larger map

Photo: Andrew Galea Debono

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14 Comments about “Ghajn Tuffieha, a beach trip for the fit”

  1. Hi there ..

    The article strikes me as being a little out of date … “derelict hotel”? Even the Google Maps shows it’s the Radisson …. 🙂

    The U T

  2. Uexpectedtraveller: You’re mistaking Golden Bay, where the Radisson is located and the neighbouring bay, Ghajn Tuffieha, where a wreck of an ancient hotel still stands and is crumbling dangerously down the cliff! Google maps and the Radisson’s address say Ghajn Tuffieha, meaning the area, but locals call the other bay Ghajn Tuffieha, or Riviera (after that derelict hotel). See our post on Golden Bay for more info and a mention of that Radisson!

  3. […] from perhaps 2-3 jellyfish, no-go-swim days, but I’ve swum quite happily at Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha for around two months without incident, stings, or nasties. Jellyfish come and go, according to […]

  4. I am a beach hater, and would run to hell and back rather than spend time on a beach.
    I hate everything about beaches, the noise pollution, the running, ball kicking, stroke-in-the-making-rubber-band-over-an-egg speedos wearing 30yrs to 40yrs kids.
    The litter and all those wannabe models parading in swinsuits far too small for their average Maltese bodies.
    (I do like the way our male dormant abdominals ripple with every macho step we take).
    I did not mention the more mature sex, (the ladies) in all their sizes as they have the right to wear whatever makes them feel beautiful.
    But most of all I simply hate sitting in the sun, wasting my day away and later spending days finding sand in the most awkward places even after countless showers.
    That is unless I am at Ghajn Tuffieha.
    It is a truly beautiful beach.
    Its the only beach that feels isolated and quite, even when there are a hundred people milling about in all those activities one does on the beach.
    A really back to nature enviorment
    Working with tourists I never recommed that they go to Golden Bay, which has lost its natural character to internet cafes and cheesy restaurants.
    The isolation I experience at Ghajn Tuffieha is what I remember Golden Bay or Mellieha to be before all the commercialization of the bays.
    I just hope that the restaurant/bar there is not allowed to extend farther
    As for the fitness part there are not only a couple of great walks to be had there, but also a couple of runs one of which incorporates the clay hills but both end with the run up the steps.

  5. […] I’ve seen what looked like mini marquees erected with much familial bickering. And at Ghajn Tuffieha, I’ve witnessed a procession of cool boxes and BBQ sets being carried by families ressembling […]

  6. […] I’ve not spotted jellyfish at my regular two sandy beaches in Malta – Golden Bay and Ghejn Tuffieha. But it’s early in the season. Jellyfish come and go, according to tide, winds, lunar pull, […]

  7. […] adequate rubbish bins and lifelines anchored on buoys to help swimmers when it’s rough seas. Ghajn Tuffieha has lifelines and a red flag system but no guards. This is reassuring. More could be done on many […]

  8. […] realise we need to at least be aware of the signs of drowning and delayed drowning. Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha beaches have life guards (10am – 6pm), but we leisure and pleasure swimmers are out there, […]

  9. […] subject: MG, boldly prepared herself on a cold Sunday morning on the edge of Riviera Beach in Ghajn Tuffieha (Malta). And Zap. Paint flew. Click, click. The shutter busily captured the […]

  10. This is where I want to go… bring on the summer. Or at least the spring. The minimum you can bring on is the spring, surely. Just so long as the winter part is over, I’ll be quite happy.

  11. are bbqs nowadays allowed at Riviera Beach? (max 5 ppl)

  12. I’ve not seen BBQs yet there myself, and I would think they aren’t allowed if the beach is aiming for some sort of blue flag or other quality beach status. I’d prefer not to see them mainly because (some, not all) people simply won’t deal with the embers properly or clean up after themselves. Fires need management and in our tinder dry conditions, I can see BBQs getting out of hand. See this for some trees burning – petards not BBQs, but all the same.

  13. this article is definatley out of date. the bus routes are the old ones … we now have arriva buses and these aren’t the routes anymore.

  14. Yes, you are right Josephine. The date was on this article but seems to have disappeared – that would have indicated the old – new bus issue. The only part of the article out of date though is the bus route part though. Here’s a link to Arriva, for those who need the buses to the beach. We run Malta Insideout voluntarily, in our spare time. It’s not easy to find and update everything all the time.

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