With its coconut white sand beaches and cobalt skies, Bora Bora promises escape and adventure all on one French Polynesian island.
Tucked in the South Pacific, Bora Bora possesses a rare beauty, with landscapes and colors found in dreams and paintings. Here, the water curls into a thousand greens and blues, turning sky blue and sapphire, then cyan and emerald in the sunlight.
In “Tales of the South Pacific,” author James Michener called Bora Bora “the most beautiful island in the world.” Michener said the island was “so stunning, there are really no adequate words to describe it.”
Today, nature lovers and curious travelers flock to the island to experience its beauty first-hand. So, whether you come to explore the outdoors or to indulge your senses, you’ll find everything you need here.
Below are three ways to experience this island, along with tips from travelers. See the slideshow below (view in the browser) to learn more about Bora Bora or skip ahead to the adventures.
Adventure #1: Hike the Twin Peaks
Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia promise the perfect viewing points to see the lagoon in full. Nestled in the heart of the island, Otemanu and Pahia form the twin peaks of an extinct volcano and mark the island’s highest points. Legions of hikers hit the trails each year, says USA Today’s Leo Champion.
But beginner hikers beware: You may want to start small. Beginner hikers may want to start with Mount Pahia, the smaller peak, says Jean Adams, 64, a veteran hiker who tackled both peaks in 2014.
“Mount Pahia is less intimidating, so I’d start there,” she says.
Still, you don’t have to be a hiking champion to enjoy these scenic spots. You’ll find plenty of other ways to explore the peaks, says travel agent Nicole Humphrey. For instance, hire a jeep, a boat, or a helicopter tour, Humphrey says, or just snap pictures from the beach.
But whichever route you choose, you won’t soon forget your adventure.
Adventure #2: Private Boat Island Tour and Snorkeling
Private snorkeling tours are another exciting way to explore Bora Bora. Book your three- or six-hour tour through your hotel or travel agent and enjoy a spacious boat to yourself.
You’ll snorkel with a certified captain, who will customize your trip and teach you safety tips before you start. So, bring your suntan oil and soak up the sun as your captain whisks you out to sea. Later, enjoy lunch on a private beach before your snorkeling tour begins.
Then, swim with the stingrays. Although you’ll snorkel in shallow water, look out for blacktip reef sharks, known to frequent the area. So, prepare to use those safety tips your captain taught you.
Three-hour tours last from morning until noon and include hotel pickup and drop-off. Six-hour tours last from morning to mid-afternoon and include lunch, with prices from $565.
Adventure #3: Skydiving
All you fearless travelers out there will want to book a tandem skydiving session for an adrenaline-fueled adventure. However, this adventure isn’t for everyone. If you have a heart condition—or are just terrified of heights—you may want to reconsider. Otherwise, prepare for the thrill of your life.
After your training session, take a 25-minute flight overhead. Next, prepare your parachute, count to three, and hope for the best as you shoot to the ground at breakneck speed.
Then, free fall at 124 mph (200 km/h) for a heart-thumping 40 seconds. Feel the wind whip your face and enjoy the 360-degree island view as you hurtle toward the earth like a human missile.
Your session includes 25 minutes flight time, six minutes parachute time, 15 minutes of training, and a 40-second free fall, says Viator. Prices start at $1,110 for three hours.
Watch this video to see Bora Bora skydivers in action.
Bora Bora Flight Information
To get to Bora Bora, fly to Pape’ete and then catch a 50-minute flight to Bora Bora. A popular route for U.S. travelers is to fly Air Tahiti from Los Angeles to Pape’ete and then continue on to Bora Bora.
COVID-19 Travel Tips
As of August 22, 2021, French Polynesia reports 36,372 total COVID-19 cases and 257 deaths, according to the Reuters COVID-19 Tracker. So, you may want to plan your trip now but delay travel.
See here for the U.S. State Department’s latest travel restrictions. Also, visit the Island of Tahiti’s website for more COVID-19 travel information.
When you travel to Bora Bora, you’ll find this island offers the best of two worlds. It promises a sanctuary for travelers seeking escape and adventures for nature lovers. With its year-round warm weather and natural beauty, Bora Bora guarantees fun for most travelers.
But whenever you visit this island, you’ll likely find it as unforgettable as author James Michener once did. Here, you’ll create memories to last for life. And those memories of the island’s coconut white sand, tangerine sunsets, and marbled blue waters will never leave you.
For underwater island adventures in the Maldives (and one in Dubai), see this post.
Read about the world’s first seven-star hotel in Dubai here.
Head to Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Hotel for a one-of-a-kind adventure. Here, seven star surprises abound: islands rimmed with designer beaches, lobbies swathed in Swarovski and gold leaf, and fleets of chauffeured Rolls Royce limousines.
But as a guest, you’ll enjoy many other amenities.
You’ll also find yourself surrounded by seven-star companions. Since 1999, the Burj has served the world’s elite, from oil tycoons and investment bankers to golf pros and Kardashians. And with its royal service, the five-star Burj has earned a reputation as the world’s only seven-star hotel. As a result, legions of A-list guests flock to the Burj each year.
But as many guests have noted, the Burj’s seven-star reputation also extends to its design. At 1,053 feet tall (321 meters), the Jumeirah-run Burj is the world’s seventh tallest hotel and Dubai’s seventeenth tallest building. The Burj Hotel is also one of the world’s most expensive, costing $1 billion (€8.47 million) to build.
But with its sleek sail shape and designer-beach landscape, the Burj embodies cutting-edge architecture and design, says Jumeirah. Every detail—from the 590-foot atrium to the 24-karat-gold elevators—was crafted to perfection, Jumeirah says.
When you arrive, you’ll notice this keen attention to detail inside and out. As you tour the grounds, you’ll find man-made beaches, infinity pools and five-star restaurants and spas.
You can also book a Hammam at the Talise Spa, which offers sweeping city and sea views from the hotel’s eighteenth floor. Afterward, hire a 15-minute helicopter tour if you have another $2,700 (€2,287) to spare. Then, complete your tour with a helipad landing.
This isn’t your usual helipad, though. This multipurpose structure converts into a golf green, a tennis court, and even a concert arena. This feature alone has drawn many celebrity guests, including athletes and musicians. According to Business Insider, Tiger Woods, David Guetta, and Andre Agassi have all made appearances.
But the helipad isn’t all that attracts celebrity guests. Just wait until you step inside.
When you enter the Burj, you’ll discover luxury on another level. You’ll find an interior draped in over 19,000 square feet (1,790 square meters) of gold leaf, Jumeirah says, along with flooring made from the same Statuario marble as Michelangelo’s David. Then, stroll past the tiered marble fountains laced with gold and see the golden elevators and revolving doors.
Keep walking, and you’ll find Junsui, a five-star restaurant modeled after the Milky Way. There, you’ll find the world’s largest Swarovski ceiling, made from over 20,000 crystals, Jumeirah says. Visit at night; you’ll feel like you’re dining under the stars.
Seven-Star Guest Amenities
As a guest, you’ll enjoy many amenities. For instance, all guest rooms are suites, but if you’re feeling bold, you can upgrade to the 8,000-square-foot (743-square-meter) Royal Suite for $24,000 (€20,274) per night.
Then, head to your room, and you’ll find other perks. Duck-feather bedding, customized pillows, and Hermès lotions are a few luxuries on the list.
As if that weren’t enough, you’ll also enjoy 24-hour butler service, which you can arrange from your 24-karat-gold iPad. So, summon the butler if you’re feeling lazy. He’ll draw you a bath and leave strawberries, champagne, and caviar by your Jacuzzi tub, so you won’t have to reach too far.
Al Mahara: Simulated Deep-Sea Dining
After your bath, get ready for dinner at Al Mahara, the best seafood around, fans say. Run by Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw, Al Mahara serves seafood in simulated deep-sea surroundings. To reach the restaurant, board a mock submarine, which pretends to whisk you to the ocean’s floor in three minutes.
Inside, a golden tunnel opens into the dining space, where an aquarium covers one wall and casts an ambient blue light that mimics the deep sea. You’ll feel like you’re dining with the barracuda.
However, some guests struggle to enjoy their seafood next to the aquarium. So, feel free to request a seat by the door if you prefer.
Then, when you’re ready, open the menu and explore the savory seafood (or veggie) items. Try the salted sea bass or the tiger prawns topped with lemon butter, followed by toffee pudding. Or splurge on the seven-course chef’s menu with wine pairing.
Next time you visit Dubai, head to the Burj Al Arab Hotel and the Al Mahara. With the Burj’s seven-star service and entertainment, you’ll create memories to last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 remains a concern, so you’ll want to stay safe while traveling. See here to learn about Dubai’s latest travel restrictions. You may want to plan your trip now but delay travel.
However, if you do visit the Burj before the year ends, you’ll enjoy discounts and travel deals. Book your trip by August 30 for stays until December 15, 2021, Jumeirah says, and you’ll receive discounts on your minimum two-night stay, along with other perks. See here for details.
With COVID-19 still active, fewer people are traveling. So, why not try the next best thing and bring the Åland Islands home to you?
Today, I’m sharing two cooking videos that show you how to make traditional dishes from the Åland Islands. In the first video, Tareq from the Nordic Cookery heads to the Åland Islands to explore the food culture. Follow him as he samples the savory cuisine and shares his recipes for goldeneye duck, Finnish pancakes, and other local treats.
In the second video, Karen Grete from Scandinavian Today shows you how to make fruit-topped Åland pancakes.
Dive 26 feet (8 meters) under the sea for your next spa treatment. With its deep-sea setting and healing vibes, the Huvafen Fushi spa promises the perfect escape. This spa also offers an underwater yoga room, where you can strike a warrior pose and go from zero to Zen in a flash.
Then, after yoga, head to the spa room and enjoy a panoramic view of the reef. Let your skin soak up those Maldivian sea minerals while you watch the guitarfish swim by.
According to Aatish Nath, Huvafen Fushi is the only underwater spa in the Maldives where you can enjoy a private deep-sea view from your spa room.
See this video tour of the Huvafen Fushi resort and spa, and see the spa menu here.
While you’re in the Maldives, why not head to a glow party at Subsix? To get there, catch a speedboat from North Malé to the Niyama private island. Subsix sits less than a mile (500 meters) off-shore, 20 feet (6 meters) under the sea.
When you arrive, drop three floors down to reach the bar. Inside, enjoy the deep-sea-themed décor, including the panoramic views of the coral reef, the Italian chandeliers, and a clam-shaped bar. Lounge in a sea anemone chair and sip mango juice while you bask under the ambient blue lights. You’ll feel like you’re one with the sea.
According to Niyama, Subsix serves gourmet breakfast, lunch, and dinner and hosts nighttime glow parties. With that underwater dance floor, you’ll feel like you’re dancing in the ocean.
On the other hand, if you’re more of a daytime person, head to Subsix for lunch. Order the lobster tataki or scallop ravioli as you watch the mantra rays thrash about in the coral.
Another option? Jet off to Dubai, and splurge on the Neptune Suite at the Atlantis Palm Hotel. If you’re willing to part with $8,100 (€6,856) per night, you’ll enjoy a lavish, three-story suite, equipped with every amenity you could want, including a private elevator and an underwater bedroom.
This 1,700-square-foot (173-square-meter) suite offers sprawling windows, where you can watch fish scamper through their natural habitat.
The Neptune Suite also comes with gold bath accessories, spa soaps, and 24/7 butler service. And check out the Aquaventure theme park before you leave.
See this video tour of the Neptune Suite in Dubai.
Are you tired of the same humdrum hotels? Then book an underwater villa at the Conrad Maldives Hotel on Rangali Island. At the Conrad Maldives Hotel, you’ll also find the world-renowned Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, tucked 16 feet (4.8 meters) under the sea. Ithaa is one of the country’s six underwater restaurants, according to Maldives Magazine.
The Undersea Restaurant
The restaurant serves Western cuisine, including foie gras with truffle dumplings, caviar, prawns, pasta-stuffed lobster, green apple sorbet, and other decadent desserts. The Ithaa also offers “mid-morning cocktail hour.” So, feel free to skip the prawns and head to the bar if that’s more your style.
According to the website, the Ithaa won three Global Awards from the World Luxury Restaurant Awards, including the Unique Luxury Experience Award, in 2017.
This underwater meal will cost you, though, so you’ll want to bring your wallet. Prices per person start at $238 for lunch and $390 for dinner. Meals begin with caviar service.
The restaurant operates daily from 11 a.m. to midnight. Dinner begins at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays and 6:30 p.m. every other night. Travelers recommend going early to get the best views of the fish.
You can also book the Ithaa for breakfast, weddings, and celebrations.
See a virtual tour of Ithaa here. Click “360 virtual tour” at the top of the page to launch the tour.
To learn more about travel and hotel deals in the Maldives, see this page by the Frequent Miler.
COVID Travel Tip
The Reuters COVID-19 tracker shows COVID-19 rates falling in the Maldives, but check back for updates. For the UAE, Reuters shows an average of 1,601 infections per day. You may want to plan your trip now but delay travel for a safer time.
See more adventures in Dubai here. For more beach destinations to add to your travel list, see here.
From its sparkling southern harbors to its banana gold sand beaches, Croatia forges its way into your memory and lingers long after you leave.
Whether you travel to the cities or the islands, you are sure to return with captivating stories and memories. The cities guarantee adventure and attract tourists in droves, but the Croatian islands offer a rarer adventure.
Although you’ll find plenty to do in the cities, you’ll create your most unforgettable memories on Croatia’s less traveled roads.
Vis Island, Croatia
The island Vis promises such an adventure. Vis sits 30 miles off the coast but belongs to Croatia’s Central Dalmatian region. According to Pelican Tours, Vis occupies 35 square miles in the Adriatic Sea, a sliver of paradise that almost 4,000 people call home.
Despite its size, Vis dazzles the camera with Tiffany-blue waters that cradle sun-drenched bays and coves along its rugged coastline. Each year, tourists come to the island to tour the magical caves and coves and the town, Komiža.
Komiža, Vis Island, Croatia
The fishing town Komiža hides along the island’s western coast and grows some of the world’s finest olives, carobs, and lemons. Some travelers call Komiža a sanctuary; others, like travel writer Shawn Mitchell, describe the town as a “serene place of white limestone and waves.”
In this idyllic town, waves crash onto pebble shores as pelicans glide through untroubled skies, then swoop down to scavenge for fish. Each year, tourists snap pictures around the town and sample the grapes and wines from the local vineyards.
Visitors also enjoy the island’s recreation and water sports. So, if you visit Komiža, spend a day diving, water-skiing, or playing boccia with the locals. Then, head to the neighboring towns to tour the fortresses and museums.
Throughout these towns, you’ll find remnants of ancient city walls still towering over parts of the island. You can also tour the town, Vis — named after the island — and visit the Archaeological Museum at the Levaman Fortress.
After the museum, grab your camera and soak up the sun at Stiniva. With its pebble shores and translucent waters, Stiniva Beach enchants tourists from around the world.
Located on the island’s southern tip, Stiniva sits in a cove, hugged by towering cliffs. On sunny days, the crystalline water reveals the seafloor and fish below.
In 2016, the European Best Destinations tourism group voted Stiniva the most beautiful beach in Europe. But tourists call Stiniva one of the most breathtaking beaches in the world.
After Stiniva, jump on a ferry and cruise over to the Blue Grotto. This is one sight you won’t want to miss.
The Blue Grotto sits on the neighboring island Biševo, Croatia’s most remote inhabited island. Each year, tourists travel to Biševo to enjoy the Elysian beaches, the hidden coves, and the Blue Grotto. Biševo also offers some of the best snorkeling in Croatia, according to the Croatia Spots tourism group.
To get to the Blue Grotto, take a ferry from Vis to Biševo for about an hour. The cave sits east on Biševo at Balun Cove. When you arrive, climb onto a small raft, float toward the entrance, and then duck your head as you drift inside.
Once inside, see the grotto aglow. The cave radiates electric blue light, as though lit by an underwater lantern or some mysterious, subterranean source.
Although the light seems to emanate from otherworldly dimensions, it has natural origins: the sun. The blue glow appears when the sun reflects on the water and the limestone cave floors, experts say. On sunny days, the sun lights the water, illuminating the cave with that cobalt glow.
Tourists recommend visiting the cave between 11 a.m. and noon on sunny days. Although the raft rides and rough waters frustrate some travelers, most say it’s worth the visit.
Fortunately, ferries travel several times a day between Vis and Biševo, so you can come and go as you like. You can also hire a private boat or an agency that runs tours from Split and Hvar.
Where to Stay
Although Hotel Biševo is Komiža’s only hotel, Komiža also offers visitors an array of guesthouses and extended-stay apartments.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try one of these Airbnbs on Vis Island. Otherwise, consider these options.
Tucked behind pine trees on a pebble beach, the Hotel Biševo promises serenity at a reasonable price. The hotel offers 124 double rooms, two single rooms, and several miniature suites equipped with family rooms.
Guest rooms are adorned with festive island décor and come with air conditioning, satellite TV, a telephone, and a refrigerator.
After you check in, relax on your balcony and enjoy the ocean view. In the morning, wake up as the ocean breeze sweeps through your bedroom window. Then, grab some sunscreen and head to the pool to soak up the island sun.
Hotel San Giorgio
If the Hotel Biševo isn’t your style, head to the Hotel San Giorgio instead. This family-owned hotel hides behind lemon trees in the historic district of the town Vis and sits within waking distance of most beaches.
The San Giorgio prioritizes guests’ comfort and safety and offers contact-free check-in and check-out. All guest rooms also come with queen-sized beds and free Wi-Fi, ensuring that you’ll feel safe and comfortable.
But before you leave, stop by the in-house restaurant to enjoy the savory Mediterranean and seafood dishes topped with home-grown spices.
The Hotel San Giorgio has received 9.6 stars on TripAdvisor, and travelers have rated it the top hotel in Vis.
Bella Vista Suites
If San Giorgio is booked, head to the Bella Vista Suites, located within walking distance from most beaches. The hotel also sits less than a mile from Beach Vagan, five miles from Zaglav Beach, and six miles from Srebrna Bay. Split International Airport is the closest, located 34 miles from the hotel via ferry.
Bella Vista also offers a swimming pool, air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms, flat screens and free parking and Wi-Fi.
Travelers on Booking.com rate Bella Vista Suites 9.1 stars.
After sightseeing, you will have worked up an appetite, but you won’t lack for dining options. You’ll find oodles of restaurants that serve savory seafood, Mediterranean, Croatian, veggie, and vegan dishes.
So, here are a few restaurants to try.
Head to Fort George for a Croatian culinary adventure. Tucked away in a fortress, Fort George offers an assorted menu of seafood, veggie, Mediterranean, and Croatian specialties. Order the grilled asparagus, monkfish medallions, seasoned octopus, and then splurge on chocolate cake and ice cream.
Or order the avocado and quinoa salad, the roasted beef tomato, or the onion soup and bruschetta from the vegetarian menu. Meanwhile, relax outdoors and take in the island and ocean views.
TripAdvisor travelers rate Frutarija the top restaurant in Vis. This island restaurant offers a diverse menu with regional, vegan, and vegetarian options. And tourists rave about the fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies. So, sip a mango smoothie while you sit on the terrace, listen to the local bands, and soak up the sea breeze.
Another local favorite, Konoba Stončica, offers an eclectic menu of fresh seafood, tangy barbecue, Mediterranean cuisine, and gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. Try the grilled calamari or the Mediterranean shrimp salad topped with olives plucked from the backyard.
Not only is the food divine, but travelers also rave about the friendly staff and service. Prices range from about $20 to $70 per dinner. The restaurant now offers takeout and in-dining.
Vis Island: Weather
So, now that you’re planning your trip, you probably wonder what to pack. Well, prepare for sunshine because the island enjoys pleasant temperatures year-round.
The Mediterranean climate produces warm summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures surge above 75 degrees (24 C), but winter temperatures drop below 50 (6 C). Vis receives less than 31 inches (800 mm) of rain each year, according to the Vis Island tourism group.
Croatia: COVID-19 Travel Update
Although you’ll enjoy plenty of sunshine, you’ll also need to take precautions while traveling. According to the Reuters COVID-19 Tracker, Croatia reports 364,491 total COVID-19 cases and 8,270 deaths, with a daily average of 180 new infections since the pandemic began.
Wherever you travel in Croatia, you’re sure to find an adventure, but head to the islands if you want to disconnect and escape from the world. However, you’ll also want to stay safe while traveling, so check the State Department’s website for travel updates. You may want to plan your trip now but delay travel.
Also, see these posts on Iceland and Malta for more travel inspiration.
I wanted to share some Maltese language resources in case anyone felt like learning some Maltese this weekend. I’ve included a list of phrases and greetings, along with videos to guide you through the pronunciation.
The Maltese language has a beautiful ring to it, I think. Although Maltese is a Semitic language, it has Arabic and Italian roots. About 40% of Maltese vocabulary comes from Italian.
In the videos, you can hear traces of both languages. For instance, the word ġrazzi, for “thank you,” sounds like grazie in Italian. Some Maltese words also come from English. For example, “hello” is the same in Maltese and English.
Malta is a bilingual country, but almost all citizens speak Maltese at home. According to Malta Today, 97% of citizens cited Maltese as their primary language, with 75% speaking Maltese and 5% speaking English to their children. The remaining 20% reported speaking Maltese and English or another language to their children.
Maltese Phrases and Greetings
Learn Maltese greetings in this video.
This video teaches you how to conjugate “to be” in Maltese.
The Maltese alphabet has 29 letters:
As in English, Maltese vowels take long or short sounds:
A: Long “a” – pronounced “a” as in “car” / Short “a” pronounced “u” as in “mud”
E: Long “e” – pronounced “e” as in “bed” / Short “e” – pronounced “ai” as in “pair”
I: Long “i” – pronounced “ee” as in “seen” / Short “i” – pronounced “i” as in “bit”
O: Long “o” – pronounced “aw” as in “claw” / Short “o” – pronounced “o” as in “not”
U: Long “u” – pronounced like “oo” in “fool” / Short “u” – pronounced “u” as in “full”
That’s all for now. I hope you learn something, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Whether you’re traveling to Valletta, Gozo, or Qawra, Malta offers a hotel for every traveler. Here are a few of Malta’s top-rated hotels. See the video tour at the bottom of the page as well.
The Phoenicia Hotel
Experience paradise at the Phoenicia Hotel in Valletta. Located steps away from the City Gate, the Phoenicia sits at the heart of Valletta within walking distance of most tourist spots.
Built in the 1930s, the Phoenicia has become a tourist favorite, drawing tens of thousands of visitors each year. When you step inside, lush plants greet you in the lobby, and the leather and dark-wood interior create a cozy vibe that makes you feel at home.
According to the Phoenicia’s website, you can visit the Palm Court Lounge, adorned with beachy blue and white décor and glass doors that stretch from floor to ceiling. Then, sip coffee under the kumquat trees on the terrace while you savor the sea view. Afterward, swim in the infinity pool or relax on the pool deck overlooking the Harbor.
During your stay, you will also enjoy the complimentary parking and laundry service, along with the 24-hour fitness center, according to the hotel’s website. Most guest rooms have balconies, with some overlooking the harbor. Before bedtime, you can even order a pillow from the pillow menu.
In the morning, order smoked salmon with beetroot for breakfast, or sample the Maltese cheeses. For lunch and dinner, order the tabbouleh, harissa, and aubergine or the Lamb Provençal with raspberry and caramel soufflé for dessert.
Standard room prices range from $238 (€200) to $357 (€300), which includes Wi-Fi and minibar service.
And remember to stop by the spa before you leave. Le Deep Nature offers spa rooms filled with ambient light and nature sounds, promising the perfect escape after a long day.
According to the hotel’s website, the spa offers an array of skin, nail, and massage services. So, enjoy that sea kelp facial while you listen to rushing streams, singing sparrows, and drums. The spa’s signature facial uses red-light therapy to blast wrinkles and even skin tone. The spa also offers a customized facial tailored to your skin’s needs.
Northern Malta Hotels
Seashells Resort in Qawra, Malta
If you’d like, turn your trip into a road trip, and head 30 minutes north from Valletta toward Northern Malta. Book a room at the Seashells Resort in Qawra, a scenic city by St. Paul’s Bay. Qawra draws crowds of tourists each year with its action-packed entertainment, hotels, and nightlife, according to the Holiday Hypermarket website.
At Seashells, you’ll enjoy the relaxed vibe and the sweeping sea views. Most guest rooms overlook the coast and promenade, and all rooms offer complimentary toiletries, according to the resort’s website.
Spend the afternoon at the pool or take kids to the children’s pool. You can soak up the sun while the pool boys serve you Mai Tais or lattes, too. If you’re feeling lazy, hang out at the hotel lounge, bar, or restaurant, or venture into town to try out the local restaurants and shops.
But whatever you do, don’t leave Seashells without booking a spa day at Carisma.
Carisma Spa at Seashells Resort
Book your massage or facial at Carisma, and let the pampering begin. According to the website, this award-winning spa offers “the only authentic Hammam in Malta.” The Hammam is an ancient Turkish bathing ritual known to calm the mind and body.
So, step into the spa, and surrender to the healing powers of the Hammam. Scrub away dead skin to reveal the most radiant you. After you exfoliate, kick back and enjoy your massage and bubble bath. The best part? You don’t even have to lift a loofah. The aesthetician does it all for you.
The Hammam soothes muscles and boosts circulation to give skin a healthy glow. Plus, the spa room supplies a steady stream of warm air to open pores and help skin absorb the healing minerals. Your skin will feel like silk by the time you leave.
However, if you’d prefer another option, check out Carisma’s salt sauna, ice fountain, and anti-aging facials that will make you feel like royalty. You can also buy spa packages for individuals, couples, and groups. So, book that Hammam and live a little!
See the video (not filmed at Seashells or Carisma) to see the Hammam in action.
Gozo, Malta Hotels
The Hotel Ta’ Cenc and Spa
Located in Sannat, the Hotel Ta’ Cenc and Spa is an oasis for adult travelers looking for a relaxing getaway. This hotel sits within walking distance of most tourist sights, and all guest rooms come with free TV, Wi-Fi, and flat screens.
At Ta’ Cenc, you can also enjoy the complimentary parking, breakfast, and room service, along with the quiet pool and spa. For dinner, stop by the in-house restaurant, Beppe, to enjoy savory seafood and lobster, a local favorite.
The Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz, Malta
But if the Hotel Ta’ Cenc is booked, try the Kempinski Hotel instead. This charming hotel is located within walking distance from most tourists sights and offers a relaxing place to unwind. You’ll also find a luxury spa, a tennis court, and a fitness room here.
During your stay, stop by one of the in-house restaurants for lunch: the Il-Baldakkin Bistro, the Ortolan, or the Gazebo Café. Then, after lunch, relax by the pool before you head into town for your Stuffat tal-Qarnita dinner.
Duke Boutique Hotel, Gozo
If those hotels aren’t your style, then why not give the Duke Boutique Hotel a try? Surrounded by gardens on a hilltop, the Duke overlooks Gozo island, with views of the city and sea. This hotel sits two or three miles from the Gozo Museum of Archaeology, the temples at Ġgantija, and the ferry station, where you can catch a ride and whisk off to a neighboring island.
Then later, enjoy the complimentary TV, internet, minibar, and coffee maker when you return to your room. You’ll enjoy the bathroom stocked with free toiletries and scented bath soaps, too.
Or, if you prefer, upgrade to a suite and enjoy the extra space. Sprawl out in the living room, or sit on the terrace to enjoy the sea view. But don’t forget to stop by the shops before you leave.
Whether you’re traveling to Valletta, Northern Malta, or Gozo, you are sure to find a hotel suited to your needs. And whenever you visit Malta, you’re sure to find a hotel suited to your needs. So, enjoy your trip, and book your hotel early to get the best deals.
A picturesque archipelago nation in the central Mediterranean, Malta enchants and intrigues. Around every corner, a photo opportunity awaits.
In Valletta, antique sandstone houses line rambling alleyways. The scent of fresh pastries fills the air, flooding the streets with the smell of cinnamon and sugar plum. And at Golden Bay, sun glints on cyan waters as waves sigh like tired angels. Malta captivates and delights.
Whether you’re traveling to Malta solo or with your family and friends, Malta offers something for everyone.
Malta is the world’s tenth smallest country, with an area of roughly 120 square miles (316 square km) and a population of 500,000, according to the Encyclopedia of the Nations. Malta’s population is scattered across three islands: Malta, Comino, and Gozo. But most residents live on Malta, the nation’s largest island.
According to the Encyclopedia of the Nations, Malta lies about 60 miles (93 km) south of Sicily and 180 miles (290 km) northeast of Tunisia. Though once recognized as a North African island, today, Malta belongs to Southern Europe. St. Paul is Malta’s largest city, but Valletta is the capital, according to the encyclopedia and Wikipedia.
Dubbed the “walled city,” Valletta was founded by the Catholic Knights of St. John in the 1500s. Today in Valletta, you’ll find legions of Baroque cathedrals, palaces, and churches, including St. John’s Co-Cathedral, home to Caravaggio’s Beheading of Saint John.
Other Attractions in Malta
Tourists flock to Malta to enjoy an array of attractions. The Baroque cathedrals, Popeye Village, Mdina, and Blue Lagoon are just a few favorite spots.
After you visit Valletta, jump in the car and head 15 miles (25 km) northwest to spend the day at Popeye Village, Malta’s favorite theme park. Popeye Village offers plenty of family fun.
Kids will feel like stars for the day, stepping on stage to sing, dance, and join in a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience. Children can also play at Santa’s toy town, ride boats, or jump on trampolines.
Meanwhile, parents can savor the calmer pleasures of life and sip wine — or water — on the terrace. At Popeye Village, a unique family adventure awaits.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
In Valletta, you also won’t want to miss St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral. Designed by William Scamp in the mid-1800s, St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral is one of Europe’s three Anglican cathedrals. Built from Maltese limestone, the historic cathedral is a local landmark.
After you tour the cathedrals, visit Gozo island, Malta’s second largest island.
Gozo Island, Malta
The island, Gozo, also promises adventure, with its bevy of camera-worthy attractions.
The Azure Window
Once hailed as the gem of Gozo island, The Azure Window was a limestone arch that drew crowds each year. Unfortunately, the famous arch stands no more.
Centuries of erosion and inclement weather weakened the structure, leading to its demise. When a storm tore through the region in 2017, the arch collapsed into the ravenous sea.
The arch appeared in a slew of international films for decades. Today, memories of the limestone wonder live on through photographs.
Blue Lagoon, Comino, Malta
Like Iceland, Malta also has a Blue Lagoon, but Malta’s lagoon is located in Comino, the nation’s smallest inhabited island. The lagoon’s rugged cliffs and translucent waters draw thousands of swimmers and photographers from places near and far. Since the Azure Window collapsed, tourism at the Blue Lagoon has soared.
Twenty minutes west of Valletta lies Mdina, known for its sandstone buildings and serpentine streets. While you’re visiting Mdina, book a stay at the Xara Palace Relais and Chateaux, a luxury resort with an understated elegance and medieval vibe.
Modeled after an ancient palace, Xara is a five-star luxury resort that promises a decadent vacation. It offers a full-service spa and a 24-hour fitness room to satisfy indulgent and health-conscious travelers. Room prices start at $213 (€ 178) a night.
Less than a five-minute walk from most tourist sites, Xara has become Mdina’s favorite luxury resort and guarantees adventure.
But if the Xara isn’t your style, don’t worry; Malta offers an assortment of hotels for every traveler.
Maltese Language and Culture
Your travels to Mdina, Valletta, Gozo, and the Blue Lagoon will also introduce you to Maltese culture. You will find hints of Arab, British, and Italian influences in Maltese culture and cuisine.
The Maltese language also borrows from Italian and Arabic. Today, Maltese and English are Malta’s official languages, and all TV and radio shows appear in both languages. Many Maltese citizens also speak Italian as a third language.
Most of all, tourists rave about the Maltese people. The locals are renowned for their hospitality.
“Everyone was so nice,” says Marcia Keller, a 32-year-old jewelry designer from Utah who visited Malta with her husband and seven children pre-pandemic. “At one coffee shop, the barista offered to show us around Gozo. I couldn’t believe it. In some U.S. cities, people grunt at you if you ask them a question, but not in Malta!”
Marcus Fletcher, a 30-year-old graduate student from Baltimore, shares Marcia’s sentiment.
“I traveled to Malta solo in 2018,” Marcus says, “and the Maltese people were super sweet! Some of the locals took me sightseeing. One older couple even invited me to their home to have stuffat tal-fenek for dinner.”
For the Epicurious travelers who may be wondering, stuffat tal-fenek is a Maltese specialty dish made with rabbit, vegetables, bay leaves, and garlic. The rabbit meat cooks on low heat for several hours, creating meat so tender, Marcus says, that it melts on your tongue like whipped butter.
“It’s delectable,” Marcus says. “I like mine with a dash of mint or barbecue sauce.”
How to Cook Stuffat Tal-Fenek
Marcus also shares a recipe he brought home from Malta, which has become his favorite.
“Just find a rabbit,” he says. “Then, take a few bay leaves, two carrots, a celery stick, and four or five cloves of garlic. Make a tomato sauce, then add wine and some bay leaves. Let the rabbit simmer for a couple hours. Some people marinate the rabbit in red wine overnight, but that’s up to you.”
Meatless Dining in Malta
On the other hand, for those who prefer tofu and pinto beans to brisket and rabbit, you’re also in luck. Many Maltese restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian dishes. The Grassy Hopper was one local favorite, but the café closed last year.
So now, diners are flocking to Ortygia, a festive diner nestled in the cozy sandstones of Valletta. Ortygia plays energizing house music from noon to midnight and serves savory meat and veggie dishes sure to sate every palate.
“The Syraka is to die for,” says Ivan Thomas, a 27-year-old cheese-lover and self-described digital nomad who hopes to start a blog soon.
Malta: COVID Travel Restrictions
Malta is worth a visit, but it’s also essential to stay safe while traveling. Here is the latest on traveling to Malta during the pandemic.
Malta is the first European country to acquire herd immunity against the virus, according to an article in Travel + Leisure published June 17 of this year. The Visit Malta website, which provides daily travel updates, says Malta now welcomes U.S. tourists from all states except these 12:
Malta also welcomes tourists from D.C. and Puerto Rico. All travelers must take a COVID test upon arrival, the travel website says. See the Visit Malta website to learn more about the countries on Malta’s green, amber, and red list.
Traveling by Ferry
So what else can you do while you’re visiting Malta? Take a ferry to Sicily for the day. The Valletta Pozzallo ferry travels between Malta and Sicily 10 times per week, with a travel time of 1 hour and 45 minutes each way. Ferry schedules vary by season, so check online for updates.
Whether you visit Valletta, Comino, Mdina, or Gozo, you will want to take plenty of pictures during your trip. Malta is a beautiful country, with plenty to do and see.
So, rent a car and head to Qawra, take a ferry to Sicily, or swim and snorkel in the Blue Lagoon. But whatever you do, enjoy your trip. Bring your sunscreen and your masks. Be safe and well.
Hi, everyone! Just a quick announcement: I’ve added a new page with language learning videos in case anyone feels like learning something new this weekend. I will add videos over time, but there are several now to get you started.
I’m creating a section for language learning to help people who are traveling to the destinations I’ve blogged about.
In this video, YouTuber “AgnesUpNorth” teaches a few Icelandic phrases and greetings to get you started. I’ll admit, Agnes lost me after “takk,” and “hæ,” but I won’t give up just yet!
Icelandic is supposed to be one of the toughest languages for English speakers, but I’ve been wanting to take a class for years. It does look intimidating, but I’m determined to learn a few phrases before summer ends.
Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with learning Icelandic. If you have any tips for how to learn the language, please share!