Malta Boat Trip: Sailing and Snorkelling at the Crystal and Blue Lagoons

Malta Boat Trip: Sailing and Snorkelling at the Crystal and Blue Lagoons
Photo by Mike Nahlii / Unsplash

If you’re visiting the tiny islands in the Mediterranean then a Malta boat trip is a must.

With the islands of Malta and Gozo being so small you’re never more than a few minutes drive from the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. So it would be rude not to set sail and dive in for a spot of snorkelling at the iconic Blue Lagoon.

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Our Malta boat trip experience
Crystal Lagoon

Captain Chris is exactly the kinda guy you want at the helm, friendly, experienced and caring all the way. I had a good chat with him as we left our pickup point of Marfa at the north of Malta.

As we gently cruised over calm waters toward the tiny island of Comino, he explained how he learnt his trade from his father before him, who started the business way back in 1969.

He’s the reason we approached Barbarossa Excursions over the other boat tour operators such as Captain Morgan boat trips in Malta. It’s a smaller-scale, family-owned business, something we always look for when we travel.

We try hard to avoid the big tour companies with their sell 'em cheap and stack 'em high mentality.

Our vessel for the day is a 23-metre motor sailing boat called Barbarossa. She can accommodate over 100 people but Chris tells us his trips have a maximum of between 50 and 60 people to keep things comfortable.

 Sailing the Maltese Islands with Barbarossa Excursions
Enjoying our boat tour

As we turned towards the first stop of the day at the tranquil Blue Lagoon, Chris explained that he likes to come here first thing on each trip. If he doesn't then the place is overrun by other tour operators by lunchtime and the relaxing vibe here has gone.

Along the way, members of the crew keep all the passengers informed of the next stop, timings and any points of interest we pass. One of the guys points out the amusing ‘Elephant Rock’ with its enormous trunk dipping down into the clear blue waters below.

It’s these little touches and local knowledge which often make all the difference to any kind of tour or trip. It’s a good start.

A full day of sailing and snorkelling in Malta

 Sailing the Maltese Islands with Barbarossa Excursions
Sailing the Mediterranean Sea in Malta

The Blue Lagoon is the first of 4 snorkelling stops which are spread across this full-day boat trip. In between, there's some sailing about between the islands of Malta, Comino and Gozo to admire the stunning rocky coastline. If you don’t have your own snorkel gear then masks are provided for a €20 deposit each.

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After around a 30-minute snorkel session at the Blue Lagoon, we headed over to the harbour at Gozo for a view of Lord Chambray Fort sitting proudly on the hill.

Built in the mid-18th Century by the Order of St John, it was originally planned as the centrepiece of a new capital city on Gozo.

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That never happened so it served as a military hospital for many years before being renovated into luxury accommodation. The views from up there are brilliant apparently.

Lunch on the boat

Then it was back over to Camino for some quality time at the Crystal Lagoon on the west side of the tiny island. There was plenty of time to snorkel in the crystal clear waters here whilst a buffet lunch of cold salads and meats was served up.

The crew also produced a motorised dinghy and offered tours of the surrounding caves and coves for an additional €5 per person. It’s a maximum of 6 at a time but well worth taking the side trip, if only for the spooky cave with a beach inside.

This was used as the entrance to reach the prison, St Mary's Tower cliff top fort in real life, in the 2002 film - The Count of Montecristo.

 Sailing the Maltese Islands with Barbarossa Excursions
A quick tour of the caves on a dingy

With everyone back on board after lunch, we set sail for Malta island once more, coming round for a quick glimpse of Popeye Village. This is another movie location, this time a full town built for the 1980 live-action film Popeye starring Robin Williams.

We’d recommend viewing it from the cliff opposite the bay itself as it’s difficult to see much from the boat.

There are 2 more snorkelling stops before the trip finishes back at your morning pick-up point. One in Paradise Bay and the final stop at Armier Bay, both on the north coast of Malta Island.

If the wind is up then the sails will be hoisted and the Barbarossa is fully powered by nature. During our trip, it was too calm for this so we stuck with the engines instead.

By this point, the clouds had well and truly descended on us so very few people were braving the water but in the scorching heat of the Maltese summer, we imagine these final stops would be very welcome indeed.

Book your Malta boat trip
View of Malta's rocky coastline from a boat

The Full Day 3 Island Sailing Trip costs €55 per adult and includes lunch, unlimited water and wine plus the use of some snorkelling gear. There's also currently a ‘children under 10 go free’ offer on this trip which could save families a few quid!

If you fancy something even more personal, there are plenty of options available from Barbarossa Excursions including private charters and romantic sunset cruises. You can also combine the boat element with a Jeep Safari or a walking tour of Gozo.

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