Being Maltese I am proud to write blogs about my island, and who else would have the exact details of Comino but someone Maltese and who has worked and lived on this tiny island for 2 months back in the days!
A Brief History
Comino is a tiny island in the center of the Mediterranean, only 3.5 square kilometers, between its sister islands Gozo and Malta. Now nearly uninhabited (only a family of 3 live on the island), but once had a small population of farmers during the Roman Times. In fact one can still find an abandoned building which once held a small school in the form of an all-age class for their children (opened in 1948), a small hospital to provide a quarantine station for people returning to Malta from plague –stricken ports, a shop and a pub. There is also a chapel (builtin 1618) and police station.
Comino, being isolated and having many caves and cliffs was an ideal place for pirates during the Middle ages, which they used as a base to raid passing by ships. In 1416, the St Mary’s Tower was built to protect the island from the pirates, Turkish and smugglers. It also served as a communication media between the islands. The tower has also served as a prison for those who committed minor crimes.
In later years, the Knights of Malta used Comino as a hunting ground for wild boars and hares.
Comino has been a popular location for film making. It has appeared in movies like Troy, Swept Away and mostly featured in The count of Monte Cristo.
Comino does not have many things to offer due to its size, but its main attraction, Blue Lagoon, makes up for not only Comino itself but for the whole Maltese Islands.
Blue Lagoon is a sheltered inlet, between Comino and Cominotto, with glistening aquamarine shallow waters with a sandy waterbed, making it a natural pool. Here you can find by far the cleanest sea in Malta due to the current that pass daily through the inlet. It’s ideal to spend the day there relaxing, swimming, snorkelling and also scuba diving (in an area behind Cominotto). The beaches here are tiny and its charm can be easily lost in the crowds.
It is estimated that in peak season of August Comino gets 4000-5000 visitors daily.
Best time to visit would be May and September, during the week preferably. If you want to avoid the crowds all together it is quite impossible unless you sleep on the island and get there as early as before 8.30am. At Blue lagoon you can find public toilets, water sports as well as deckchairs at EUR10 each.
There aren’t many options when it comes to sleeping on the island. The island offers one hotel, Comino Hotel, which is at San Niklaw bay, and has its own private bungalows at Santa Maria Bay, a 10 minute walk apart. The hotel is around EUR65 per person in peak season and could go down as low as EUR30 per person. Unfortunately the reviews about the hotel are not excellent, it is quite an old hotel and the food I hear isn’t great. However, it’s uniqueness being on this island attracts many guests every year.
For the backpackers, thankfully you have a cheaper and better option. Santa Maria Bay offers a free public camping ground where you can pitch your own tent for free. The camp ground is right behind the beach and there are also showers and public toilets. Just make sure you take enough food as there are no grocery stores on the island, unless you want to end up survival mode.
Things to do
If you are sleeping there make sure you get yourself to the Blue Lagoon (20 minute walk) as early as possible as mentioned earlier. Another thing on your must to do list while in Comino is head to the Comino Tower around 7pm to witness the magnificent sunset over Gozo. Climb up the stairs and walk around the tower for a 360 degrees view of the Maltese Islands. If you want to go in the tower, it is on a donation and it opens on a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, only when the flag is flying.
Getting there & back
You can get directly to Blue Lagoon or Santa Maria bay from Marfa in Malta, or Mgarr Gozo where ferries, charge EUR10, drop you off and give you a time table with the times. Returning to Malta they show you around the caves in Comino Cliffs. These operates from May to October. If you opt to stay at the hotel, they provide their own ferry for the same price with a less flexible time schedule.
Comino is definitely one of the best places to visit while in Malta so don’t miss out on it, I suggest going camping for a night or two to truly experience this beautiful island away from the crowds.