January Blues? Just Make Sure They are Comino’s

There are thousands of islands in the Mediterranean. Many of which are uninhabited. Just saying, you know, if you ever had dreams of living on your own deserted island. But if you are looking to escape to one for the day, well there’s Comino. 

Only a short boat ride away from either Malta or Gozo, Comino was once a place for the exiled, plague, pirates and farming. Today Comino is a bucket-list destination where thousands of tourists’ flock to every year. 

The main attraction is undoubtedly the famed Blue Lagoon. But, if you haven’t yet crossed over to uninhabited islet Cominotto, swooned at the Crystal Lagoon, marvelled at the many Comino caves OR…climbed to the top of St Mary’s Tower add them to your To-do list and take a day trip to Comino.

Day Trip to Comino During Low Season

Usually taking a day trip involving anywhere by the sea, during the winter months is met with side-eyed glances from my friends. But this time a few were curious and wanted to know more about what else there was to do in Comino… you know besides swimming (and the inspiration behind this post).

So, before you write off a day trip to Comino during January or any other months considered “winter” …

hear me out. 

Firstly, winters in the Mediterranean and specifically Malta rarely get colder than the high teens. For instance, on Saturday, the temperatures reached 20 Celsius. At least. 

Secondly, there are plenty of things to do in Blue Lagoon (Malta) and even Comino besides swimming.

Third, January in travel speak is considered low season. Though considered cheaper in such circles, I’d argue it’s a high-value season. 

Fewer people + fewer boats = unspoilt beauty.

The secret is out about this gem, so why not enjoy Comino before the umpteenth boatload of sun-seeking tourists arrives?

My last visit to Comino was only in November just gone and before that September.

Spot the difference. 

Now, we’ve cleared that up…

here are a few things you can do: 

Exploring by Boat/Kayak

There’s plenty to explore and really nice from the sea. For such a tiny island it really has it all. Head off any in direction you see fit (or use my guide below as an itinerary.)

Starting from Blue Lagoon, you can make your way over to the other side and reach the remote Cominotto islet. I managed to swim over (with a few breaks once) so getting there with a kayak should be a doddle. 

Cominotto 

Fun fact for you: Cominotto is the largest uninhabited island of the Maltese archipelago. You won’t find any shops or cocktail bars, but you’ll discover more Comino caves and barely a soul and that’s almost the same thing, right? 

Crystal Lagoon

Continuing on from Cominotto (or Blue Lagoon) you can visit the lesser-known Crystal Lagoon, which is rockier, less blue (than those trademark Blue Lagoon blues) more aqua and absolutely beautiful. 

You can even head out and explore more other-worldly-looking caves before venturing to hidden beaches and making your way over to Santa Maria beach.  

Comino Caves

By the way, if you travel to Comino via Co-op Ferries from Marfa or Cirkewwa, the ride includes a tour around Santa Marija Caves. But is there anything better than touring a place on your own timeline?

Admittedly with it being low season, seeing the caves in January was even more special. We were the only ones at the front of the ferry and got to see it without the usual hullaballoo of people scrambling to get THAT shot.

Still, imagine exploring at the leisure of your own kayak.

Hiking Around Comino Island

I’ve spoken about the best things to see and do in Comino from the sea, so now let’s talk about hiking the island and doing a little sightseeing

Comino measures around 3 sq. metres giving you around 7 km of hiking. 

Now is probably a good time to tell you Comino got its name from the cumin spice (Kemmuna). So, as you hike the island (especially away from the sea) you’ll get a lovely big waft of the stuff, coupled with pine and just good old-fashioned fresh air.  

Save for the odd cars passing possibly from the two permanent residents or the lone policeman there aren’t any cars, or tarmac roads on Comino. So, you are free to explore undistracted. (All with the possibility of not running without into anyone). That is of course if you travel during low season aka high-value time. 

Things to See & Do in Comino

Long before the French and the Brits showed up, the Knights of Malta built lots of defensive forts to keep out invaders and the pirates that terrorised the Mediterranean.

Some sights have remained unchanged. Depending on who you ask, some sights got upgraded, others got downgraded – you decide.

In any case, there’s still plenty of things to see and do during your day trip to Comino 😉

St Mary’s Tower

If you’ve ever wondered why Comino is largely uninhabited, it’s because of those pesky pirate attacks. So, most of the people left. St Mary’s Tower was built in 1618 as part of a defensive strategy by the Knights of Malta.

Back then, wayward knights were sentenced to prison at St Mary’s Tower…

in complete isolation.

So, if any when pirates rocked up to Comino, they were forced to single-handedly defend Comino. Imagine that.

Nowadays, you can climb to the top, (though you probably won’t see pirates). St Mary’s Tower stands at 80 metres above sea level, it is perfect for panoramic views of not only Comino but Malta and Gozo. 

St Mary’s Gun Battery 

St Mary’s (or Santa Marija) Gun Battery is a semi-circular gun platform. It was created to protect Comino and the collective Maltese islands and is another defensive piece left behind by the Knights of Malta. It was restored in 1996 and considering the age of this Maltese relic (created between 1715 and 1716), it is in relatively good nick, and has been preserved well. You can visit Santa Marija’s Gun Battery every day. You’ll find it within the limits of Santa Marija.

Abandoned Isolation Hospital 

A hike will take you past the old, abandoned hospital, which creeps me out a bit, to be honest. Maybe it’s the stories.

Initially, it was built as an il-Palazz (palace) by the Knights of Malta. Once the Brits arrived il-Palazz became The Isolation Hospital. During the cholera outbreak and plague, patients were treated here.

The isolation hospital was then used again during the war, this time treating injured soldiers. Before being abandoned, it was also used as a school.

Chapel of the Return of our Holy Lady’s Return from Egypt 

Like so many of the Mediterranean islands, Comino also holds so much history….and stories. It is said the tiny chapel has existed since 1296. Though in a true Dave moment from Only Fools and Horses: not this actual Chapel.

To be fair this one has been here around 1618 (though some of the old remains are there). Because Comino comes under the local authority of Ghajnsielem (a town in Gozo), each Sunday, a priest makes the journey to Comino to hold mass. 

Comino Police Station

It’s not often that a Police Station will make a list of things to see or do in a place. Maybe Siggiewi and Sliema Police Stations might be for the architecture and location. The latter is the case for Comino Police Station which sits on the edge of Santa Marija Bay.

And is another building by the Knights of Malta. This time built in 1743. Like in the case of the priest travelling to Comino, a police officer also commutes – daily. 

Beaches

With fewer people, Comino makes for the perfect day trip. If hiking, kayaking or sightseeing isn’t your thing, you can just flop out on a beach for a day. Here are a few of my favourites: Blue Lagoon, San Niklas or Santa Marija. Take your pick.

Blue Lagoon Malta

Blue, milky-turquoise blue, teal and other varying shades of the sea with fancier-sounding variations that would give a Dulux trade painter a run for their money. Names like cyan blues, sky blue, electric blue and even duck-egg blue are the beautiful colours surrounding Blue Lagoon Malta.

I must confess: I LOVE BLUE LAGOON SO MUCH MORE DURING LOW SEASON! 

At one point during the afternoon, there wasn’t a SINGLE boat or human in the water around the Blue Lagoon and I felt so lucky! 

San Niklaw Bay 

Only 20 minutes’ walk away from Blue Lagoon is where you’ll stumble onto the small sandy Niklaw Bay. The cyan blues rim the one and only Comino Hotel. (Currently closed) and this gorgeous bay was kind of unofficially reserved for the guests of the hotel. 

Santa Marija Bay

Just next to Comino police station and after about a 10–15-minute walk you will reach the utterly peaceful Santa Marija Bay. 

Even during the peak months, it tends to be slightly less busy than The Blue Lagoon. Here we were on a sunny afternoon in January and just took a look at that Carribean-like water. There wasn’t anyone else on the beach, but using the milky-white sand, someone made sure we weren’t alone.

Swimming 

Okay, so I know what you’re thinking: And although I had initially written off swimming, there were plenty who hadn’t. Yep, even in January. But seriously, if you can’t resist those intense Caribbean-looking waters and you can bear the icy blues, what’s stopping YOU? 

Where to Stay in Comino

If after your day trip to Comino, you decide you want to stay a night or two, there isn’t any accommodation. Sadly, Comino Hotel, (the only hotel in Comino) shut up shop a few years back. There are plans to house a new hotel but that is a little way off. Until then, you do have one other option…

Tal Ful Campsite 

If you want to stay overnight in Comino, there is the option to camp at Tal Ful Campsite. To protect this natural gem (which is also home to a bird sanctuary and hundreds of trees), as you might imagine there are rules for staying at the campsite. For instance, using an actual tent and making sure you keep it down (no noise louder than 60 decibels).

Eating & Drinking 

There are a few food trucks on the island of Comino mainly serving fast food. Oh and even a cocktail bar. It’s really a truck but I noticed on Saturday there is space to seat between 2-4 people there. The cocktail bar serves alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) cocktails with a few names that may make you blush.

By now, I’m pretty sure that you have seen pictures of people posing on Comino with pineapple which has become synonymous with the Blue Lagoon. Well, this is where you get the pineapple from. All cocktails here are served in a pineapple and you can get refills all day for half price. 

*You’ll find most of the eateries at The Blue Lagoon.

Getting to Comino

Comino is easily reached in around 25 minutes by boat from the Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal or (Marfa opposite Riviera Hotel) The service is run by Co-Op Ferries and a round trip costs €13, with departures running hourly from 9am. In the rare occasion the sea is choppy, the usual drop off is the Blue Lagoon (Malta), otherwise it’s San Niklaw Bay.

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