Towering gracefully over Mellieha Bay in northern Malta, the village of Mellieha draws scores of tourists to its pristine beaches and the startling blue waters of nearby Ghadira and Golden Bays. Nature reigns supreme in this quaint hideaway, with a dedicated nature preserve for migrating birds, a hand-painted grotto and hiking paths for all ages. Charming markets and sanctuaries make this Maltan village a rare find for travellers.
After watching the sun set over beaches and bays, a gentle walk up the slope to Mellieha Village leads to casual cafes, restaurants and cosy pubs along Main Street or tucked into dozens of side lanes. Divers enjoy early morning excursions to Cirkewwa for exploring the wrecks of MV Rozi and Malta’s P29 patrol boat, making it back in time to visit Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieha, a natural cave containing medieval art, painted grottos and a still- functional chapel with a painting from 60 AD. About 3 kilometres away, Popeye fans can visit a theme park at Sweet water Village, the setting of the live-action Popeye musical film starring Robin Williams.
As a small and compact village, Mellieha is best navigated by foot, although buses and taxis navigate the hills between the bay and the main town. Rental cars are typically available from hotels or larger resorts nearby. The main roadways are Triqil-Mistra, Triqil-Marfa and Triqil-Kbira, and ferries transport travellers from Gozo and Comino.
Remnants of Mellieha’s past dot the landscape, including megalithic structures such as the temple of Ghain Zeituna, and pottery and tools from numerous caves and burial sites. The caves were more populated during the Roman period through Byzantine times, with no evidence of continued occupation through the medieval period. Legend has it that St. Luke and St. Paul were shipwrecked in the area, and St. Luke painted a representation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the rocks, still visible today.