Gozo's stunning coastline
Steeped in cultural and natural heritage, the Island of Gozo has a blend of characteristics that have astounded visitors along the years. The island's dramatic coastline, a habitat to thousands of species, is unique in the Mediterranean. The hot summer days are ideal for a swim in one of the Island's bays while the perfect warm climate during the winter months makes Gozo an optimal destination for those who would love an adventure along the rugged Gozitan shoreline. Gozo offers diving opportunities all year long in its stunning blue waters while trekkers can explore Gozo's idyllic country side, especially on a glorious sunny spring day. Although the island is primarily renowned for its heavenly summer days, the other nine months of the year offer a mixture of spectacular scenes with an unbelievable variety and contrast of colours each step of the way. No wonder Edward Lear - a 19th Century artist, illustrator, author and poet - ran out of words to depict Gozo's beauty and described the island's coastal scenery as pomskizillious and gromphibberous. The Englishman tailored these words specifically for Gozo's coast, just because no words can describe its magnificence.
Often described as one of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, Ramla Bay is Gozo's largest sandy beach which features crystal clear waters and Halocene age orange-red coloured sand. Ramla Bay has also managed to sustain a sand dune hinterland. These sand dunes, scheduled as a Level 1 Area of Ecological Importance, provide a habitat for endemic species that are exclusive to Malta as well as other rare species of flora and fauna. Ramla's Ecological importance is even more highlighted by the distinct natural communities it supports. The site is also home to some Roman remains set on the Western side of the beach. Lying at the bottom of a valley, sandwiched between two headlands, the area is sheltered by rocky cliffs, blue clay formations and hills that slope gently into the shallow sea. From the solitude and tranquility of listening to the waves washing ashore during the wintery months to the summery hustle and bustle, the islands most popular beach has what it takes to delight nature enthusiasts as well as those looking for some fun.
The western part of Gozo is dominated by the sheer beauty of Dwejra, an area of huge geologic and geomorphologic interest. The pristine site comprises of coastal cliffs, sea caves, fossil deposits, coastal erotional features and a rocky coast. Dwejra serves as a backbone for a diverse suite of habitats, some of them of very limited distribution at a national, regional and global level. These habitats have numerous resident rare species as well as migratory ones. A short visit to the area could prove to be quite educational as Dwejra is a showcase of Mediterranean ecology and biogeorgraphy. It is also rich in cultural elements spanning from the 3rd century BC to the 19th century. The place could be enjoyed all year long as both the fierce rough seas in winter and the crystal clear waters in summer provide for some entertainment. A boatride or swim followed by some trekking in the fading golden evening light will make you more appreciative of a site that is of great cultural, scientific, historic and ecologic importance. Home to the world famous Blue Hole, Fungus Rock, a Coastal Tower and the Inland Sea, Dwejra attracts thousands of visitors who are willing to spend a serene day admiring, appreciating and exploring this place of wonders woven by Mother Nature.
Traditionally a small fishing village, Xlendi has evolved into a tourist attraction that intertwines cultural and natural heritage. In spite of the recent developments done to cater for the tourist demands, the bay is still abundant in natural beauty. Snorkelers and scuba divers have a selection of caves and rugged reefs to explore while trekkers can walk their way up to the top of the cliffs and admire the scenic beauty on show. A coastal tower dominates the bay and, right below it, a host of saltpans are carved in the Maltese limestone. Xlendi has a rather small sandy beach and lies at the foot of a fertile valley. The combination of cultural and natural beauty has amazed tourists and locals alike and Xlendi has now become one of the economic hubs on the island. The development of numerous restaurants, flats, souvenir shops and a handful of hotels/guest houses mean that Xlendi is indeed the bread and butter for a number of Gozitans.
Just like Xlendi, Marsalforn has seen major developments along the years and it is fair to say that it has become the most popular tourist resort on the island. Marsalforn lies between the hill-top villages of Zebbug and Xaghra and hosts a variety of restaurants, pubs and hotels. The place is pretty lively during the summer months and somewhat deserted in the cold wintery days. The village is not limited to the usual commercial sites that usually make up a tourist resort. In fact, the outskirts of Marsalforn have been left relatively untouched and nature reigns supreme in these areas. From the peculiar rock formations at Ghar Qawqla to the salt pans in Qbajjar, it is guaranteed that anyone walking along the crescent-shaped rocky Marsalforn bay will be treated to some stunning picturesque scenes. The small sandy beach is not the only bathing area in the village, there are plenty of swimming spots that might tickle any swimming enthusiast's fancy. The bay lies at the end of a fertile valley which is dominated by a handful of hillocks. A popular hillock, bearing the statue of Christ the Saviour on its top, greets visitors arriving from Gozo's capital. Is-Salvatur Hill, as is known by locals, offers breath taking views of Gozos nature. Apart from its natural and economic importance, Marsalforn also has some historical and cultural significance. The ports importance peaked in the late 16th century when imported food supplies from Sicily were unloaded at Marsalforn.
TA' CENC CLIFFS
Situated at the south of Gozo and some 470ft above sea level, Ta' Cenc Cliffs offer stunning views all year round. The area is perfect for some trekking or just a simple stroll while admiring a splendid sunrise. For those not particularly keen on waking up early, a visit before dusk will offer some dramatic views of the disappearing sun below the western half of the horizon. Nature prevails at Ta' Cenc as the area has stayed relatively untouched. The habitat is rich in biodiversity, especially in breeding sea birds. The spectacular scene of hundreds of Shearwaters returning to their nest before nightfall is surely something that astounds visitors. The few signs of human development mostly belong to the ancient ages as the area contains some prehistoric remains of a megalithic temple. The Menhirs and Dolmens scattered around the site give further proof that Ta' Cenc served as a village in the prehistoric ages. The mysterious cart ruts, lying at the cliffs edge, have begged visitors to ask various questions, most of which have remained unanswered for hundreds of years. Ta' Cenc is indeed an area of ecological, geological and historical heritage and this further justifies the protection status it enjoys.