Lying to the north west of Malta, the expanse of Il Majjistral Nature & History Park is characterized by dramatic coastal scenery and rural inland wilderness, filled with rock pools, jagged cliffs and diverse wildlife. The park is a region of untamed beauty, and extends from Golden Bay to Anchor Bay, and inland to the small rural village of Maikata.
A unique National Park
Looking out over the glittering Mediterranean, visitors to Il Majjistral find breathtaking scenery with panoramas of rocky cliffs, the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea, and spectacular views out to Gozo's majestic Ta' Cenc cliffs. Declared a national park in 2007, Il Majjistral is Malta's first and only national park. IIl-Majjistral Park is a naturalist's paradise and quite literally a hidden gem on the Maltese coast. 'Majjistral' is the Maltese name for the region, taken from the term used to describe the fierce winds that affect the Mediterranean.
The park is five times the size of Malta's capital, Valletta. The park marks an important initiative by the Maltese government to conserve the natural, historical, archaeological, and rural heritage of Malta.
Natural and cultural heritage
Rich in biodiversity, the national park hosts more than 400 species of plants like Maltese sea lavender and pyramidal orchids. Over 1,000 plants have been introduced since the park opened, including olives, golden samphire and myrtle, and you can spot orchids in the spring. To find out more about the park's plants, head to the new visitor center in Golden Bay. It also boasts a variety of local as well as migratory animals. It's not unusual to come across Algerian hedgehogs, weasels, bats and wild rabbits. Sunset bird watching are carefully monitored by the management.
It has diverse habitats, such clay slopes, boulder screes, maritime and clifftop garrigue, agricultural land, and sandy beaches. Here, you also find cart-ruts (these mysterious and ancient paired grooves in the rock, also known as cart tracks), rubble walls, farmhouses, tombs dating back to the Classical period. You'll also find abandoned beehives and crumbling girnas dotted about the dry fields; poignant reminders that this was once a thriving stretch of farmland - before the area became a military zone.
The park attracts trekkers during autumn, winter and spring, just be sure to bring sturdy walking shoes - this is undeniably rough terrain. Whether you choose to strike out alone or follow a guide, be sure to make time for a sunset stroll across this rugged, natural landscape looking over the crashing waves below.
Many ways of discovering the park
The more active traveler can explore Il Majjistral Park on mountain bike or horseback or even test their skill with the many water sports on offer. Rambling through the wilderness of Il Majjistral Park or relaxing on Golden Sands, one of Malta's loveliest beaches, is the perfect way to let go. Snorkeling guided-tours are also on offer within the protected area of Golden Bay. If you're looking for adventure, take out a kayak to paddle along the coast between Anchor Bay and Golden Bay. You'll get a completely different perspective of this untamed spot. Take your pick of the beautiful hidden pebble, rock and sand beaches along the way.