KNOW OUR BAYS
A bay consists of an open, curved inlet in the coastline often taking the form of a U-shape, V-shape or notch with a headland on either side at the end connecting to the sea. Bays are usually shallow water bodies connecting to the open sea, and can provide good shelter for harbours and ports. Many bays have a sandy beach at their inner end making up a very picturesque and tourist attracting natural feature. Sandy beaches result from the deposition of material from the surrounding land as well as through the action of sea waves and currents. Geologically speaking bays are formed when the coastline is made up of parallel bands of hard and soft rock running perpendicular to the sea. The bands of soft rock erode (wear away by the actions of wind and water) more quickly than the bands of hard rock and this is how bays are formed.
Most of the 190Km coastline of the Maltese Islands is rocky, only a small fraction consists of sandy beaches. The eastern side of Malta has large bays forming natural harbours, such as the Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour; the south is mainly cliffs, reaching heights of up to 250 metres; whilst most of sandy beaches (at least 8 of them) are located in the northern part of the island, such as Mellieha Bay, Golden Bay, and Paradise Bay. Gozo too has sandy beaches along its northern coast….you will have surely visited Ramla l-Hamra, the largest sandy beach in the Maltese Islands.
A very rare ecosystem found on our beaches is the coastal sand dune. Coastal sand dunes were once common on our islands, but the majority have vanished because of human impact and misuse. The best remnants of sand dunes nowadays are found at Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay in Malta, and at Ramla l-Hamra in Gozo.
Now find out how much you already know about the bays of the Maltese Islands through our online quiz.