On the road north of the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra temples is a turn-off (signposted) to Għar Lapsi, flanking the picturesque village of Siggiewi. The trail winds steeply to the coast and ends at a car park beside a handful of restaurants and boathouses. Strictly speaking, Lapsi is more of a hidden cove rather than the typical definition given to beaches in Malta.
What’s in a name?
The unusual name means ‘Cave of the Ascension’, Locals used to come to this cave as the final destination of their holy pilgrimage for the Ascension Day of Jesus, precisely 40 days after Easter in Malta. For many, that day also marked the first swim of the season.
Once you arrive at the car park and walk down the steps, you will find Ghar Lapsi is a natural rocky swimming pool with a cave to compliment the beautiful surroundings. It is particularly popular with snorkellers due to it being a naturally protected spot and with divers, as a shallow underwater cavern leads out to the open Mediterranean Sea.
All year-round beauty
In Summer, Għar Lapsi transforms into a very popular natural rocky swimming pool especially among locals. For professional divers, Għar Lapsi and its vivid, crystal clear blue waters offer some of the best cave diving to be found in the waters of the islands of Malta. Although there are many caverns, caves and reefs in the waters of Għar Lapsi, the favourite here is a 40m long cave. Long, shallow and well-lit, the cave is large enough for divers to swim together The fishermen’s boat houses found at Għar Lapsi double up as snack bars in the summer months while there is a popular bar and restaurant just up the road and open all year round. The surrounding terrain is also ideal for hikes and offers brilliant opportunities for rock climbing.
Aside from an abundance of marine life, as you glance towards the horizon, the small uninhabited islet of Filfla is visible. The rocky platform was initially attached to the south-west coast of Malta. The name is said to come from felfel, Arabic for pepper. The name most likely originated either due to the isle’s tiny size or its original shape which may have been reminiscent of a small pepper.
Despite its diminutive size, Filfla is a natural haven and is home to two endemic species of lizard and snail not found anywhere else in the world. Incredibly, it also supports one of the largest known colonies (five to eight thousand pairs) of the European Storm Petrel, Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis: quite an achievement for an island the size of two football pitches. For the past couple of decades, Filfla has enjoyed the status of ‘site of scientific importance’ and is strictly off-limits to visitors.
Catch the sunset
Sunsets in Malta are the epitome of #NoFilter. On days when our skies are painted with red and golden hues by the setting sun, social media explodes with stunning shots. But don’t leave your perfect snap to chance. After enjoying a day at Għar Lapsi, time your journey to catch a spectacular sunset from the top of the steps towards the recreational area, for the content of Instagram dreams! It will be worth every second of your Malta holiday.
Original article written for Il-Bizzilla magazine April 2020