Delimara Point: Undiscovered Malta

Salt pans at Delimara Point

I come to Malta every year around February and thanks to the perseverance of some lovely friends whose mission it seems is to take me somewhere new each time, I’ve gotten to see a lot of the island. This is no mean feat as the island of Malta is just 27 km (17 mi) long and 14.5 km (9 mi) wide, with a total area of 246 square km (95 sq mi). I’ve been coming here regularly for the last 10 years or so and each time I think, this is it. I must have seen it all by now. But no. Once again, they surprised me. This time with Delimara Point.

Delimara Point Lighthouse

Delimara Point lighthouse

First up was the renovated the British-built nineteenth-century lighthouse at Delimara Point. In 2011, the Malta Maritime Authority entrusted the lighthouse to Din l-Art Ħelwa (the National Trust of Malta). [Din l-Art Ħelwa translates as this sweet land, and is the first line of the Malta National Anthem.] Today it has two self-catering apartments and can be rented out for holiday/vacation use directly from the National Trust. Unfortunately, those who had it when we called didn’t ask us in for a look around, but it’s on my list.

Delimara Point Salt Pans

Salt pans at Delimara Point

Salt pans at Delimara Point

Salt pans at Delimara Point

Delimara Point salt pans

Malta does a great line of natural salts. It’s the one thing I bring back with me each time I visit. The salt pans at Delimara Point are much smaller than the bigger ones in Salina Bay, which yield about 4000 tons of coarse salt in two harvests, but they are nonetheless spectacular. While other pans rely on the tides to flood the pans, here the saltwater is pumped up and left to evaporate, eventually leaving nothing but salt. I can only begin to imagine how beautiful it would all look in the summer sun. This documentary by Tim Lewis tells the story of salt farmers on Gozo. It takes about 10 minutes and is worth a coffee.

Fort Delimara at Delimara Point

Delimara Fort at Delimara Point

The third stop on our Delimara Point tour was the old British fort. Built by the British in the around 1876 it was one of a series of forts that protected Marsaxlokk harbour. From 1982 to 2005, though, it got a new life. Leased to a local pig farmer, it became a piggery. Apparently, there are four 38-ton guns there, the only surviving examples of their kind in the world, but they’re buried in slurry. This is one of a number of forts in Malta marked for restoration. One to come back and visit in a few years, methinks. If they get the guns out.

Delimara Gas tank in Marsaxlokk Bay

Delimara Point gas tanker

Malta is no stranger to controversy. Back in 2016, when the Armada LNG Mediterrana arrived, there was much hue and cry about the safety of anchoring a tanker with so much natural gas so close to shore. The tanker, some 300 m in length, has been leased to Electrogas in Malta by its Malaysian owners. The 33-year-old ship cost multiple millions of euro to convert into a floating storage unit. It’s refilled regularly with gas that’s piped ashore to the gas-fired Delimara power plant.

Its modernity sits in sharp contrast to the nineteenth-century lighthouse and fort. Its high-tech function contrasts sharply with the low-tech salt pans. But it, too, is a feature of Delimara Point. If you’re in Malta, take the time to visit the locale. Bring a packed lunch and enjoy the views.

Interesting reading

An account of salt harvesting in Malta

Malta and its salt pans

If you’re planning a trip to Malta, check out the Malta archive and feel free to share with those who might be interested in visiting this gem in the Med.

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