Photo: Blue Grotto © MVorobiev/iStock/Thinkstock
From the picture perfect coves of Ghar Lapsi or Xerri’s Grotto all the way to the imposing prehistoric caves of the Hypogeum, Malta offers ample opportunity for exploration beneath ground level. Should the sun prove a little too hot during your stay, we invite you to seek out these subterranean chambers and caves in Malta.
Translated as the ‘cave of darkness’, Ghar Dalam is one of Malta’s oldest caves. Positioning itself as a significant landmark, this cave contains the remains of the first settlers that inhabited the island around 7,400 years ago, as well as the fossilised remains of hippopotami and dwarf elephants that date some 500,000 years back. First discovered around the late nineteenth century, the cave may now be accessed via the on-site museum.
Located in Qrendi, more precisely in Wied iz-Zurrieq, the Blue Grotto is one of Malta’s most frequented caves, and its azure waters are a clear reason why. Take a boat ride in the morning when the water takes on its various shades of blue and the underwater flora reflects on the cave walls. Rumour has it that this site served as inspiration for Hollywood movie Troy.
Located beneath an unassuming house in Xghara in Gozo, Ninu’s Cave is amongst the most unusual caves in Malta. Discovered by local resident Joseph Rapa, the cave has now been opened to the public and may be accessed via a steep set of stairs located within the family’s home. Guided tours are generally conducted by one of the family..
A little further down from Ninu’s Cave you’ll come across Xerri’s Grotto. Also accessed via a family home, this cave was first discovered in 1923 by Antonio Xerri while he was trying to dig a well.. The cave underwent further excavations during WWII when ths subterranean chamber was used as an air raid shelter. Today, this cave is mostly known for its impressive collection of alabaster stalagmites and stalactites.
Shrouded in superstition and myth, Calypso’s Cave is believed to be the place where sea nymph Calypso kept Odysseus imprisoned for several years in Homer’s Odyssey. Nevertheless, despite its Greek mythological associations this cave is mostly known for its amazing views over the burnt orange sands of Ramla Bay below. Stroll down to the beach to enjoy a dip whilst admiring the remains of an 18th century fort built by the Knights of Malta.
Enter the large underground burial chamber dug into the rock and explore all three of its separate levels. The Hypogeum is undoubtedly one of the most impressive caves in Malta with centuries of history under its belt. First discovered in 1902, excavations prevailed until 1911, with many of the interconnecting passageways and chambers opened to the curious public in 1908. Unfortunately, the increased interest resulted in some damage to the Hypogeum’s delicate wall paintings, meaning that now, only 10 people are allowed in per day. Pre booking your tickets is highly recommended.
Translating to ‘ascension cave’, Ghar Lapsi is a popular swimming spot located further south from Blue Grotto. This cave is slightly on the smaller side, however a mask, snorkel, and set of fins will allow you to capture a great view of Malta’s underwater life through its famously clear waters. Ghar Lapsi is an extremely popular spot, especially during the summer months.