By Maureen Wyer
Recently I traveled from my home in Australia to the beautiful small islands of Malta to visit my partner’s family. I’d been to this stunning country before, but this was my first visit as a sea glass enthusiast.
Having only discovered the joy of beachcombing in the last few years, I knew this next visit would bring more than just seeing my relatives.
For those unfamiliar, Malta is a small country in Europe, right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea south of Sicily, Italy. Made up of three main islands, Malta is steeped in culture and heritage. The country has been inhabited for over 7,000 years and occupied by many rulers from the Phoenicians to the Romans, as well as the Greeks, Normans, and the British. As a result, the towns and villages are adorned with traditional colorful fishing boats, medieval forts, and Baroque churches. I find each and every village so atmospheric.
With this long history in mind, I began to think of all the age-old glass that must lie in the surrounding sea, waiting to be washed up onto the sands of the Maltese Islands. However, Malta is essentially a limestone rock and only has a few golden sandy beaches—and these sandy beaches have few pebbles—so I knew my chances were small.
My Maltese sea glass research leading up to this holiday fell short, as there is not a lot to be found on the internet. But, on my very first day, I was delighted when my Maltese brothers-in-law Paul and Chris pointed me towards a tiny patch of pebbles along the lengthy rocky foreshore of Sliema on the island of Malta. And there, on my first search, I found several pieces of Maltese sea glass.
The glass was small and hard to find, but the colors were gorgeous when paired with the magical Mediterranean sunset, which brought a lovely backdrop to capture photos.
I purposefully walked the promenade daily to see what the tide brought in, and each time found a few more pieces. I also ventured over to the sister island of Gozo where I was surprised to find more pebbly beaches that made for great hunting grounds. An extra surprise was the sea pottery pieces that I found, much more varied than those I find in Australia.
An added highlight of this trip was a spontaneous visit to a Maltese glassblowing factory. There are a few in Malta, with the oldest being Mdina Glass. I had visited this factory in previous years; however, this time I was beyond excited (with thanks to my Maltese sister-in-law Alison, who endured my high energy and enthusiasm that day). With my love for sea glass in mind, I witnessed the highly skilled technicians demonstrating the ancient glassblowing techniques of shaping and forming molten glass.
The Mdina Glass designs are beautifully varied and easily recognizable by the distinctive colors and myriad shapes. I particularly loved the glass sea creatures and shells, and of course I happily purchased a few pieces to take home for myself and friends.
Overall, I found more sea glass than I anticipated, and I have more Maltese bays and coves I would love to discover on my next visit.
And so, after three glorious weeks with family, I returned home “Down Under,” clutching my small bag of Maltese sea glass and sea pottery, some Mdina Glass, and the promise and excitement of returning soon.
If you ever make it to Malta, look out for the odd patch of pebbles and you may just find a small slice of Mediterranean history in a colorful piece of sea glass.
Learn more about the best beaches and destinations for sea and beach glass, seashells, fossils, rocks, and more beach finds around the world. Articles ›
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine July/August 2023 issue.