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The Republic of Malta comprises the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino. These low, arid, densely-populated islands situated midway between Europe and Africa are still of great strategic importance, as they have been over the centuries, and their history is both colourful and fascinating.


Malta is a convenient staging point for yachtsmen on passage in the central Mediterranean and a popular destination for those wishing to over-winter afloat or lay-up their yacht ashore. It has extensive facilities for yachts, easy communications and is an interesting, though small, cruising ground in its own right with picturesque harbours and attractive anchorages. There is a good live-aboard community around Marsamxett Harbour with regular quizzes, book-swaps and other social events. English is one of two official languages and is widely spoken.



The principal yachting port is Marsamxett Harbour on the north side of Valletta. (To see a map of the harbour, Click here) The harbour is divided into three main creeks, Sliema, Lazaretto and Msida. There are yacht berths in Msida Marina and on both the north and south sides of Lazaretto Creek. The outer entrance to the harbour is open to the north-east and strong winds from this direction, known locally as a gregale, send a swell rolling in. The berths in Msida Marina are reasonably well protected but those in Lazaretto Creek can be badly affected and a yacht moored there should not be left unattended while a gregale is blowing. There are no berths for yachts in Sliema Creek which can be dangerous in a gregale.


The berths in Msida Marina and on Ta’Xbiex Quay on the south-west side of Lazaretto Creek are administered by the ‘Malta Maritime Authority’. Their offices, known as the ‘Yachting Centre’, are situated on Msida Point at the entrance to Msida Marina. Berths are allocated as they become available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. They cannot be booked in advance either personally or through an agent. The greatest pressure is during September and October when visitors start to arrive for the winter whilst the permanent berth-holders still have their boats in the water. During these months berths for visitors may be unavailable or restricted to a few days but when the permanent berth-holders start to lift out in November, space becomes available and there is usually plenty of room for those who wish to over-winter afloat.


Malta Maritime Authority does not provide pick-up lines on Ta’Xbiex Quay though some berths do have lines left behind by previous occupants. If staying for a few weeks or longer many yachtsmen employ a diver to attach a line to the heavy ground-chain that runs parallel with the shore. Those not doing so lie to their own anchor.


The facilities on the Manoel Island shore of Lazaretto Creek have recently been taken over by a new company known as ‘Manoel Island Marina’.  They have already built two pontoons running out from the shore and three more are planned for the near future. The company intends to build a breakwater to shelter their berths from the gregale but no time-scale has been stated.


There is a small marina at Mgarr on the island of Gozo and an interesting harbour at Marsaxlokk in the south of Malta. A new marina known as ‘PortiMaso’ with approximately 100 berths has been built in St Julian’s Bay as part of the expansion of the Hilton Hotel.


Extensive facilities for laying-up ashore are available on Manoel Island. The principal facility, ‘Manoel Island Yacht Yard’, is very popular and advance booking is recommended. It has two travel hoists, a crane and seven slipways for vessels up to 500 tons. Security in the yard is good. ‘Manoel Island Marina’ has its own lay-up facilities. It currently lifts boats with a mobile crane but a travel hoist is planned.


There have been plans for some time to build a ‘Super-Yacht’ Marina in Grand Harbour but work has not yet been started.




Maltese telephone numbers now have 8 digits. Add ‘21’ in front of old 6-figure numbers.

Telephone code from the UK: 00 356 (no area code is required within Malta).

Telephone code to the UK: 00 44   Overseas Operator: 194

Police: 191    Ambulance: 196    Fire Brigade: 199


The unit of currency is the Maltese lira (Lm) which is divided into 100 cents. Cash Machines are widely available. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency visitors may bring into Malta, providing it is declared upon arrival. However, the maximum amount of Maltese currency that may be brought into Malta is Lm 50. Visitors may not take out of Malta more than Lm 25 in Maltese currency.


Electricity is 240v single phase, 50Hz. Sockets are the same as in the UK.


Vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road. There is a speed limit of 64 kph (40mph) on highways and 40kph (23mph) in urban areas. Public transport is cheap and efficient.


A reciprocal health agreement gives UK citizens free medical and hospital care for visitors staying less than one month. Yachtsman staying for a longer period have to pay some of the costs of treatment so may wish to take out suitable insurance.


Malta keeps Central European Time (GMT +1). Daylight Saving Time (GMT + 2) is kept from the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October.






The principal port of entry for yachts is Marsamxett Harbour but, between 16th June and 30th September, clearance in and out can also be made at Mgarr on Gozo.



Yachts arriving from abroad should contact Valletta Port Control on VHF Channel 12 when within range for entry instructions. Yachts arriving during office hours [0800 to 1200 and 1300 to 1700 (1900 during the summer)] are usually directed to the customs office at the Yachting Centre at the entrance to Msida Marina. A short section of the quay behind the marina wall is reserved for yachts seeking clearance. The formalities are simple and usually take no more than 10 minutes.


Yachts arriving outside office hours are directed to clear inwards in Grand Harbour.  This is a commercial harbour with no provision for yachts and mooring near the customs office can be difficult. Yachtsmen are strongly advised to time their arrival to enable them to clear inwards at the Yachting Centre.


Yachts and pleasure craft may be kept in Malta without liability for tax if their registered owners are non-resident foreigners, if the boats are exclusively intended for use by the owners or their authorised representatives (who must also be non-resident foreigners) and provided that the boats are not chartered out. Tax-free yachts and pleasure craft are entitled to tax-free spares.



Yachts with cats or dogs on board that have Certificates and Ear-Chips are allowed to berth alongside after the animals have been inspected by the Health Department Vet. However, yachts with uncertificated animals on board may not berth alongside at any time. Further information can be obtained from the Port Health Department.  Telephone: +356 2122 4810.



The Department of Customs requires only a Certificate of Boat Registry for the vessel and valid Passports for every member of the crew. A number of forms have to be completed when clearing in but these are simple and normally present no problems. UK citizens do not need Entry or Transit Visas. There are no restrictions on crew changes. The master of a departing vessel must present a receipt from the Malta Maritime Authority showing that all dues have been paid.


Before departure from Malta, whether by sea or by air, crew members must present themselves to the Customs and Immigration officials at the Yachting Centre where their passports will be stamped. It is particularly important to remember to do this before going to the airport. If and when the crew fly back to Malta, their passports with be ‘date-stamped’ at the airport. This procedure grants entry for three months, after which time they have to go to the Port Police in Floriana to have their passports re-stamped. This does not apply to crew who remain on the island having entered by yacht since their passports will not have been ‘date-stamped’ on entry.



Duty-free stores and fuel can be obtained by making arrangements with one of several agencies for completion of the necessary forms. 24 hours notice is required for fuel and up to 48 hours should be allowed for stores, which will be delivered under Customs supervision. Customs require yachts to leave within 24 hours of embarking duty-free stores, which may not be consumed within territorial waters.




Details can be obtained from the Valletta Yacht Club.   Telephone: +356 2133 1131.




There are many Yacht Agents operating in Malta, one of the largest being S & D Yachts Ltd. For a fee they will act on your behalf in locating goods and services but use of them is not compulsory.




Fuel is available from an anchored barge near the entrance to Msida Marina and a small road tanker tours the berths in Msida Marina and Lazaretto Creek. Camping Gaz and Calor Gas bottles can be re-filled at one of the chandlers.


There are many small shops and two large supermarkets within walking distance of Lazaretto Creek. The supermarkets stock many imported goods from the UK that are not normally obtainable in the Mediterranean and they deliver to the quayside free of charge. There are numerous chandlers and spares of all types are readily obtainable. There are several Internet Cafes and a Launderette along the seafront between Manoel Island Bridge and Sliema. Vans selling vegetables and/or fish can be found parked in strategic points around the towns on Malta. A few such vans visit the quays each day.


Drinking water is produced on Malta by de-salination. Though it is said to be of good quality when it leaves the plant, it is often contaminated at the point of delivery as it passes through old rusty iron pipes. Water and electricity at the yacht berths on Ta’Xbiex Quay are metered and charged for and new connections cannot be made there either during the evenings or weekends. However, water and electricity in Msida Marina are included in the price for berths, and can be used at any time.


There are many services available for yachts in Malta that can be difficult to obtain elsewhere in the Mediterranean with the added advantage of communication in English. Manoel Island Yacht Yard has extensive workshops for engineering and repairs of all kinds.




Malta Radio transmits daily weather forecasts in English at 0803, 1203, 1803 and 2303 local time on 2625 kHz and VHF 04 after preliminary calls on VHF 12. A Navtex transmitter gives forecasts for Malta and the surrounding waters within a 50 mile radius.




BA Chart 194 covers Malta and there are also harbour charts.

Admiralty Sailing Directions

Mediterranean Pilot Vol 1

Ports and Anchorages Handbook (Royal Malta YC)

Italian Waters Pilot Heikell (Imray)

Mediterranean Almanac Heikell (Imray)

North African Pilot RCC (Imray)




Malta High Commission, Malta House, 36-38 Piccadilly, London W1J 0LE.

Tel: 020 7292 4800   Fax:  020 7734 1831


Malta Tourist Office, Unit C, Park House, 14 Northfields, London SW18 1DD.

Tel: 020 8877 6990   Fax:  020 8874 9416

Website:   E-mail:  or


Malta Maritime Authority, Yachting Centre, Msida Marina, Ta’ Xbiex, MSD 011.

Tel: +356 2133 2800   Fax: +356 2133 2141

E-mail:  or


Customs Office, Yachting Centre, Msida Marina, Ta’ Xbiex, MSD 011.

Tel: +356 2133 5691   Fax: +356 2133 9187


Manoel Island Marina, Manoel Island, Gzira, GZR 06.

Tel: +356 2133 8589   Fax: +356 2134 1714

Website:   E-mail:


Manoel Island Yacht Yard, Manoel Island,.

Tel: +356 2133 4453/4454   Fax: +356 2134 3900

E-mail:  or


State Hospitals:  Malta: +356 2124 1251       Gozo: +356 2156 1600


S & D Yachts Ltd, 57 Gzira Road, Gzira, Malta.   Tel: +356 2133 9908   Fax +356 2133 2259.


The address for mail for yachts berthed in Marsamxett Harbour should take the form:

Yacht-Name, Msida Marina (or Ta’Xbiex Quay), The Yachting Centre, Ta’ Xbiex Seafront, MSD 11, Malta.




I wrote this report in December 2000 for inclusion in the CA/RYA Publication C2 Foreign Cruising. It was updated in December 2002 with the kind help of Claire & Jimmy James who were over-wintering in Malta at the time.