Home > Malta > A bird’s-eye view of Malta

A bird’s-eye view of Malta

Our seatbelts are fastened, the engines rev up, the smell of fuel wafts through the windows and there’s a splash and ripple of waves as the seaplane lifts off from the terminal in historic Valletta.

Harbour Air's seaplane moored in Valletta.

I’m one of 14 passengers and am sitting in the first row of Harbour Air’s DeHavilland DHC-3 Turbine Single Otter plane for a 30-minute aerial tour of Malta. Even though I’ve flown in and out of Malta hundreds of times, this is the first time I’ve really seen the island properly from above. Travel experts always say to really know a country you need to see it from the water, by road and from above. I’ve seen Malta several times already from the sea, on the charming but rickety old yellow buses and now, finally, from the air.

It’s a well known fact that Malta is a densely populated and rocky island, but this is even more obvious from above.

After veering northwards, we enjoy a spectacular view of the historic and breathtaking capital of Valletta with its large harbors and fortified walls. Once we’ve reached our cruising altitude, we’re high enough to avoid turbulence but low enough to get a great view of the crowded buzzing areas of Sliema and St. Julian’s before seeing the choppy waters of St Paul’s Bay, the tourist mecca of Bugibba and the quieter coastal town of Mellieha below us.

Our pilot on the job focusing on safety and pointing out the sights.

I’m not a big fan of small planes or turbulence but the flight is relatively smooth apart from the odd bump when we cross from the land to the water and vice versa. Our pilot, a 30-year-old French Canadian is one of the few qualified seaplane pilots in Europe. He tells us that there are very few seaplane companies in Europe, compared to Canada. He’s competent and friendly and is keen to share information about the plane and sights along the way.

Once we are over the north of Malta, the concrete jungle landscape below us changes to a more rural mix of low stone walls, limestone house of characters and, to our far right, we see the sheer drop of the Dingli Cliffs.

The turquoise-colored waters of the stunning Blue Lagoon.

After a bump it’s out over the aquamarine-colored waters of the Mediterranean before flying a bit lower over the stunning Blue Lagoon and small island of Comino before reaching Malta’s second largest island – Gozo. The contrast between Gozo and Malta never ceases to amaze. Locals often say that Gozo is like stepping back to how Malta was fifty years’ ago with its sleepy villages, old men sitting smoking in roadside bars, fields with sheep and goats and potholed roads. Gozo is also very quaint in its own way with its distinguished villas and beautiful architecture which, luckily, have not been knocked down yet to make way for characterless sky-high apartment blocks like what has happened on Sliema’sTower Road.

We take a sharp left and swoop low over the Azure Window, one of Gozo’s key attractions and one of the most stunning sea arches in the world.

Final glimpses of Valletta before landing back at the sea ferry terminal.

All too soon, the 30 minutes are almost up and it’s time to head back to Valletta. We nosedive down, and land smoothly with a splash, gliding along the water before coming to a standstill at the sea ferry terminal.

If you live in Malta, or are holidaying, you’re sure to spot Harbour Air’s seaplane flying overhead several times a day. Besides offering scenic routes over the island, it also offers daily scheduled flights between the islands of Malta and Gozo. The scheduled flight takes just 20 minutes and is a good alternative if you don’t fancy the ferry crossing between the two islands or if you are strapped for time.

  1. Clinton Peterssen
    May 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Cool story/info! I’ve been to Malta about 6 or 7 times now and still haven’t taken that sea plane trip yet, but will soon as i’m always thinking about it and do see it flying around a lot and every time I arrive and depart is at night so don’t get to see much from the air that way!! Keep me posted any other stories you do about Malta as I find it such an interesting friendly little island and need to explore it more, soon.

  2. Volzie
    May 24, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Glad you liked it Clinton! Subscribe to my blog and you’ll automatically get updates about Malta and other places. /Alannah

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