The name refers to the shipwreck of Saint Paul
St. Paul's Bay is a typical old-world Mediterranean fishing village situated in the north of Malta. Although it now boasts of all modern amenities such as shops, banks, a post-office, several restaurants specialising in local cuisine, pubs and open-air cafes, it still retains its old-world charm.
St. Paul's Islands
The history and present day life in St. Paul's Bay
The area is of particular significance to the Maltese and Christians for it was here that St Paul landed after being ship-wrecked en route to Rome where he was due to be beheaded. History here dates back even further and ancient relics such as Neolithic stone circles and salt pans can also be seen in various locations around the bay.
St Paul’s Bay is a popular tourist area for the Maltese (many of whom have summer houses here) and the British. This combination ensures that students will have plenty of opportunity for speaking English outside school hours.
Over the last twenty years, the popularity of St Paul’s Bay has led to an influx of tourists. Indeed, the adjacent tourist resorts of Bugibba and Qawra sprang up to cope with the demand.
The area now boasts a vast range of tourist facilities to accommodate visitors’ requirements.
Bars, nightclubs, a cinema, a casino, waterfront beach-clubs, restaurants, and cafes provide entertainment while necessary facilities such as banks, post offices, doctor’s clinics and pharmacies are all within easy walking distance from the school.
Alpha School of English is situated just 3 minutes away from the sea front promenade. The school is close to the main bus routes and is easily reached from Bugibba, Xemxija, Mosta, Mellieha and Qawra.
Situated above Sirens Water polo club is the oldest tower in Malta. Built by the Grand Master Wignacourt the tower was completed in 1609. Initially it was designed to deprive pirates and corsairs of the use of inlets. Eventually the tower became part of a series of seven towers that protected the island and made it difficult to invade.
The tower is simple but it was extremely effective. The strong square tower with thick sloping walls meant it could withstand bombardment from land or sea. Over the years additions and improvements were made.
Today there is an interesting, if small, museum and the chance to climb up onto the battlements with a spectacular view over the bay to St. Paul's Island.
St. Paul's Shipwreck Church
The present structure of the Church was started in 1950 and completed in 1956. However there has been a church on this site for some considerable time.
According to tradition the site of the church is where a fire was lit to warm the survivors of a shipwreck in 60 AD. Included among those survivors was St.Paul who was on his way to stand trial in Rome.
There are stories of a church being built on the site in the first century that was destroyed by the Arabs in 870 AD. There are no records to support this belief but there are some later details confirming there was a church on this site in the early 15th century.
Mention was made of the church during the building of Wignacourt Tower in the early 17th century and in fact Grand Master Wignacourt enlarged and improved the existing church. Part of theses improvements included three paintings for the church. Cassarino, an Italian heavily influenced by Caravaggio, was the artist. The largest of the paintings shows the landing of St. Paul and the other survivors with the shipwreck in the background. This church was completely destroyed in the Second World War but miraculously the paintings survived.
Between the small harbour and Sirens Water Polo Club you can see small pools hewn from the rock at the shore. It is widely believed that these are Roman Baths. The smaller pools were for the women and the larger pools for the men because they spent more time in the baths than women. It is not unusual to see people using the pools to relax and enjoy the water. Some things never change!
The sheltered bay of St. Paul’s offers good open water diving with plenty of local sea life ideal for the beginning diver. St.Paul's Islet has a reef that starts at 5 metres and runs as deep as 35 metres. There are a number of dive shops in the area and they provide for all levels of experience.
Exploring St. Paul's Bay
St. Paul’s Bay is an ideal base to explore the island with excellent bus links to Valletta, Sliema and Mdina. The best beaches on the island are also an easy bus ride away. Mellieha has a fine sandy beach with water sports facilities and cafés. The sea is shallow and clear making it ideal for children. Golden Bay nestles below rocks and is a wonderful spot to have something to eat and watch the sun set.
For those who enjoy a slower pace and quieter nightlife then St. Paul’s Bay is ideal. If you want to enjoy the bright lights of Bugibba or Qawra both are within walking distance. The beaches and the main towns are all easy to reach using the cheap and regular bus services.