We spent a week anchoring and exploring this wonderful little island.
The country of Malta is made up of three islands, Malta, Gozo & Comino, with Comino being the the smallest in size at only 3.5 square kilometres and located between the two bigger islands. Small in size it may be, however it had a lot to keep us happy during our stay, and we really enjoyed the anchorages and our walks exploring the island.
Arriving on a Thursday afternoon we anchored in Santa Maria Bay off the North East of the island, great sand holding for the anchor and a really pretty 360 view around the boat of both Comino and Gozo easily seen across the water. By Friday lunch time there were 5 motor boats rafted together near Red Roo with anchors out and sterns tied to the rocks on shore. By Saturday there were 22 boats. This became a regular weekend occurrence, during the week we mainly had the anchorages to ourselves or with 3 or 4 other boats but come the weekend it seemed like half of Malta would be in a boat on the water. We can’t blame them they were looking for the same enjoyment as us.
We also spent time anchored in Crystal Cove which is a deep water anchorage under the cliffs and the islands watch tower with aqua water and caves to explore. We also spent two nights anchored in Blue Lagoon, the very popular tourist and swimming area of the island. Each day tourist boats bring hundreds of locals and tourists to the islands to swim and play in this picture perfect place, but come sun down the tranquility returned as they all left.
On shore the island is largely abandoned with the exception of a small hotel (which hasn’t yet opened for summer) and a couple of residents. However, the island has evidence of its previous inhabitants with a watch tower, church, hospital and piggery.
The Santa Marija (Saint Mary’s) Watch Tower built in 1618 standing proud which is one in a series of similar towers which reach across the three islands, making communications possible back before things such as telephones.
There is also (of course) a chapel which despite being a Sunday was closed.
Towards the middle of the island stands the abandoned Isolation Hospital (19th century) which was built to accomodate soldiers returning from plague ridden areas post war. In later years when the hospital was no longer required and when the island was home to a substantial population the building was also used as a school until there were no school children left on the island.
According to history the population of Comino was probably the largest during and immediately after the French occupation in 1798-1800 when the island served as a place of exile and imprisonment for opponents of the regime of the day. Records show that in 1897 when the island became in effect a quarantine station the population was 34 people. Those residents were expropriated from their small holdings on Comino and given compensation to resettle on either Gozo or Malta. When the quarantine station ended the island began to repopulate and by 1948 the official number of residents was 68. But by the late 50’s only three farming families remained. Today the official population is 3.
The largest ruins on the island belong to what was a piggery. Constructed during the 1970’s due to the African Swine flu wiping out the country’s pork, the government built a quarantined piggery on the small island to bring back the country’s bacon.
We also did a little natural foraging on the island and reaped a nice harvest of capers. We found many caperberry plants and have since pickled our crop and enjoyed the results.