I have a knack for missing out on white sand beaches. I don’t mean to avoid them, I just happen to hit other ones instead. Black sand beach? Been there in Guatemala. A beach so thick with palm fronds that you couldn’t tell what color the sand was anyway? Saw that in the Philippines. A shoreline formed by giants? That would be in Northern Ireland. Rocky beaches, pebble beaches, garbage beaches. Yep, yep, yep. So when we arrived at Ramla Bay on Gozo, the fact that the sand beneath our toes was anything but white seemed pretty par for the course for my beach-going tendencies.
The sand was red. Not red like a firetruck, but red like someone’s hair – which is really more of an orange color. Still, when I consulted the guidebook later, red is the adjective used, so I’ll stick with that. Either way, this post isn’t actually about sand. I’m just aiming to preempt any accusations of drastic photo manipulation.
What this post is actually about is the right and wrong way to get this red sanded wonder. If you’re coming by foot from the little town of Xagħra, the short answer is, take the road. The long answer makes for more of a blog post through so read on.
When we were on Gozo last November, Malta’s second island, we set aside an afternoon to head to this beach. I was a little unclear just how long the walk would take us but the adults outnumbered the kids so I figured if Google Maps led us astray, which was a common problem on Gozo, we could just take turns carrying anyone who got tired. So we set out, swimsuits in hand, to see what we would see.
On our way there, we did it right; we took the road. From a bird’s eye view, the road seems a bit longer but it mostly just winds through peaceful farmland and, at least in the off-season of late fall, it’s really pleasant.
So you can get an idea of how far the walk was from this picture below of my sister with Millie. But note that while, yes, the water is very far off in the distance, the weather is perfect and the hills are the nice kind that roll. The kind that doesn’t make you question your parenting decisions.
And then, after our pleasant walk, we reached the bay and the picturesque afternoon continued with Instagram-worthy moments of cute kids in ruffle bathing suits gazing out over blue water and cute, chubby toes wiggling in the warm, red sand.
Now I will begin my portion of the post on the wrong route to take. It’s the path. It’s the part of Google Maps that’s a dashed line. It’s the part where Google says, “Good luck sucker, we might be labeling this route with a dashed line because it’s simply not made for cars or we might be doing so because it’s a cliff.”
Of course, I didn’t know that Google was playing this cruel joke until we’d already started on our journey and it was a little too late in the day and late in the hike to turn back.
So there we were, committed to my harebrained route. Committed while wearing flip flops after a long afternoon of swimming and sandcastle building. Oh, and we were hungry. (It should be noted that the Ramla Bay eateries mentioned in multiple places online and in guidebooks are not a thing during the off-season.)
Unfortunately, none of my pictures do the steepness of this trail any justice. Guys, it was really rocky and it was really steep and may I reiterate that we were in flip flops, hungry and in charge of two unsteady and illogical kids, the kind the might just hurl themselves toward a cliff for funsies.
And then, because I wasn’t doubting my parenting decisions enough, wouldn’t you know it, the ground started to rumble and the air started buzzing. The sound got louder and louder until we reached the point in our trek where we scared the bejesus out of a bunch of guys on dirt bikes coming around a boulder.
At first we felt like the crazy ones. There they were, on some dirt bike tour around Gozo, when suddenly they came across us crazies taking toddlers on this treacherous path. Then we got to the stairs portion of the path and I realized, while we may well be crazy, I’m not sure they knew exactly what they were doing either.
So there you have it. Take the road. Unless you’re on a dirt bike, then by all means, feel free to hurl yourself down those cliffs and hope for the best, I mean, that seemed to be the thing to do. I will say, one plus about taking that path is that if you do happen to be hungry, like we were, there is a very welcome sight once you reach the top.
The trail ends at the parking lot for people visiting Calypso Cave and while we didn’t visit the cave, we did visit the strategically placed food truck parked outside. Okay, I’m not going to lie here, this is what actually happened… We bought food, ate all of it in record time, started to leave, turned around instead, bought more food and scarfed it down again. Yeah, we were that hungry.
And because there are enough photos of people on white sand beaches out there and not nearly enough on red ones, I’ll leave you with a few more pictures from our sunny, fall afternoon at Ramla Bay.