Marsaxlokk Bay is the largest bay in the south of the island. For centuries, it was the gateway to the islands for various waves of conquering forces. It was here that the Ottomans landed, in 1565. In 1798, Napoleon's army stopped over on Malta on its campaign to reach Egypt, displacing the Knights of Malta. In 1989, the, the year the Berlin wall fell George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev met here to officially announce the end of the Cold War.
Visitors with a taste for island fare can enjoy fresh-caught fish at moderate prices at Marsaxlokk's harbor. Sitting down to dine on excellent seafood while looking out on the harbor and the many colorful luzzus, the local fishing boats, anchored in the bay is an experience that is both romantic and inspiring.
The nearby town of Birzebbuga has a population of about 7,000 and is especially popular among families due to its central location and the safe swimming conditions and calm waters along its shore. Visitors should not let the massive cranes of the Freeport of Malta, which is located about one kilometer away, deter them. Birzebbuga is also a good base for exciting side trips, for instance to explore the 5,000-year-old monolithic temple in Borg in-Nadur or visit the "Cave of Darkness," a dripstone cave in Ghar Dalam that extends for more than 250 meters.
A visit to the Blue Grotto, on the coast near Zurrieq, is an absolute must. The grotto is 50 meters deep and can only be reached from the water. From the harbor, small boats travel to the grotto when the water is calm. The lighting conditions are especially effective early in the morning, when the rising sun shines directly into the grotto, painting the cliff walls in brilliant green, purple, or orange above the glittering cobalt-blue waters.