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10 moments I will never forget in Malta

unforgettable family moments in malta

1. Arrival at Villa Kentia, James Villas

It was dark, but we knew we had hit on something pretty amazing.

“Good Lord” I exclaimed as I reached the top of the steep steps from the driveway to this incredible terrace and saw the villa itself. My 5yo sensed he was onto something, I’m normally very careful not to swear or blaspheme, and Good Lord is not something I would ever say, but I was so very taken aback by the size, the luxury and the incredible placement of Villa Kentia in a valley overlooking the sea, the view is just incredible. An hour later and my 5yo was still opening cupboards and doors, bouncing on beds, flicking the switch to make the pool light up, and calling out in disbelief ‘Good Lord Mummy Look!’

It was even better in daylight too.

villa kentia, james villas, malta, pool

2. Star gazing

I tried to take photos at night when we carried blankets out onto the terrace and snuggled up gazing at the stars but they didn’t come out so well. I hope, with or without photos, it is a moment they never forget. I always remember looking at the stars with my mum, its a moment I treasure and one that always grounds me when I feel lost in the world.

villa kentia, james villas, malta

3. An afternoon on Comino

Our villa was ideally situated, just 10k from the ferries to Gozo and boats to Comino. Comino is an uninhabited island with the most incredible clear water and shallow, sheltered bay. It does get very crowded, so go early or late in the day, or like we did, go at the end of the season (October). We swam and then climbed back on the rocks to dry off.

blue lagoon malta deckchair comino 2


blue lagoon comino malta

Here it is in glorious technicolour. Our first family adventure with the Go Pro. Swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Blue Lagoon in the uninhabited island of Comino and back at the villa. Music is the Swimming Song, by the fabulous McGarrigle Sisters who my mum adored, I wish she could be here to see this film. Happy memories.

On the boat back I looked at my family and my son snuggled on my husband’s knee, with his thumb in his mouth and eyelashes to die for, may daughter cuddling me full of smiles from an exhilarating afternoon and I had the  biggest feeling of love for them all. Sometimes that gets lost on the school run, amongst the chaos of home. We’ve all been closer since the holiday, we appreciate each other more.


5. Halloween at Popeye Village

The kids don’t like missing out on Halloween. But we found out that Popeye Village – the set from the Robin Williams film, now a tourist attraction – had Halloween fun and was only minutes down the road. We got to trick or treat all the houses from the film set, and better still Popeye popped up and scared us all silly! If you are ever in Malta its a fun day out in a beautiful setting and includes a boat trip.  Halloween at Popeye Village sounds legendary, 11 year olds plus can explore in the dark, it certainly looked like they were preparing the village to be super scary by night.

popeye village malta

6. Halloween fun at Villa Kentia

We spotted these squash in the local supermarket (I love foreign supermarkets – one of the joys of self catering) and had to make our own lanterns.


Pirate Ghost cat and ‘pumpkin’


Later it was time for some more trick or treating. Villa Kentia is all on one floor, but has 5 doors that open on to the outside, so was perfect for Trick or Treating.


Would you let them in? The pool lit up at night, a great safety feature and source of fascination for us all.


7. A stroll to Mellieha Bay

Just stunning, I love that Malta has so many bays, it makes swimming so safe for kids. We could access the rocky stretch of Mellieha bay by a short 10 minute walk from Villa Kentia, or drive to the sandy bay. It was great fun for beach combing, rock pooling and glass, stone and crystal collecting.


This caused huge excitement

crystals mellieha malta

My husband and our 7yo spent time on google trying to work out what it was. Then @picasso_brock on instagram told me it was:

Layers of chocolate halite /gypsum and calcite. This group of minerals together is usually found in the walls of caves after years of continuous layered growth

I love instragram tags, the #seaglass and #beachcombing tags are also fascinating.

8. Pea soup in Rampila, Valetta

‘Either you eat pea soup or we have to make a run for it when the waiter isn’t looking.’

We somehow found ourselves in Ramplia, a posh restaurant, nestled between the walls of the city of Valetta, Malta’s capital and a absolute wonder to explore. Rampila tunnels under the road and into the city walls. We spotted the place from the bridge out of the city, spent so long fathoming out how to get into it, that when it turned out to be super posh it was too late to turn back. The only thing on the menu I thought they would vaguely entertain was soup, turns out they loved it.


They also behaved beautifully for most of the time, we played boxes, a game my mum taught me, and dipped lovely rolls in soup. I ate beautiful ravilioi with pesto and pistachios.


They came out and had a water fight in the street, but hey we survived!

 9. The Ggantija Temple, Gozo

I love it when little hands touch something really old. There are so many megalithic temples on Malta, it’s an amazing place for UNESCo sites, this one was 5600 years old, older than stonehenge. This graffiti on part of the temples, which were excavated in the early 1800s, goes back only as far as 1867, but even that seems incredible somehow – look at that font!

ggantija temples malta gozo

 10. The Azure Window, Gozo


‘Thank you for bringing me here Mummy and Daddy, it was amazing.’

When we arrived the kids were complaining, we’d promised beach and this was ‘just rocks’. But this area is awe inspiring and magical. We took a 4 Euro boat trip through caves, to admire the Azure Window itself, which you see behind me, a stunning arch in the cliffs. We had ice creams and clambered on the rock, which is crammed full of fossils and resembles the surface of the moon. The sun set on Mr A’s last day of his 30s and I took this photo which brought a happy tear to my eye as the shutter clicked.


Thanks to James Villas for hosting us at Villa Kentia, it was everything we had hoped it would be, and more. A superb base for all our adventures and for entertaining our friends who live out there. For more information on James Villas in Malta please check out this page.

Find out more about what we did beyond the villa

Read my Top 5 Things in Malta with Kids on Space in Your Case

Tour the stunning doors of Malta and Gozo over on A Residence

To watch a day in the life of a James Villa, go here.

Bye for now



trunki races at james villas



  1. 12/11/2014 / 12:13 pm

    I have never been to Malta – perceived it as one for the older generation as my grandparents used to go there. I am now realising this isn’t the case – your villa and the experiences you had there are fabulous.

    • parentshaped
      27/03/2015 / 2:32 pm

      I thought that before I went, we had friends there which is why we picked it, but I keep seeing it as the latest place to take families and I was really impressed!

  2. This post just exudes love from every word and picture – so glad it was so awesome on every level. That video is wonderful and I can feel your mum with you every step, honestly XX

    • parentshaped
      27/03/2015 / 2:32 pm

      Thanks Anya, that means a lot x

  3. 12/11/2014 / 4:31 pm

    This blog post has taught me two things;
    1) I need to go to Malta (it looks amazing! and wonderful weather for October)
    2) I need a GoPro!

    • parentshaped
      27/03/2015 / 2:32 pm

      Oh they are so much fun and yes you do!

  4. Pinkoddy
    12/11/2014 / 10:42 pm

    Looks and sounds amazing (maybe apart from the pea soup). My 11 year old would have loved to gone off and explored the village in the dark.

  5. 13/11/2014 / 9:47 am

    Malta looks amazing, so many amazing highlights I’m surprised you narrowed it down to just 10

  6. 13/11/2014 / 11:07 am

    What lovely images, looks like you all had a fantastic time! Loved Malta when I was last there… maybe an idea for a holiday next year 🙂 x

  7. 13/11/2014 / 1:48 pm

    Oooh this is making me want some sun. Looks like you had a fab time and what a gorgeous place. Also LOL re the Good Lord Mummy comment 🙂 xx

  8. 13/11/2014 / 11:38 pm

    Oh wow this place looks amazing and what a stunning view. Malta has always been one of those places I have been meaning to visit for a while – I love that there are other islands nearby to explore. The James Villa sounds blissful – we also stayed in one this summer in the South of France – perfect for families. Can’t wait to read more about your trip

    Laura x

    • parentshaped
      21/11/2014 / 6:38 pm

      I had no idea what to expect,but Malta was amazing. Enjoy your villa – look forward to hearing about it.

  9. 14/11/2014 / 8:11 pm

    Such a nice holiday Penny! Lovely pictures and your family looks so happy! Would love to visit it one day!

  10. 16/11/2014 / 10:16 pm

    It looks stunning & I am even more excited for our James Villa holiday next summer now! I have never considered Malta before but i would definitely look into it now…
    Your trick or treating reminds me of ours – the 3 kids ran around the [empty] campsite field & knocked on our motorhome door!

    • parentshaped
      27/03/2015 / 2:31 pm

      It is a great place for families and I love the sound of your trick or treating!

  11. 24/01/2017 / 8:24 pm

    Love this piece. Your kids are so lucky to get this invaluable education! Malta is at the top of my list, but I’m not sure where to stay. I am a 65 year old solo traveler who is beyond the party-all-night-at-a-noisy-club stage of my life, and I don’t want to try to sleep through that. Any suggestions that are close to towns, but quiet?

    • Penny Alexander
      24/01/2017 / 8:38 pm

      Thank you, I agree they are so lucky, this trip really inspired them in so many ways. It was very peaceful where we stayed, Mellieha it is a family resort so out of school holidays would be quieter still I think, our villa was in a residential area of local’s homes and a few rented villas and very close to the ferry terminals for days out in Gozo and Comino. You would need a car though, would you be driving? We have friends who lived in Valetta, we visited them for the day and that was stunning, but very busy and noisy – perfect for a day trip! I’ve heard Gozo is pretty magical to stay on, it’s like going back in time, so unspoilt, it had lots of pretty squares and none of the resort feeling of Mellieha. Let me know how you get on, would love to know how your trip goes!

      • 24/01/2017 / 9:27 pm

        Thanks for you information. I would really prefer not to have a car, so a less residential area would be better. I love to walk, so I don’t have to be right on the beach or anything, but I would like to be able to get around using mass transit, if possible. I don’t mind touristy crowds, it’s the noise at night that keeps me awake.

I'd love to know your thoughts!