This Tiny European Island — With a Population of 2 — Is Perfect for a Vacation Without the Crowds
In the middle of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea, our boat lazily bobs in the water near a limestone cliff. Fellow passengers take turns jumping into the teal water below, while others float effortlessly around the boat, pointing at a small sea cave in the distance. We're in a dreamscape called Comino, a small Maltese island home to only two people and the ultimate place to take a dip in the Mediterranean with far less crowds than a typical ocean paradise.
Comino was inhabited by farmers during Roman rule of the Maltese islands, but for long stretches of its history, it has either been scantly populated or abandoned completely. The island, home to numerous interconnected sea caves tucked away within the limestone cliffs, has attracted an array of people over the years looking for a hiding spot. In the late 13th century, Comino's caves were home to the exiled prophetic Kabbalist Abraham Abulafia. It was here in the caves that the recluse wrote "Sefer Ha-Ot" ("The Book of the Sign") and his last book, "Imrei Shefer" ("Words of Beauty"), before all signs of him were lost.
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During the Middle Ages, pirates and corsairs (privateers from the Barbary Coast) used Comino and its caves as a base to raid neighboring Malta and Gozo. The deep caves, sheltered by the rugged cliffs, were the perfect place to hide. They were also used as trading posts for raids on unlucky boats passing between Malta and Gozo. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Comino served as a place of exile or imprisonment for errant Maltese knights, some of whom were sentenced to the isolated task of manning St. Mary's Tower, the island's most notable structure that was erected in 1618 as part of a chain of defensive towers along the coast of the Maltese islands.
Today, while only two people live on Comino, the island and its cerulean waters attract visitors who come by boat to see this pristine place. It was here that movies such as "Troy" and "The Count of Monte Cristo" were filmed, and popular attractions include the famous Blue Lagoon, a shallow body of water surrounded by rock and a white-sand beach, and the Crystal Lagoon, a less-visited spot that's only accessible by boat near sea caves. Comino is also great for snorkeling and a top diving destination, with at least 10 caves to explore, including the Santa Maria caves and P31 patrol boat wreck. Each cave is unique, with underwater tunnels full of moray eels, spiny lobsters, octopuses, crabs, damselfish, nudibranchs, mullets, and banded sea bream.