St. Paul's Bay, Malta


The northwest coast of Malta is characterized by alternating bays and headlands. Between the Mellieha Ridge and Wardija Ridge, the Pwales Valley opens onto St. Paul’s Bay. The towns of Bugibba and St. Paul’s Bay lie along the bay’s southern shore. They represent a mix of traditional fishing village alongside newer hotels and apartments.

St. Paul’s Island

Luke recounts in Acts 2728 how Paul’s ship was lost at sea for two weeks during winter storms. Eventually, the ship ran aground on the island of Malta and was dashed to pieces by the surf, but all of the occupants survived and made it to shore. St. Paul’s Island, an uninhabited, rocky islet at the entrance to St. Paul’s Bay, is thought to be the site where the ship wrecked. Acts 27:41 states the ship ran aground on a piece of land “with sea on both sides.” This could refer to a sandbank, a reef, a headland jutting into the water, or some other similar feature.


Acts 27:39-41 (ESV) “Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. But striking a reef [place between two seas], they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf.”

St. Paul’s Shipwreck Church

Within the town of St. Paul’s Bay, St. Paul’s Shipwreck Church is located along the water’s edge. The church is also known as St. Paul’s Bonfire Church and commemorates the traditional site where the shipwreck survivors, including Paul, swam ashore and a bonfire was built for them. The church was constructed in the 14th century, but was rebuilt after a bomb destroyed the original building during World War II.

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Related Websites

See also San Pawl Milqi. For historical images of travel by sea, see Life in the Holy Land.

St. Paul’s Bay (Malta.com). A page with some basic info about the town.

St. Paul’s Statue (Din l-Art Helwa). Information about the statue of Paul on St. Paul’s Island.

The mystery of St Paul’s shipwreck (University of Malta). One researcher’s take on the problem of identifying a location for the shipwreck. The article is helpful for learning about some of the previous work that has been done at Malta, regardless of whether one agrees with the author’s conclusions.

St Pauls’ (sic) islands Malta (Wallaby 46). For someone with two minutes to spare, this video offers gorgeous aerial footage of the area.