It’s the middle of August in Malta. The temperature is 95 degrees F, a typical day for this time of year. But that temperature is taken in the shade. Go into the sun and it can easily feel 10 to 15 degrees hotter — up to 105 degrees F. While Malta does get humid, it’s the powerful Mediterranean sun that will do you in. Try the following to keep as comfortable as you can on a hot summer day in Malta:
Walk on the shady side of the street any chance you get. Even if it’s for only two minutes, it’s worth crossing the street to get into that shade. Any break from the sun makes a difference.
Avoid waking during midday when there’s the least shade of all in the open. Plan accordingly. If you’re a tourist or jogger, get out by 9 AM and be inside somewhere by 11:30 AM. Then venture out again after 6 PM.
Avoid being in the sun early morning from 7 to 8. And I tell you this from personal experience from walking to work every day at that time. The air is very humid then, and the humidity combined with the strong rays of the rising sun makes walking in the sun is almost unbearable. Depending on your direction toward the sun, one side of you feels like it’s steaming. If you can get out before 7 AM, it’s much better.
The same goes for sunset. Walk after 7pm when the sun has gone down. While it’s going down around from 4 to 6 PM. the humidity level rises and the sun feels terribly hot. In addition, the ground and the buildings around you have been baking all day and the heat rises from them, too.
While wearing a hat (as always recommended) protects you from the sun’s radiation, it can make you sweat. It’s better to carry a light opaque sun umbrella. And while you may feel stupid, you won’t be the only one carrying one.
If you’re going to be out for a while and you know your face is going to sweat, bring along some kind of baby-wipes that you can use on your eyes. If you have sunblock on your face (which you should), it can drip into your eyes and sting them terribly. Using a soft baby wipe on your eyes helps immediately to get rid of the sweat-and-sunblock combination.
Beware of swimming in midday. The cool water, waves and breeze can be deceptive. The hot sun will still beat down on your head and can possibly make you sick (dizzy and nauseated). Swimming at 6 or 7 PM is really nice; it’s not so hot but the water is actually warmer–making it easier to get in–after being boiled all day.
Watch out for the bus tours where you sit on top in the open. The air passing by you as the bus moves may make you think you’re cooler than you are. But the sun is still beating down on you (many people also get the worst sunburns this way). It’s better to take the tour riding in the air-conditioned bus.
If you’re downtown, walk into every air-conditioned shop for that blast of cool air. Don’t worry, you can browse around for a long time. Maltese shop attendants are notoriously lazy and don’t even ask if you need help even if you want it. So you can get a break from the sun in a nice boutique. (But bring along some money; there are some really nice buys in Malta.)