The tiny isle of Comino, only 3.5 km2, is the perfect hideaway. Romantically named after the cumin herb once grown here, Comino is the perfect retreat.

Here, the colours of Malta are at their most vivid especially in winter. The Islands’ main attraction is the Blue Lagoon, a sheltered inlet of shimmering aquamarine water over white sand. Linger on Comino once the day trippers leave, and you’ll find yourself on the ultimate in secluded islands. As the sun sets, Comino will seem your notion of a typical desert island.

Comino is worth a visit all year round. In winter, it is ideal for walkers and photographers. Without urban areas, or cars, you can pick up the scent of wild thyme and other herbs. Cumin still grows here, self-seeded from the time it was cultivated. With the clear warm seas, water sports enthusiasts will find Comino paradise. The isle has some excellent dive sites.

Comino has been put to different uses over the centuries by the various rulers of the Maltese Islands. It was inhabited in the Roman period, but did not have much significance until the Knights arrived. It then had a dual role: of hunting and recreational grounds; and as staging post in the defence of the Islands against the Ottoman Turks.

The Knights built the imposing St Mary’s Fort in 1618, a landmark for miles around. The Island had proved a useful base for pirates operating in the central Mediterranean.The Knights also built a small chapel on Comino, at St Mary’s Bay.

The Knights were more interested in Comino as a hunting ground. Though stark and barren today, it seems the Island was home to wild boar and hares when the Knights arrived in 1530. The Grand Masters went to great lengths to ensure their game on Comino was protected: anyone found breaking the embargo on hunting could expect to serve three years as a galley slave.