Saint Paul’s Islands — Shipwreck on Malta Part 2

View looking north at Saint Paul’s Islands that are located at the entrance to Saint Paul’s Bay that is located on the northwest coast of Malta.

Some have suggested that Saint Paul’s Islands were the place where the ship that the Apostle Paul was on ran aground (Acts 27:6–28:1; see a brief evaluation of some of the evidence at the end of this post).

On the left (west) side of the map, note the location of St. Paul’s Bay and St. Paul’s Islands.  Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download.

The tip of this peninsula has been suggested by some to be the place where the “two seas met,” near which was the reef on which Paul’s ship ran aground (Acts 27:41).

Acts 27:41 But striking a reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves. NASB

View looking north at the rocky cliffs of the northern tip of Saint Paul’s Island. A statue of the Apostle Paul is on the left.

View of the modern “dock” on Saint Paul’s Island.

Trekking up to the “summit” of Saint Paul’s Island. On the right is a large statue of the Apostle Paul.

View a large statue of the Apostle Paul on the northern tip of Saint Paul’s Islands that are located at the entrance to Saint Paul’s Bay.

Evaluation of some of the evidence:

Acts 27:39 states:

Acts 27:39 And when day came, they could not recognize the land; but they did observe a certain bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship onto it if they could.

Saint Paul’s Bay would qualify as “they could not recognize the land”—for Alexandrian grain ships did not frequent this part of the island of Malta and thus the captain and crew would not have recognized this area.  The captains of grain ships heading from Alexandria (Egypt) to Rome would have headed north for Sicily and the Straits of Messina before reaching the east end of Malta, or in some cases would have wintered in what today is the “Grand Harbor” of Valletta, Malta.

BUT, Saint Paul’s Bay’s shoreline is basically rock scarp, and it lacks sandy beaches, and thus would NOT qualify as  “a certain bay with a beach” where the captain attempted to steer his ship.  Thus, Saint Paul’s Bay was probably not the place of the shipwreck.  (see Gatt pp. 107-109).

An example of the rocky shoreline of Saint Paul’s Bay. The Bay actually lacks beaches! Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

For a brochure detailing our April 27–May 10, 2022 trip, By Sea & Land: Paul’s Journey to Rome: Malta, Sicily, Italy on which we will again journey by Luzzu to the place of Gatt’s important discovery, contact Dr. Carl Rasmussen at

In our next post, we will examine the “Isis/Sarapis” anchor stock that Mark Gatt discovered.

For a complete discussion of the shipwreck of Paul see Mark Gatt, Paulus The Shipwreck 60 A.D.  Second edition, 2017.  Malta: Allied Publications.

For a good discussion of the shipwreck, ancient anchors, etc.,  and a vigorous interaction with the views of Robert Cornuke, see Gordon Franz “Does the ‘Lost Shipwreck of Paul’ Hold Water?  Or, Have the Anchors from the Apostle Paul’s Shipwreck Been discovered on Malta?”


3 responses to “Saint Paul’s Islands — Shipwreck on Malta Part 2

  1. Linford Stutzman

    I’m enjoying your discussion of the wreck site on Malta. We sailed the “shipwreck” route in 2004 on “SailingActs” and did careful measurements and observations as we came into St. Paul’s Bay. We concluded, after reading other arguments, that this could have been the site, but lacks some of the features that Salina Bay has. From a sailor’s perspective, I think the evidence you present makes this bay a very good possibility.

  2. Thank you! Linford is the author of Linford Stutzman Sailing Acts —Following an Ancient Voyage. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2006 in which he describes his and his wife Janet’s adventures following in the “wake” of Paul all over the Mediterranean in their sailboat—aptly named “SailingActs!” It is an exciting read!

  3. Pingback: Salina Bay — The Place of Paul’s Shipwreck? — Part 3 | HolyLandPhotos' Blog

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