Malta’s diving is suitable for beginners, advanced and technical divers. Its caves, reefs and wrecks are reached from either the shore or by boat.
One of Malta’s most popular dive sites is the Blue Hole, located on the west coast of Gozo. The dive begins in a pool at 40 feet (12 meters), and leads through a crevice – your window to the ocean’s clear blue waters and the octopus and lobster that live amongst the rock formations. Mediterranean parrot fish – bright orange with silver and yellow markings – will also greet you. Advanced divers can marvel at the atmospheric water reflections in the deeper caves.
Located in the north of Malta is Ċirkewwa. This is a shore dive with explores the reefs on shallow plateaus at 40 feet (12 meters). Wonderful arches and swim throughs take you to a Madonna statue at 60 feet (18 meters) where venomous scorpion fish come to pray for forgiveness. Luckier divers may spot a triggerfish. Advanced divers can continue off the plateau to 100 feet (30 meters). Due to the site’s topography it is recommended for night dives.
Beginners can experience wreck diving; off the coast of Comino lies the scuttled P-31 patrol boat at a depth of just 60 feet (18 meters). Lizard fish have found a home here. Advanced divers can explore Um El Faroud, a 377 foot (115 metre) long, 10,000 ton tanker, which sank in Valletta’s harbor in 1998. Now scuttled to the south of Malta, the main deck of this upright wreck is found at 100 feet (30 meters), as are schools of barracuda that flash like a reflection on a kitchen knife. Divers qualified in wreck diving can enter the ship through the kitchen at its stern.
If you’re not qualified in wreck diving – Malta could be the place to learn.
The warm Mediterranean waters around Malta provide a great variety of fauna, flora and fish.
The sea beds are gardens of seagrass where wrasse hide, and a fanworm’s tentacles are like delicate petals on a flower as they gently sway to scoop up plankton. Orange and red starfish slowly traverse the rocks, and an octopus squirts ink from cracks.
During the summer months seahorses can be found, and lucky divers may catch a glimpse of their ‘courtship dance’ as they hold tails and waltz on the current’s ebb. Groupers shelter in crevices, moray eels hide in holes, and red mullet dig for food in the sand with their whiskers.
John Dory rise from the deep blue to the warmer waters during the winter – long spines decorate their dorsal fin like a centurion’s helmet.
The great visibility makes for excellent photography, so take a camera and you won’t forget what you see.
For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.
Most likely sightingsPossible sightings
The Mediterranean archipelago of Malta lies to the south of Sicily, and with water temperatures still reaching 59° F (15° C) in January, it’s a suitable diving destination all year round. Only the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino are populated, and all three provide shore and boat diving as well as a wealth of architectural history dating back 5000 years.
The capital, Valletta, was awarded UNESCO world heritage status in 1980. Despite its fortifications and the baroque architecture of its churches and palaces, Valletta isn’t a city that hides from modernity. In the evenings the city’s workforce return to their homes, the boutiques close, and you can walk around the city’s narrow passages admiring the architecture like it’s a model on a catwalk. After the churches you can eat modern cuisine on the waterfront, and take your flippers off to enjoy one of the city’s nightclubs.
As the largest of the inhabited islands, Malta offers plenty of accommodation options to suit any budget. If you’re after a quieter, tranquil visit, then stay on the car-free island of Comino.
Wherever you stay – enquire about any festivals that are happening. You’ll be very welcome.
On the southern coast is Mnajdra and its megalithic temple complex made from limestone. The façade on its third temple is intact and could have been built over 5000 years ago.
On the south east coast is Marsaxlokk and the island’s second largest natural harbor. On a Sunday it hosts Malta’s largest fish market, and is renowned for its superb fish restaurants. Colourful Luzzus – traditional fishing boats with a mythical eye painted on both sides of the prow – fill the harbor’s reflections with bright colors.
The Maltese have a tradition for festivals where each parish celebrates its patron saint. The processions pass through the streets which are decorated with colourful banners. You can sample the food, dance to the music, and watch the fireworks in the evening.
Or head to one of the many secluded coves, enjoy a private picnic, and plan your next dive.
Malta’s International Airport is 5 miles (8km) south of Valletta, and is well served by Europe and North Africa. If you’re travelling from outside of these areas then connect via a European hub such as London or Amsterdam.
Taxis to Valletta cost €15. Malta Transfer offers a shuttle to major hotels, and buses, which run until midnight, serve all the main towns and Gozo’s ferry.