Offering some of the best diving in Europe, Malta is a great choice for those looking for a diving holiday destination. This group of 3 small islands sits in the Mediterranean and because of the southern location, enjoys a year round temperate climate. Malta boasts the warmest winters in Europe, and on average only 90 days of rainfall. The country is extremely popular with divers, thanks to the incredible visibility, abundance of easily accessible shore diving sites and many sunken wrecks. Flights here from Europe can usually be picked up pretty cheap, with several budget airlines fly to and from Malta.
When to go diving in Malta
Diving is possible in Malta all year round, however water temperature drops dramatically in the winter months with lows of 14 degrees. As summer approaches, temperatures rise and hit a high of around 28 degrees. The busiest months are July and August, when the island is packed with visitors, however September and October still make for great diving as water temperature sits at around 26. As long as you have, or can rent, the right exposure protection for yourself, you can dive in Malta whenever you like.
Which island in Malta should you go to?
The main island of Malta is the most popular choice for visitors, as it is home to the only airport. Small in size, most dive sites are accessible from all corners of the island. Wherever you choose to stay, you are likely to be able to find a reputable dive center nearby as there are so many operating here. Most dive sites are reached from the shore, so dive centres can often pick you up and drop you off if you dive with them. Gozo is also a popular choice for holiday makers who wish to escape the crowds. Accessible by a car ferry which takes around 20 minutes, there are accommodation and dive options here too, however many dive operators from Malta regularly take customers over to Gozo for the day to dive popular sites such as the Blue Hole. Comino is a tiny island that lies between the two, and is only accessible by boat, so if you wish to dive around Comino be sure that the dive shop offers boat trips as not all shops around Malta dive from boats.
What level of diver do I need to be?
Malta is a great place to take your first steps (or fin kicks) into the world of diving. All dive centres regularly run introductory courses ranging from try dives to full Open water courses. Due to the clear calm waters and easily accessible shorelines, Malta is perfect for beginners. It is highly unlikely you will ever have to battle with strong currents or worry about low visibility.
For those already certified, there are plenty of options to further your training. The wreck specialty is extremely popular due to the sheer number of wrecks that can be used. Malta is also a great place to take the Digital Underwater Photography specialty, with visibility and string sunlight making for some great underwater pictures. Several of the dive centres offer technical courses, and there are some brilliant dive sites only accessible by tec diving.
Best dive sites in Malta
Perhaps the most famous site in Malta, and rightly so, is the Um El Faroud. Lying off the south west shore near to the popular tourist destination “Blue Grotto”, this 110 metre long oil tanker is spectacular. Sitting on the sand at around 34 metres of depth, you can only explore this massive wreck with Advanced certification. Lying around 200 metres off shore, there is a bit of a swim to get out to the wreck, however you are rewarded with the sight of a huge boat in the blue. The deck is home to tiny nudibranch, and occasionally barracuda circle the chimneys of the ship.
Other popular sites include the wreck of the P-29 Patrol boat at the northern tip of the island, in the marine protected area at Cirkewwa. For those who are restricted to 18 metres, Cirkewwa has some impressive walls teaming with macro life, plus an impressive underwater arch.
Over in Comino you can find Santa Marija caves, a shallow yet beautiful system of swimthroughs. Here you will find the iconic Z shaped swim through often seen in underwater photos from Malta, and be surrounded by the inquisitive bream who follow the divers.
What can you see while diving in Malta?
Whilst the main attractions for diving in Malta remain the impressive wrecks, accessible swimthroughs and interesting rock formations, there is still life to see. Octopus, cuttlefish and squid can often be seen camouflaged in the shallows. As for fish, damselfish are nearly always present in big swarms, and around June the tiny bright blue juveniles can be seen hiding in the seagrass. At the deeper sites, barracuda are often present, and if you are lucky you may spot a tuna. Unfortunately, sighting of sharks and turtles around Malta are rare, however not unheard of. There are many different nudibranch for those with keen eyesight, as well as hermit crabs and occasional lobster. The excellent visibility and strong sunlight offer some excellent opportunities for underwater photography.
Demi is a full time Scuba Instructor and part time traveller. She loves writing about all things dive and travel related, you can see more of her work at www.aroundtheworldwithher.com