Over the past decade, scuba diving in Malta has grown in popularity significantly. This is no surprise considering the many scenic dive sites that can be found around Malta, Gozo and Comino. Scuba divers will encounter dive sites with beautifully coloured coral reefs, dark caves reaching deep into some of Malta’s tall cliffs and sea-wrecks which over the years have become the habitat for various species of fish and other marine life.
What makes Malta so attractive for scuba diving is the unique topographic structure, friendly weather, their relatively clean waters and rich marine life. Apart from other positive aspects, one of the most important is that diving in Malta is an all-year-round option for divers. Even in the middle of winter the sea temperature never drops below 13 degrees Celsius. The climate and duration of sunshine at that time of year are similar to an average North European summer, sometimes even better. In stormy weather, sheltered coasts offer a sufficient number of interesting scuba diving sites.
In summer, the warm sea temperature (averaging 26 degrees Celsius) makes it possible for divers to wear a light 3mm diving suit. Diving in winter offers the advantage that many species of fish move inshore to shallower, slightly warmer waters which are not disturbed by swimmers in winter. This offers divers a much better opportunity to observe and photograph marine life.
Malta scuba diving is very attractive for experienced divers but also ideal for beginners to explore underwater locations around the Maltese islands. There are a number of PADI certified scuba diving schools in Malta who offer short beginner courses. Course instructors will take beginning divers to the more shallow waters around Qawra or Sliema, to be able to teach them the basic techniques of diving. Later on, diving instructors will move to more interesting sites, such as Ghar Lapsi (in the South, near Zurrieq and the Blue Grotto) or the Zonqor Point Tugboat wrecks.
Top dive sites around Malta
Location: Wied Iz-Zurrieq, near the Blue Grotto.
Type: Shipwreck. (10,000 Tonne container ship)
- 10,000 Tonne container ship
- 110 m (361 ft) in length
- Lies at a depth of 36 m (118 ft), with top of the funnel at 12 m (40 ft) and lowest deck at 25m (82 ft)
- Good visibility down to 30m (100 ft)
The Um El Faroud is a wreck with a tragic history: Nine Maltese dockworkers were killed when a gas explosion on board ripped through the ship in 1995. Three years after the accident, the ship was taken to its current location and scuttled to serve as a dive site. As a memorial to those who died in the accident, a brass plaque was placed on the wreck. The ship is a huge vessel at 10,000 tonnes and well worth the dive, but the swimming distance is relatively lengthy, which means that the time on the wreck is reduced to around 10-15 minutes if diving on a single cylinder. The ship offers multiple swim-throughs around the decks and the bridge and the wheelhouse is accessible as well. There is plenty of sea life around, including barracuda, sea bream and scorpion fish.
Location: Qawra (North of Malta, nearby Bugibba and St. Paul’s Bay)
- 20m (65 ft) Depth
- Good visibility down to 20m (65 ft)
- Beautiful location with plenty of marine life
This site offers quick access from shore and offers a reef dive with a maximum depth of 20m. This is a very popular site with beginner and intermediate level divers, with rich marine life and very clear waters.
Location: Marsamxett Harbour, Valletta, Malta.
Type: Shipwreck (Destroyer)
- WWII Destroyer, bombed and sank in 1942
- 35m (115 ft) in length (when still intact)
- Lies at 8-16m (26-52 ft) depth
- Good visibility down to 10m (30 ft)
The HMS Maori is a WWII British Destroyer, bombed and sank on February 14th, 1942 in Valletta Grand Harbour. The ship received a direct hit to the engine room, killing one person but thankfully no other crew members were on board at the time of the bombing. At one point it blocked a major shipping lane inside the harbour so it was towed out of the way, which broke up the wreck into two parts, one of which is diveable. Although it is partly buried in sand, the swim through is relatively straightforward and despite a lack of good visibility (for Maltese waters), this still makes for a good dive. This is a relaxed and easy dive.
Location: 800m (2600 ft) off the coast of Delimara (East Malta)
Type: Plane wreck
- WWII RAF Bomber shot down on approach to Malta
- Lies at 42m (138 ft) depth
- Good visibility down to 35-40m (115-130 ft)
- For experienced divers
Little is known about the Bristol Blenheim Bomber, which served the British Army (RAF) during WWII, but it is suspected to have been shot down on its approach to Malta. The plane wreck lies below sport diving limits and is, therefore, advisable only to experienced divers. Engine, wings and propellers can still be seen but due to the plane’s violent crash into the sea many parts are unrecognisable. The wreck hosts a variety of interesting species of marine life and seeing the wreck appear from the deep blue on your approach is truly magical. Be sure to use a dive boat and go only in calm waters, using GPS to get to its exact location. Guidance by local divers is highly recommended.
Dive sites around Gozo
Location: San Lawrenz/Dwejra, Gozo
Type: Reef dive
- Dive from a small inland bay through an underwater cave to the open sea
- Depth of 60m max (200 ft)
- Good visibility down to 30m (100 ft)
The inland sea at San Lawrenz/Dwejra in Gozo is a small inland bay surrounded by tall cliffs and open sea access through a large cave. As you enter the water at the inland sea (easy to reach, convenient location) the first part of the dive takes you through an arch in the rock with clear blue water and colourful reef, inhabited by a variety of species of fish (including tuna). Further down the dive you will get to the Blue Hole, which is a sink hole in the limestone where you can enter for a safety stop and then surface from. You can walk back to the Inland Sea, which is not easy due to rough limestone, but well worth the effort for a spectacular dive.