Malta is a small island nation in the Mediterranean that consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. Over one million tourists flock to Malta each year for their sun and sea holiday, with most visitors coming from Europe. Yet Malta is not only a great place for beach bums but also a destination that offers fantastic diving.
Malta is home to some of the best diving in Europe thanks to the inviting clear and warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The calmness and clarity of the water paired with the lack of dangerous marine wildlife have created the perfect destination for beginners to learn to scuba dive. There are over 200 dive sites scattered throughout the three islands.
Wreck diving is one of the best activities you can do in Malta. Photo by Mal B
June through September is the period that offers the best diving conditions, but diving is possible year-round. In the winter months, the water temperature drops dramatically and you’d need a thicker wetsuit.
The months of July, August and September offer temperatures of up to 26° C/79° F, while the lowest temperatures are recorded January through March when the water temperature can drop as low as 15° C/59° F. These winter months are also the coldest and windiest, and access to some of the sites may not be possible.
The currents in Malta are typically mild, manageable by divers of all levels. Nonetheless, you can expect strong currents on some of the wreck dive sites.
The visibility in Malta often exceeds 40 meters (131 feet) and it is generally good year-round.
The Maltese archipelago is renowned for being an excellent wreck diving destination. With not-so-spectacular reef life – not if you compare it to what you can see in tropical locations – the biggest draw for divers are probably the numerous wrecks, most of them suitable for advanced divers. Many dive sites have wrecks lying at depths of about 50 meters (164 feet) and the best wrecks are usually found at depths of over 30 meters (98 feet). There are a few shallow battleships and lots of mid-depth aircraft, submarines, and cargo vessels. Some of the best wreck dive sites in Malta include the HMS Stubborn – a 66 meter-long S-class submarine, Imperial Eagle – a former ferry boat between Malta and Gozo, MV Karwela – a 50 meter-long ferry boat, and Um El Faroud – a 100 meter-long oil tanker.
The scenic entrance to the Blue Hole. Photo by Martin Lopatka
The Blue Hole is a stunning dive site featuring a natural rock formation carved by the wind and waves over centuries. The dive starts in a fantastic 10 meter- (33 foot-) wide inland sea pool followed by a natural rock arch at a depth of about 7 meters (22 feet) that leads to the open sea. Along the Blue Hole is an area known as the Chimney, a fissure that can only be passed by one diver at a time. The chimney opens up to into the Coral Garden situated at a depth of about 8 meters (26 feet). On the way back to the surface, a big cave can be visited by those with proper qualifications.
Right next to the Blue Hole is the Azure Window, a new dive site that formed following the collapse of Malta’s iconic tourist attraction with the same name. Now, local travel operators are reviving the area by promoting the new dive site which indeed is impressive. Divers can now swim between massive boulders of whit and yellow limestone. This barren moonscape is slowly taken over by seaweed, algae, and other marine life.
Malta's marine life is rich by Mediterranean standards. Divers can spot groupers, wrasses, barracudas, stingrays, octopuses, lobsters, crabs, swordfish, red mullet, sea bass, sea bream, cow bream, dogfish, seahorses. Occasionally, the loggerhead turtle can be sighted in these waters. The common dolphin and the bottlenose dolphin can sometimes be seen on boat trips.