One of Europe’s best dive destinations, Malta is known for its clear waters hosting easy reef dives, numerous wrecks for every dive level, plus exciting deep caves and plunging walls. From tiny seahorses through to impressive tuna, barracuda and groupers, the waters are full of life wherever you dive.
The central region of the island of Malta provides divers with the opportunity to easily access their dive sites from shore, whether they want to have relaxing dives in the shallow reefs or whether they want to explore the shallow shipwrecks which lie here, both are an option here and so much more.
Diving around the island of Gozo in the Mediterranean Sea means divers are signing up for an exciting underwater adventure. The dive sites here all hold an element of thrill whether it be in the shape of shipwrecks, deep caves, steep drop offs, arches or a Blue Hole.
Diving in the Northern Region of the island of Malta means a plethora of different dive sites for divers of all levels and interests. Whether it’s shipwrecks, natural arches, night dives or reefs that divers are looking for, it can all be found just offshore here.
Diving in Malta
Often considered to be one of the best places to dive in Europe, Malta is the perfect destination for your next diving adventure. The temperate climate, warm summers and short, mild winters make this part of the world a top choice for divers. Made up of three Mediterranean islands, Malta offers a variety of dive sites suitable for all skill levels in seemingly endless visibility. With plenty of reefs, wrecks, caves and walls all with an abundance of marine life, you can be sure to experience an exhilarating dive no matter where you plunge.
As Malta is exceedingly popular within the diving community, there are plenty of dive resorts and dive centers available. Dive courses are also an option, with many divers undertaking deep dive and cave dive training thanks to the country’s epic underwater topography and vast plunging walls. If you’re not yet certified, wreck dive training is highly recommended, as there are tons of unmissable shipwrecks to explore. Malta is also perfect for beginners, where many undergo open water training in calm, clear water with no current. Technical diving is a similarly popular activity here, and many dive operators offer exciting tech dive training and courses.
The main island of Malta is the most visited and has the country’s sole airport. Most dive sites are accessible from any part of the island due to its small size. Gozo, which is a little less crowded, is accessed by ferry and also offers a number of fantastic dive sites. Some dive operators on the main island do day trips to Gozo, so even if you’re not staying there, it’s easily accessible for diving. Gozo is also home to the famous Blue Hole dive site, which is a great reason not to skip this part of Malta. Unfortunately the nearby famous Azure Window was lost to the sea when it collapsed during a storm in 2017. Comino is a tiny island that rests between both of the others, where yet again even more amazing dive sites await.
Best time to dive
Malta enjoys year-round diving possibilities. The Mediterranean climate produces mild winters and warm, long summers, with a comfortable temperature all year. There’s no bad time to go scuba diving in Malta, as visibility and marine life remains mostly unchanged, but for those who have temperature preferences, June to September is the warmest period.
The mild, short winter from December to February sees water temperatures hit lows of around 14°C (57 °F), so dry suit diving is common practice during this time. Air temperatures similarly rest around 14°C (57°F), and can drop to 12°C (53.5°F) in January and February. Even in winter, it’s usually sunny and dry, though some downpours do occur.
March, April and May see air temperatures gradually rising to around 23°C (73°F) with better weather occurring. The summer months from June to August, are hot and sunny, with air temperatures hitting around 30°C (86°F). This is the high season when tourists flock to the islands to benefit from the best of the Mediterranean climate. Ocean temperatures normally peak at 26°C (79°F) which is comfortable for those who are challenged by the cold. September and October still promise great diving, as temperatures tend to stay warm until the end of October, when more exposure protection may be recommended.
Types of diving
The majority of diving in Malta is usually from shore, as many dive sites are easily accessible by such. There are also boat diving opportunities though, especially if you dive around Comino island, which is only accessed by boat.
Easy reef diving is common practice, with wondrous coral reefs that house a wealth of marine life being plentiful. Beginners can especially enjoy Malta’s easy reef dives in crystal clear water, where current is normally nonexistent. A particularly notable reef diving spot is in Ċirkewwa in the north. Shallow reefs here accessed by shore should not be missed by beginners and advanced divers alike.
In addition, wreck diving is very common in Malta, thanks to the numerous sunken shipwrecks dotted all around the country’s coastlines. There are wrecks suitable for beginners and seasoned divers, meaning nobody has to miss out. To name a famous few, there’s the Bristol Beaufighter and Tug 2 wrecks located in the seaside town of St Julian’s. Just off the coast of Comino is the P-31 patrol boat which is great for beginners due to its shallow depth of 18 meters. More advanced divers shouldn’t miss out on the Um El Faroud wreck, which is a 115 meter (377 feet) long, 10,000-ton tanker that sank 1998. If you’re qualified, it’s possible to enter this exciting wreck for further investigation.
As mentioned, cave and deep diving are popular options in Malta, with interesting topography complimenting many of the dive sites. Arches, caves, holes, swim-throughs and tunnels all promise breathtaking dives for those who crave adventure. One of the most famous and visited deep cave spots is the Blue Hole, situated on the west coast of Gozo. Starting at just 12 meters (40 feet), you can gradually go deeper to explore caves and the life that they hold.
What to see
The warm Mediterranean ocean maintains a diverse number of marine species. From macro critters to the big boys, like Atlantic bluefin tuna and barracuda, there’s a boatload of variety to be discovered when you dive in Malta.
Wrasse, groupers and barracuda can be spotted, while fan worms feed on plankton and colorful starfish and nudibranch decorate the rocks and reefs. Octopus hide in rocky cracks, and in the summer, seahorses can be seen.
Also, moray eels, scorpionfish, stingrays, squid, blenny and spiky John Dory fish can all be encountered. Atlantic bluefin tuna pass by, and marbled electric rays glide along the seafloor. Other sightings include flounders, sea breams, damselfish, dentex and amberjacks.
Best places to dive
Maltese diving is guaranteed to spark awe no matter which site you choose on the map. With a myriad of amazing spots, it’s difficult to say which are the absolute best, but to name a few;
Santa Marina Caves - here there are ten caves that hold an array of life and are all beautifully individual. Moray eels, nudibranch, damselfish and so much more all call these caves home. Some of them are possible to enter and swim through, while others are half out of the water, meaning snorkelers can also enjoy this spot. Next, the famous Madonna statue is a popular shore dive, perfect for beginners and experienced divers alike. A shallow plateau rests at 10 meters, with deeper plateaus going down to about 30 meters for more advanced divers to check out. At this site, expect to marvel at a plunging wall with swim-through and awesome marine life, including scorpionfish and barracuda.
Reqqa Point on Gozo is among the top shore dives on the island. Lots of macro life lives on the rocky ledges, while, season depending, dorado hunt the small schools of fish that populate the site.
The Um el Faroud wreck should not be missed if you go to Malta. The mostly intact vessel is a major spot for divers, and promises a memorable dive. You can also find lots of life on the adjacent reef, where there are caverns and shelves seething with critters
One of the most famous dive site in Malta - the Blue Hole, this spot raises the bar for many deep dives all around the world. Situated in Dwejra, Gozo, it is suitable for divers of all levels of experience, due to numerous routes to choose from when exploring the site. It starts in a natural inland sea-pool, which leads to a large hole that opens up to the open ocean. Magnificent rock formations are everywhere, along with stunning marine life and coral gardens.
On Comino, you’ll find the Blue Lagoon site, which is fairly shallow, with an approximate maximum depth of 15 meters (450 feet). A whole load of life inhabits this area, from flounder blending in with the sandy areas, to octopus hiding in the rocks. Lots of colorful fish can be seen, including juvenile barracuda on occasion.