Discover the underwater wonders: Ten must-Visit scuba diving sites in Malta

Deep sea diver in a strong blue ocean with air bubbles going upwards

Image: Joseph Northcutt

Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta beckons with its shimmering waters, fascinating underwater landscapes, and a rich tapestry of marine biodiversity. This archipelago, comprising Malta, Gozo, and Comino, serves as a haven for scuba divers of all skill levels, offering an array of dive sites that range from mysterious underwater caves to historic WWII wrecks. Here, we embark on an underwater journey to explore ten scuba diving sites in Malta that you definitely need to visit, each promising a unique adventure beneath the waves.

1. The Blue Hole, Gozo

Gozo’s Blue Hole is celebrated as one of the Mediterranean’s most iconic dive sites. This natural rock formation, carved out over centuries, presents a circular pool leading into an awe-inspiring underwater archway at 15 meters. Divers can marvel at the abundant marine life, including parrotfish, octopus, and moray eels, that have made this archway their home. The Blue Hole is suitable for divers with an intermediate skill level, offering both challenging depths and mesmerizing visuals.

2. HMS Maori, Valletta

Diving into the depths near Valletta, one finds the resting place of the HMS Maori, a WWII destroyer sunk in 1942. This historical wreck lies at a depth of 14 meters, making it accessible even to novice divers. As you navigate through the remains, you’ll encounter an array of marine life that has colonized the structure, providing a vivid tableau of history intertwined with natural beauty. The relatively shallow depth ensures good light and visibility, enhancing the exploration experience.

3. The Inland Sea and Tunnel, Gozo

Gozo’s Inland Sea offers a unique diving experience, starting from a lagoon through a 80-meter long tunnel to the open sea. This site caters to divers of all levels, with the tunnel’s walls adorned with a kaleidoscope of marine flora and fauna. The exit opens up to the deep blue, where the more adventurous can explore the sheer drop-offs and the bountiful life that thrives beyond. The tunnel itself is a marvel, with sunlight filtering through the water, creating an ethereal atmosphere.

4. Um El Faroud Wreck, Wied iz-Zurrieq

The Um El Faroud, a Libyan oil tanker that met its fate following an explosion in 1995, now lies 36 meters beneath the sea’s surface off Wied iz-Zurrieq. This 110-meter long wreck has become an artificial reef, hosting a diverse ecosystem of marine creatures. Advanced divers can explore the interior chambers, now home to groupers, barracudas, and the occasional amberjack. The wreck’s size and the depth at which it rests make it a site best reserved for those with appropriate experience.

5. Santa Maria Caves, Comino

Comino’s Santa Maria Caves offer a network of ten caves, each with its unique features and inhabitants. These caves are accessible to divers of varying skill levels, with the shallowest ones being perfect for beginners. Inside, divers are greeted by a spectacle of natural light effects, schools of saddled seabream, and the curious looks of Mediterranean monk seals. The caves’ relatively calm waters make this site a favorite for underwater photography enthusiasts.

6. The P31 Patrol Boat Wreck, Comino

Sunk intentionally in 2009 to create an artificial reef, the P31 patrol boat lies off Comino at a depth of 18 meters. This site is particularly popular among less experienced divers and those interested in wreck diving without the challenges of deeper waters. The wreck, easily penetrated, offers a safe environment to observe the colonizing efforts of marine life, including damselfish, wrasse, and the occasional sea bream, making it an underwater haven for biodiversity.

Picture of a deep sea diver up close with thumbs up signal
Image: Sebastian Pena

7. Cirkewwa Arch and Reef, Malta

The Cirkewwa area is renowned for its vibrant reef and the majestic natural arch that plunges into the sea. This site, with depths ranging from shallow to 30 meters, caters to both novices and seasoned divers. The arch itself is a photography hotspot, framed by a backdrop of clear blue water and teeming with life, including colorful nudibranchs, flying gurnards, and scorpionfish. Its accessibility from shore makes it a convenient choice for divers looking to explore Malta’s underwater beauty.

8. The Tugboat Rozi, Cirkewwa

Since its sinking in 1992 as an attraction for submarine tours, the Tugboat Rozi has captivated divers near Cirkewwa. Resting at 34 meters, this intact wreck offers an intriguing exploration site, with its structure now fully integrated into the marine ecosystem. Divers can swim through the pilot house, engine room, and along the deck, observing the diverse species that have claimed the Rozi as their home. The wreck’s depth requires advanced certification, ensuring a rewarding challenge for experienced divers.

9. Ghar Lapsi Cave, Malta

Ghar Lapsi, a small, picturesque bay south of Malta, hides an enchanting cave diving experience. The main attraction, a large ‘cathedral’ chamber, is filled with light from an overhead crevice, creating a serene underwater scene. The cave system extends further into smaller passages, each offering its own discoveries, from shrimp to the elusive slipper lobster. With depths not exceeding 15 meters, Ghar Lapsi is an excellent site for those new to cave diving or seeking a relaxed dive.

10. Fessej Rock, Malta

Fessej Rock, towering above and below the waterline, marks the spot for an advanced dive known for its dramatic underwater landscapes and rich marine life. The rock formation, surrounded by deep waters, attracts pelagic fish, making it an ideal spot for those hoping to encounter larger marine species. The site’s complexity, with caves and overhangs to navigate, requires a high level of diving proficiency, promising an unparalleled adventure for those up to the challenge.

Practical Tips for Diving in Malta

Scuba diving in Malta is an all-year-round activity, with the best conditions from April to October when the water temperature and visibility are at their peak. Divers should consider local dive centers for equipment rentals and guided tours, especially when exploring wrecks or undertaking more challenging dives. Preserving Malta’s underwater heritage is a shared responsibility; divers are encouraged to follow conservation guidelines, ensuring these sites remain vibrant and accessible for future generations.

Through these ten scuba diving sites, Malta reveals its underwater splendor, offering divers a world of discovery and adventure. Each site, with its own story and ecosystem, contributes to the archipelago’s reputation as a top diving destination. Whether you’re navigating the silent world of a sunken wreck or marveling at the natural beauty of underwater caves, Malta’s waters promise unforgettable experiences for divers seeking the extraordinary.

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