Malta and Gozo
On a map of the Mediterranean Sea, if you let your eye fall to the center – just South of Italy’s heel and to the west of the Mediterranean’s heart – you’ll find an enchanting archipelago comprising Malta, Gozo and Comino, along with the smaller, uninhabited islands of Cominotto, Filfla and St.Paul. The administrative capital for all the islands, Valletta, is on Malta itself under the watchful gaze of impressive fortifications commissioned by the Knights of St. John in 1524. Malta’s geographic position was beneficial for both trading and military purposes for centuries. More recently, however, the Maltese Islands are noted more for their scuba diving than for their long and checkered past. The clear blue Mediterranean sea offers some unique diving experiences with reefs, caves and wrecks to explore.
- Comino – This small island, flanked by two larger neighbors, is well worth a visit for its rural charm and superb diving. The dive at Blue Lagoon ranges in depth from about 2-15 metres/7-450 feet and is sheltered making it an ideal nursery for a wide variety of aquatic animals. The sandy areas are home to Mediterranean flounder and flying gurnards, while octopus abound in the rocky areas and young barracuda are frequently encountered.
- The Wreck of the Um el Faroud– Some consider this the best wreck dive in the Mediterranean. It’s mostly intact, more than 100 metres/330 feet long, and was prepared and scuttled in 1998 as a dive attraction. She lies upright on the seabed, with the propeller and rudder at about 33 metres/108 feet. If you have the time and the air, you can also explore the ledges and caverns on the adjacent reef.
- Reqqa Point – Perhaps the best shore dive on Gozo, the entry here puts you on a nearly vertical wall. Late in the season dorado (lampuki) come in to hunt small schools of fish, making for some spectacular predator versus prey action. Macro life populating the rocky ledges keep divers interested when the pelagics don’t show.
- Double Arch Reef – A short boat ride from Marsalforn on Gozo are two archways rising from about 40 metres/130 feet to 18 metres/60 feet. Sea bream and barracuda can be spotted here against a stunning backdrop.
- HMS Maori – This wreck sank in Valletta Harbour, Malta, in 1942. She lies in 16 metres/55 feet or less which makes her accessible to divers of all levels. She’s pretty well scattered over a relatively soft bottom so careful buoyancy control is rewarded with the best possible visibility. Keep an eye out for John Dorys and conger eels.
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Visibility – Generally more than 30 meters/100 feet.
Water Temperature – You’ll dive in water that is 15-17°C/58-63°F from December through April and 18-25°C/65-77°F from May through November.
Weather – Malta and Gozo have a hot, dry summer and a short, cool winter. Some consider the climate here to be the best in the world. Air temperatures average between 10-15°C/50-59°F in January and 21-30°C/70-83°F in July.
Featured Creatures – Expect to see barracuda, some of the Mediterranean’s bigger groupers, stingrays, cardinal fish and parrotfish. The limestone caves and craggy nooks are also ideal living quarters for moray eels, octopus, squid, and conger eels. Summer time is seahorse time in Malta, but these beautiful critters are small and masters of camouflage, so challenge your dive guide to find some.
Recommended Training – Take the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy and PADI Deep Diver courses to help you hover effortlessly along the walls. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course is a must to capture the beauty of the place. Malta and Gozo are also technical diving destinations, so look into PADI TecRec courses, including the PADI Rebreather Diver course, if interested.
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – Maltese and English. Italian is also widely spoken.
Currency – Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Major Airports – Malta International Airport is the international hub.
Electricity and Internet – Electricity is 230 volts, 50 Hz. Internet service is widely available, especially in hotels.
Topside Attractions – Malta features Baroque palaces, Napoleonic fortifications, Renaissance cathedrals and some of the oldest known human structures in the world. Malta is also home to the Hypogeum of Hal-Saflieni, which was excavated in 2500 BC. It is currently the only prehistoric temple officially named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.