Scuba Diving in Malta and Gozo: Exploring the Depths of Paradise
Beneath the crystal-clear waters of Malta, an archipelago in the Mediterranean lays hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. For scuba diving enthusiasts from around the globe, the islands of Malta and Gozo offer a world-class underwater experience, boasting a rich marine ecosystem, fascinating geological formations and a collection of utterly captivating dive sites. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of scuba diving here and we will also be exploring the unique features of just a few of the most popular diving locations and sites. At the end of the article is a comprehensive list of all the diving sites around the islands…an incredible number of 228 in total!
1. The Blue Hole, Gozo
The Blue Hole is located off the coast of Dwejra in Gozo. It is a natural wonder and one of the most iconic dive sites in the Maltese archipelago. A collapsed underwater cave leads divers through a spectacular tunnel, opening up into a mesmerising sinkhole known as the Blue Hole.
Adjacent to the Blue Hole, the now-famous Azure Window which collapsed in 2017, was a breathtaking limestone arch that added to the site’s allure. The site still attracts divers by the score who come to see the remains of the once-famous Azure Window which is now submerged. Divers can explore dramatic vertical walls adorned with vibrant corals, while caverns provide opportunities for captivating underwater photography.
Ċirkewwa is located on the northwest coast of Malta and is renowned for its diverse marine life and historic wrecks. The site is easily accessible and caters to divers of varying skill levels.
Here you will find the wreck of the Um El Faroud, a Libyan oil tanker which was intentionally sunk in 1998 and now rests at depths between 18 and 55 meters. The wreck is an underwater playground for marine life, with schools of fish and octopuses often spotted. Also in the area is the Rozi Wreck, a purpose-sunk tugboat. The Rozi sits upright at a maximum depth of 36 meters and divers can explore the wheelhouse and cargo holds.
3. The Inland Sea, Gozo
The Inland Sea is a captivating site located near Dwejra Bay in Gozo. It is a unique combination of a shallow inland lagoon with a mesmerising tunnel connecting it to the open sea. Divers can venture through the underwater tunnel that connects the inland lagoon to the open sea and this offers a thrilling passage through the submerged rocks while boats cart tourists to and fro far above on the surface. The sheltered nature of the Inland Sea fosters diverse collection of marine life, including seahorses, moray eels, and colourful nudibranchs, a group of soft-bodied marine gastropod molluscs that shed their shells after their larval stage.
4. The HMS Maori, Valletta Harbour
Located in bustling Valletta Harbour, the HMS Maori is a World War II destroyer that was sunk during an air raid in 1942. Today, it stands as a poignant underwater monument.
The historical significance of the HMS Maori is that it is not only a fascinating dive site but also a piece of history. Divers can explore the remnants of the ship, including its guns and propulsion system. The wreck has become an artificial reef, attracting a variety of marine life, from schools of barracuda to octopuses and groupers. The HMS Maori can be found lying on a sandy bottom at a maximum depth of 16 metres. Originally the wreck was about 42 metres in length but it is currently quite broken up. The original length of this destroyer was 115m and the forepart was taken to its current resting place at St Elmo Bay very near the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour.
5. Għar Lapsi
Nestled on the southwest coast of Malta, Għar Lapsi offers a unique underwater topography and a mix of shallow and deep dives. Here divers can explore intricate cave systems, adorned with colourful sponges and corals. The Għar Lapsi caves provide a captivating environment for experienced divers and features a combination of walls, caverns, and swim-throughs, creating an engaging dive experience for those diving and underwater enthusiasts that seek variety.
6. Xlendi Bay
The bay at Xlendi itself, the reef and Xlendi Cave all offer divers an unforgettable experience. Located on west coast of Gozo, the dive sites in Xlendi Bay come in the form of a beautiful shallow tunnel cave and pretty reef with lots of marine life. The Xlendi Tunnel dive site is a shallow tunnel cave of about 70m in length with maximum depth 10m. The sites are suitable for all levels of divers and the reef dive site’s depth is at a maximum of 12m while the outer reef is at about 25m with a pinnacle that reaches almost to the surface. Xlendi is home to several diving schools and clubs.
7. Xatt l-Ahmar, Gozo
Xatt l-Ahmar is a scuba diver’s heaven with several wrecks scattered around the area. MV Xlendi is a deep wreck dive and the vessel was an 80m ro-ro ferry which was scuttled for the purpose of scuba diving in 1999. This wreck is upside down at a depth of 42m. The MV Karwela is regarded as the most dived wreck in the whole of Gozo. This 50m passenger ferry was scuttled in 2006and sits upright at a depth of 40m. The MV Cominoland is a deep wreck dive and was a cruise ship of 40m in length, scuttled for scuba diving in 2006. The wreck is upright at a depth of 40m.
Both Xatt l-Ahmar Bay and Xatt l-Ahmar Reef are suitable for beginners, but as always utmost care should be taken when diving here as the location is notorious for being full of surprises.