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45 Dive Centres in Malta

Malta

The Mediterranean Sea doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to diving. The water might be clear and relatively warm (for a European destination), it is quite infamous for being relatively devoid of life. Despite its tiny size, Malta has an enormous amount to offer. From ancient temples, medieval architecture, fortified cities, and sleeping fishing villages above the water, to wartime wrecks, complex underwater caves, and reefs that are teeming with life underwater. Malta should never be overlooked as an easy to reach (for Europeans) world class dive destination.

Although Malta refers to the whole country, it is also the name of the largest island of what is known as the Maltese Archipelago – with the other two being Gozo and Comino.

With a total land area of 316 km2, Malta is the tenth smallest country in the world, but with a population of 475,000 it is the fifth most densely populated. The capital city is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Unions with a total area of 0.8 km2.

Currency

Since 2008, Malta's official currency is the Euro. Cash machines and banks are found throughout most of the archipelago, so you should never need to worry about accessing cash. Debit and credit cards are accepted at most restaurants, hotels, and shops.

Language

Malta has two official spoken languages; Maltese and English. Maltese is considered the national language, however as many as 88% of the Maltese population can speak fluent English. A further 66% of the population can speak Italian – which until recently was an official language of Malta.

Maltese is a Semitic language, which means its roots are found in Arabic. Due to Malta’s proximity to Italy (and previously the Roman Empire), Maltese is the only Semitic language that uses the Latin alphabet, and the language has been heavily influenced by romance languages – specifically Sicilian and Italian.

The widespread knowledge and use of second languages in Malta makes it among the most multilingual countries in the European Union.

Religion

The constitution of Malta establishes that Catholicism is the state religion of Malta, although the constitution also guarantees freedom of religion.

Despite being so small, there are over 360 churches found within the archipelago – which is roughly one church per 1,000 residents. 87% of the Maltese population consider themselves Catholic, a further 2.5% Islamic, and 4.5% non-religious. The remaining population are spread between other religions, or would not categorise themselves under any region despite believing in a God.

Visa Requirements

Being a member of the European Union, British citizens currently do not require any visas to visit Malta (as of January 2019) – however this may change over the next few months, although any changes are unlikely as Malta is a commonwealth country.

 

Best Things to do in Malta (Non-Diving)

Explore Valletta

There are not many capital cities in the world that have UNESCO World Heritage status, so exploring Malta’s capital is an absolute must when visiting the archipelago.

The city is home to a number of churches, St John’s Cathedral, and beautiful narrow streets that need exploring. When you get tired from all the walking, you can pop into any of the numerous traditional cafes and coffee houses for a brief rest from the Mediterranean heat.

As Malta has an interesting colonial history, history buffs will love the cities extensive fortifications, consisting of curtains, bastions, and cavaliers that have been left over from former colonial powers. On a more sombre note, the city still has major scars left from WWII – most notably the destruction of the Royal Opera House. There are a number of memorials and museums regarding the war that anyone interested in war history will find fascinating.

See the Ggantija Temples

Walking through the narrow streets and back alleys of Valletta or Mdina - the old capital - it is easy to spot how past empires have left their mark on this small archipelago through architecture. While the Maltese archipelago does have it’s fair share of history over the past few centuries, possibly its most interesting historical feature comes from a time period that outdates the Roman empire.

The Ggantija Temples are found in the centre of Gozo, and date back to 3600 BC – making them the second oldest man-made religious structure on the planet, outdating the Pyramids of Giza by more than 1000 years. A feat of engineering made more impressive perhaps by the fact that the wheel had not been invented when this temple complex was built.

The site, which is now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was used for a number of religious purposes; including absolution, purification, sacrifice, and offerings.

Visit Ghar Dalam Cave and Museum

For such a small nation, Malta has its fair share of interesting geological sites to visit. The oldest of all the prehistoric sites in Malta is Ghar Dalam cave, which interestingly is one of the least visited by tourists.

The cave is a huge underground tunnel which contains the fossils of a range of extinct animals -most of which date back to the ice age. Here you can see the ancient remains of dwarf elephants, hippos, deer, and even giant mice. There are also a number of ancient tools and cooking instruments found in the cave, and there is evidence that humans have lived in the cave since before 5500BC.

 

Scuba Diving in Malta

Wreck Diving the Archipelago

Being at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, the Maltese archipelago played an important role during World War II, and unfortunately these small islands saw their fair share of bloodshed.

History buffs can get their fill of by exploring any the countries museums, shelters, and memorials. Those who are interested in history and diving can see the extent of the battles by sticking on some scuba gear and heading underwater. In fact, for many divers the wrecks are the archipelagos main attraction.

Most of the wrecks are in very good condition, and depths range from as shallow as 12 metres, to deeper than 50 metres. Notable wrecks include the sunken British aircraft - the Blenheim Bomber – the HMS Maori, and the HMS Stubborn. There are also many more recent wrecks around the islands that can be dived – some of which were intentionally scuttled to create artificial reefs and boost dive tourism.


The Blue Hole - Gozo

Often considered one of the best dive spots of Gozo, the Blue Hole is a ten metre wide inland sea pool which heads into open seas via a large rock arch.

You will begin your dive in the blue hole, and proceed to head through the enormous archway that leads into the clear blue waters beyond. Once beyond the arch, you can see some amazing rock formations which are home to many lobsters, moray eels, and octopus.

If you heard towards the reef you will find ‘the Chimney’ - a large vertical crack that beings at 18 metres and finishes at four metres in a shallow but beautiful coral garden. Here you can see a number of different reef species including Mediterranean parrotfish and schooling bream.

Santa Maria Caves – Comino

Found on the northern coast of the tiny island of Comino, Santa Maria Caves are a popular choice for divers looking for something a little bit different from reef or wreck diving.

There are ten caves that can be explored by divers, and because many of them are shallow and only partially submerged, they can be explored by divers of all levels, and even snorkellers can check out some of these stunning caverns. The larger, deeper caves should only be visited by divers with a cave certification due to the added challenges and dangers of exploring submerged cave systems.

The shallow caves are rich in marine life. You can expect to spot crabs, octopus, and spiny lobsters hiding in the crevices. There are a number of nudibranch found in the area, so don’t forget to bring your macro dioptre for your camera.

Reqqa Reef – Gozo

Reqqa Reef is one of the most popular reef dives in the Maltese archipelago, and once you have seen it, it’s easy to understand why.

The site is quite exposed so it is not recommended to dive when there is strong wind, but with good conditions you are almost guaranteed a fantastic dive. It shares many geological similarities with the other dive sites in the area – overhangs, chimneys, swim-throughs, and arches. Because the location is fairly exposed, you can find a surprisingly high diversity of marine life here. On the wall you can expect the usual suspects – octopus, eels, lobsters, and crabs – however you can also find large groupers, schooling barracuda, rays, and other pelagic species passing by in the clear blue Mediterranean waters.

Reqqa point is a wall section of the reef that drops down to nearly 60 metres, and the entire wall is encrusted in sponges with a large amount of small reef fish, nudibranchs, and other invertebrates present. Don’t forget to pack your camera if you are planning to dive here!

 

When to Visit Malta

Being a Mediterranean archipelago, the Republic of Malta has hot and dry summers, and relatively short and mild winters. The Mediterranean is an extremely enclosed body of water, which means tidal excursions are small and the sea is almost always flat – making it a great diving destination year round.

During the winter months the air temperature is usually between 10-15°C, and the water temperature averages at roughly 15°C. The warmest time of the year is during the summer months, when the temperature is normally in the high 20s. The water is warmest towards the end of summer, where it has an average temperature of 25°C.

The summer months are usually very dry – often seeing no rainfall for months at a time. Rains are expected during autumn and winter, however it is often not much, and you can still visit during these months and see very little rain.

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