Malta diving is good throughout the year, although most visitors prefer the months between April and October when the water and air temperature are warmer. The cooler months from October to April bring the larger pelagic species such as sharks, swordfish, and tuna. The warmer summer weather and water bring colorful reef fish, sea turtles, and seahorses. There are also plenty of schooling fish such as herring and sardines that draw the larger feeders. Water temperature is close to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in August, and even in winter it hovers slightly above 50 degrees. A substantial percentage of the Malta dive sites are accessible from the shore and beaches because the mostly rocky coastline shelves away quite rapidly. Scuba diving holidays in Malta are suitable for divers of all abilities, and all of the PADI licensed operators offer dives for different levels as well as instruction for learners.
The Maltese archipelago is a seafaring nation, with one of the largest natural harbors (Grand Harbour) in all of Europe. Ships have been coming (and wrecking) here since the time of the Phoenicians. This means that Malta diving provides many wrecks for divers to explore, in addition to reefs, walls, caves, caverns, and swim throughs. War has also played an important part in the country’s history, and one of the Malta dive sites that showcases this history is the HMS Maori, the destroyer that played a part in cracking the code that made the sinking of the Bismarck possible. She was sunk by German aircraft in Grand Harbour in 1942, and now lies at a depth of only about 45 feet just outside the harbor and the capital city of Valletta. You don’t have to be on scuba diving holidays in Malta to enjoy this wreck, and it is possible dive it in a very short time. This diving excursion is often offered to passengers enjoying Mediterranean cruises as a shore excursion.
Some of the best diving in Malta is found on the western coast, especially off the famous Blue Grotto named for the similar grotto in Capri Italy. This series of caves and grottoes, as high as 140 feet, is located on the southwest coast of Malta Island, not far from the Mnajdra and Hagar Qim megalithic temples. Although you can swim here from shore, it is a long swim and most dives of this wreck are done by boat.
An easy dive suitable for beginners can be found in Anchor Bay, on the northwest coast less than a mile from the resorts of Mellieha. Enjoying Malta diving here will also place you at one of the most unique and quirky attractions in the country, Popeye Village. This is the fictional village of Sweethaven, the film set built for the 1980 film Popeye starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall. The entire lopsided village, built with thousands of wooden planks and thousands of gallons of colorful paint, still stands and has been turned into a small theme park that will delight the entire family.
Other great Malta dive sites will be found on Gozo Island, second largest in the archipelago, and on tiny little Comino Island, famed for its beautiful Blue Lagoon. Comino’s Lantern Point on the far southwestern tip of the island boasts a maze of chimneys, tunnels, and swim throughs. You can get to this scenic point, which has a lighthouse, by hiking from the Blue Lagoon where the island’s only hotel is located. However, the dive of this site is best done by boat. You can enjoy scuba diving holidays in Malta just about everywhere on Gozo, but serious divers find that the best spots are on the west coast. Xlendi Bay and Dwerja Bay both have excellent diving. The beaches on the eastern coast have suitable dives for beginners. In general, children under 8 years old are not allowed to dive with tanks (there’s plenty of good snorkeling for them) and those between 8 and 18 require parental permission. Reliable dive operators require people over age 45 and those with certain illnesses to have a physician’s statement. Many dive companies can refer you to a physician for clearance. You must dive with a government licensed diver/instructor unless you have documented PADI Advanced Open Water Dive Certification.