Advantages Being an island there's almost always a dive available whatever the weather.
Disadvantages Very heavily dived and not enough attention to conservation.
My most memorable dive in Malta was when I mistook a 500 lb bomb for a water jug. I was only a novice then, back in 1982 and this was my fourth qualifying dive. I was doing escorted dives with Divewise Services (of St Georges Bay) and on this hot summer morning we were heading for the wreck of the HMS Maori (a world war two destroyer) which was sunk by the German air force in Marsamxett Harbour, little more than 50m from the Valetta shoreline. En route to the wreck we came across what I thought was a huge broken vase and I tugged and pulled at it for a while before following the dive leader to the wreck. When the dive was over, I discovered that the vase was actually a 500 lb, unexploded German bomb that was badly cracked. The 140 metre long ship had been reduced to about 40 m by the elements but made for a very interesting dive. We went right through the wreck but only the dive leader had a torch, what a pity.There were many other excellent dive sites around the island -
The Merkanti Reef (depth 11m) off Sliema had plenty of life in summer. Rainbow Wrasse, sea squirts and surface encrusting sponges were plentiful amongst the abundance of colourful fish. A fair few small caves made the reef an interesting dive, but then, this was my first ever sea dive.The Fortizza Reef (depth 14m) about a mile SE of Dragonera Point, had a shelving bottom with numerous tunnels through the reef. We found a number of quite strange creatures there, two were named by the dive leader as Catfish and Bonelia but I've never managed to find any reference to such creatures in my vast library of marine books.
Wied-iz-Zurrieq is the place where the boats depart for the Blue Grotto. Forget the Grotto, enter the water at the departure point and swim across to the other bank. Descend and fin towards the mouth of the inlet, hugging the shore line on your right. As you follow the rocks round to the right you will reach a depth of about 26m, depending on the tide. Near here, at about 20m there is a small slit opening in the rock face which is big enough to get through, it is the entrance to a large underwater cavern. You definitely need a torch for this dive but its quite fascinating. It isn't dangerous, you can see the exit easy enough as the sun streams through it.Wied-ix-Shaqqa in the extreme SE of the island was a very intesting dive with lots of life and a maximum depth of about 14m. The entry is across very rough rocks, not unlike coke, so you need some shoes on.
Ghar Lapsi and Marfa Point (where you'll find an underwater staue of the virgin Mary) are both good dives even in the winter, and if you get to Comino then there is an excellent dive at the Santa Maria Caves.Water temperatures in summer were around 22 degrees C, and in winter about 17 degrees. Visibility was up to 25 metres in summer and slightly less in winter. A thin suit of 4 or 4 mm is advisable for physical protection, and won't cause you to overheat at all.
Divewise services is an excellent outfit run by a BSAC First Class Diver and they were the outfit I used on both of my subsequent visits to Malta.
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