Deciding what the best scuba diving sites in Malta are is a challenging thing to do. Scuba diving in Malta growing in popularity over the past 10 years, more and more divers are coming here to dive. With more divers coming to the island every year, more of the underwater world here is getting explored. New dive sites being found as dive centres in Malta lead the way in new site exploration.
- The Maltese Islands
- Water Temperature In Malta
- Should I wear a wetsuit or drysuit?
- Best Dive Sites In Malta
- Best Novice Dive Sites in Malta
- Best Wreck Dives in Malta
- Best Tec Dives In Malta
1. The Maltese Islands
Malta is a short flight from most European countries and less than 3.5hrs from the UK. The consistently warm, clear water is a massive appeal. Malta is an ideal destination for another reason. Even if the wind is blowing hard from one direction, the dive sites on the other side of the island are accessible. Meaning, it is unlikely, unless there is a huge store, that you will be completely blown out.
Malta is situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. But you get more than just scuba diving in Malta when you come here for a diving holiday in Malta. Scuba diving in Gozo is a simple 30-minute ferry ride away. Boat diving trips to take you scuba diving around Comino are easily arranged too. When you choose Malta as your diving destination, you get three for the price of one.
2. Water Temperature In Malta
The average water temperature in Malta in May is around 19°C which is ideal for scuba diving. At this water temperature, a two-piece wetsuit is ideal (more about this in a bit). The water gradually rises in temperature as the air temperature rises. Most people will find this temperature ideal for enjoying a dip during their holiday, although some people might find it a bit cool for swimming. The water temperature ranges from around 16 C to around 26 C. This does vary each year, but this is a good guide.
3. Should I wear a wetsuit or drysuit in Malta?
The winter offers the coolest waters. Many divers choose to scuba dive in a Drysuit in winter months or complete the PADI Drysuit Specialty course when its cooler. But at all the dive sites all year round you can find divers in drysuits. The downside to the Drysuit diving is that the undersuits are really warm, not ideal on a surface interval between dives in summer months, that’s for sure.
The best wetsuit to wear scuba diving in Malta in the winter months is either a 7mm semi-dry wetsuit or a two-piece 5mm wetsuit (a full and a shorty over the top). The water cools in the winter to the 16 C to 17 C range which means you will cool faster with thinner wetsuits. Most people are fine with a two-piece suit though, however, if you feel the cold, consider layering up. The summer months are much warmer waters, with temperatures reaching 25 C in August and September. Even the dive team here at NDS Malta, who really feel the cold, dive in wetsuits in the summer. We would recommend selecting a 5mm full at this time of the year. Some divers choose a shorty, however, we would always recommend a full wetsuit.
4. Best Dive Sites In Malta
This is a list of the most popular dive sites in Malta, they are in no particular order, but are the dive sites that we enjoy diving with a variety of different divers. If you are a PADI Open Water Diver or a PADI Tec50 Trimix diver, there is something on this list for you.
- P29 Patrol Boat
- Ghar Lapsi
- Madonna Statute at Cirkewwa
- Qawra Reef
- Um El Faroud Oil Tanker
- Blenheim Bomber
- The Rozi Tug Boat
- The Imperial Eagle
- HMS Southwold
- HMS Stubborn
5. Best Novice Dive Sites In Malta
Learning to scuba dive in Malta is a great experience. The visibility is good and once you have completed your training dives there are lots of great dive sites to explore. We have outlined a few of the best beginner dive sites in Malta here.Merkanti Reef
Merkanti Reef is a beautiful reef dive around 100m from shore. It is a shallow dive spot, around 10m deep, with clear, calm waters and is the house reef to our sister company, DiveWise in St Julians Bay. The main part of the reef is a colourful stone horseshoe-shaped reef with vertical walls. The area is full of life and is home to a plethora of marine life. If you like underwater photography, then this dive site never fails to deliver. Being shallow allows even new divers plenty of time to explore and enjoy the site. You can find wrasse, octopus, crabs, cuttlefish and even a seahorse or two if you know where to look.HMS Maori
HMS Maori is one of the beginner dives in Malta if you want to dive a famous wreck in Malta. The Maori took part in a battle during the war where the allies destroyed one of the most famous ships in the German High Sea Fleet, the Bismarck. The Maori got split in two and now half of the wreck is now accessible from the bay of St. Elmo in Valletta. She lies around 100 meters from shore and there are several easy entry points. A large portion of the Maori lies below the sand and each time a big storm comes different parts of the wreck are exposed. One of these storms washed a Toyota Prius off the road and it now lies about 3m to 4m from the wreck.
But these are not the only dive sites that are great for entry-level divers, here is a list of dive sites up to 20m deep.
- Tug 2
- Tugboat 10 & St Michael
- HMS Maori
- Cirkewwa Reef
- Ghar Lapsi
- Merkanti Reef
- St Pauls Bay
6. Best Wreck Dives In MaltaP29 Patrol Boat & The Rozi Tug Boat
Cirkewwa is home to two of Malta's best-known wrecks, the Rozi Tug Boat and The P29 Patrol Boat. The P29 is a former Armed Forces patrol boat that was scuttled to form an artificial reef in 2007. This wreck was cleaned and made environmentally safe before she was sunk, making it an ideal wreck for divers. She sits around 150m from the shore and is about the same distance from the Rozi Tug Boat. The P29 is around 52m long and sits in around 34m of water. The top of her superstructure is around 14m. If you have wreck diver training you can easily penetrate the P29 with easy entry and exit points throughout the wreck. But don't worry, if you are not wreck trained there is still plenty of marine life for you to see.The Um El Faroud Oil Tanker
The Um El Faroud is often described as the best wreck dive in Malta. She is certainly one of the largest shipwrecks in Malta. The Um El Faroud was a Libyan oil tanker that ran aground and was then intentionally scuttled in Wied iz-Zurrieq in 1998. She is now one of Europe’s most popular wreck dives. One of the reasons for this is that she sits bolt upright on a sandy bottom with the shallowest part of the wreck at around 15m and the stern being around 36m around the propeller. The ship is around 110m long and 16m wide, with a split two-thirds of the way down her caused by the winter storms in 2005. The Um El Faround is roughly 150m southwest from the shore and lies alongside the West Reef. The stern is the closest to the valley and starboard side towards the West Reef wall.
Here is a list of some of the best scuba diving sites in Malta for those of you wanting to dive on wrecks.
- Tug 2
- Imperial Eagle Ferry
- Blenheim Bomber Airplane
- Lockheed P2V Neptune Airplane
- SS Margit
- Bristol Beaufighter
- Two Tugs
- MV Karwela
- MV Cominoland
- HMS Hellespont
7. Best Tec Dives In MaltaHMS Stubborn
One of the best technical dives in Malta is the HMS Stubborn, an S-Class British Royal Navy submarine. She is around 66m long and just over 7m wide. Before she sank she had a crew of 48 men on board. She now lays at a maximum depth of 56m with the shallowest point of the wreck around 45m. The Stubborn has become a very popular wreck dive for technical divers. If you wish to dive this wreck you will need to be an experienced wreck and technical diver.
She is located northeast of St Pauls Bay, laying slightly to her starboard side. The water in this area is very clear and with good weather, the Stubborn is a fantastic dive. This gigantic submarine comes into view during your descent at around 25m to 30m. When you arrive on the wreck you can clearly see the conning tower. Furthermore, there are three escape hatches on HMS Stubborn and all three of these hatches are still open.HMS Southwold
For more experienced technical divers with trimix qualifications, one of the best technical dives in Malta has to be the HMS Southwold. A Hunt Class British Destroyer that was also built in 1941 and sank on 24 March 1942. The Southwold suffered from a mine explosion under the engine room which split her in two.
She now lays in two pieces on the sea bed between 68m to 72m deep. The bow is the largest of the two sections, measuring around 40m in length. Around 300m away is the stern of the ship that is around 28m long and sits in around 72m water. Be warned this wreck can have extremely strong currents, so experience in these kinds of conditions is required before conducting this dive.
But these are not the only dive sites that are great for entry-level divers, here is a list of dive sites ideal for technical divers.
- Ras il-Hobz
- HMS Stubborn
- Um El Faroud
- Le Polynesian
- HMS St Angelo
If you want to know more about some of these wrecks, check out the Dive Sites section of our site.
Written By: Alex Varnals