Dive sites

Malta

Anchor Bay:
This is an ideal location when strong north-easterly winds prevent diving in many other areas. Entry to the water is from a pier. The bottom slopes gradually, reaching depths, of 28 metres. The seabed is covered with some extremely large boulders, which provide some very interesting swimthroughs and curious formations. These are ideal for octopus, groupers and reasonably larger fish. Approximately 150 metres from the bay is a large cave. The floor is at 10 metres and divers can easily surface inside and admire the dome-shaped ceiling. is rich in red algae. A little beyond the cave is a large window through the top of a prominent rock. Throughout the dive parrotfish are commonly seen, as well as medium sized groupers, and occasionally Moray eels are also seen.

Maximum depth 28 metres

Cirkewwa:
Situated in the north of the island, this location has long been a favourite among local divers, mainly for its impressive drop-off from eight to 30 metres. The area boasts a pictoresque arch and a number of caves. The arch is a cavern which has a large hole in the top, creating a narrow bridge of rock under which divers can easily gain access.

Maximum depth 36 metres

Ghar Lapsi:
In the Maltese language 'ghar' means cave. Ghar Lapsi is a fishing hamlet on the southern coast. Access to the water is easy. Within a few strokes from the entry point is a shallow system of underwater caves lit up with beams of sunlight from the numerous exits. The Ghar Lapsi area is mostly in the 15 to 20 metres depth range and offers a large area of parallel reefs and depressions with most of the typical marine fauna of the Mediterranean.

Maximum depth 20 metres

Qawra Point:
This is the southern tip of St. Paul's Bay. A large Roman anchor was recovered from the sea in this area. The profile drops slowly at first and the monotony of posidonia meadows gives way to a steep slope to 40 metres. Here many weird-shaped sponges show their magnificence by the light of a torch. A large C-shaped cave often inhabited by brown meagre and bream completes this long dive. The steep slope of the valley continues underwater. The bottom is strewn with rock which must have been carried there over the centuries. At the right of the mouth of the valley is a small cave. The bottom falls to 30 metres plus. The location comes to its full glory at night as crabs, hidden during the day, venture forth.

Maximum depth 50 metres

Wied iz-Zurrieq:
Wied iz-Zurrieq is a valley on the south coast of Malta. The steep slope of the valley continues underwater. Entry is from a small quay. The bottom is strewn with rocks which must have been carried there over the centuries. At the right of the mouth valley is a small cave. The bottom falls to 30 metres plus. The location comes to its full glory at night as crabs, hidden during the day, venture forth.

Maximum depth 30 metres

Delimara Point:
At the tip of the Delimara Peninsula, past Marsaxlokk, is a small square rock which indicates the diving area. The dive is reached by boat. An underwater reef commences at a depth of about 9 meters and drops gradually down to 12 meters where one discovers a vertical cliff down to 25 meters. There is also a cave and a vertical tunnel right back to the top of the reef. The bottom is littered with some large boulders. Amongst these one can see the elusive grouper. Beyond these on the seabed of open sand, stingrays are often seen. Throughout the dive, various other fish and marine life can be seen.

Maximum depth 25 metres

Marfa Point:
This dive is a shore dive, and starts off from a shallow lagoon. There is a reef which drops down to about 18 metres. Not far is a small cavern with a statue of the Madonna, which was placed there by a local diving club. One can find a large number of fireworms covering the rocks, as well as large numbers of cardinal fish. The dive usually ends at the foot of a small arch in the reef wall.

Maximum depth 25 metres

St. Paulís Islands:
These islands are at the western entrance to St Paul's Bay and the only way of reaching the islands is by boat. There are various dive sites at St Paul's Islands, including the location where St Paul was supposed to have been shipwrecked. Although there is nothing to show this, there are other remains such as some plates and ribs form an old destroyer and a small ferry sunk purposely in 1984. Another dive, is an open water reef dive. The seabed is covered in rocks and boulders, and small sea urchins and fireworms can be seen. Another dive is St Paul's valley, found between the two islands. The seabed is of white sand and is covered in boulders and Posidonia, where numerous wrasse can be found. Between the seagrass, broad-snouted pipefish can also be seen.

Maximum depth 25 metres

Ahrax Point:
This is the north-eastern point of Malta. There are a number of caves at the surface, inside of which there are several tunnels. The entry is a narrow inlet with depths from three to 10 metres. A 10 minute snorkel gets to the point where two options present themselves - to the left a reef rich in marine life and an impressive drop-off and to the right, an underwater entrance to a large cave. Throughout the dive there are plenty of cardinalfish, bright corals and red sponges.

Maximum depth 25 metres.


Comino

Irqieqa Point:
A thin of land on the southwestern tip of Comino with a sheer drop-off to 40 metres. The water is clear and the cold currents support large shoals of sardines and bogue that are preyed upon by amber-jacks, dentex and, sometimes, tuna. The boulder strewn depths reveal families of bream and brown meagre.

Maximum depth 50 metres.

Santa Maria Caves:
This is an ideal second dive location for those who have made the boat trip to Comino and want an interesting shallow location. The caves are very pretty and for the underwater photographer the possibilities are endless. Octopus, moray eels, small groupers and countless small fish make this a relaxing dive.

Maximum depth 20 metres.

Lantern Point:
This dive is a boat dive and starts from a shallow rocky shelf at 6 metres, where the boat usually anchors. Above the entrance to a 'chimney', an almost vertical tunnel, drops down to 16 metres. The tunnel is wide enough for divers to manoeuvre without touching the sides with fireworms. Outside the tunnel and slightly to the right, divers can enjoy a maze of swimthroughs, underneath the massive rock, where starfish can be seen. Behind the large rock, there are boulders, giving way to a gentle slope at about 50 metres. Nooks and crannies close to the seabed are home for large groupers and the occasional dentex.

Maximum depth 50 metres

Cominotto Reef::
Cominotto Reef Cominotto is a smaller island off the north-west corner of Comino. Northwest of Cominotto is an underwater reef. This is a boat dive with good anchorage. The average depth is of 18 metres and the maximum depth is 36 metres. During the dive one comes across massive boulders with interesting holes and caverns, where creatures such as burrowing anemones and peacock worms hide. There is also an abundance of tube worms, soft corals and red sponge, which add colour to these shaded areas.

Maximum depth 36 metres


Gozo

Dwejra Point:
Dwejra is one of the most spectacular dive sites in Malta, with deep water (60 metres) and many caves and arches. The most dramatic is the 35 metre long tunnel that opens from the Inland Sea to the open sea, where the bottom drops suddenly. The clear waters and depths can be deceptive. This dive is the right place for divers looking for the abundant marine life.

Maximum depth 60 metres.

The Blue Hole and The Chimney:
This site is located in front of the Azure Window at the bottom of Dwejra Point. It is a shore dive, which is reached via a fairly difficult walk over rough coralline limestone, however steps have been carved into the rocks leading down to the Blue Hole. This is a natural rock formation carved out over the centuries by wind and waves which goes down to a depth of 26 metres. The hole is about one metre above sea level and and no more than 10 metres wide and 5 metres across. However, a few metres down, this gives way to unlimited access to the sea on exiting a huge archway. A large cave can also be found at the bottom of the hole. The Chimney is entered one diver at a time through a fissure in the almost vertical rock. This opens up at a depth of around 8 metres. Througout the dive, one can see various species of fish, starfish and bristle worms. This dive is perfect for photography.

Maximum depth 50 metres

Crocodile Rock and Coral Cave:
The crocodile-shaped rock is just offshore between Dwejra Point and Fungus rock. It can be reached both by boat or from the rocky shore. Heading westerly towards the left of the rock, one finds a square shute pointing towards the deeper water, revealing a steep cliff. The cliff drops vertically down to 38 metres, where the seabed is covered in boulders. In this area one can see groupers and shoals of salema. Keeping the cliff-face to the right, one will eventually reach the Coral Cave. This is a huge semi-circular opening with 20 metres across the sandy bottom, at a depth of around 22 metres. Within the cave, using a torch, one can see different types of coral sponges, virgin lace, and the quite rare marine goldfish.

Maximum depth 45 metres

Fungus Rock:
Fungus Rock is a huge rock in Dwejra Bay, on the western coast of Gozo. Access is only by boat. The average depth is of 40 metres. This isolated rock has a hole running through its northern part. Underwater, the scenery is as impressive as above, with vertical walls, fissures, gulleys and caverns created by boulders, which provide excellent habitat for the largest groupers. Looking upwards, one can often see tuna, amberjacks and barracudas. The walls of the rock are covered in algae, sea urchins, tube worms, starfish, bristle worms and sea potatoes, with their brilliant red colour.

Maximum depth 45 metres

Reqqa Point:
This is the northernmost tip of Gozo. The beach road is rough, the entry is tricky with a strong swell, but it is a fantastic dive. The reef consists of a parapet at a depth of 30 metres and then a drop to 60 metres. However, there is an excellent vantage point at 15 metres. Here one is literally in a cloud of small fish feeding on the nutrient-rich waters. Large shoals of dentex have feeding frenzies, groupers are large and plentiful. Adding to this, there are large caves and deep water.

Maximum depth 60 metres.

Billinghurst Cave:
Billingshurst Cave is found to the west of Reqqa Point in the Northern part of Gozo. The top of the cave entrance is just above the surface and the bottom is at 27 meters. A long tunnel called The Railway Tunnel, leads to another cave deep inside the rock where divers can surface. Entry is from Reqqa Point. Immediately inside the cave there are plenty of red sponges, soft corals, cardinalfish and other types of marine life. On the way back, the sight of the blue open water with the sun shining through from the outer reef, is breathtaking and perfect for silhouette photographs.

Maximum depth 30 metres

Ghasri Valley:
This dive site is located between Reqqa Point and Forna Point, on the North coast of Gozo. Ghasri Valley is a spectacular deep cut which widens as it reaches the sea. This dive site is also known as the Blue Dome or Cathedral Cave. This dive is ideal for all levels of divers. It commences on a shingle beach where the water is shallow, but becomes deeper at a maximum depth of 30 metres. The seabed is covered in anemones, and large boulders covered in algae, sea urchins and starfish. One can also sea damselfish, seabreams, and scorpionfish, and might even come across a seahorse. The cave itself is only 5 metres below surface and leads through a domed vault, where one can surface and breathe freely. The seabed of the cave is covered in boulders, but the most impressive part is the view to the outside ocean. Towards the end of the valley, at a depth of approximitely 20 metres, one can encounter octopus and groupers.

Maximum depth 20 metres

Double Arch Reef:
This dive site is found a short distance to the east of Xwieni Bay, on the north coast of Gozo. It requires a 200 metre swim in a northerly direction, where a drop-off is reached. Nearby there are two distinctive holes through a vertical rock face, which are known as Double Arch Reef. The top of the rock is at a depth of 16 metres, whilst the rest goes down to a depth of 36 metres, with the lower arch being the larger of the two holes. On the way one encounters seagrass inhabited by cuttlefish, octopus and even the seahorse. Often a large shoal of of small barracuda can be seen in this area.

Maximum depth 36 metres

Il-Kantra:
This site is located inside the western entrance to an inlet called Mgarr ix-Xini. At the western side of the inlet a number of rare fish can be seen, such as the flying gurnard, the red gurnard, the star-gazer and if luck the John Dory. Other species include seabream, scorpionfish, small octopus and large cuttlefish. There are also two caves. On entering the caves one can see anemones and even some shrimps hidden amongst the walls. The seabed away from the cliff face is of coarse sand, with occasional seagrass, above which rarer fish are found.

Maximum depth 14 metres.

Xatt l-Ahmar:
This site is a small bay southwest of Mgarr. Access is generally from the shore. The dive starts across a wide horizontal ledge, about 9 metres deep, which is covered with seaweed where sprats and sardines can be found. At the edge, the ledge drops down to around 22 metres, where the seabed is covered in boulders ranging from small ones to extremely large ones. These rocks apart from providing habitats for small octopus, goatfish, seambreams and more, also act as swimthroughs. Throughout the dive, one can also come across parrotfish, scorpionfish and shoals of damselfish. In 1999, the Gozo ferry boat, the Xlendi was sunk here, as an artificial reef.

Maximum depth 30 metres

Xlendi Reef:
Xlendi Reef is located in the middle of Xlendi Bay. Part of the reef forms a pinnacle, which reaches up to within a metre of the surface. The reef is covered with seaweed and small fish. One can also see large numbers of damselfish, small groups of grey mullets as well as various species of wrasses and seabreams. The base of the reef is littered with large boulders. The reef comes to an end below the steep cliffs.

Maximum depth 25 metres

Xlendi Cave:
Xlendi Cave is found in Xlendi Bay. It is best to swim across the bay either on the surface on underwater. The maximum depth of this dive is 12 metres. The cave is a bent tunnel leading from one side to another of the rock wall. At the entrance of the cave floor one can see goatfish, damselfish and cardinalfish. The cave walls are brightly coloured with starfish, sponges, algae and bristle worms. Further on in the tunnel there are large boulders and it gets progressively shallower. Towards the end of the tunnel, the seabed is covered with smooth rocks and shingle.

Maximum depth 12 metres


Wracks

HMS Maori:
The site is found below fort St Elmo, in front of a cafe which has its outside walls covered with a number of painted Destroyers, amongst which is the HMS Maori. HMS Maori was launched in 1937, and saw considerable action in the Mediterranean, the Norwegian campaign, Atlantic convoys and the North Sea. On February 12th 1942, it was moored at the entrance to Dockyard Creek, when it recieved a direct hit in her engine room. She was eventually set down in the back-water of St Elmo's Bay, on the sandy bottom at a depth of around 18 metres. Her guns were removed and the bows and stern are gone, however part of the raised bridge is still there. Divers can enter the remains quite easily, with exits through large holes in the starboard side. Although silted up, there are pleny of different types of fish and other creatures in and amongst the wreckage, which is covered with greenweed and tube worms.

Maximum depth 15 metres

Tugboat Rozi:
At the North of Malta there is Marfa Point. Here there is an old metal jetty, and approximitely 135 metres out from here lies the tugboat Rozi. The maximum depth of this dive is 36 metres. The Rozi was a 40 metre tug deliberately sunk in 1991 as an underwater attraction for glass-bottomed boat tours. The Rozi sits upright on the sandy seabed, intact except for its engines and propeller. This is one of the most popular dive sites on the Maltese Islands, with much to see and explore. The ship is surrounded by thousdands of fish, including seabreams, scorpionfish, rainbow wrasses and cardinal fish.

Maximum depth 36 metres

Um El Faroud:
The Um El Faroud was sunk in 1998 following a terrible explosion on board that killed nine Maltese dockyard workers. For three years in lay in the harbour of Valletta, now with the memorial brass plaque above the front windows of the helm, it sits upright on the sandy seabed Southwest of Wied iz-Zurrieq. The Um El Faroud weighs 10,000 tons and is 115 metres long. The depth to the top of the bridge is 18 metres and 25 metres to the main deck. Divers might come across some squid and barracudas at the stern. The port side is usually teeming with large schools of sea breams, parrotfish and silversides. Sometimes one can come across the occasional amberjack and tuna. The wreck can be entered fairly easily, but due to its size, this should be restricted only to divers with advanced wreck diving training.

Maximum depth 36 metres

Blenheim, Bomber:
The Bleinheim was a light World War II bomber in the English air force, now lying in the waters of Xorb il-Ghagin. The engines and wings are intact, but the foresection of the fuselage has been smashed off and now lies several metres in front of the main part of the wreckage. This is a non-stop dive to a depth of 42 meters which requires careful planning. The wreck is full of interesting marine life.

Maximum depth 42 metres

Imperial Eagle:
The Imperial Eagle was one of the ferryboats connecting Malta and Gozo. The hull lays on a sandy bottom at a depth of 42m, 300m North-East of Qawra Point. The wide hold is open, and the wreck allows an easy and interesting dive.

Close by is a statue of Jesus Christ. This 13 ton statue was reallocated here in May 2000. It was originally sunk near St. Paul's Islands and blessed by Pope John Paul in 1990 to protect the fishermen of Malta.

Maximum Depth 42 metres