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About the author

About the Author

Oliver Presser is an oven-fresh PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, who wishes people would stop assuming he spent his four years at University learning the names of every and all fish species.

Disclaimer. This article is opinion based, you may not agree, you may even actively disagree. You may find yourself personally attacked and inconsolable, both as a result of the nominees and the order into which they have been placed. This is all right, it is totally natural and to be expected. If you so wish, on your next visit we can do them together, and guarantee you will see the error of your ways. Dive sites are scored in terms of how (P)opular they are, their (A)ccessibility, the (D)ive quality itself and how (I)ndividual the site is. You can conveniently remember this with the acronym PADI.

“Bonġu” (that’s Maltese for hello) fellow intrepid explorers, couch-surfers, discovers, rovers, pioneers, fridge-raiders, wreck-heads and techies. With the diving season now well underway, we are sure many of you are starting to think about which Maltese dive sites you’d like to revisit or to discover, be your trip tomorrow or in three months (we know it gets very exciting). Not to worry as per usual we have taken care of everything. To make your decision just that little bit easier, we have made a list, we have checked it twice (here it is irrelevant if you have been naughty or nice) and now we are so excited to share it with you. As such, without further ado, Mesdames et Messieurs, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with the deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight, and now we invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair as Seashell Dive Centre yet again proudly presents: our top ten dive sites in Malta, Comino and Gozo.

#1 P31 Wreck

Dive Type: Wreck
Max Depth: 18m
Entry Type: Boat Entry
Certification: OWD

Not to be outdone, the P31takes first place for our top ten dive sites in Malta. The P31 wreck scuttled in 2009 off Comino is a previous East-German, minesweeper with a heroic past. Having been sold to Malta in 1992, and retrofitted for search and recovery, this little beauty rescued 251 immigrants from their ship sinking 44 miles off the coast. A very popular wreck sitting on a sand plain at 18 metres, she is even accessible to the admiration of Open Water Divers and skilled snorkelers/freedivers. Depending on skill and comfort there are a variety of opportunities for penetration, with varying levels of difficulty. Keep your eyes on the nooks and crannies for sneaky Moray Eels or bashful Octopuses. This unmissable (quite literally) wreck scores highly in the Accessibility, Popularity and Dive quality categories however as the twinship to the P29 she, unfortunately, loses a few in Individuality.

Score: 10/10

#2 Tug Boat Rozi

Dive Type: Wreck
Max Depth: 35m
Entry Type: Shore Entry
Certification: AOWD
In second place let us have a nosy at the Tug Boat Rozi. An older lady the Rozi started her life in Bristol in 1958 as the “The Rossmore”, after 20 years operating in the Grand Harbour of Valletta she was scuttled to be a submarine tour attraction. Aside from her engine and propeller, she sits fully intact between 25 and 35 metres, just a 10 minute swim off our house Dive Site Cirkewwa. The former engine bay in her stern is extremely spacious and worth a visit although watch out, it does get a little chilly sometimes. On the bow, we are often fortunate to find several nudibranch species. Also keep an eye out for the large and well-hidden red Scorpionfish which live wherever they may camouflage themselves, often very tricky to spot. While it may sound counterintuitive, keep an eye around the wreck as there are often some large piscivorous fish hunting, such as Amberjacks and Dentex, not to mention the large shoals of silver breams. This wreck scores highly in all categories however as she is only truly available to Advanced Open Water divers she loses a few in Accessibility. 

Score 9/10

#3 Dragonara Cave (L'Ahrax Point)

Dive Type: Cave
Max Depth: 18m
Entry Type: Boat Entry
Certification: OWD

In third place, we appoint L’Ahrax Point also known as the Dragonara Cave. Easily one of the most unique dive sites going, this former sea cave is a true visual delight. This site has an unbelievable cost-benefit ratio, following a small swim from the boat through a spacious swim through you find yourself in a coral lagoon. This site is terribly popular with photographers who aim to capture the unique play of the light interacting with the walls of the cave, the crystal clear waters and the corals. Unfortunately, only a few manage to truly capture this display. Keep an eye out for hidey-holes in the cave, here we often find Octopuses, Moray eels and other goodies dropped by cliff divers. Keep an eye out for feet rapidly approaching the surface of the water above you. This site scores high in all categories as it is available even for snorkelers, however, while contributing massively to the enjoyment, this is a boat dive only and therefore not the most accessible of sites.

Score 8.5/10

#4 Um El Faroud

Dive Type: Wreck2
Max Depth: 40m
Entry Type: Shore Entry
Certification: AOWD

A legendary wreck with a tragic backstory and a name that seems someone was not quite sure what it was called, the Um El Faroud proudly takes fourth place. A British built, Libyan oil tanker, the Um El Faroud was in a Maltese dry dock for repairs when an explosion rocked the Three cities, unfortunately claiming 9 dockworkers in the process. Since 1998 the Um El Faroud is now one of the most popular wreck dives in the Mediterranean. Clocking in at 10,000 tonnes and over 110 metres in length there is no end to the exploration available. At a maximum depth of 36 metres, and requiring a 150-metre swim from and to the entry point, this wreck is not for the inexperienced. Minimum certification of Advanced Open Water will be required. However, this wreck has so much to explore, including passages, cabins, the galley, the oil tanks, the engine room, not to mention the intact propeller and rudder. This wreck is not only popular with divers but also with a number of populations of tuna, jacks and barracuda as well as the occasional squid. The Faroud scores highly in terms of Popularity, Dive quality and Individuality, however, it is a fair drive to reach the site and it will require an Advanced certification, as such losing points in the Accessibility category. 

Score 8.5/10

#5 Santa Marija Caves

Dive Type: Cave
Max Depth: 25m
Entry Type: Boat Entry
Certification: OWD

A geomorphological marvel with a past appearance on the silver screen the Santa Marija caves take fifth place. One of the many hidden jewels on offer in Comino, the Santa Marija caves is certainly a memorable dive. This is a boat dive and as such you will begin the dive with a giant stride into the crystal clear waters. The immediate feature you will notice is the arch in the feeding area at the bottom of the lagoon where a reef thrives. Here there is also a major resident school of silver bream who are always very curious about divers. If you know where to look you can also find Octopuses, Parrotfish and the extraordinarily evasive cuttlefish. The namesake and a true jewel in the crown of this site is the 30-metre cave system which acts as a spacious swim-through, through the headland. It is possible to surface inside this cave and see the filming location of a scene from the 2002 film The Count of Monte Cristo. After exiting this tunnel there is the aptly named Zoro tunnel, called as such as it strongly resembles the mark of Zorro cut into the stones allowing electric blue light through. This dive site scores highly in all categories, although again as a boat dive it is not accessible to everyone.

Score 8/10

#6 Blue Hole

Dive Type: Cave
Max Depth: 25m
Entry Type: Shore Entry
Certification: OWD

The former site of the world-famous tourist attraction the Azure Window, the Blue Hole grips our soul and takes sixth place in our lineup. While the Azure Windows collapse was a major loss for world heritage, as divers we have gained a wonderful new boulder field and reef to explore. There is no shortage of natural swim-throughs and caves. There are a number of caves featured on this dive, the initial massive chimney you descend through with its famous arch, not to mention a chimney ascending 18 metres from the blue hole to the coral gardens. Here you may also find the immense coral cave, but watch out for silt out as visibility is easily ruined. This dive scores very highly in terms of Popularity, Dive quality and Individuality. However, there is an approximately 200-metre rocky path between the entry point and the car park, and as such, this site is not for everyone.

Score 8/10

#7 Inland Sea

Dive Type: Reef
Max Depth: 25m
Entry Type: Shore Entry
Certification: OWD

Inland sea the seventh choice for me, it is only fitting that Inland Sea makes our rundown of our top ten Maltese Dive sites. Jacques Cousteau allegedly described it as amongst his top ten dives and who are we to argue with the man who arguably single-handedly pioneered our sport. The Inland Sea, true to its name, is a saltwater lagoon surrounded by sheer cliffs. There is a natural tunnel connected the lagoon to the Mediterranean. This 80-metre tunnel is the highlight and main attraction of this dive. Indeed it is a spectacular tunnel commencing at 6 metres depth at on end and finishing at 25 metres depth. The light visible through the tunnel is incredibly unique and means no torches are truly required. After the tunnel, there are a number of reef shelves descending to 50 metres depth. There are a variety of unique and individual routes available on this dive, all showcasing slightly different parts of the immense available reef. Keep an eye out to open water as here you can see some of our larger fish species actively hunting. Make sure you also keep an eye on the tourist boats also using the tunnel, although these never are close enough for concern. This is one of the most popular sites available in Gozo and is usually partnered with the Blue Hole for a day trip. It is also one of the most individual dive sites and a truly quality dive, however, parking is often an issue and like the Blue Hole this can lead to an extended fully kitted out walk.

Score 8/10

#8 Tuna Dive

Dive Type: Reef
Max Depth: 35m
Entry Type: Boat Entry
Certification: AOWD

Easily one of the most unique available not only in Malta but indeed globally, the Tuna Dive is an unforgettable experience. There is nothing quite like a 6 metre long 200 kilogram fish emerging seemingly from nowhere and approaching you at 50 miles an hour, to really put you off that lunchtime tuna melt. This is a truly unforgettable experience, not many forget the descent into the eye of the Vortex that swirls inside the pen. Not much will be able to remove the memory of looking up to the surface through a 30 metre high 200 strong Tuna tornado, nor the fishy smell. However, this is a rarely offered experience you can do in few places globally, not to be dramatic but this may genuinely be a once in a lifetime opportunity. This dive scores unbelievably highly in terms of Popularity and Individuality, unfortunately, it loses a number of marks in the categories of Dive quality (primarily as a dive this is a lot of staying still or mostly ascending and descending, based on the whims of the vortex), and in terms of accessibility, (this is available only to advanced divers, and we are one of the few centres offering this experience).

Score 7.5/10

#9 Middle Finger

Dive Type: Reef
Max Depth: 35m
Entry Type: Boat Entry
Certification: OWD
The penultimate entry in our top ten dive sites is named for the way in which it allegedly resembles the common gesture of raising your closed fist and extending your middle finger heavenwards, in a manner of expressing discontent with another individual. Ignoring its namesake briefly, this massive Pinnacle which rises from a depth of 70+ metres to approximately 12 metres is a truly stunning habitat. There is no shortage of marine organisms one can find here, on the pinnacle itself there a plethora of little nooks and hidey-holes for Moray Eels, Lobsters, Nudibranch, Octopus and pretty much anything you could hope to find in the Mediterranean. In the open water around this immense pillar, it is not uncommon to spot Amberjacks, Barracuda or other larger predatory fish. This is a great all-rounder of a dive site in terms of Popularity, Dive quality and Individuality and is accessible to anyone with an open water certification or higher. However, due to its location in Gozo, it does drop a few points for accessibility if one didn’t have a boat, which we do.

Score 7/10

#10 Imperial Eagle

Dive Type: Wreck
Max Depth: 42m
Entry Type: Boat Entry
Certification: AOWD

Last but certainly not least, to round up our run down, we have the illustrious Imperial Eagle. This is a truly fantastic dive for the more advanced diver. At a depth of 42 metres, the wreckage of the Imperial Eagle awaits your visit. This former Malta to Gozo ferryboat was scuttled in 1999 and a number of years ago suffered heavy damage from a storm. However, a large portion of this wreck is still present and intact to be inspected and wondered at. This is a fantastic, challenging dive for the intrepid explorer and is markedly improved through the use of Nitrox and the subsequent extended bottom time. Just 30 metres off the bow of the ship you can find the incredibly photogenic three-metre tall Kristu tal-Bahhara (Christ of the Sailors) statue, dedicated to commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II, who also blessed the statue, and all those who visit it. This dive also features a densely populated reef and valley, where we commonly find silver bream, groupers, barracuda and nudibranch. This dive scores very highly in the Dive quality and Individuality categories however due to its remote nature and great depth this dive, unfortunately, loses points in terms of Popularity and Accessibility.

Score 7/10

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