As soon as I had my week’s holiday to Malta booked, I checked out the local dive centres to book a couple of days diving.
I noticed from looking at several websites that most of the diving seemed to be wreck diving, which is not my favourite type of diving but I love diving so any dive is an enjoyable dive in my book!
I booked for two days (4 dives) diving with ‘Dive Deep Blue Malta’, who are based in Buggiba and right in front of the hotel I was staying in.
I am a certified PADI Divemaster, so very low maintenance for a dive centre, especially one that predominately counts holidaymakers as it’s guests.
As I wasn’t on a full blown diving holiday I only took my mask and my dive computer with me, opting to hire the rest of the equipment from the dive centre.
I had to get to the centre early on my first day to sort out my gear, and then we headed off to the top of the island, next to where the Gozo car ferry comes and goes from.
This was one of the best places I have been for facilities for divers, with a separate, divers only car park, with toilets, food and drink, and good entry and exit points to the dive sites.
We had our briefing and our first dive was to be to the ‘P29’ an old Libyan navy patrol boat, sitting upright at 35m depth.
Wreck diving isn’t my favourite, as I much prefer nice reefs and colourful fish, but the sea was a lovely deep blue colour and I thoroughly enjoyed my first dive in Malta.
Here is a pic I took of a Moray Eel living on the wreck.
I like colours in this pic.
The second pic is of the same Moray, to give an indication of it’s size hopefully.
The water temperature was a very pleasant 24 degrees, and with this being a deep dive, it was over in 30 minutes.
We had a two hour surface interval, swapping tales of what we had saw, and eating a little food, before having our briefing for the second dive, to the wreck of the ‘Tug Boat Rozi’, again sitting at 35m.
This was a smaller wreck than the P29, with less sea life on it unfortunately.
I know many divers who enjoy wreck diving, and several who dived with me on this wreck enjoyed it; but for me, the lack of interesting sea life meant it was just another big chunk if rusting metal which would be better off on land rather than rotting away underwater.
It was nice to feel the weightlessness of being beneath the surface again anyway, and I enjoyed the dive, as I always do.
We completed this dive in around 45 minutes, before returning to our exit point after completing a three minute safety stop at 6m on the way back.
I was looking forward now to the two next dives, two days later, as these were to be boat dives.
When the day came around, I helped load the tanks and equipment on to the vans, and as there was to be 13 divers and two guides, there was a lot of equipment to load!
As we arrived at the jetty, a short drive from the dive centre, our guide explained the procedure we were to follow.
We would all help to pass the air cylinders for the second dive to the boat skipper, who would stow them securely to be used later.
We would then assemble our equipment, before boarding the small boat for the short trip to the first dive site.
We were told that the first dive would be to a wreck called The ‘Imperial Eagle’ which was a large wreck resting at around 38m deep. Also, close to this wreck was a statute of ‘Christ the Redeemer’ which stood at 35m.
They explained that the second dive would be to the Santa Maria Caves at the neighbouring island of Comino, and I looked forward with eager anticipation to both of these dives as they sounded a lot more interesting than the previous two dives earlier in the week.
Once our kit was assembled, we were allocated ‘buddy groups’ which is a sensible way to endure you dive with other people and basically you look out for each other, in the unlikely event of a problem or emergency arising.
We were all fairly experienced divers, so the dives should, and indeed were, uneventful in that respect.
Once our boat reached the dive site, the guide went in to tie the boat to what’s called a ‘shot line’. This leads the diver to the wreck, or in our case, to the statue of Christ.
We grouped in our buddy teams and descended slowly down the shot line until the statue came into view.
I have included a photo here to show you the sight that met me.
It was a lovely sight, as I slowly sank to come into close contact with first the statue’s outstretched hands, and then I was able to swim around the full statue and appreciate the delicate features which were still clearly visible, despite some healthy marine growth.
As you can see from the photo here, with me holding on to the statue, it was huge!
Soon it was time to explore the wreck which was only about 10m away from Jesus.
Although many of the divers in our group spent quite a bit of time looking around the wreck, I only spent 5 or 10 minutes having a look, as I wanted to visit the statue of Christ again before my dive computer indicated it was time to ascend.
I have shown here photographs of the wreck as well as the statue, and anybody reading this post can decide for themselves which is the more appealing.
For me it is easy, the wreck was a moderately interesting big chunk of decaying metal, which had a hauntingly empty look compared to what I imagine it looked like in it’s working days, whereas the statue of Christ the Redeemer had a majestic and commanding feel to it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this dive, and couldn’t wait to get back on the boat and look at my photographs.
After a surface interval of a little over an hour, we kitted up ready for our second dive in the caves. Our boat had anchored up in a small cove, and the colour of the sea was a gorgeous deep blue with plenty of fish visible from the surface.
We entered the water and descended slowly. The maximum depth of this dive was only going to be around 12m, and I knew it was going to be spectacular, and I was not disappointed.
As soon as we were beneath the surface a shoal of around fifty Bream surrounded us, and some divers had brought bread down with them to feed these lovely fish.
We played around for a short while, watching the Bream swim amongst us, before making our way to the cave entrance.
We followed our guide inside and soon were in semi darkness. The feeling of calm was amazing and as we swam further in we saw a natural light about 100m in front of us. The light drew us towards it, but we veered off to the left and went further into the cave.
We then came across what is known as the ‘Zorro’ part of the cave.as you can see from my photo here, the natural rock formation is seen as a lovely ‘Z’ shape, which is the sign the masked swordsman Zorro used to make with his sword, hence the name. We swam through here, and the amount of fish and the different ways the light shone on and around us was beautiful.
The sea bed alternated between rocks and sand, and the light and shadows made it an incredible dive.
Slowly, we followed a route through the caves, and even surfaced at one point for a short time in a part of the cave which was open to the sky, and flooded with natural light.
As we descended beneath the surface again, some divers saw three Octopus, but sadly my group didn’t see them.
I was disappointed when I discovered I had missed them, as they are one of my favourite sea animals. (As you will note from my post ‘I love Cephalopods’!)
The dive lasted a minute less than one hour, and it was a perfect way to finish my diving experience in a Malta.
If you ever get the chance to dive on this lovely island, I would strongly recommend including the Santa Maria Caves as one of your dives.
I was smiling the whole time we packed our kit away and made our way back to the dive centre, and I hope you enjoy the pictures here to let you gain an idea of what was a really pleasant dive.