I dubbed this report “Diving deep in Malta” because during this trip my shallowest dive was about 88 feet, the deepest 125 and the rest in-between. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but just stating a fact. Actually, since my usual modus operandi is no deeper than 40-60 feet, I kind of like going a bit deeper for a change, I’d say it was a welcoming alteration of my routine. Plus, if normally I use a macro lens and very rarely Canon 17-40, in Malta the pattern was reversed, out of the total of 7 dives, I dove just once with 100 mm and the rest of my dives with wide angle setup.
Getting to Malta
The only inconvenience of the whole trip was my flight arrangement. Hunting for a chipper way to get to Malta and then back to Dublin (after enjoying a week of diving with OceanAddicts, I had to fly to Boston from Ireland), I’ve made a mistake, booking each leg of a trip with different airline carriers. I had a stopover in London, and not only must to pick up and recheck my bags, but also pay for them again.
Malta under the wing
Ghand in-Nanna B&B
I stayed in a Ghand in-Nanna B&B, situated in the northern region of Malta, the town of Mellieħa (Mellieħa means salt in Arabic). The building is located in less than 1500 feet (500 meters) from the Parrocca tal-Mellieha – Parish Church of Mellieha. There is a very picturesque plaza in front of the church with various small restaurants and a wonderful view of a bay.
Triq il-Parocca, Mellieha
Managed by two very attentive hostesses Sue and Maria, Ghand in-Nanna was nice, recently renovated, inexpensive, lovely place, nestled in a narrow, quiet street. A few immaculate, spacious, air-conditioned rooms had all amenities one needs to rest after a day of walking under debilitating sun (about 111F (44C))
Besides that Sue and Maria cooked each morning delicious breakfasts, they also were very helpful advising and then, if you desire, reserving spaces for the evening meals. I utterly enjoyed my stay at Ghand in-Nanna and can’t wait to go back to that charming place.
Fisherman Village in Marsaxlokk
Bezz Diving Malta Center
To my search “diving in Malta” Google presented me with quite a list, on which Bezz Diving Malta Center had the most positive reviews. With the late arrival and early departure I only had 3 days available for underwater exploration. So I checked their website and was pleasantly surprised that in the 6 dive package deal, each dive was going to cost me about 28€. Plus, Bezz was offering an extra incentive, 28% NITROX at no additional charge. I checked availability and decided to give ‘em a shot.
My email inquiries were answered straightway, with clear and proper response to all my questions and concerns. Upon arrival to the shop and closer acquaintance with all members, I found out that good spirit and lots of genuine smiles are the distinct signatures of each member of the Buzz’s dive team. From the day one, it seemed to me that I already knew those guys for quite a while.
Diving wrecks of Malta
For the first two dives, guided by Tess Curnow, we went to the Fisherman Harbor, Wied Iż-Żurrieq, Qrendi, to explore the wreck of Um El-Faroud. We arrived at a beautiful place, were lots of tourist and locals enjoyed swimming in a very picturesque bay.
Diving Um El-Faroud Wreck. Wied Iż-Żurrieq, Qrendi
Tess carefully explained the dive-plan and we giant strode into turquoise water of the Mediterranean.
Diving Um El-Faroud Wreck. Wied Iż-Żurrieq, Qrendi
Wreck of Um El-Faroud
For me, in general, wreck diving is not the most attractive type of underwater exploration. When I began diving the ocean, for a few years I enjoyed wrecks and was very happy to gain such experience. I remember well diving U-boat 853, sunk east of Black Island (Rhode Island), and some wrecks of Saint Lawrence River. And if in Canada the visibility was 25-30 feet and we could see the most of the wreckage, the German sub, I may say, we found groping in the dark.
Bearded Fireworms (Hermodice carunculata) at Um El-Faroud
But in Malta, the clarity was truly enviable. Being conservative in my estimations, I’d say that we had at least 70-90 feet of visibility. Actually, it was so good, that sun rays easily reached the sandy bottom (about 118 feet (36 meters)) where Um El-Faroud found its final resting place.
Returning from Um El-Faroud
3 years after the explosion in the dry docks, in 1998Um El-Faroud was scuttled southwest of Wied iz-Zurrieq near Qrendi. During the storm of 2005, this “artificial reef” broke in two. So the first dive we spent exploring one part of the tanker and the second we examine the other.
At the Um El-Faroud
Next day I dove with another awesome dive master – Diego Salgado. The “Imperial Eagle” was sunk off Qawra Point as the main attraction of an Underwater Marine Park. The depth was 125 feet and we penetrated the main section.
Anastasia V. at Imperial Eagle
After visiting “Imperial Eagle”, we swam to the statue of Jesus Christ. Weighing 13 tons, nine feet tall (3 meters) figure was commissioned in 1990 to mark the visit of Pope John Paul II to Malta. As an attraction for the divers, originally it was sunk near St. Paul’s Islands. But 10 year later, due to deteriorating visibility, the sculpture was moved to St. Paul’s Islands.
Statue of Jesus Christ
As for me, the following dive of this day was the most interesting and memorable, we dove Bristol Beaufighter. Our group was very lucky to have on board a real pilot, A. Dodds, who during the surface interval, told us a very captivating story of the lost plane.
The landing gear
Al D. at Bristol Beaufighter
In the same day, we were able to make a night dive off the Ċirkewwa Ferry Terminal with dive master Dani Garcia. Oh, it was such a welcoming change to don and doff in a coolness of the night 🙂
Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)
I was told that Malta is not famous for the great marine life diversity, and so far, diving wrecks, I saw very little of it. I spotted few nudibranchs, some fish and that was basically it. But for this dive I’ve changed wide lens for the macro and I was able to find some animals that I’ve never seen before. Awesome.
Spotted bumblebee shrimp (Gnathophyllum elegans)
The last day, with dive master Eneko Setien, we ferry to Gozo, to dive M.V. Caminoland and M.V. Karwela. I enjoyed exploring both, but my favorite was Karwela. It was so cool “walking” up the stairs from the one deck to the other one. And again, the visibility was at least 90-100 feet.
Eneko Setien at M.V. Karwela
“walking” up the stairs of the M.V. Karwela
I can’t stress enough the joy of visiting the island, diving with Bezz Malta Diving and meeting new dive-buddies from all over the world. The diving schedule, and a small rental, allowed me to explore the island a bit, and I have found quite a few heartwarming sites to which I’d love to return again. Popeye Village, Mdina city, Fontanella Tea Garden, Blue Grotto, Portomaso Marina, Fisherman Village in Marsaxlokk and many others places that I will remember for years to come.
Popeye Village at Triq Tal-Prajjet, Il-Mellieħa
Blue Grotto. (East of Fisherman Harbor Wied iż-Żurrieq)
Mdina City (aka Città Vecchia or Città Notabile)
Fisherman Village in Marsaxlokk
In terms with whom to dive – there are plenty of dive shops in Malta, and I’m sure that you won’t go wrong picking any of ‘em. But I think I was very lucky choosing Bezz Malta. Each team member, with whom I had the pleasure to talk or to dive with, exhibited sincere care and real professionalism. And as I mentioned before, those guys make you feel so welcome, that as you step into the shop for the very first time, you’ll realize that you are experiencing a very pleasant deja vu.
Meandering passages of Mdina
As I continue to travel, my “Life List” gets constantly rearranged, according, naturally, to what I find in the places I’ve visited. Therefore, some destinations, to which I’d love to come back, bumped to the top and others, those that could wait (luckily I don’t have many on those) moved to the bottom. Thus, taking into consideration the whole experience of visiting Malta, the island took its rightful place in the upper portion of my list.
Roads we take
Well, that is all for now. I’m wishing best of luck to all I’ve met in Malta and hopefully, I will be able to return to the island very soon, there is so much to explore.
Safe diving and awesome new discoveries.