The Maltese islands’ clear blue Mediterranean sea allows the right conditions for some superb underwater experiences. Andrew Doherty finds out why agents should be promoting its diving credentials to beginners and expert divers alike.
From rusting sunken warship wrecks to multi-coloured coral reefs, the underwater worlds of the three islands that make up the Maltese archipelago, Malta, Gozo, and Comino, certainly have a magical quality to them.
Dave Green, director at Belleair Holidays, explains what makes diving in Malta unique.
“There is excellent visibility, warm water, no tides and also due to the island’s military past, there is a vast array of ship, submarine and aeroplane wreck dive sites. We also have cave dives and swim-through dives, all with amazing underwater scenery,” he says.
Belleair works with a number of professional dive centres throughout Malta, selling tailor-made diving packages to suit all skill levels.
Green explains that Belleair offers excellent agent commission rates for packages including diving. A four-day full certification course, with a minimum of four open water sea dives, is offered from £378, including hotel transfers.
“We also have great individual agent incentives chances to join our VIP fam trip programme,” he adds.
He encourages agents not to overlook the destination: “Let your customers know about Malta – many divers do not realise that there is such a great range of diving options available within such a short flying time.”
Peter Vella, director of UK and Ireland for the Malta Tourism Authority, confirms the lure of Malta for divers.
“Voted as the third best diving destination in the world by Diver magazine, the islands boast an exciting mix of marine life, from barracudas and seahorses to parrot fish and rainbow wrasse.”
Dive Worldwide specialises in diving holidays and has more than 14 years’ experience selling them.
Phil North, brand manager for Dive Worldwide, recommends the Learn to Dive break, a trip focusing on Malta’s wrecks and caves.
“The break is affordable and should appeal to all skill levels of divers. Malta’s waters have exceptional visibility and are calm; it’s an ideal place to learn how to dive,” he says.
The package is priced from £795pp and includes time for onshore exploration once the four-day course has been completed.
Situated on the limits of Mellieha and protected from the strong north-easterly winds that prevent diving in the other nearby areas, Anchor Bay offers clients a fun-filled underwater adventure. As a shore diving location, visitors will enter via a pier before diving to a depth of 28 metres. The seabed is furnished with large boulder formations, which are ideal for octopuses to hide in. Close to the bay is a cave were divers can surface inside and see the dome-shaped ceiling covered in red algae. Throughout the experience clients can spot parrot fish, groupers and moray eels.
This sunken aircraft, named the Blenheim, was an English bomber during the Second World War. Located just off the coast of Marsaxlokk, the wreck is still partly intact, including the engines and the wings. The non-stop shore dive reaches a depth of 42 metres and features a plethora of wildlife.
An imposing stone structure in Dwejra Bay on the western coast of Gozo, which is only accessible by boat. Clients will journey 40 metres underwater to explore the varied scenery made up of caverns, fissures and vertical walls that are covered in red sea potatoes, sea urchins, and star fish. Creatures that can be spotted include barracudas, tuna and amberjacks.
The reef is located off the northwest of Cominotto (a small uninhabited island off Comino) and requires access by boat. With an average depth of 18 metres and a maximum depth of 36 metres, clients can come across a multi-coloured world of peacock worms, soft corals and red sponges.
This old tug boat was scuttled in 2013 to provide a new diving site just off the coast of Saint Julian’s. Resting 20 metres below the water’s surface, the vessel was cleaned of oil and grease and will eventually become an artificial reef where sea life will thrive. Divers can venture into the sunken craft, even entering the bridge where the steering wheel is still intact.