This is actually the second time that I went to Malta, and I am quickly learning that Malta is my go to place for a diving excursion. Malta is geared very much towards the diving industry for several reasons. First, there are so many different wrecks to see surrounding the island. Even if you had a week in Malta, there is no way that you could see every single one of them. You can, however; see most of the popular ones in that period of time. Second, there are some dive sites that have specific parking for divers only. Most of the dives are shore dives and are accessed by car transportation. Luckily for divers, there is parking specific for us, but sometimes it can get rather crowded depending on the day and site. Third, conditions are incredible. I think I read somewhere that Malta gets 330 days of sunshine a year. On top of that the diving season is much longer there than it is anywhere else in Europe. It does help that Malta is relatively cheap to get around and has a low cost of living.
Since I had such a great experience with them the first time, I decided to go with a shop called OK Diving. The owner Alex is such a nice guy and is always willing to meet any needs or wants that you may have. Unfortunately all of the instructors and divemasters that I met last year had moved on to different things, but I was greeted with just as amazing of a team this time.
Since I wasn’t traveling with my partner in crime this time, I had to go with someone else, my buddy Andrew. It was actually his decision to go here to do his first big boy dives following his Open Water Certification and I was totally on board. It made it very easy to navigate since I had been here before. We decided to stay at a place much more near the dive shop then Kristen and I got last time. The first time Kristen and I came we stayed in Fgura, which is near the eastern side of the island. Malta is not that big, but for some reason it take a while to get around. This time we got an AirBnB in the same area as the shop, St. Paul’s Bay.
I actually didn’t dive with Andrew for the first day, because he made the decision to go ahead and do the Advanced Open Water course for the sake of being able to go to all of the good sites/wrecks. I was able to dive the Blue Hole, which was fantastic and an absolute must if you visit Malta/Gozo. After the first day we were able to dive with each other again along with some other tourists Patrik from Sweden, Ane from Denmark, and Carlos from Spain. Again, always meeting great people from different areas that have one common goal of good diving.
Our main guide was Tim, a very chill French guy that every time he told a story, always seemed to have his hands out in front of him as if he were diving. The other instructors made the joke that he even does this while in his sleep. Poor Tim, always getting picked on. I especially picked on him after diving the famous Um El Faroud. After the dive we were supposed to make our way back to a reef and end up exactly where we started, but no Tim had other ideas. We ended up finding a less commonly dived reef with a 200-300m surface swim back to the entry point. I probably gave him crap at least 2 times a day for the remainder of my stay.
The visibility was amazing every single day, at least 30m. My favorite dives in Malta are the Rosi and P-29. The Rosi is a tugboat that was sunk off the northern coast of the main island and the P-29 was a former minesweeper that was sold to Malta in the late 90s. Both were sunk for the purposes of forming artificial reefs. What is great about these dives is that you can do both back to back since they are literally right next to each other. On top of that I think you find the best visibility here compared to anywhere else in Malta. The life on the Rosi is much more prominent than the P-29, but I was lucky enough to find two eels side by side underneath the P-29. One was very photogenic and the other was very bothered that I was in their area. I was only barely able to get the second eel in one of the shots.
I am more into the marine life as opposed to wreck diving, but Malta isn’t exactly known for the flourishing life. There is very good diving and there are a lot of different types of fish, but nothing compared to the Red Sea or the Great Barrier Reef. I was able to get a very decent shot of a flying gurnard. I’ve only actually seen two, this being one of them. They are beautiful creatures. They don’t look like much when their wings aren’t spread, but as soon as they open up, man, what a sight! It is kind of hard to get a good shot, because once they spread their wings they usually take off, but I managed to get a decent one.
Another interesting dive feature that Malta has to offer are the Comino caves. Definitely try to set up going there if you make your way to Malta, bring a torch too. I didn’t get to dive the caves last time I was in Malta, but luckily this time I did. I ended up getting some pretty good shots. The staff mentioned a specific nudi branch in the area that was white with blue tips, but unfortunately we weren’t able to find any.
I acquired a nickname on this trip that I am actually proud of, “the octopus whisperer.” Every time we dove a reef I was able to find at least one. I’m not entirely sure if they are known for hanging out on wrecks, but I will have to do some research. I swear I have a personal connection to those creatures. I think they are one of the most amazing creatures on this Earth due to not only their beauty, but also their brains.
Overall, I love going to Malta and as previously stated I think this is my go to for a quick and easy dive trip. It goes without saying that I will continue to use OK Diving as my shop of choice. I wonder if there will be anyone from this staff that will be their next year. Looking forward to seeing you guys next year!
THINGS I LEARNED
1. I FINALLY took the time to breakout Lightroom. I had Lightroom ever since the Norway trip and was intimidated by all of its functions. I am nowhere near even on the beginner status, but I’ve been playing around with it and am in awe of the post-production quality it yields. You can make the worst photographs look like not even the same shot. This is where shooting RAW comes in handy. Editing RAW vs. JPEG is almost incomparable. Patrik was actually nice enough to send me some tutorials that he had. Thanks bro! I’ll be a professional one day!
2. Wide angle photography is in my near future. Some of the shots I took would have been greatly improved by implementing wide angle. A new lens and dome are coming. I’m quickly learning that photography can be very expensive, especially underwater. That’s probably why so few people do it comparatively speaking.