” Tonio, I have dived all over the world and this HAS to be one of the three best dives ever.”
This was said to me by a retired engineer who had dived every waterhole there is to dive in the world. After one particular dive, as soon as his head was out of the water, he spat his regulator out and said this with an urgency of one that has been keeping a feeling locked up.
What a sad contrast to the opinion of some of local divers who underrate Malta’s waters in preference to places like the Red Sea!!!
I’ve written this post to flesh out why Malta has the most incredible diving, to challenge preconceptions of what it’s like to dive here, and to encourage newcomers – both experienced and novice – to dive Malta. I draw on great memories of just some of my 30 years and 12,000 logged dives (and 48,000 man-dives). What strikes me is the camaraderie among divers… and that too makes Malta special.
You see, when one dives, one never, or rarely, dives alone, so that experience is enhanced and multiplied by the number of divers in the group. Sometimes, what blows my mind out is not so much what we are watching, but the expression of joy, incredulity, disbelief even, on the faces of the divers I am leading.
More often, these are divers that have many years globe trotting diving experience. Divers that have dived the most exotic place in the world, the Red Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, Maldives, Florida..yet little Malta, without coral reefs, without colorful fish, manages to leave them not only surprised but in awe of their experience.
I have been diving Malta’s waters most winter days and certainly all summer for the past 30 years. I’ve gathered countless dive memories; each obscured and then forgotten by yet another special, last memory, only to resurface while sharing a bottle of wine with friends or fellow divers at a bar.
We all have that special moment to share, and we all think we have a memory to ‘out do’ the last experience narrated. I don’t think there is a single diver that is not in awe when sitting in 6m of water surrounded by hundreds of Barracuda as they parade to and fro within arms reach. It’s a breath-taking sight.
Actually the only diver I do know that is not in awe is my love, Myriam, to whom they are just fish; she tends to prefer the smaller, more colorful creatures, like corals plants and the many invertebrates.
You see the problem with Malta divers is that as soon as we start going on about the things we have seen, it’s like we’ve unlocked a treasure trove of memories as each seemingly fantastic sight, reminds us of an even more fantastic experience. And so our tales of underwater life go on, resurfacing, and submerging again.
So if you’ve a few divers sitting together, drinking, then you’re going to experience a good few seasons of Sea Treck or National Geographic playing there in front of your eyes. So many experiences shared.
Hovering, (yes divers hover even if, as in my case, it’s the hover of a 95kgs dragonfly) on the edge of the reef watching a few hundred barracuda milling around, it is not uncommon to be distracted by Little Thunny shooting by, picking food like demented shoppers at Lidl while sardines try getting out of the way – not unlike Lidl’s employees on a specials’ day.
Or to glance a little to your right to see an approaching school of two hundred Crevalle Jacks coming in from God knows what journey to have a look at overweight dragonflies.
Or looking up from 16m to see a large ball of barracuda circling at 10m, my eyes wander to my left, to the open sea, where I spot some 50 large squid at my depth and 50m away from the barracuda. It looked like two opposing armies ready for battle, but apparently neither was in for a bit of a sushi take away that day.
I could go on and on, describing what I have seen, shared or experienced while diving in Malta but I think I will finish with the most common expression I have heard from some of the most experienced divers I’ve been with…
” This is just unbelievable!!!”