Malta is known to be as one of the best (if not THE best) diving areas in the Mediterranean sea. All dive magazines have covered its amazing sites. Here you find the perfect spot for every taste: easygoing reefdives, deep dives down to 60+ meters for tech friends, steep walls and, of course, wrecks, wrecks, wrecks.
Before I came to Malta to work as a diving instructor for Aquaventure Malta, I wasn’t a big fan of wreck diving. I admit, I had not seen many either. Only the Baron Gautsch in Croatia that I visited when I was still very inexperienced on a dive that was nothing else but dangerous, and the quite unexiting Harruby closeby Phuket, Thailand.
Here, things changed quickly. Not only had I no other chance than get accustomed to wreck diving as half of the dive spots ARE wrecks, but it was even better: I started loving it.
So I would like to take you with me to a couple of the most famous wrecks around Malta, starting with the first I dived after my arrival and the one I fell in love with most.
UM EL FAROUD
The Um El Faroud was an oil tanker of General National Maritime Transport Company, commuting between Libya and Italy.
In 1995 she was on the dry dock in Malta. During maintenance works an explosion occured. Nine people lost their lives in that incident, and the ship suffered structural damage that was beyond repair.
So in May 1998, the Um El Faroud was scuttled in order to become a new dive site closeby the Blue Grotto in the South of Malta.
Diving the Um El Faroud is considered an advanced dive for experienced divers. It is not the depth that makes it more challenging than others, but the distance from shore (an 8 minute bluewater dive) and the frequently occurring currents. Physical fitness should be on your list before you attempt to dive the Um El Faroud. Also, if you plan two dives there, the second will quite likely be a decompression dive.
This amazing wreck with an impressive length of 109 meters sits on the sandy bottom in 36 meters depth. The main deck can be found 25 meters below the surface, the top of the bridge 18 meters.
In 2006 during a strong winter storm, the part that was damaged during the explosion broke down, so the ship broke apart in the middle. The Southern part is usually considered the to be less interesting, but still I recommend having a swim around on its main deck as it gives you an impression of the vast size of the Um El Faroud.
Launched in 1960, the P29’s original name was Boltenhagen. She was used as a minesweeper under the German flag.
After the reunification of Germany, the Boltenhagen became a patrol boat run by the German Federal Coast Guard.
In 1997 Malta bought the boat, and it was renamed P29 (P standing for patrol boat) until her decommission in 2004. She then was sold to the Malta Tourism Authority, cleaned and scuttled in 2007.
For me, the dive on the P29 is the best wreck dive right after the Um El Faroud – and, as I am based in Mellieha, in the North of Malta, much easier to reach. The P29 has quite a remarkable size and is in a very good condition, allowing divers to easily penetrate it.
Plants, algae and sponges have settled there, and on every dive you find big schools of fish (usually damsel fish) and sometimes moray eels, wreck fish, groupers, flying gurnards and barracudas.
The wreck lies on the sandy ground in a depth of 35 meters, the main deck is in a depth of about 32 meters and the highest point goes up to 16 meters. It takes a 5-minute-bluewater-dive to reach it from the reef of the dive site Circewwa.
Being a tugboat built in Bristol in 1958, the Rozi operated in England under the name Rossmore, later Rossgarth, in England.
In 1981 she was sold to a Maltese company named Malta Ship Towage Ltd., and later to Tug Malta, operating in the Grand Harbour for many years under the name of MV Rozi.
Captain Morgan Cruises bought and scuttled her in 1992 as a destination for underwater safari tours. The tourism company is not using her for this purpose anymore, so she became a famous dive site.
The Rozi lies on the sandy ground in 36 meters depth. With a length of about 40 meters she is not very big. Thanks to her position right next to the reef under the famous divesite „The Arch“ in Circewwa, she is very easy to reach and makes a popular dive for wreck divers.
This ship was launched in Germany in 1969 and used as a German patrol boat and minesweeper. After the reunification her class of boats (like the P29) were taken out of service. Together with two other boats (the P30 and the P29) she was sold to Malta and secured the Maltese coast.
The Malta Tourism Authority bought her 2004 and scuttled her as an attraction for divers in 2009.
The P31 is a very easy wreck dive. She lies off the coast of Comino on the sandy bottom in a depth of 18 – 21 meters. Therefore she is an attractive dive for divers that only have an Open Water Diver certification. It takes a short boat ride to reach her, and divers can either follow the marker line down or do a bluewater descent.