Ever thought of going to Malta? It’s a bit like marmite – you either love it or hate it. Having said that, if you haven’t visited the Maltese Islands before, you should try just once to form your own opinion. They’re great for diving, weather, entertainment, history; and the Maltese people are very friendly.
The diving is varied; there are many shipwrecks, reefs, drop offs, caves, shore and boat diving, and a huge variety of marine life. There are artificial wrecks which have been scuttled as diver attractions, one of which is the Um el Faroud which was scuttled in 1998. 110 metres long and 16 meters wide, the Um el Faroud lays at a maximum depth of 35m. A dive for the experienced diver and one of the best wreck dives in the Mediterranean. The reefs are very pretty with lots of holes for the local marine life to hide in – moray, conger, cuttlefish, fireworms, grouper, seabream, wrasse and parrot fish to name but a few. They are not as large as those found in the Red Sea but they are there for the diver to enjoy. The drop offs are quite dramatic, especially those on Gozo, Malta’s sister island, some of them going to 50m plus. Caves are more than interesting and with many of them being swim-throughs, once again with plenty of marine life and corals for divers to spot. Most dives can be undertaken from the shore and where ever you stay you are never far from the sea. Boat dives can be arranged through your chosen dive centre who will arrange the whole trip for you.
The weather is normally good from early April through to early November; of course there are some periods where you may catch the odd shower or two, but on the whole it is good.
Entertainment comes in all shapes and forms, from night clubs to quiet restaurants; a stroll along Pinto Wharf with its many bars and cafes is a very pleasant way to spend an evening. There are of course cinemas, bowling, gyms, golf, horse riding and spas for you to sample.
There are many places of historical interest to see – the capital Valletta with Grand Harbour is always worth a visit to see what ships are visiting the islands, also the Maritime museum, the Manoel Theatre and the Upper Barracca Gardens to name but a few.
Mosta Dome with its famous replica of the unexploded bomb which fell through the dome during WW ll, Mdina – the Silent City, which used to be the capital of Malta, Wied iz Zurrieq where the Blue Grotto has spectacular sea caves which can be seen on a small boat ride. Ta’Qali where the Aviation Museum is situated not far from the craft village where one can find traditional Maltese lace and filigree silver for sale.
Gozo is just a short ride on the ferry from Malta and well worth a visit.
If this small insight to the Maltese Islands has roused your interest and you may think of going there for a diving trip then an informative book is available called Scuba Diving Malta Gozo Comino – 3rd edition – by Peter G Lemon. This is widely available in Malta but can also be purchased here via www.scubadivngmaltagozocomino.com.
Jeff chats to… Richard Corner from Mares about liveaboards and training with SSI (Watch Video)
In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman chats to Richard Corner, UK Watersports Category Manager at Mares, about the complete experience for all aspects of diving with Mares, their liveaboard adventures with the purchase of liveaboard.com, and the Mares/SSI combination.
Last in a series of four videos.
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
How to survive a pandemic on a tropical island when your principal source of revenue is tourism?
The solution lies in the schools.
Since 500,000 indentured labourers arrived from India in Mauritius to cut the sugar cane in the 19th century, the ocean has been incredibly low on the list of interests for a predominantly Hindu Island. Revenue came from sugar, later textiles. Subsistence fishing put protein on the plate.
But since 2002 the development of Mauritius as a safe investment and even safer residential option for a globally ageing population has finally placed real wealth in the hands of Mauritians. The IRS scheme, where foreigners were allowed to buy property on the beaches, and the RES Scheme, where foreigners were allowed to develop residential properties in partnership with Mauritians, have successfully unlocked the wealth of the island and placed it firmly in the hands of the Mauritian people who owned those properties.
Free education has given Mauritius a 95% literacy rate, but wealth and a growing ex-pat community has given parents a private school option, so we started our Conservation and Diving initiative with these private and International schools.
Our biggest problem was bridging the financial gap while we established local markets. The Mauritian Government’s wage assistance scheme meant that all our registered employees would be paid by Government in full while our borders remain closed.
We already had school’s interest last year when we sponsored the Northfields Island Swim, cut short by the Virus, but for us it opened the door to this hugely proactive British International School. This gave us a group of students keen to learn to dive, and they are now eagerly awaiting the holidays so they can enjoy groups safaris to the outlying Islands.
Then I was invited to talk to the teachers at the Lighthouse School about the Wakashio disaster and Cleanup. Bernard, our dive master, and I went to the school with a flash drive and a fully equipped tank. Nadine, our sponsor, warned us that there would be only a few interested teachers listening, as there were a lot of presentations. There were 15 people to start with, but when we reached the part about the Wakashio, the numbers grew.
By the end, there were 35 teachers watching the Wakashio videos, and most of them signed up to do the free Try Dive we were offering. 40% are going on to do PADI Courses. Marine Conservation is now on the school curriculum for next year.
Our MSDA is working with the Sports Ministry to have swimming and scuba diving added to the local schools curricular where it will be free, paid by the Government.
Every weekend we are busy with free Try Dives in the lagoon in the mornings, and boat dives and courses in the afternoons.
Our French speaking colleagues Just Diving and Emperator have approached the French School Ecole du Nord, and they expect to fill their boats over Christmas.
Free Try Dives have been a huge success. The most difficult thing in a pandemic is to find a way to survive, and we seem to have found ours.
- Words: Jill Holloway
- Copyright: Ocean Spirit www.osdiving.com 2020
- Images: Ocean Spirit
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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.More Less
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