Diving can be done year-round, but the water is much warmer (high 70s) during the summer and fall. Dive shops are abundant on Malta and Gozo, but the most popular diving area is in the north around Cirkewwa. Ferries connect the Malta and Gozo, with departures every 45 minutes during the summer. On Malta, guided dives with Octopus Garden start at $35; a single-tank guided dive on Gozo with Gozo Aquasports starts at about $30.
Malta, and its neighboring islands of Gozo and Comino, is the Bonaire of the Mediterranean, boasting dozens of accessible shore dives all around its rocky shores. Divers who visit this central Mediterranean island group just south of Sicily can grab a map, rental car and some tanks to explore at their own pace, or they can arrange shore diving with one of the area’s many dive centers. The main underwater attractions here are the many wrecks scattered around the coastline, and abundant submarine caves and caverns suitable for recreational and cave divers alike. One of the most popular diving areas lies off Cirkewwa in North Malta, near the ferry dock. Two wrecks — the Rozi, a purpose-sunk tugboat, and a German minesweeper called the P29 — sit upright in about 110 feet of water. Nearby, a small cave holds an oft-photographed statue of the Madonna, and a rocky archway bottoms out on the sandy seafloor at about 60 feet. Gozo has its fair share of wrecks as well (most notably the MV Cominoland), but the signature dive is the Blue Hole, a sinkhole across the bay from the topside rock arch called the Azure Window. It’s a shore dive, and there’s a 150-yard walk along the rocky shoreline to get to the water. Once there, divers descend into the hole to about 30 feet before swimming through an underwater archway that opens onto the bay and leads to a steep wall punctuated by tunnels and rock formations. — Travis Marshall