Malta: One of the best dives in my life, and why you should put this country on the top of your travel wish list

If you haven’t heard of Malta, you must watch this BuzzFeed video. I remember when I first watched it, I was very inspired by her story. How it all started from one clueless day at work, and she just continued writing, and how it led something much bigger than what she set off for in the beginning!

This is one of the many reasons (and motivations) that started me off on this travel blogging journey. I considered myself (a bit) fortunate to have travelled to so many places, whilst still having my full time profession. So yes, I want to document and share my travel stories, but I also hope that maybe one day, I can accidentally become famous too. One must always dream big!

Anyway, if there’s one thing I learned from Erin (this Malta BuzzFeed girl), is to just keep giving my best in whatever I’m doing, even on days that I may feel lousy, because it will all eventually pay off. #patience


Before my Malta trip, never would I consider making plans to visit this island. Not because I didn’t find it beautiful. I just had much more on my travel wish list.

Once again, life is good to me (and I’m very thankful for it), that I managed to register for a water desalination training in Malta! Who knew that Malta is one of the leading countries in operating seawater desalination plants.

So, I rallied my brother, Jojo, along on this trip. It was our first duo trip together. Talk about brotherly bonding session. And also being it is Jojo’sf first visit to Europe, this trip was extra special to the both of us.


Getting in and around

We flew in Malta International Airport. Upon our arrival, Josie, our B&B host, was very kind to fetch us from the airport.

Otherwise, there are public buses (1.5 EUR) traveling to various locations on the island. Just note that travel times can be very long depending on traffic, e.g. 1 hour to Valetta, and up to 2 hours to St Julian.

Taxis are available too but quite expensive, about 20 EUR to St Julian.

Getting around the island, the most convenient method is by bus. The bus network on the island is quite extensive. You just need to take note on the bus schedules. Bus tickets and fares in link. However, because the bus stops so frequently, every journey takes almost an hour. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery!

Otherwise, chat up with the locals, and sometimes they may even offer a ride if it is on their way. Yes, we tested it!


Where to stay

 During our trip, we first checked in Giljana B&B near St Julian. The place is beautiful, overlooking St Julian’s bay. Josie, our host, was very friendly. She is a teacher (if I remember correctly), well traveled and a (very advanced) scuba diver herself. We had so much fun sharing stories over breakfast. We couldn’t ask for a better host. Don’t believe me, check out her place on Booking.com, her score speaks for itself!

The second part of our trip, we checked in The Westin Dragonara Resort. Well, only because it is paid by my company. #blessed #thankful

The resort ground is breathtaking! The resort even has its own casino!

Casino inside The Westin Dragonara Resort malta jermpins
Dragonara Casino within The Westin Dragonara Resort grounds

The resort is situated on this peninsula stretching outward to the Mediterranean Sea. Hence, there are many entry points to the sea if you want to go for a swim.

Mediterranean Sea westin dragonara resort malta jermpins
The many entry points to the Mediterranean Sea

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However, I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the service. Given the Westin brand, the service I received was below expectation! There were far too many occasions when I felt discriminated and ignored. It could be due to my race or my younger age. The only commendable part was the concierge team. They were very attentive and helpful with all my logistical requests!


What to do

After checking in to our B&B at St Julian, we went for a stroll along the beautiful Balluta bay.

balluta bay malta jermpins
Balluta bay

Balluta bay is lined with restaurants on terraces, and also stairs for access into the waters. What a life is it to just park your car on the road side, and take a dip in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea! #siesta

Balluta bay access to the waters malta jermpins
Balluta bay access to the waters

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Scuba diving is a big thing in Malta. Almost of Maltese knows how to scuba dive. How can they not, when they are surrounded with such beautiful emerald waters!

I too, had planned for 2 days of scuba diving. First day, Jojo (not a scuba diver yet) joined me, and he signed up for the PADI Discover Scuba Diving (DSD), which is like a trial for first time divers, where you’ll be assisted and supervised closely throughout the entire dive.

We went to Cirkewwa bay for his DSD, and I took my time for a refresher (re-familiarisation) myself, having not dived for some years.

Cirkewwa bay malta jermpins
Cirkewwa bay

 

After Jojo’s DSD, I continued on and did another wall dive.

The next day, we went on an excursion to Gozo island. If you haven’t known yet, Malta is actually an archipelago of 3 islands, i.e. Malta, Gozo, and Comino.

ferry malta gozo jermpins
Ferry from Malta to Gozo

Comino is the smallest island of the three, and the least inhabited (4 permanent inhabitants to be exact), famous for the Blue Lagoon, which can get overcrowded by tourists.

Gozo, is famous for the late Azure window (which collapsed in 2017), and the Blue Hole, which is a popular scuba diving spot.

We were very fortunate to have seen the majestic Azure window, standing tall from afar.

Azure window gozo malta jermpins
Azure window, Gozo

My first dive was a dive entry through the Blue hole. I still remember, while descending the Blue hole, I completely loss all visibility, and for a moment it was quite scary. My diving buddy and I, we held on to each other, until we reached 6 m depth, and Voila, the most beautiful neon blue light! We even dived underneath the Azure window bridge, and looking up, the shadow it casted looks like a big rainbow!

Dive entry to Blue hole, Azure window at the background gozo malta jermpins
Dive entry to Blue hole, Azure window at the background

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We cruised awhile more at 12 m depth, and then descended deeper to 20 m until we reached this big underwater cave! My divemaster was so nice, he brought me on a “assisted” cave dive (considering I don’t have my cave diving license). It was pitch darkness! We circled the cave, of which I think can easily contain 100 divers, and then exited the cave by chasing after the neon blue light from the cave entrance. It was a surreal experience! I was so determined to get my cave diving license, but as of today, I still haven’t got it yet. #procrastination

inland sea gozo malta jermpins
Inland Sea, Gozo

My second dive was a dive entry from the Inland Sea, which is a inland lake connected to the sea by a 100 m tunnel through the cliffs.

For this second dive, we descended from the Inland Sea to 12 m depth, and diver through the narrow underwater tunnel. It was an underwater traffic jam. Exiting the tunnel, we came to the open sea, and did a nice and easy wall dive. Coming back, we passed through the tunnel again and ascended to the surface of Inland Sea. I was so excited with diving in confined spaces!

After the dives, we took the bus to the Citadella of Rabat (Gozo). From the top, we got a very nice panoramic view of Gozo island.

Gozo panorama from Citadella of Rabat malta jermpins
Gozo panorama from Citadella of Rabat

Back on Malta island, we also visited Valetta, the capital, and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has the President’s office, the Maltese parliament, cathedrals, museums, shops etc.

 

We much prefer Mdina, the old but well preserved capital. The town itself is very pleasant and fun to stroll around.

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Mdina, the entrance gate

 

Other places to visit include,

  • Blue Grotto : Series of seven caves, accessible only be small boats, boat ride cost 8 EUR for a 20 mins tour
Blue Grotto (source: thelifeintrips.com) malta Blue Grotto (source: thelifeintrips.com)
  • Saint Peter’s pool : Natural swimming pool carved into the rocks, south of Malta
  • Hagar Qim and Mnajdra : Ruins of stone age temples

What to eat

rabbit ragout risotto
Rabbit ragout risotto

Maltese cuisines are generally similar to Mediterranean cuisines, with lots of seafood given their accessibility to the freshest catch. Another common element in Maltese cuisine is rabbit meat. It is not as scary as it sounds. In fact, it is very tender and juicy if cooked properly.

 

 

One of our favourite eateries is Piccolo Padre, along Balluta bay.

 

And for an evening drink, you really should check out some of the restaurants and bar along Spinola bay.

 


Verdict

Jojo and I both unanimously agreed we must come back and visit Malta again! The next time, I’ll make sure to get my Advance diving license and dive to see the fallen remains of the Azure window! Yes, it is the hottest dive site now!

6 Comments

  1. First, you got me at “scuba dive”, having dived all over the world (usually from liveaboards) since 1995. Second. you sealed the deal with Malta!

    Malta’s been high on my bucket list ever since I got my Malta Destination Specialist certification in 2017. As a Travel Planner and Experience Maker, I specialize in experiential river and ocean cruisetour vacays, and Malta strikes me as a prime destination for travelers who enjoy more authentic, culturally immersive experiences and off-the-beaten track vacations, like myself.

    What makes Malta so ideal is there are a number of Mediterranean and Adriatic sea cruises originating out of La Valletta, Malta. This will allow me an opportunity to spend several days touring and diving around Malta before or after a cruise. I’ll now also keep this in mind for my clients that are scuba divers, too. I’ll also share your blog with them, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know there is such a thing as Malta Destination Specialist certification. Your plan sounds like a lot of fun, what you have in mind, cruising and diving. Do share with me about your experience later. And thanks for sharing on !

      Like

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