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Quick note before the post begins: The world may have me, but New York has my heart, today and every day. We’re never forgetting.

. . . . . .

The best diving in Europe. Unmatched in the Mediterranean. That was just some of the hope-lifting praise I’d read and heard for the dive sites ringing Malta and Gozo. And considering I was there visiting a dive instructor who’d been raving to me about the quality of his new offshore office, there was a lot to be lived up to.

I was itching to get in the water by the time we took a little road trip over to Gozo, our trunk loaded with tanks and dive gear. Our destination? Two of the island’s most famous underwater attractions — the Inland Sea and The Blue Hole.

Diving Gozo Blue Hole

Normally, they are completed as two separate dives. But as a divemaster and an instructor working in the area, both extremely comfortable in the water and good on air (for non-divers, that means we breathe through our tanks slowly and can stay underwater longer), we felt comfortable visiting both sites on one dive. We’d enter through the Inland Sea, swim along the coastal wall, and ascend through the Blue Hole.

We nabbed as close a parking spot as we could manage, suited up on the pavement, and waddled our way down to the Inland Sea.

Diving the Inland Sea, Gozo

Diving the Inland Sea, Gozo

The Inland Sea

There, Anders dropped our car keys with an ice cream vendor he’d made friends with, and we started preparing to descend. I hadn’t been diving in the Mediterranean since a trip to Ibiza many moons ago and I was anxious to see how this highly-hyped destination would compare.

We began our dive by cautiously making our way into the narrow channel, watching for boat traffic overhead.

Diving the Inland Sea, Gozo

Diving the Inland Sea, Gozo

Diving the Inland Sea, Gozo

It wasn’t long before we hit open ocean. Thus far I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the water temperature was — I was feeling fine in a 7mm wetsuit.

Diving the Inland Sea, Gozo

Diving Malta

Jellyfish in Malta

Visibility was good but frankly, there wasn’t much sealife to be seen. That did make the sightings we did have — like a flowing jellyfish — all the more special, and in the meantime we enjoyed the watching the waves crash dramatically into the wall as we moved along the edge of the ocean.

Eventually, Anders signaled to me that we had reached our destination — we were at the Blue Hole, one of Europe’s most famous dive sites. I could see why. The topography was like a diver’s playground with swim-throughs, arches, and shallow caves to explore.

Diving with Maltaqua

Diving with Maltaqua

Diving with Maltaqua

Diving Gozo

Despite stretching two dives into one and taking our sweet time doing it, we surfaced long before hitting low air. Nope, I had finally given into my teeth — I have a receding gumline, and I was experiencing shooting pains from the regulator rubbing against my biteline. I vowed to get to a dentist as soon as I hit Bangkok (and I did!), but in the meantime, I just kind of dangled the reg halfway out of my mouth like I was trying to dive and chew gum at the same time. Ain’t nothing keepin’ this girl out of the water.

As we made our way towards the entrance to the Blue Hole, Anders indicated that we were passing under the infamous Azure Window. My eyes crinkled with a smile, seeing such a notorious landmark from such a completely original angle.

Diving the Blue Hole, Gozo

Diving Gozo

Diving Gozo

The hardest part of diving the Blue Hole? Walking back to the parking lot over those sharp rocks with a full set of gear and weights! But it was worth every labored step. While there wasn’t an overwhelming number of fish to admire, the topography alone would have kept the reg dangling out of my mouth (had my dental issues not been doing so already). The Blue Hole indeed blew me away.

But my Maltese diving adventures weren’t over. A few days later, I tagged along with Anders at Maltaqua, his employer on the island. This time, we were headed to shore dive in Ċirkewwa harbor. One sign of how seriously Malta takes its scuba industry? There’s a special driving lane plus dedicated parking for divers.

Diving with Maltaqua

Diving Malta

Diving Ċirkewwa

Starfish in Malta

We were spending the morning diving two separate wrecks in the harbor. With Anders busy with his students, I was free to flit about with my camera as I pleased — my favorite way to dive. Unfortunately on the first dive my camera decided to seek revenge for an unidentified wrong I committed against it and fogged irreparably. By the second dive we were friends again and the camera behaved beautifully.

Diving Malta

Diving Malta

Learning to Dive in Malta

Diving Ċirkewwa

Diving Ċirkewwa

Diving Ċirkewwa

I really enjoyed both wrecks. While the bottom time was short due to the depths the ships are sitting at, they are impressive nonetheless. And I was just as engaged, if not more, by the shallow reefs on the way back to the shore. The sealife I had been missing the previous day in Gozo? It was all hiding here!

Diving Ċirkewwa

Octopus in Malta

Scuba Diving in Malta

In fact, this octopus encounter was the best I’ve ever had in all my time diving. After almost spitting out my reg in excitement over spotting him (check out that camouflage in the top photo!) we eyed each other for quite some time.

And once I dragged myself away from the octo, there were even more swim-throughs, more shallow caves, and more inviting beds of sea grass to admire.

Scuba Diving in Malta

Scuba Diving in Malta

Diving Ċirkewwa

I ascended a happy diver. In just three (or four, kind of!) dives, I’d experienced some of the very best Malta had to offer. Haunted wrecks, curious cephalopods, glorious sunshine to surface to and some of the most noteworthy topography I’ve seen anywhere in the world.

Bottom line — don’t come to Malta without getting some bottom time in the Mediterranean Sea! And I can’t recommend Maltaqua more highly for when you do. They hire some darn cute instructors (Who, me? Biased?).

Diving with Maltaqua

Scuba Diving in Malta

Have you been diving in the Mediterranean? What did you think?

. . . . . . . .

Curious about my underwater photography setup? Check out my Obsessions page for information on my camera gear, editing programs and more.

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63 Comments...
  • Ashley
    September 11 2014

    Such a great shot of the octopus!
    Ashley recently posted..Flavours of Vietnam

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      I was so thrilled! I’ve never had the opportunity to spend so much time with one before.

  • Caity
    September 11 2014

    I am totally loving these Malta posts Alex! Although I am not a diver I always look forward to reading your dive posts as it opens up a side to the planet that I am not yet privy to. You have definitely ignited a desire to dive and while I can’t see it being realised for a while its posts like these that hit home that I should make a conscious effort for it to be sooner rather than later!

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      That’s what I’m aiming for, Caity! The emails where readers tell me I’ve inspired them to dive are my favorite kind 🙂

  • Emily from Let's Roam Wild
    September 11 2014

    As I sit in a rainstorm in what should be sunny Cancun, I’m swooning over your gorgeous days in Malta! LOVELY photos too. I really enjoyed the black and white and look at that depth of field you were able to capture with that jelly fish!
    Emily from Let’s Roam Wild recently posted..Go Local: A Weekend in Washington, D.C.

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      With the surge from the waves and the wiggles of the jellyfish, those were not easy shots to capture! I was so glad a few kind of turned out.

  • Angela
    September 11 2014

    Love the new site Alex! I busy building a new one as well, can’t wait. This post seriously made me want to get out there and dive. I am working on being more confident in the water. Any tips for how to relax while diving?

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      Practice practice practice! I don’t know if there’s anything but experience that will make you truly comfortable and confident underwater. Having a buddy and dive guide/instructor you trust definitely help too!

  • Katie
    September 11 2014

    Your underwater photos are always so clear! On my last dive my new gopro fogged up and I got almost nothing on our second dive 🙁 we also did some land dives for the first time – it’s weird not jumping off a boat! haha!
    Katie recently posted..Rice Terraces of Tabanan, Bali

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      Camera fogging is seriously one of my greatest annoyances in this life. It makes me so mad, I almost want to close my eyes so I don’t see anything cool and have to regret not being able to photograph it!

  • Gorgeous photos!
    Karisa @ Flirting with the Globe recently posted..A Memorable Day in Peru’s Sacred Valley

  • Ashley of Ashley Abroad
    September 11 2014

    I love your octopus shots! And overall I’ve realized I need to visit Malta. It looks gorgeous!
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..French Eating Habits I’m Taking Home With Me

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      Yeah, I know it’s flooded with British tourists but it still felt like a hidden gem to me considering how few people I know who’ve been there. Hope I add you to the list soon 🙂

  • The octopus capture is incredible. Jelly-fish shots also dope. All around, really sick shots!!
    Kristen Noelle @ Peaches, Beaches, & Urbanistas recently posted..(LA)bor Day Weekend | Made in America

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      Thanks chica! I was pretty darn happy with the results. And I couldn’t believe I was the one who spotted the octopus — I never find anything!

  • Shaun's Cracked Compass
    September 11 2014

    That closeup of the octopus, wow! Amazing photos. The wrecks look amazing to dive too. Lots of WW2 stuff down there I’m sure. The Maltese didn’t have it easy at that time.

    And who doesn’t want to make friends with an ice cream vendor? lol.
    Shaun’s Cracked Compass recently posted..Dublin – Solo

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      No, they really didn’t. I knew nothing of Malta’s history before arriving and was shocked to hear how ravaged this tiny island was during that war. Did you see my Gozo post — there was an old WW2 bunker converted into an art gallery. Loved it!

  • Sarah Somewhere
    September 11 2014

    Absolutely gorgeous photos! Malta looks beautiful, especially from below sea level! Love the new site, it looks amazing.
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Peace is a discipline and God is the eye of the hurricane

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      Thank you so much Sarah! I am so happy in my new home 🙂

  • Ron
    September 11 2014

    Hi Alex,

    Nice UW shots, I also like the octopus, kinda like the Beatles ‘In an octopus’ garden in the shade’! So diving in Malta vs. Koh Tao. What is the water temp in Malta? I will likely never get there, but you never know!

    FYI, your post is not opening from mail, and the link to your site is broke… The new site looks good! I like the layout, white on white is easy on the eyes but a bit drab.

    I am glad you are enjoying you travels, I am also enjoying your travels!

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      You know, I am terrible at remembering water temperatures! I don’t really have a good sense of it, like if someone says something was X degrees it means nothing to me — I just ask what kind of wetsuit I’ll need ha. So I don’t retain the information whatsoever. And thanks for the tip on the email subscription, I will go take a look!

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    September 11 2014

    I always enjoy your posts, but I especially love your diving posts and this was no exception. I hadn’t honestly given much thought to diving in Europe figuring the cost and the cold would make it a less attractive proposition to other parts of the world, but now I see how wrong I was. I would LOVE to see an octopus, but even more than that, the diving around Malta really looks spectacular. We haven’t made it there yet, but whenever we do, I’ll be sure to make sure we put plenty of dive days on the itinerary!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Everything You Wanted to Know (& More!) About: Sri Lanka

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      The cost can definitely be a shock if you’re used to Southeast Asia diving 🙂 But Malta would be a good place to start because there are so many shore diving options (always cheaper) and the temperature wasn’t bad at all! I’m a pretty warm water wuss, but I was pleasantly surprised that I was fretting for nothing.

  • Kim
    September 11 2014

    Love the shot of the two silver fish. Their expressions remind me of when we force our two boys to take a photo together on vacation. Begrudging smiles for sure.

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      Ha! I love that comparison. And that’s one of my favorite photos of the trip!

  • Silvia
    September 11 2014

    I love the black and white shots. I mean, I love all the shots. Malta!! ❤
    Silvia recently posted..Confessions of a Shy Backpacker

    • Alex
      September 11 2014

      Thank you! Sometimes black and white is the only way to save an image if it was taken at a really deep depth. I don’t have an off camera flash and so the colors can be so distorted that editing is the only option 🙂

  • Justine
    September 11 2014

    Despite the fact that you didn’t see a ton of sea life during the first dive, I love the photos of the floating jellyfish. Oh, and the octopus is beautiful! I would have stared at him forever too 🙂 For some reason I find myself raving about every photo you post of an octopus!
    Justine recently posted..The Reality of Traveling to a Disaster Zone – Coron, Philippines

    • Alex
      September 13 2014

      Yeah, but this is the best way to see them — under the water instead of above it! 🙂

  • Karen @ Lots of Sheep
    September 11 2014

    You are my new dive inspiration! I just got my open water certification this past year in Australia (on Lord Howe Island – which, not that I have much to compare it to, I thought was awesome diving), and I love it! I definitely need to work on going through my air slower – I feel so guilty when I’m the one making everyone else go up.

    Scrolling through these photos (all of them, but especially the octopus!!) got me really antsy to get out diving again. Sadly, I don’t think there’s much to be found off the coast of Virginia.
    Karen @ Lots of Sheep recently posted..How I like to travel

    • Alex
      September 13 2014

      Don’t worry, that comes with time! The more comfortable you are under the water, the better your air consumption will be 🙂 Practice practice — maybe it’s time to book a dive trip!

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    September 12 2014

    Yay! Have been waiting for this post.

    Loooove the underwater topography, the swim throughs look very cool. And octopus, yeahhhhh! Actually found my first daytime octopus (ie. not on a night dive) a few weeks before I left for Canada and I was ridiculously excited.

    But, um, a SEVEN MIL? Not sure I’d be down with that, what was the water temp?
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Roatan Month 25 Roundup

    • Alex
      September 13 2014

      I have no idea about the temperature (as mentioned elsewhere in the comments, I NEVER retain that information because temperature numbers mean nothing to me for some reason! Every time I look at the weather I’m asking people to translate it into what kind of clothes I need to wear…) and Google is giving me a huge variety of answers. Let me ask Anders and get back to you 🙂

  • The coolest thing I have seen when diving was a small octopus swimming away from me in Dahab and I have only been diving 4 times. Stunning photos as usual 🙂
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..Stepping back in time to the Gold Rush days at Sovereign Hill

    • Alex
      September 13 2014

      That’s awesome — it’s super exciting to see them free swimming 🙂 Good find!

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    September 12 2014

    looks like fun! I kept picturing things as I read it which lead to a lot of picturing ander’s making signals for things like “blue window” or whatnot. Is santorini the Mediterranean? if so, then yes i’ve dived there! but it was my first and only time.
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..This is India! (fifteen)

    • Alex
      September 13 2014

      Indeed it is, and I just went diving there too! There’s an upcoming post about it, of course 🙂 Interested to see how our experiences compared!

  • Becky Hutner
    September 12 2014

    I heart your diving posts, even though I don’t feel I have much to contribute to the conversation. I have enjoyed my daily snorkeling jaunts here in Ibiza. Clear, warm, shallow water is such a treat coming from cold, murky california. A friend actually spotted a bunch of baby octos the other day but no such luck for me. I shall keep on searching…
    Becky Hutner recently posted..Fashion ‘Round the World: What people wore in Summer ’14

    • Alex
      September 13 2014

      Ah, you’re in Ibiza! Amazing! It’s a cool little island, no? I enjoyed my dives there, and it’s such a beautiful place to splash around and snorkel.

  • miquel
    September 14 2014

    That Octopus! The ocean both mystifies and scares me a bit, but you’ve got me convinced, once again, I need to get down there.
    miquel recently posted..How to Learn a Language

    • Alex
      September 15 2014

      Do it! You will never regret it. And tell me when you do 🙂

  • Susan
    September 15 2014

    I’m pretty curious about scuba diving and have actually taken a Discover class in a pool, but I’m quite terrified of jellyfish. Your photos of them give me hope though! If you’re down there taking such beautiful images of them, they must not be all that bad?! Maybe I’ll actually end up trying a dive in the ocean next time.
    Susan recently posted..Only in Iceland: Inside the Volcano Tour and the Blue Lagoon

    • Alex
      September 16 2014

      Nope, they’re not all bad at all! Some are, but don’t worry — your instructor will tell you if there’s a variety you need to stay away from 🙂

  • Jason lewis
    September 19 2014

    Hi Alex,
    On looking your photos and descriptions, I’m kind of thinking exploring the underwater life. It looks like real fun!!!

    • Alex
      September 20 2014

      Go for it! Malta is a very popular diving destination, and for good reason.

  • Jade
    September 21 2014

    I did my first swim throughs on this trip, including the chimney in Koh Tao (!), and am now thoroughly in love with them! It really does add another dimension to what is already an amazing activity.
    Love the thought of you and Anders in full gear rushing down to the sea- such dedication!

    • Alex
      September 21 2014

      The swim through at Sail Rock is epic! If you liked that you’d definitely be a fan of Malta. Maybe add it to your list 🙂

  • Camels & Chocolate
    September 23 2014

    Wow, that’s some far better diving than I ever expected out of the Med! We opted not to waste our time diving during our recent three-week trip to the area simply due to a lack of sealife, but if ever we are in Malta, I’ll be sure and get my fins wet!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Eat Music City

    • Alex
      September 23 2014

      Timing is everything! On my first trip to the Med I was on a cruise so only one day on each Greek island… so no, same thing, didn’t want to waste the time. This trip though I had lots more time to play with and dove in both Malta and Santorini, and was pleasantly surprised by both!

  • Kait
    September 27 2014

    Reading all of these posts about Malta are just getting me so excited about my trip there in November!

    I have never dived before but am doing my first intro one on the Whitsundays next month. If I enjoy it (which I am pretty certain I will!) I would love to do some diving in Malta.

    Is Maltaqua a good place you would recommend for a beginner?
    Kait recently posted..The Hardest Thing About Traveling

    • Alex
      September 27 2014

      Absolutely! They are an extremely professional dive shop (Europe has high standards in general, I think) and you’ll be well taken care of. You’re going to love diving! I’m excited for you!

  • Krystle
    October 10 2014

    Hey Alex!
    I checked out your obsessions page for more information about your underwater camera equipment, thanks for the help. 🙂 Do you use any filters on your camera housing to minimize the loss of color in the deeper depths? Your photos are so colorful!
    Krystle recently posted..Maui Monday: Zippin’ Down Haleakala

    • Alex
      October 11 2014

      No filters, but at deep depths I often convert the photo to black and white in post processing. I also use Photoshop to bring back in some of the color that is lost 🙂

  • Martina
    October 12 2014

    Hey Alex 🙂

    How cool are octopuses? Octopi? Whatever – I love them! 🙂

    I saw my first wild octopus on a shallow night dive last month in Fiji – it was so amazing! Maybe two feet across from tentacle tip to tentacle tip, and so graceful in its movement. It didn’t really like us hovering around, and inked at us – which was excellent as well! It’s interesting to see how differently liquids behave in other liquids. We avoided it easily, luckily – I wouldn’t have wanted to be cleaning ink off later.

    I’m just getting into diving myself, and loving every minute. I can’t wait to see more of the underwater world. 🙂

    Martina
    Martina recently posted..9 reasons why Myanmar should be at the top of your list of places to go next

    • Alex
      October 13 2014

      Wow, that sounds like an AMAZING experience! Diving in Fiji… big sigh! Someday, I’ll get there too 🙂

      • Martina
        October 13 2014

        Do it!! 🙂 People keep telling me that learning to dive in Fiji means I’m ruined for diving everywhere else haha. But there’s so much to see! I went on my first wreck dive on the weekend, it was excellent. I really want to get to the Bligh Water, but I think I need to get a bit more experienced first.

        I’ll be here until February, so if you do make it here this year, I’d love to go diving with you. 😉
        Martina recently posted..Russia’s hidden gem

  • Carmen Motta
    June 1 2016

    Wow that octopus close up is .. fascinating to say the least! Your pictures are stunning. Much love xx

    • Alex
      June 10 2016

      Thank you! That octo is one of my favorites 🙂

  • Bloom
    July 13 2016

    Did you try to dive in Comino ? This is a REALLY great spot for scuba diving :). You have a lot of reef, wrecks, etc.

    • Alex
      July 14 2016

      I didn’t! Sounds like I’ll have to go back for that 🙂

  • Franziska
    August 1 2016

    Hey Alex

    Just found your Malta post and I really liked it.
    Going there in September with my boyfriend for the first time. So excited!!
    We want to go diving there. (I never tried, but my boyfriend has a license). Can you recommend a diving company? Or is your friend Anders still working there?

    Greetings from Germany, 🙂
    Franziska

    • Alex
      August 3 2016

      Hey there! Anders is no longer in Malta, but I still recommend Maltaqua. They were great!

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