IF PRESENTED WITH A MENU representing the standard dive fare of the Maltese islands, your choice of sites will probably read something like this: the brilliant wreck of the Um el Faroud at Weid iz Zurrieq (the Blue Grotto); the old faithful tugboat Rozi at Cirkewwa (Marfa Point); the pinnacle at Reqqa Point on the island of Gozo which, with its drop-offs and clear blue waters, is possibly the best reef dive in the Mediterranean; and maybe the Blue Hole at Dwejra, also on Gozo, with its window that allows you to enter the open sea.
For a change this year – or an addition – try something a little different from these popular choices. I have chosen four of what I consider prime but less talked-about sites to add to your menu.
For starters there is Ras il Hobz on the south coast of Gozo, a site known as Middle Finger. It’s a little off the beaten track, but really worth the effort.
Then there is Ras l Irqieqa, better known as Lantern Point, on the island of Comino. This is a boat dive and great for underwater photographers.
Migra Ferha on Malta’s west coast has many steps down to the entry point, so is only for the most energetic – although arrangements can be made to boat-dive this site. And for dessert, how about the WW2 wreck of the ss Margit Sunk in 1942 just off Grand Harbour, Valletta, in Kalkara Creek, this can be a breath-taking sight in good visibility.

Ras il Hobz (Middle Finger), Gozo
This dive-site lies on the south coast of Gozo, not far from the port of Mgarr, and is protected from the north-westerly weather conditions.
It can be dived by boat or from shore, but is mostly the latter – if you haven’t been to Malta before, divers tend to get around the islands in 4x4s.
The headland is reasonably flat and shaped like an arrowhead. The uniquely shaped pinnacles, which resemble fingers closed together, lie just below the surface in 10-12m, a short distance from the headland.
The headland, where most divers enter the water, drops off sharply to a depth of 30m to terminate in a narrow gully about 2m wide that runs along the back of the column.
From here the reef rises sharply up again to the finger pinnacles, moving round to the seaward side of this column to the thumb at a depth of 15m. Below this is a boulder at 22m. Looking into the blue, you can see large fish such as barracuda, jack, tuna. On the column itself, check for moray eels.
Both sides and the front of this column now drop away to the first narrow plateau at 48m, then another small plateau at 56m. At 63m, technical divers can find a large three-pronged anchor near the reef wall. On the seaward side, the reef drops away dramatically to 100m-plus.
These features make this site ideal for all levels of diver, and if you are an underwater photographer the pinnacles are the ideal place for capturing returning divers from the depths below. The 5m plateau to the east of the headland provides a good area for safety stops, and contains the most popular exit-point.
An abundance of fish can normally be encountered here, especially saddle bream and cuttlefish. In my opinion this unique rock formation makes an excellent dive, and I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Ras il Hobz is becoming a popular dive-site, and compares very favourably with Reqqa Point, the Blue Hole, Inland Sea and mv Karwella. Almost all Gozo dive centres visit this site.

Ras l-Irqieqa (Lantern Point), Comino
The small island of Comino, situated halfway between Malta and Gozo, is of course all boat-diving. Lantern Point is on the south-western corner. Here, the spectacular underwater topography includes tunnels, caves, swim-throughs, a sheer wall and a seabed littered with massive boulders, with a maximum depth of 50m just minutes from the shore.
The dive-boat usually moors on the south side of the point, close to the small navigational lantern that gives it its name. Below the boat will be a large flattish plateau with an average depth of 8m, although this gently slopes away to 20m before the drop-off.
A short distance away is the entrance to an L-shaped tunnel known as the Chimney, which is also normally the start of the dive, although there is nothing to stop you from including it
at the end as well.
The entrance depth is 4m and it is large enough for divers if they descend one at a time. The tunnel exits at 18m and is relatively straight. Torchlight will help to illuminate the corals and sponges that decorate the walls, showing up their vivid colours.
Once out of the tunnel you’re below the drop-off, which runs from north to south. Along its wall are many small caves and overhangs. Immediately below the tunnel exit is a huge boulder known as the Mushroom, and it’s possible to swim beneath this massive rock through a series of swim-throughs.
From this area the seabed, with all its large boulders and rocks, slopes down to 50m. Normally your dive would continue along the base of the wall, which has a couple of interesting overhangs, and just before its end there is a small U-shaped cave with a sandy seabed at 35m.
After this, the reef forms a headland. Ascend to the flat reeftop and you are likely to see shoals of salema fish, barracuda and feeding amberjack.
Lantern Point is probably the most popular dive site on the island of Comino, yet it doesn’t seem to get mentioned that much.
Most dive centres on Malta and Gozo arrange day trips to Comino at least once a week and the dive at Lantern Point will be on the itinerary.

Migra Ferha, Malta
THIS UNIQUE AND UNSPOILT dive-site situated away from it all should be attempted only by dedicated, experienced divers. One needs to be fit, because there are some 150 steps to be negotiated to reach the entry/exit point below the Dingli Cliffs, which run along Malta’s western coastline.
Of course, there is an alternative, which is to dive this site by boat. That makes it available to all qualifications.
Below the entry/exit point the depth is 15m, and there is a small cave just to the left. This dive-site is divided into two areas by a reef wall that runs out in a westerly direction, and I think the area to the north of this wall is the best part to explore.
There is a large plateau with a depth of 13-14m, and along the cliff-face there are many little caves to explore. At the far end, a number of cars have been driven off the cliff to their watery graves!
On the north-west side of this plateau the reef drops away to 30-36m. Below this the seabed, with boulders, quickly drops away to the sand at 50m, where all the other cars that missed the plateau end their days.
The area to the south side of the reef wall is littered with big boulders, and along the cliff-face there are caves, overhangs and very large boulders until you reach the headland, where there is a change of direction. From this point, if you don’t want to retrace your steps you can swim in a northerly direction, keeping the boulders on the right, and at a depth of 25m you will reach the dividing reef-wall.
The marine life here is excellent – moray eels, octopuses, cuttlefish exist in abundance around the reefs, and in the blue you can find tuna, amberjack and barracuda among others.
Migra Ferha is not normally on the main menu at dive centres, because of the time it takes to travel there and the steps to the entry point.
If you are independent divers, please obtain all information on the dive-site before leaving the centre. The best way to do this dive is by boat, but because of the distance from the pick-up point boat-diving is not always available, so pre-planning is a must.

Below: Vehicles that have been pushed off the cliff-top to their graveyard below have now become home to local marine life.

ss Margit, Malta
THIS 3496-TON PASSENGER SHIP with a length of 106m was built in France, originally named the Theodore Mante. In the early hours of 19 April, 1941, she was moored to buoy 14 at the entrance to Kalkara Creek during an air raid by Junkers Ju87s and was hit, set ablaze, listed to port and sank.
This is UK wreck-diving at its best! It’s normally dived by visiting divers when sea conditions are not so good elsewhere on the island, but my advice
is to dive this wreck when sea conditions are good elsewhere – you will be rewarded with an excellent dive with possibly no other divers present.
The Margit lies in 22m on a silty seabed, so good buoyancy control is required. There is still a lot to see, and at times the visibility can be very good.
Parts of the wreckage stand some 5m proud of the seabed. In front of the bow is a huge round mooring buoy that was used by battleships in the past. Running along the side of the wreckage is a massive link-chain used for mooring aircraft-carriers.
The engine-room is still reasonably intact, with the large pistons reaching up towards the surface, making for a good photo opportunity.
At the stern, the propeller has been removed but the shaft is still in place.
Throughout the wreckage there is a lot to explore. Watch out for grouper and, in this silty environment, the beautiful colours of nudibranchs that have made this their home.
The Margit is not the first port of call for most dive centres, so if you wish to dive this wreck using a centre, advanced planning is recommended.

Scuba Diving Malta Gozo Comino
Peter G Lemon’s book, subtitled The Ultimate Guide to Diving the Maltese Islands, has been a popular choice for visiting divers since 2001, and is now in its third edition. The author also issues supplements as new attractions such as artificial reefs appear. The A4 book contains detailed guidance on diving 44 shore and 35 boat-diving sites, complete with maps, underwater dive-plans and many photographs in its 224 pages.
The book costs £19.99, ISBN 9780954178925, www.scubadivingmalta.co.uk