The long track record of the diving industry here, coupled with safe, clear waters - there are no tides and few strong currents - makes the Islands ideal for first-timers and novice divers. Most centres offer long weekend taster course or beginners' dives to give you a feel for what's involved. Tuition starts on land, followed by a pool orientation session before your first sea dive of around 30 minutes. The next level, usually a four-day course, combines shore-based instruction with up to six open water dives with the instructor. To gain an entry-level diving qualification you will need to spend more time, up to six days. Getting in touch with the Diving centre of your choice before your arrival is not a bad idea. Experienced, qualified divers can rent equipment and dive, so long as they are accompanied. Qualified instructors can take their own groups diving in Malta.
Regulations covering diving were introduced to ensure the maximum safety for divers. Any person wishing to dive needs to register at a dive centre prior to diving. Registration includes filling out a form of personal details and showing proof of qualifications (except for persons attending a PADI open-water course or equivalent; or a taster dive). In the case of minors, a written consent of parent or legal guardian is required. All persons registering at a dive centre are required to fill out a medical questionnaire to show that they are medically fit to dive. Notwithstanding the answers in the medical statement, in any case of doubt or at the discretion of the director of diving, persons may be requested to undergo a full medical examination by a physician who shall give his approval in writing before diving.
Only qualified diving instructors registered at a licensed dive centre are allowed to offer diving instruction services.
Speedboat and ferry traffic can be quite heavy especially in peak summer months and in the Gozo Channel area. Divers are required to fly the code-A flag or use a Surface Marker Buoy. This is for your own protection. Divers visiting the Maltese Islands will find visibility of up to 50 metres even at depths of 30 metres. There is little land surface run off to disturb visibility. However, while conditions are generally favourable, please be careful. Keep within your limitations and avoid over confidence.
Divers should be aware that there is a decompression chamber within Mater Dei Hospital, Msida, Malta. Staff there can be contacted for any diving incidents requiring medical attention on: +356 25455269 or by dialling the emergency telephone number 112.
In some areas of the Islands, diving is strictly prohibited in order to protect the archaeological underwater heritage. These areas will be pointed out to you when you receive instruction or obtain your diving permit. If you come across archaeological or cultural finds while diving, you should report these to the authorities. Do not let temptation spoil your holiday. Removal of finds or failure to report them is considered unlawful. These guidelines, and those protecting natural fauna and flora, are common sense to sports' divers worldwide.