Our head instructor, Mark Dove, shares his enthusiasm for the top dive sites in Comino, accompanied by his hand drawn maps. We offer guided excursions to all of these sites from May 1st to October 31st. No surcharge for the boat on packs of 6 or more dives. During the winter we dive from shore, visiting Malta and Gozo sites. Fill in our enquiry form or email Alison
exiting the chimney at lantern point
Lantern Point, sometimes called Lighthouse Point, or in Maltese, Ras L-Irqieqa, is probably the most popular dive on Comino, and with good reason. The underwater topography here is simply stunning, and includes tunnels, caves and swim- throughs, a sheer wall, massive boulders, and a maximum depth of 50m just minutes from shore.
The boat will usually anchor on the south side of the point, which itself is the most south-westerly point on Comino, within sight of the navigational warning light that gives the point its name. There is a large, flat plateau with an average depth of 8m where there is plenty of room to anchor several dive boats. It is also possible to start the dive here and meet the boat around the headland, so including the dive site of Lantern Point West (see below). There can be unpredictable currents here, both on the surface and at depth, so be prepared to alter your dive plan, or ask to be dropped upstream so that you do not have to struggle to reach the chimney.
The chimney is often the start of the dive, although there is nothing to stop you including it at the end as well. About level with the lantern, close to shore, and about 4m deep you will find a hole in the reef top large enough for divers to descend one at a time. The tunnel at the bottom has a maximum depth of 18m, and is relatively straight; you will be able to see the exit immediately, but do take a torch in order to seek out corals, fans and sponges that decorate the walls. On exiting the tunnel you will find yourself in a gully leading down from 16m to 25m, with the sheer wall of the headland to your right. You can follow this wall to reach Lantern Point West, but normally you would continue straight ahead towards a huge boulder known as "the mushroom".
It is possible to swim under this massive rock using a series of swim-throughs for a complete circuit of the central pillar that gives the boulder its name. Take your time and use a torch to check the walls, floor and ceiling for an array of beautiful sponges, corals, fans, and occasionally lobsters or huge urchins. The dive usually continues on the left-hand side of the mushroom, where you have the sheer wall of the reef drop off to your left, and a collection of large boulders, with sand below them to your right. If you follow the wall you will gradually descend from 25m to 35m; if on the sand then your depth will range from 40m to 50m. Within the wall there are morays, lobsters, octopus and grouper to be found. Do not forget to look out into the blue also, since you have a good chance of seeing large dentex or amberjacks, along with larger grouper among the deeper boulders.
The wall has a couple of interesting overhangs, and just before its end there is a small sandy U-shaped cave at 35m. After this the reef forms a headland, and you can ascend to the flat reef top where there is a likelyhood of seeing barracuda most of the time. If there is a current running, then it is best to return below the level of the drop off, sheltering with the wall to your right. However, if things are calm then explore the plateau, look down at the drop off beneath you, or gaze out into the blue to spot any larger hunters.
Once you reach the gully at the start of the wall, you can either visit the chimney once again, swim over the top of the mushroom at 18m watching your bubbles rising out of the limestone, or head around the point and back where, once again, there is a sheer wall dropping down to 25m. Once you ascend to the plateau take your time to explore the area between 5m and 8m, for here you will usually find at least one octopus and will see your bubbles being released from the chimney through the porous limestone rock forming a curtain, which is good for an unusual photograph.
Lantern Point West
Also known as Inner Lantern Point, this site is on the opposite side of the thin peninsula of rock from Lantern Point. Depths here range from 30m to less than 5m, and it is suitable for all levels of diver. The underwater landscape is almost as beautiful as Lantern Point: here you have a sheer wall, a shallow cave, and lots and lots of large boulders lying against each other, giving several swim-throughs. In fact the more you dive this site, the more swim-throughs you will discover, some obvious, some not so, and a few that are just too tight for even the smallest diver.
You can start the dive anywhere along the wall that forms the coastline, or even around the corner at Lantern Point. The wall extends straight down underwater, with a maximum depth of 25m at the headland. There are two large inlets which can be seen on the aerial photograph: these are interesting to explore when conditions are calm. The wall itself is covered in colourful growth, including sponges of all colours: red, black and green. If you can dive this site in the afternoon you will benefit from natural sunlight illuminating the wall.
Moving away from the wall is a large boulder field, most of which are leaning against each other in just the right fashion to give numerous swim-throughs underneath. On the far side of the boulders the seabed slopes down to a sandy area around 30m deep. On this side you will find some of the tallest boulders, the tops of which may be only 12m below the surface. Explore each boulder looking for swim-throughs, as well as octopus, comber and the multi-coloured ornate and cuckoo wrasses.
Towards the end of your dive, swim with the wall on your right until you reach a little plateau 6m deep. Here an overhang starts to form above the water, and within the plateau you will find two large wells carved out of the limestone by wave action over the centuries. You can see the rounded rocks responsible lying at the bottom of the wells.
Finally you will reach a shallow cave on your right, whose entrance is at 5m. There is actually air on top of you, and it is possible to continue through the wall in a U-shape until you exit at only 2m deep. Before you go too far however, turn and look behind you where the cave entrance and the overhanging rock frame a dazzling blue window. This is an excellent photograph, especially if your dive boat is anchored within the picture.
Lantern Point copyright Mark Dove
This shallow, sheltered dive site is very busy with boat traffic during the summer – weekends and holidays especially – so ensure that you surface close to the coastline. It is also a popular dive, as it is suitable for all levels of diver, and features a long, well-lit tunnel as well as a mixture of sea grass, boulders and dazzling sandy patches. Maximum depth here is 16m so it is perfect for a second or third dive, and great for photography.
The lagoon itself is mostly 5m deep or less, and is a nursery for young fish. There is a boat landing on the left hand side, and just before it a tunnel visible above the water. This tunnel is large enough for small boats to pass through, so once again, please be careful where you ascend. The dive usually starts with the tunnel, the entrance of which has 5m of water so you will be well below any boats. The tunnel is wide, with vertical walls, and a mixture of rocks and gravel on the bottom. A torch is not necessary, but can be useful to search for any critters. Here I have found some fabulous large nudibranchs, quite different to the usual white or blue small ones, and in various beautiful colours. The exit of the tunnel is at 8m and quickly descends to 13m – bear this in mind if searching for the tunnel from the other side. You can turn left and quickly return to the lagoon, or turn right and explore another false tunnel, where there is a large crack in the rock that doesn't quite come to anything. Continuing to your right you will see an underwater rocky overhang, with an outcrop on top that gives it the appearance of a rhino's head. Here is an excellent spot to find one or two large grouper, but you will have to sneak up on them. The ceiling of the overhang is covered in growth, usually attracting more than a few nudibranchs.
If you continue on you will enter the Blue Lagoon, but turn left and you will quickly find the base of a pinnacle that rises up above the waves, between Blue Lagoon and Crystal Lagoon. This pinnacle is known as Mushroom Rock, and is over 10m tall. The base is well worth exploring as there are lots of nooks and crannies, overhangs and boulders. Here you may find lobster, octopus, cuttlefish as well as reef fish. I have even seen barracuda and trigger fish around the pinnacle occasionally.
To return to Crystal Lagoon, either use the tunnel, or swim with it on your left so that you are between the coast and the sandy seabed at 16m. In this area you will find small boulders, sea grass, and small patches of sand or gravel. These patches are popular with octopus – just look out for their garden of stones, and their empties (shellfish they have eaten). As you swim eastwards the sandy patches become larger and larger until you reach the mouth of the lagoon. Here is a large sandy area, 10m deep, which usually has several flying gurnards picking their way across the sand. Try not to spook these fish and you might be rewarded with a wonderful display of their iridescent blue wings. If they take flight they often do so with wings closed sadly. Moving north into the lagoon itself you will find all sorts of juvenile fish and cuttlefish as well as booty dropped from boats. This is a great place for new sunglasses, masks, snorkels or towels.
Flying Gurnard at Crystal Lagoon
Crystal and Blue Lagoons copyright Mark Dove
Blue Lagoon / Alex's Cave
The famous Blue Lagoon on Comino is wonderful to snorkel, but with a depth of 3m is not the best dive. However, within the large islet to the south of the lagoon is a remarkable underwater cave, including a chamber with fresh air, and suitable for all levels of diver. The surrounding area includes a pinnacle and a tunnel.
Your boat may anchor at the south end of the Blue Lagoon, or just outside near a small pinnacle that is known as Mushroom Rock. Either way you are very close to a beautiful underwater tunnel linking the lagoon to the sea, just at the easternmost point of the large islet containing the cave where the coast drops underwater to form a shallow reef. The tunnel is 4m deep on the lagoon end and has very interesting ledges on either side where you can usually find nudibranchs and often a large, patient scorpion fish or two. There is a large hole in the roof, which gives the tunnel a bright, airy feel and brings out the colours of the sponges, corals and bryozoa.
On leaving the tunnel at 8m you are directly in front of the Mushroom Rock. Swim over to this pinnacle where there is an interesting reef at its base, just above a an area of gravel at 12m. Both areas have lots of hiding places for octopus. Turn right and head towards the sandy seabed at 16m: on your right will be large underwater headland with a perfectly square notch cut out of it. The headland can hide morays while on the sand you should see pearly razor fish loitering around their holes. Although you cannot usually see the holes in the sand, approach too close and the razor fish will dart down into the sand and disappear.
Follow the boundary between sand and reef for a few minutes heading west and you will come to the cave entrance, just behind a large boulder. The entrance is very wide, and also very light seeing as the cave is open above the water for part of its length. You might hear and see small boats taking tourists a little way into the entrance 14m above you. The first leg of the cave is well lit due to a crack in the rock above, until you reach the left-hand bend where it becomes completely dark. Turn on the torches and explore the side walls and ceiling of this wonderful underwater chamber. It is 20m long and about 4m high and wide, and there is no way to get lost, plus you can always see the light of the entrance if you turn around. This makes Alex's Cave a great first cave dive for those without experience, but bear in mind that the floor of the cave is fine sand, and so good bouyancy control is a must. The walls and ceiling contain plenty of shrimp, both with and without claws, and there is also a resident conger eel called Alex.
When you have reached a dead end, about 10m deep, slowly ascend to your right and you will find a chamber above sea-level with room enough for half a dozen divers at least. The air here is fresh, since there is a small crack through which you will see some sunlight. It is possible to squeeze through to the outside world, but definitely not while wearing scuba. If you have not thought to bring a picnic then you will have to descend again to 10m, taking it slowly to make sure there are no problems equalizing. Once your group is at the bottom I would suggest that everyone turns off their torches and enjoys the intense blue arch that is the exit.
P31 Patrol Boat (ex-Pasewalk)
This is the sister ship to the P29 at Cirkewwa (ex-Boltenhagen). The main differences are firstly the depth of the P31, which is 18m with a maximum of 21m under the bow, and secondly it is possible to enter the P31 at the stern and swim all the way to the bow without having to exit and re-enter the wreck. Other differences include the mast having been removed, and also the stern is buried in the sand after the wreck moved a substantial distance during storms over the winter 2010-2011. The wreck now lies about 25m from the navigational hazard buoy in the direction of Alex's cave. There is also quite a large amount of sand inside the engine room, but this does not prevent swimming through the wreck.
At 53m long the P31 is an excellent site for divers of all levels, even newly qualified Open Water divers. There is no reef nearby which means that the dive has a square profile, with a safety stop at 5m. It is therefore possible to explore the whole wreck, inside and out, in about 35 minutes. On the sand around the wreck you may see rays, flounders and razor fish. On the wreck have been found trigger fish, filefish, octopus, nudbranchs and numerous small reef fish. Mussels, oysters and tube worms have started to colonise the wreck and the buoy after only two years in the water.
Taking a break on the P31 Copyright Sue Baines
Cominotto copyright Mark Dove
Cominotto Reef (Anchor Reef)
This dive site is located on the west side of the small island of Cominotto, to the east of which is the Blue Lagoon. Cominotto (alternatively Cominetto), in Maltese Kemunett, means "Little Comino" and the diving here is just as dramatic as on its big brother. This site is exposed to the north-westerlies, but should you still want to dive here you can anchor just around the southern tip of Cominotto at "Cominotto Corner", where you can see what looks like a dark arch on the rockface on your trip towards it. This allows you to dive the beginning of the reef, and at depths shallower than 30m, but it is unlikely that you will have time to reach the eponymous anchor and return back while still exploring at a leisurely pace.
Normally the start of this dive is where you see a large V-shaped cutout in the coast. To the southeast the coast drops almost sheer underwater giving a wall all the way to Cominotto Corner, depths are between 15m and 25m, with lots of interesting overhangs and ledges. Take a torch to explore the reef and you will find lots of colourful marine growth, along with plenty of invertebrates such as tube worms, hermit crabs and octopus. There are a couple of swim-throughs at 5m, one on the corner itself and another in a gravel gully to the southeast of the anchorage.
To the northwest of the V is a large plateau with a drop off on its south side. Most experienced divers will want to find this drop off and then turn right for a deep and exciting wall dive, with depths up to 50m. Under the boat you should notice two large horseshoe-shaped bays in the reef top, depth around 10m. At the opening of these bays there is a wall dropping to 25m. Keep the wall on your right and notice the base of the wall rises then descends gradually to around 38m. There are small boulders dotted around, and one of these contains a relic from Malta's maritime history: a World War II anchor, completely encrusted in sponges and soft corals. It is four-pronged grapple, now missing one prong and lying at 35m.
After the anchor you can continue deeper – the sand to your left reaches 50m – or you can continue along the wall, ascending gradually as the reef develops a series of terraces and ledges. Keep your eyes on the blue as well, since here you can often see barracuda, amberjacks or small tuna darting in to feed on the reef fish. As the wall starts to turn into a few gullies, look to your left at 19m and you should find a very narrow swim-through. If it looks too narrow, don't worry – there are another two larger entrances behind. On your return you can explore the reef top - the depth near the drop off ranges from 15m to 8m. Keep looking in all directions as I have seen rays here before now.
Occasionally there are strong currents, and since this side of Cominotto attracts a lot of boat traffic heading to the Blue Lagoon in summer, you should make sure you have a DSMB in case you cannot quite make it back to the boat.
Santa Maria Caves copyright Mark Dove
Comino Caves (Santa Marija Caves) or Ghemieri Caves in Maltese
Almost the perfect dive? This dive site is situated on the rugged northeast coast of Comino. Its interconnecting caves/caverns and the fantastic feeling of close contact with the saddled bream in a feeding frenzy makes this a very popular dive with most divers. Your dive boat will anchor in the little bay, which provides shelter from the northwest winds. From here you will be able to see some of the caves from the surface, below the boat the gentle undulating seabed is made up of sand, Posidonia (sea grass) and some small boulders. Normally planned as a second dive and with an average depth of 10m, even moving away from the reef wall will only give you a maximum depth of 16m. Once in the water and descending, the saddle bream will be there to greet you expecting to be fed; this is quite unique to this dive site.
Your dive will normally start at the entrance to the north cave, although a large group might split in two and half feed the fish first and then explore a long reef with a large archway to the south of the anchorage. The cave to the north extends all the way through the headland, and there are at least two routes through it. Starting at 5m deep, hug the right-hand wall and you will see a small tunnel giving way to a wide open area with a brilliant azure blue exit beyond. Explore the right hand wall and on your exit from the cave look to your left; you will see a wonderful swim-through in the shape of a Z, almost as if Zorro carved it with his sword. This is a fantastic photo opportunity, as well as being possible to swim through. On the other side you will be faced with the offshore pinnacle which lies at the south end of Santa Marija Reef (see above). If you follow the coast round to your right at a depth of 6m however, you will be rewarded with a very impressive sight. The whole headland above you seems to be resting on three pillars of rock, with a large horizontal crevice filled with corals, sponges and tube worms. Here you can quite often see many nudibranchs as well.
On returning to the north cave, hug the right wall again, noticing a beautiful hole in the roof creating dancing sunbeams. You will slowly ascend to 3m where you will find a huge air pocket above you. Surface here and you may even surprise some tourists who have climbed down into the cave from the large hole in its roof.
Exiting the cave underwater, turn to your right and you will find a short tunnel giving access to the west cave. This cave is sandy and becomes very shallow – beware boats that take tourists into this cave as, unlike the previous one, there is plenty of headroom on top. When you return to the area under the boat you will be able to feed the fish or, if you have a camera, take some exceptional photographs of the fish feeding and being almost unable to see your buddy due to the number of fish surrounding him. I have been diving this site for almost twenty-five years and each time it still gives me a buzz. I do not normally feed the fish myself, but this practise has been carried out here for as long as I can remember. The photographic opportunity with the light blue of the sea, the hundreds of silver fish on a sandy seabed is too good to miss. Whether you feed the fish, take photographs or just watch this spectacular show I cannot see how you will not be impressed.