Comino Caves (Santa Marija Caves)

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.