Did the mention of the word “Malta” startle you and made you scratch your head wondering where on earth was this place called Malta? You’re not the only one. Malta is a small island in the Mediterranean Sea that geographically affiliates itself to Europe.
In addition to being an island where the seashore is no more than a 15-minutes ride no matter where you are on the island, Malta also boasts of some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean. The climate is moderate, the water is calm, and the fish come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.
And once you dive under the blue waters you’ll find the floor dotted with shipwrecks that date back hundreds of years when invaders came to claim this Mediterranean jewel. As we all know shipwrecks make the perfect homes for fish. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s explore Malta and see what it has to offer the passionate spearo among us.
Spearfishing Places in Malta
In the introduction, we mentioned that Malta was an island. That’s not exactly true. Malta is two islands with one tiny speck squeezed between them.
Naturally, you’d be led to believe that just because you’re on an island, anywhere is good for diving. Even though that doesn’t work anywhere else, here on Malta, that’s exactly true. The seashore is your oyster, make your pick and go chase the fish of your choice.
But as we all know, not all diving spots are created equal. Some are just better than others. That’s the natural order of things and Malta is no exception. Here’s the rundown of the best places to go spearfishing in Malta and what makes each one stand out.
- Anchor Bay: This bay served as the setting for the movie Popeye Village. It starred Robin Williams and was based on the cartoon character. The beaches are expansive and the water is clear. Open all year round.
- Zonqor Point: Two sunken ships mark this area and give it prominence among divers and spearfishers alike. Where there’s shipwrecks, fish lurk and frolic. This calls for your spear and some underwater adventure.
- Exiles, Sliema: This is a good place to start your exploration of spearfishing in Malta if you are a beginner. The depth is no more than 30 feet at the deepest parts and the water is calm, you can actually see the fish from above the water.
- Blue Grotto: Here you got reefs, blue waters, and many colorful fish inviting you to go after them. The depth is about 90 feet so you need some experience to handle yourself in these waters.
- Cirkewwa: Another favorite of experienced spearos. Here you got reefs and shipwrecks together. So you can imagine an abundance of fish of the large type. Both Cirkewwa and Blue Grotto are the top choices for spearos both local and visiting.
- Qawra: Qawra is famous for two things. It has a giant submerged statue of Christ and it also has the bottom of the sea littered with other statues and ruins. Explore the depth as you catch fish as an added bonus.
- Fekruna: You’ll find this fascinating spot on St Paul’s island. Centuries ago it used to welcome rich Romans in its bathing houses. The ruins of the baths remain and some are underwater. It’s an adventure in history as well as spearfishing.
- Lantern Point: One of the deepest spots in and around all of Malta. Here you’ll find big fish such as barracudas and swordfish. The reef serves as a backdrop to steep drops and strong currents. Only experienced spearos dare go there.
- Santa Marija Caves: If you like exploring underwater caves then this is the spot to visit. The water is clear and visibility good throughout but you’ll need a source of light inside the caves themselves. You can only access it by boat and not very deep. Fish on the small size.
- Three Wrecks: Three ships met their demise in this area giving it its name. The water is deep but the current isn’t strong. The area is protected from the wind so you’ll enjoy a good dive. The drop from the shore is steep so you don’t need a boat to access it.
- Inland Sea: This is not technically a sea. Rather, it’s a tunnel that courses its way between high cliffs on both sides and delivers you to the open sea. It’s more for divers and sightseers than spearos, but it’s still worth visiting.
License, Rules, and Regulations
If you have read our other reviews of spearfishing in California, Florida, Costa Rica, and Hawaii, you’ll notice that each one had its own rules and regulations. No two places are the same. The laws change not just from one country or state to the next, but at different times of the year within the same jurisdiction as well.
Laws are made to protect the fish first and foremost. And Malta is no different. But as far as rules go, Malta is considered a lenient and permissive place. For one thing, you won’t need a special permit to go spearfishing. At one time the whole economy of the island was based on fishing. So it’s considered a basic right for everyone to dip their hand in the water and catch fish.
That said, some fish, as expected, are protected or straight out prohibited as far as spearfishers are concerned. Some fish species like the whole tuna family needs a special permit. Other rules apply to scuba diving and spearfishing. For example, you can’t do both at the same time. If you’re going spearfishing, you can’t use scuba gear and vice versa.
And before we leave this topic it’s worth mentioning that you can’t go spearfishing with light at night and you can’t dive in or around artificial reefs or protected areas. In this case, Malta is just like any other spearfishing destination.
What to Catch in Malta (Types of Fish)
Now let’s explore the types of fish you can find in Malta. And let me tell you, there’s plenty of fish there. The Mediterranean is like a huge pond with only one way out near Gibraltar so pollution is limited compared to other commercial waterways. As a result, the fish wealth is healthy and prospering here.
These are a species of tuna and sometimes they’re called longfin tuna. In Malta, albacores are abundant during the summer months all the way until October. An adult albacore reaches 70 pounds comfortably and will put up a good fight if you’re not careful. Try not to go after this fish in cramped places such as shipwrecks.
Another of the big fish that puts fear in the hearts of the marine life in these parts. As a spearo, you need to be careful approaching this fish. The adult barracuda is about 50 pounds but the big head and razor-sharp teeth pose a real threat. Barracudas are available all year round in Malta but winter is the best season to go after them.
A small fish that packs a punch. It’s a predatory fish that doesn’t weigh more than 15 pounds on a good day but really gives you a run for your money. They’re quick swimmers and know how to vanish in a flash. So your best approach is to lurk near the reefs or shipwrecks and act quickly. The bonito is available throughout the year except during July and August.
A medium-sized fish that’s a favorite among fishermen and spearos this side of the Atlantic. The amberjack is a distinct silver color with a gray dorsal fin and reaches 30 pounds when adult. They’re relatively easy to catch since they’re not as aggressive nor fast swimmers like the bonito. You’ll find them in Malta from June until December. They migrate during the first half of the year.
Another tuna species that spearos like to go after whenever they have the chance. Unfortunately, this fish is only around Malta waters during the winter months. By March they’re nowhere to be found. The adult skipjack is about 40 pounds so it’s not an easy prey to trifle with.
The dorado is another name for the mahi mahi. It’s a beautiful fish that reaches large sizes and is distinguished with its green and yellow colors. The dorado is a seasonal fish and you’ll be lucky to cross paths with one during the months between September and February. An adult dorado measures about 50 inches in length and weighs 48 pounds.
Malta Spearfishing Cost
The cost of obtaining a special permit for the types of fish that are protected by law such as the tuna family is about 20 euros. Other fish species don’t require a license so spearfishing is practically free in Malta.
Other costs include renting a charter and a local guide. Prices vary but on average a private charter costs between 300 to 500 euros for a 5-hour fishing trip to the reefs. Gear rental is available and the prices are what to expect in a tourist destination. It’s better you carry your own gear with you.
Malta Spearfishing Guide
In Malta, there are two ways you can go spearfishing. Either by boat or straight from the shore. Shore fishing is available since the shore drops suddenly and steeply in certain places (check the part about the best places to go spearfishing in Malta).
Boat fishing takes you out to the open sea or to the smaller islands nearby. Private charters are the best option since the captains know the area like the back of their hands. The captain of the charter will take you to the best spots to find tuna, barracudas, and dorados. They also know which reefs and shipwrecks are teeming with which types of fish at what time of the year.
Spearfishing in Malta is an adventure not to be missed. It is a chance to explore the warm waters of the Mediterranean and all the reefs and shipwrecks that go back centuries. It might cost you a pretty penny, but overall the whole experience is well worth it and then some.