YD Scuba Diving Forums banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
INTRODUCTION

The following trip report covers a one week holiday to Malta where my wife and I conducted two days diving with ‘Octopus Garden’ Tauchschule (Diving School) in St Paul’s Bay. It’s a German owned and run dive centre and is a very friendly and professional operator. Octopus Garden is located at the Gillieru Harbour Hotel in Church Square, St Paul’s Bay, Malta. It has an additional booking office at the Suncrest Hotel (Seashells Resort) on Qawra Road, Salina.

Phone: +356 21 57 87 25
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: www.octopus-garden.com
http://www.octopus-garden.com
http://www.octopus-garden.com
http://www.octopus-garden.com
http://www.octopus-garden.com

TRAVEL



We travelled to Malta on a package deal using Ryan Air out of Luton. Ryan Air have regular flights out of Luton Airport and are fairly cheap. Watch the baggage limit though. We were granted 1 x hold luggage at 15 kg and hand luggage at 10 kg with size restrictions. Check-in staff were very strict on these weights and sizes which meant that we couldn’t take all our kit with us. Extra baggage allowance is available for £40 per flight. Our flight was fairly good as far as budget airlines go but Luton Airport is hard work. It is small and found it difficult to cope with the amount of flights going in and out during the busy holiday season. We experienced long delays at check-in and passport control. Once in Malta, the communications were good. There are plenty of taxis at reasonable prices and the bus services are fairly new, reliable and cheap. We stayed at the Suncrest Hotel which is on a main bus route (12 out of Valetta) but Octopus Garden picked us up from the hotel every morning in a minibus.

WEATHER


We travelled in August which, as you would expect in the Mediterranean, was hot (30 - 35oC), clear and slightly breezy each day. Protection from the sun is essential at this time of year. As a result, the water temperature was 24 - 26oC descending to 16 - 18oC below the thermocline which was typically at around 25 - 30 m. I was fine in a short wetsuit but my wife, who gets cold quickly, dived in a full semi dry which she loves! Most people dive in full wetsuits.


OUR DIVING EXPERIENCE


I am a BSAC Ocean Diver with 135 dives and my wife is a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver with 80 dives. The dive locations, conditions and the dive centre were perfect for us. The dive sites were a little challenging in terms of depth, wrecks and wall diving but thoroughly enjoyable. The conditions were favourable with good weather and little swell. The dive centre staff were very patient, friendly and great guides. All was spot on for recreational divers such as ourselves.


OCTOPUS GARDEN TAUCHSCHULE


We used Octopus Garden as it was close to the Suncrest Hotel which we picked for its good value all inclusive package. We emailed them prior to arrival giving our experience and the dates of the days we would like to dive. This worked well and ensured that they were expecting us. We couldn’t nail down details at this point as they don’t decide where they will be diving until the day before. This is because they take the following day’s forecast into account. Our day began by being picked up by Octopus Garden staff at 0830 and driven the 10 min drive to the dive centre. We did the majority of kitting up at the dive centre, which has its own quay side, and were easily able to transfer our kit onto the dive boat. The diving is conducted on a 40 (ish) foot boat chartered by the centre. It has a decent amount of space for kitting up, space to store dry kit and a decent sun shade. Beginners or those doing courses also have the option of shore diving and, again, are driven to the various sites in a mini bus. The boat diving sets off for around 0945 and two dives are completed by around 1400 with a short lunch break in between. The dives are all led by Octopus Garden Dive Masters and all divers must be a part of one of these groups. We asked if we could dive by ourselves in a buddy pair but were told that this is not possible due to Malta law. However, the Dive Masters were all very professional and friendly. Dive briefs are professional and detailed. As it is a German centre, all briefs are carried out in German first and then English second. There was good use of sketch maps and safety procedures and issues covered comprehensively. All descents are conducted down anchor lines which is, again, great for beginners or inexperienced.


Octopus Garden's chartered dive boat.

The facilities at the dive centre are fairly standard but its all very clean, tidy and in a good state of repair. There is a classroom, small shop, kit room, compressor room and drying racks. There isn’t anywhere obvious to change but there is a freshwater shower to rinse off in. I didn’t see any NITROX facilities but that’s not to say that there aren’t any. The equipment for hire is basic but some of it new and all in a good condition. The instruments on the regs are very basic with only a pressure gauge attached. A computer or separate depth gauge is a definite must to pack. All other kit is fine. The staff are all professional and friendly. Our log books and BSAC / PADI membership cards were all inspected thoroughly and questions asked. This always fills me with confidence before we start. The safety standards seemed to be good. Safety procedures were well briefed but, fortunately, we didn’t need to put them to the test! The price was around standard. For a two dive trip, on a boat, with cyclinders and air it will set you back around 80 Euros with kit hire being extra.


View from Octopus Garden Tauchschule.


THE DIVING


Our first dive was a wreck dive onto the East German Patrol Boat P-31 in around 25m close to the island of Comino. Visibility was great at around 20 - 30m and there was very little current. There are some easy swim through / penetrations to do, following the Dive Master, and, as the wreck has only been down a few years, there is very little silt to disturb as you do so. Life is not great around the wreck as it is in the middle of sand but time spent mooching in the sand resulted in sightings of plaice, shrimps and other crustaceans. The second dive of the first day was to Cominotto Corner which was a wall dive off Comino. The currents were unexpectedly strong and the dive Masters had the sense to modify the plan according to the currents and go the opposite direction as briefed on the dive brief. The dive was fine there wasn’t as much life as hoped for. Fish life was a little sparse but there were some great worms, nudibranchs and soft corals.


My wife in front of the P-31.

The first dive of the second day was to the wreck Imperial Eagle which was a Gozo ferry deliberately scuttled on the Qawra Reef a few years ago. Sitting in around 40 - 30m of water it’s a good size wreck and, due to the rotting wood of the decks, there are some straight forward and easy swim throughs to do. Life was a little better than the P-31 with some great parrot fish and a cool stone fish knocking around. The swim back to the anchor point passes past a 3m statue of Jesus - random! The second dive took us to the Qawra Reef which was a nice wall / reef dive. Depth was limited due to the 38m reached in the morning but the currents were slight and we found some great shallow caves in the wall. Flora and fauna was also pretty good for the Mediterranean with some barracuda, parrotfish, wrasse, lobster, shrimps, worms and great soft corals spotted.


Stonefish on the Imperial Eagle.


My German buddies over the Imperial Eagle.


Exiting the caves on Qawra Reef.


ACCOMODATION


We stayed in the Suncrest Hotel in Salina. See my review on Trip Advisor at

[URL="http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g608947-d278215-Reviews-Seashells_Resort_at_Suncrest-Qawra_Island_of_Malta.html."]http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g608947-d278215-Reviews-Seashells_Resort_at_Suncrest-Qawra_Island_of_Malta.html.

[/URL]In general its dated and has a very crowded pool but its clean, friendly, has decent rooms, decent food and is very good value.


SUMMARY


In summary, Octopus Garden Tauchschule is a professional, friendly place with good facilities and is ideal for beginners and the inexperienced. The diving was straight forward, fun and fairly easy. I would thoroughly recommend this operator.

Chris Prior

BSAC Ocean Diver
[email protected]

25 Aug 11

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,456 Posts
Hi Chris, Thanks for sharing this well written report, with great details of the trip itself , the dive centre, boat, accomodation and the diving, nice photographs too!

Have a green from me! I'm not BSAC and never have been, I thought Ocean diver was a depth limited cert to 18 metres, I might be getting that confussed with Open Water though, (i'm not trying to have a dig here just asking, Ive been in the water with Open Water divers with hundreds of dives and they have been superb divers), I'm thinking more from your travel and holiday insurance perspective.

Davie
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Davie

Thanks for the compliments mate. I was just impressed with the professionalism and friendliness of the guys here and thought they deserved a mention. You are correct about the depth limit of BSAC Ocean Diver as being 18m. Once the Dive Masters were happy with my abilities and scrutinised my log book, they were happy to take me a little deeper. I must get off my arse and get the Sport Diver qual.

Chris
 

·
Riddle me this...
Joined
·
403 Posts
Nice Report. I love Malta.

You can go all the way through the P31 in one go and also drop into the "engine room" through a hatch. Nice report. Wish I was back in Malta!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Cool - my wife and I are always arguing over which is best PADI or BSAC. Looks like one line to her argument....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Darren - cool, as a novice, I just followed the Dive Master. Will look out for that next time. Yeah, Malta is great. second time there for us, everyone is always so friendly. They just need to tidy the place up a bit!
 

·
Riddle me this...
Joined
·
403 Posts
Cool - my wife and I are always arguing over which is best PADI or BSAC. Looks like one line to her argument....
Good instructors are best. Divers who like the diving you do are best. Spouses who dive are the very best (I know, I have one) :)

Agencies are just a means to an end. The fact you are diving together is great.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,456 Posts
I really should go to Malta, seeing as my younger brother was born there and I lived there as a child for three years, never been back though. Oh and Pee bee is in Gozo so can go say hello.

Davie
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Enjoyed reading this report. I'm planning to go diving in Malta for a week in this coming November. Hope it won't be "off-season" for diving in Malta??
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top