Gozo is a small island situated to the north of Malta. Reached by a short ferry crossing it is quieter and more laid back than neighbouring Malta. The dive sites on Gozo are suitable for all levels of diving with most being possible from the shore and can be easily combined with dives on the neighbouring smaller island of Comino. This short guide will show you some favourite sites around the coast of this small island.
Planning a Dive in Gozo
Whilst experienced divers can dive independently after registering with a dive centre and having their documents checked it is much easier especially if time is limited to use a dive centre. Many will take you to their favourite sites and do all the hard work for you. We have used and continue to use Bubbles Dive Centre based in Marslaforn. It is possible to turn up and dive in Gozo but in the summer months it is much better to plan ahead and book a space with centre. The can get busy and most only take small groups of four or five divers in at a time.
Gozo can be dived throughout the year but between October and March the water chills down and windy conditions are not uncommon. As the water cools a dry suit may be needed rather than a thinner wet suit.
Is Malta and Gozo a good place to Dive or Learn to Dive?
Gozo is the perfect location to learn to dive. The visibility is often 25 metres and sometimes extends to 40 metres although heavy rain can turn the water milky as it washes through the sandstone cliffs. Sites like Reqqa Point have no nearby rivers and so visibility is less variable. Most of the diving on Gozo is from the shore. This makes it accessible for most but some sites have steep cliffs with steps and long drop stride entries which some divers may find tough. There are enough sites from gently sloping beaches to avoid steps, climbs and leaps if this is a problem.
Gozo is perfect for learning to dive as it has everything from shallow reefs in secluded bays through to sheer drop offs into the blue. This means that every experience level can do something they like. There are also some wrecks that are upright and intact and suitable for a range of diver levels
The marine world on Gozo is varied. There are impressive drop-offs that run from the surface to beyond 40 metres as well as extensive caves and swim throughs. Many of the drop-offs have a sandy seabed which slopes off with a range of different habitats to the cliff faces. Before going to Gozo I had the impression that it was very rocky with limited life, but this was a huge misconception. The underwater landscape is rocky but it is full of marine life. There is every size of fish from huge barracuda to tiny blennies and everything in between. There is also a range of corals, sponges and nudibranchs for those who prefer smaller inhabitants. If you are lucky you may encounter cuttlefish, octopus, jellyfish and even turtles who are now nesting on the island.
divers against Debris
the beaches and waters around Gozo are beautiful and clear but as with anywhere on the planet at the moment they are suffering from ocean debris. This appears to be found on most dives although some coves and corners are more prone to debris than others. To improve the environment for all wildlife, divers and non-divers many dive centres remove any debris they find on a dive. Sometimes the sheer volume is hard to remove but taking away as much as you can on every dive is a small step in the right direction.
Gozo and Comino Dive Sites
The dive sites on Gozo and Comino are varied and unlimited. This is a brief summary of some of the more commonly dived sites and those that we enjoy visiting the most.
This dive has to be one of the best introductions to diving ever. This beautiful cave is a short distance from the entry point and once inside you can surface and explore the acoustic effects of the domed ceiling within the cave. The top of the cave is at about 5 metres and reaches down to 15 metres so is accessible to most divers. It is save to surface as there is hole in the cave roof to the outside world. You do need to be aware of your dive profile if you surface within the cave. Looking back out from the it is an amazing shimmer of shades of blue dancing in the sunlight.
In times past pirates used this gorge-like canyon as a hideaway and more recently it became a protected harbour for the Knights of Malta. Today it is a quiet bay with a wide sandy seabed, perfect for shake down dives and first dives. It is home to everything from cuttlefish to seahorses and has a small cave to explore. The geography of this canyon makes it great for a night dive as well if that is something you enjoy! The entry and exit point is easy with no massive leap off a cliff or steps to negotiate and there is plenty of parking and a small restaurant.
This is the most northerly point of Gozo and is 3km north-west of Marsalforn. The road to the site takes you along the salt pans before dropping down onto a plateau and the entry point. The entry is down a few steps or a giant leap into a cove formed by the headland. From here the dive is either along the top of the reef at 15 metres or head off the edge and dive the sheer wall that drops down to 45 metres. The depth and duration of this dive will be determined by experience but this is a more advanced dive.
This dive starts in a small lake on the west coast. A short distance through a tunnel takes you from the milky water of the lake and day trippers to open water and from here there are beautiful drop-offs. The dive can go in either direction along the walls, returning back to the tunnel for the return and a decompression stop on a ledge in the centre of the tunnel. The drop-offs are covered in shoals of fish and corals and sponges are abundant especially in the entrance to the tunnel. This dive requires accurate air planning as you have to return through the tunnel and you have to have enough air to complete the distance as there is no surface. The cliffs are over 50 metres high above the surface on the open water side of the tunnel. The tunnel is used by tourist boats and care must be taken to avoid them as you dive the tunnel.
Xatt I-Ahmar (Mellieha Point)
A short distance from the harbour of Mgarr, beneath Fort Chambray is a small bay. There is a shallow reef with sea grass, seahorses and octopus, perfect for early dives as the maximum depth is 15 metres. From the reef a short fin across blue water takes you to three wrecks – Karwela, Comino Land and Xlendi. These sit between 25 metres and 40 metres. All were sunk intentionally for divers between 1999 and 2006, however the sinking of the Xlendi didn’t go to plan and she is very unstable sitting upside down. The other two wrecks are beautiful and a perfect introduction to wreck diving. There is a small area of parking and it is then a short walk down the steep cliffs to the entry point steps.
Booming Cave or Billingshurst Cave
This dive site has two names but whatever name it goes by it is a fantastic advanced cave dive. The cave entrance can be found just below a steep stride entry at Reqqa Point. The cave entrance is about 20 metres wide and stretched from 15 metres down to 30 metres. Once inside the cave you can follow it for its full length which is about 50 metres. At the furthest point there is no light. The marine life within this cave is varied and completely different to the life found outside of the cave.
Santa Marija Caves – Comino
Whilst these caves are not on Gozo they are worth the boat trip for a dive. Comino is small island adjacent to Gozo and the cave systems are shallow and beautiful. Many of the dive centres on Gozo will take small groups out to dive the caves. They are very shallow, just under 20 metres and are full of life. Some of the most stunning nudibranchs and tube worms make these caves their home. Just a short distance from the caves is the Blue Lagoon a commercial madness of yachts and party boats which is sheltered for a surface interval.
Map of Dive Sites on Gozo
Whilst this map is not exhaustive it does give a rough idea of where the dive sites on the island. CLICK HERE to be taken to a simple map of the dive sites in Gozo.