It is one of the best destinations in Europe, but what can you expect from a typical day diving on Gozo? Here, Dived Up’s Alex Gibson gives his take on this laid-back location.
7.30 am – Get up.
8 am – Breakfast: Pop to a local cafe and enjoy a pastizz (a small flaky pastry parcel filled with either ricotta or mushy peas) and a cup of coffee. Sit outside in the morning sun, by the water and try to resist the attention of the local cats.
8.30+ – Head to your dive centre for the day’s diving. Collect hire kit and load vehicles – either the dive centre’s or your own hire car/jeep. Alternatively, you might get kitted up in preparation for a shore or boat dive, which may even start just metres away.*
9 am – You should be on your way to your dive site by now. Most sites are no more than 30 minutes from anywhere on the island, and that even accounts for road condition – rutted, lumpy and pot-holed in most but not all places – and getting lost when self-driving. To be fair the roads are pretty well-signed, so it is only when something else grabs your attention that you are likely to miss a turn.
Diving on Gozo
10 am – First dive. Perhaps up to sixty minutes exploring a secluded bay, some caves, a steep pinnacle, a purpose-sunk wreck, or maybe one of Gozo’s headline dive sites like the Inland Sea or the Blue Hole.
11 am – Surface interval. Depending on location and whether you’re on a boat or not this could be a chance to grab lunch, a snack or an ice cream at another of the beach/seaside restaurants or cafes.
1 pm – Second dive. Here we go again! Either you’ve transferred to another of the many sites on Gozo which are accessible from the shore, or you’re now boarding a boat to reach one of the off-shore options, like Comino Caves.
3 pm – Return to the dive centre. Check plans for the next day and sign up for the dives you want to do.
3.30 pm – Apres dive… The rest of the day is yours: You could go sightseeing – to the UNESCO World Heritage Ġgantija Temples, the Basilicas in Victoria or Ta’ Pinu, or the Citadel perhaps. Maybe have a swim or a snorkel. My personal preference is to pick one of the above, then make it back to the coast to have a swim, enjoy the sunset and then head out for dinner. Or you could go for a night-dive. In Xlendi or Marsalforn you can almost combine the two – the water is that close to the restaurants**.
8 pm+ – Dinner. Pretty important after a day diving on Gozo! Food is something done very well here (and in Malta generally). There are many good restaurants and there is a rustic goodness to the food here. With cultural influences including Turkish, French and Italian it is not surprising that the food is very tasty and there is something to please most people. My personal favourites include bragoli – beef rolls made of meat, egg, cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley with thin beef slices wrapped around them, then oven-cooked in a sauce made with onion, peas and red wine. Mmm.
10.30 – Bedtime. Gozo is fairly sleepy, so it is not hard to get a good night’s rest ahead of the next day of adventure, diving on Gozo!
Most dive centres can book a whole holiday for you including accommodation, hire car and transfers. There is a bewildering choice if you decide to do this yourself. It doesn’t matter greatly where you stay because the island is small enough that you won’t have a huge ‘commute’ wherever you stay. That said, it is perhaps more relaxing to be near your chosen dive centre. Most recommend a hire car because there is so much to explore around the island, and it is so accessible.
We dived with St Andrew’s Divers Cove in Xlendi, a pretty village on the western side of the island. There are alternative dive centres in the village. We did a mixture of unguided shore diving and guided diving from their boat Divemania. The dive centre gave us good advice on site choice – important because it was pretty windy at the start of the week – and we used Diving Gozo & Comino by Richard Salter to help research and plan our diving, and for tips on sightseeing and eating.
*Depending on dive centre. At the time of writing there are 15 on Gozo, with many in popular villages like Marsalforn and Xlendi but also several others spread around the island in Dwejra, Ghanjnsielem, Qala, Xewkija and there is even one on Comino.
**I don’t recommend trying to combine a dive with eating dinner!
Alex Gibson is a UK-based diving instructor and keen underwater photographer. He can usually be found diving off the south coast of England, particularly in Devon and Dorset. He is Editor-in-Chief of Dived Up Publications.