A couple of weeks ago I finally got a chance to make it to the island of Gozo for some diving. For those unfamiliar with Gozo, it is one of the three inhabited Maltese Islands, which are situated in the southern Mediterranean Sea 300km north of Africa. Only accessible from the main island by ferry, Gozo has avoided overdevelopment and retained a lot more of its natural beauty both above and below sea level than it’s parent island, Malta.
Inland Sea Tunnel
The islands have been home to many feature films such as Gladiator, Troy, and Alexander; as well as scenes from the T.V. series Game of Thrones. Furthermore, it was exciting to learn that recently Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were filming the movie, By the Sea
, in the same picturesque bay, Mgarr ix-Xini, that I explored underwater.
Snorkeler at Blue Hole
The geography topside consists of a hilly, terraced landscape which in April is littered with a colourful array of wildflowers. Olive, citrus, and pine trees thrive on the rocky, limestone earth. Grape vines also seem to fare well here as the sun can be relied on to shine 300 days of the year. Vast cave systems can be explored topside as well as underwater. And as you can see from the images the topography is rather magnificent. Diving through the many underwater tunnels was certainly a highlight for me.
Xlendi Tunnel, Xlendi Bay
My partner and I arrived in Gozo during the second week of April with the plan to spend the next seven days becoming familiar with our new dry suits. We positioned ourselves in the charming nook of Xlendi Bay, just ten minutes from the capital, Victoria. Xlendi Bay is the type of place I could easily find myself relocating to one day. It’s quaint yet visually stunning, intimate yet breathtakingly expansive. In fact, that’s exactly how Neil and Sally, the owners of Utina Diving College felt when they took over their dive shop in this seaside town.
My Zen Place | Xlendi Tunnel
We couldn’t have been more pleased with the time we spent diving with Utina, and were certainly very well looked after while we got acclimated to our new Santi dry suits. Learning to dive in a drysuit truly is like learning to dive all over again and they were more than patient with us. Adding my camera to the mix after only three dives certainly increased the learning curve. While I am happy with the shots I took I know they could have been a whole lot better had I felt more confident diving. I suppose good old fashioned practice is the only way to improve! With diving plans for cold water lakes in Austria and Norway, and open water dives in Iceland, the practice will certainly need to continue to re-master the art of buoyancy control to the point of instinct.
Xlendi Tunnel, Xlendi Bay
Mggar-ix-Xini | The movie, By the Sea, was Shot in this Bay
Note: I should point out that while we wore our drysuits for our personal and training reasons, others managed with 5-7mm wetsuits. The Spring in Malta is a little chilly underwater although temperatures only ranged between 15 and 18 degrees centigrade while we were there. Not too bad! Of course with the strength of the sun the water warms quite quickly and only a few weeks from now most divers will be wearing wetsuits.
On the Last Dive of the Trip, and Moments Away from Surfacing this Huge Octopus Appeared out of Nowhere in Front of Me
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