Gozo Diving

Best Gozo Diving Sites for Underwater Photography

Here is a list of what I think of as the best Gozo diving sites for underwater photography. I’ll explain why I prefer shore diving in a bit more detail below and give specific hints and tips on the individual posts about each dive site.

A lot of the coastline is made up of limestone cliffs which are only diveable by boat, but there are still a lot of interesting sites that can be easily dived from the shore. One or two sites like Ta Cenc and Wied il-Ghasri need a bit of hike down steps, but you just take your time on them and try to avoid diving at mid-day. The 88 steps at Wied il-Ghasri with scuba gear and camera kit at midday in August is not fun. Unless you are one of the super-fit and training for some ironman style challenge :-)

Underwater Photography and Gozo Shore Diving – the unaccompanied way.

Why Gozo Shore Diving?

Why unaccompanied?

Well boat dives may get you to some spectacular locations but they generally carry a mixture of photographers and ordinary divers, led by an instructor or dive master as guide.

The same goes for the organised dive truck trips from the dive centers. I find that usually the pace is too speedy for good underwater photography opportunities, and as photographers we tend to slow down the dive for the rest of the bunch. This can lead to frustration for you as a photographer, and the rest of folk on the dive trip as well. Not the best Gozo diving experience!

If you have the right scuba qualification, then an alternative way to get good photographs is for you and your dive buddy to hire a car/jeep and go on unaccompanied shore dives. All of the dive centers on Gozo offer this option.

The dive costs are cheaper too, but the car hire makes it about even. A side benefit is that you can start off quicker than the dive trips if you are an early bird, or after the morning rush at the dive center if you like a long lie in. I prefer early as it is a bit cooler (nice in July / August) and the water has yet to be churned by masses of fins.

Some Gozo dive centers will allow you to pick up the morning tanks the previous evening, so you can get away straight from your accommodation. In the height of the season they may restrict the number of tanks you can take at a time as usually the stock needs to be refilled during to the day to cope with the increased diver numbers.

Time to think about what you are photographing.

Unaccompanied Gozo shore diving gives you the time and space to concentrate on your underwater photography without interruption from the rest of the dive group.

So, going clockwise around the island of Gozo from Mgarr in the South East where the ferry comes in from Cirkewwa on Malta, the first shore dives are the three wrecks sunk at Xatt L-Ahmar:

Xatt L-Ahmar – Cominoland
Xatt L-Ahmar – Karwela
Xatt L-Ahmar – MV Xlendi

The wrecks are all at 32 – 42m which makes these short dives, but the reef at Xatt L-Ahmar has a large plateau at 5 – 6m which is great for buddy shots and safety stops.

Both the MV Cominoland and MV Karwela wrecks have open and accessible swim throughs which are great for framing diver shots. Several years on from their scuttling, both are attracting a varied marine growth, so macro images are available, though other Gozo dive sites offer more opportunities.

 

The wrecks dive site can be reached via a track down from Ghajnsielem off of the main Mgarr to Victoria road. The next site along the coast at Ras il-Hobz (head of the bread) is a bit trickier to reach and is down a farm track behind the heliport past the waste processing plant.

Next shore diving along the coast of Gozo is the narrow bay of
Mgarr Ix-Xini.

Just round the corner from Mgarr Ix-Xini is Ta Cenc which is on private land belonging to the hotel of the same name. Access can be arranged through St Andrews Diver’s Cove. From Ta Cenc round to Xlendi Bay all of the diving is by boat on the limestone cliffs.

Xlendi Bay:
Once you get to the old fishing village of Xlendi then you are in one of the key areas that have a choice of dive centres. The other key area is Marsalforn. Diving in the bay is very easy. In fact you can kit up with the majority of your gear and walk from any of the dive centres to the sea in less than five minutes. Once there, you can then put the rest of your gear on standing up in waist deep water, and gently submerge checking for leaks etc in the camera housing or strobes.

The Xlendi Bay dives can either start there in the shallow end of the bay, or you can walk along the side of the bay and enter further up by jumping or climbing down ladders into about 5 metres of water. The main dive is the Xlendi Tunnel and you can either go through the tunnel turnaround and come back for a short shallow dive, or head round the cliff and have a deeper longer dive over the Xlendi Reef.

After Xlendi, there is no more shore diving until you reach Dwejra which is the main tourist attraction on the island with the Inland Sea, Azure Window and Fungus Rock.

At Dwejra there are about 5 main shore dive areas.
Coral Cave
Chimney
Blue Hole and Azure Window
Inland Sea
Crocodile Rock

You can generally cover 2 or 3 of them in a single dive if your air consumption is good.

Leaving Dwejra, and going round the coast clockwise again, you have high cliffs and caverns accessible by boat until you reach the main North coast shore dives:

Wied il-Ghasri and Cathedral Cave
Billinghurst Cave
Reqqa Point
Double Arch
Xwejni Bay
Marsalforn Bay
Dahlet Qorrot.
Finally, you come all the way round the island to the South East again and finish up the shore diving at Hondoq ir Rummien.

Scuba Diving Holidays in Gozo – other resources

You may want to check out the regulations for scuba diving holidays on the official Professional Diving Schools Association – Malta website.

Scuba Diving Holidays – Gozo Diving Centres

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gillian October 1, 2011 at

Rob
Alan and I have taken your advice and set-up our own blogs too. When are you going to add more dives to the website?
Gillian

Joe November 5, 2011 at

I agree that trying to take photos underwater is difficult when you’re on a boat dive. The divemasters frown on you when you stop to take a picture, and you can’t get a good shot when you’re in a hurry.

I recall one Grand Cayman night dive in particular when I was on a photo adventure, and noticed a group of divers chasing an octopus. Poor thing was scared red. As I approached the divers spotted my camera, and stopped chasing the octopus. It settled on the coral, and turned bright blue. I got a couple shots, and suddenly those divers went back to chasing it.

Sometimes I wonder about people. On the pre-dive brief the divemaster stated clearly that if you sidle up to an octopus on the reef it’ll get curious about you, and climb onto you to check you out. If that bothers you all you need do is ascend a few feet. The octopus will drop off when it feels the pressure change.

Don’t chase after, and frighten, those underwater inhabitants. Just watch them calmly, and you’ll have a more rewarding experience.