An absolutely brilliant day today on Gozo, the middle sibling of the Maltese islands. We got the first car ferry at 0730 from the ferry port which is about a 15 minute drive from our resort. The trip itself takes about 35 minutes. A pleasant voyage, the sea very calm and it was already hot. It reached 36C today. Boiling! On the way we passed Comino, the littlest island. It is uninhabited, a rocky place with sheer cliffs and lots of caves.
Once the ferry docked we set off for our first dive location, the Inland Sea. On the way we skirted Victoria, the island’s largest town which is set around an ancient citadel perched on a butte. A stunning thing to see and leaves you in no doubt as to why it was chosen as a fortified place of safety.
We were the first divers at the Inland Sea and got a prime parking spot right beside the lagoon. The Inland Sea is a lagoon surrounded by high cliffs. On the seaward side is a large tunnel, big enough for a double decker bus to drive through which links the lagoon (The Inland Sea) to the actual sea. It’s a spectacular sight and very popular with tourists who get taken through the tunnel in small boats and around to the Azure Window (a massive sea arch). It is equally popular with divers because the tunnel is as deep below the water as it is above. It starts with about 12m of depth but on the seaward side it has dropped down to around 25m and then the wall falls away to 40 and 50m+. It is my favourite dive on the Maltese Islands.
There is a small café on the beach in the lagoon and an ice cream van. All the mod cons. There are always a few swimmers and sunbathers too. Its a peaceful spot despite its popularity. We kitted up and swam across the lagoon and then descended just this side of the tunnel entrance. At first it is blind and you descend into darkness but then you come around the first bend and the massive tunnel is there in front of you, with a huge blue window at its end where the darkness of the tunnel meets the open sea. It’s a breathtaking sight and I never tire of it. Daisy was thrilled and we were very glad to share it with her.
We swam slowly through the tunnel towards the light. There isn’t a lot of growth in there but there are interesting rocks and boulders and a lot of fish. Finally you emerge into the open sea and the blueness and then you find yourself on a sheer underwater wall. Above the water, there are sheer cliffs and this is mirrored below. We swam left along the wall for some time enjoying the feeling of flying over the drop below. There were shoals of small fish with large silver fish hunting amongst them. Finally we turned back and returned through the tunnel into the Inland Sea again. An absolutely brilliant dive and one not to be missed if you come out here. Even if you don’t dive, the boat ride through must be fantastic.
We rewarded ourselves for our early morning start with coffee in the the little café and cake too. Delicious. Then we drove up on top of the cliffs and walked across to see the Blue Hole and the Azure Window. There is also a dive here and Bob and I did it when we were in Gozo in 2014. It’s a fabulous dive: you descend down through the Blue Hole and out of a gap in its side, then swim across to the Azure Window and swim through it under the water and around its pillars, then back up through the Blue Hole again. The only problem is that its a difficult entry to get to the Blue Hole from the car park with all your kit on. You have to walk down steps, along a walkway and then scramble over some rocks for quite a way. A bit hairy when your ankle could easily go over on the rocks. Last time we did it, we said “never again”. So, we do not plan to do it this holiday although I did rather regret it when I looked down. On the other hand, I know I liked the Tunnel even better last time and that’s an easy entry/exit.
We then drove to a small cove just past Marsalforn where we have dived a site called the Double Arch. This is an arch which is fully underwater and the top has formed two “arches” so that you can swim through both of them. A majestic sight. The only problem is that it is a very very long swim from the shore, perhaps 15 minutes and you have to swim on a compass bearing to find the arch. We did it no problem last time, but there can be currents. We had lunch in a little café above the beach and spoke to some divers who had just come out. They reported no current. Good news!
Kitted up and began to swim out. As soon as we cleared the headland of the bay and descended for the 200m compass swim, we felt the current and it was sideways. Bob did his best to compensate but by the time we got to the dropoff we were definitely down current of the arch. We had a beautiful swim along the drop off cliff but we were in the face of the current for most of it and we were worried it would sweep us into the next bay. So, after 10 minutes of finning we gave up and headed back in. It was a nice dive even so. Well, that called for some relaxation, so diving over we returned to the café, had a beer and some cold rose wine and then went down to the beach and secured some sun loungers for the next two hours. Boy was it HOT!
Packed up about 4, called in at LIDL on the way to the ferry and got home about 6. Knackered. A quiet dinner in was called for. Malta and Gozo are so fabulous. They have everything: amazing history and historical sites from Neolithic Temples older than Stonehenge, through Roman ruins medieval cities, WW2 fortifications….. beautiful beaches and watersports, fantastic restaurants and hotels. Really, if you haven’t been here, you have to try it. Fantastic place and lovely lovely people.