Malta, Gozo Sept. 2012
My big plan (Coiba + Malpelo) didn´t work, mine was the only booking they had, so no go. On rather short notice I looked for some good alternative. Gozo, the little sister of Malta, looked inviting to me with wrecks, caves, warm water and only an enjoyable short flight from Frankfurt (2:20 h). On a dive show I had met St. Andrew Divers Xlendi, they looked like a reliable and competent partner to me. I booked accommodation and all dives with them. Got a huge apartment with 2 bedrooms, 1 living room, a large kitchen and balcony with sea view for 45 €/day. For transfer from Malta airport they charge 80 € (car, ferry, car) roundtrip. I included breakfast at a nearby hotel for 6 €/day. For all other meals I checked out many of Xlendi´s restaurants and got pampered with lovely meals and reasonable prices. Local specialties, fish, mussels, pizza and pasta were served. I was surprised to notice, gluten free meals are no problem at all. On some menus gluten free was marked, they even had pasta and pizza in store for me. Gozo is a rather dry island with little and strange vegetation. The island is out of limestone, you will find bizarre forms, which wind, water and erosion created here. A famous spot is the Azure Window, a spectacular nature monument which easily can compete with Zion and Bryce N.P. The dive shop was only 3 minutes and x stairs from my room. They have an office/shop room, tanks + compressor place, a large area for rental gear and storage of your own stuff in boxes, showers + restroom. In front of the shop are water tanks to wash your gear in, long thigh high stone benches, ideal to assemble your gear on. For a ten dives package they charge 234 €, boat dives are plus 15 €. When I saw their tanks, ranging from 8 to 18 l steel, I knew, I´m in for some serious diving. I choose a short 12 l tank, so I could go without additional weights with my 5 mill. This volume would safely get me through one hour of diving with ample reserve. Normally they offer one morning and one afternoon dive, more on request. With small groups it´s either a four wheeler trip to some shore entry or boat rides to the many sites all round the island. Booties or reef shoes are a good idea, often you had to walk across rough cliffs to reach the water. Friends had warned me not to expect too much fish life around. Sometimes we had hundreds of smaller fish around the entry point, we saw some medium sized small schools of Bonitos, Amberjack, Barracuda, few groupers, once in a while a lonely octopus, moray eel or lobster. The main attraction of Gozo is it´s underwater topography with boulders forming fingers, chimneys, tunnels, crevices, swim through, caves, windows etcetera. It´s adventure diving cruising around here. The wrecks and some penetration dives are additional challenge, which I love. Once in a while this is a nice change to diving colourful tropical reefs. Where elsewhere it appears to be a mortal sin to pass the recreational diving limits of 30 to 40 m or dare to do a deco dive, here it´s the average dive profile each day. Most dives went deeper than 40 m, I had 3 of around 65 m, on a British submarine we went to 55 m, it was worth it and really awesome. There I ran into 28 min. of deco, a first for me. Water temperature on the surface was 26 C deep down still around 20 C. Visibility ranged from 20 to 40 m. One day we had jelly fish in the bay. It´s no fun to get in contact with these guys. Even with vinegar applied right after my ankle burnt all afternoon. If mosquitoes love you, better bring some “no bite”, you can´t see them but sure feel them in the morning. All together I did 26 deep dives most with deco without a day off in between. This went without incident, which does not prove anything, but surely shows, being in good shape and well hydrated, your body can adjust to such diving. Mark, Joe, Diana are doing an excellent job organizing and managing the whole operation, their staff is friendly and helpful, you soon are a friend among good buddies.