Advantages A great place to learn
Disadvantages Not such a great place to go back to
|Is it worth visiting?|
This review is about learning to dive in Gozo - the smaller sister island of Malta.Have you heard of Gozo? Yes? ………Really?
Gozo is a tiny island in the Mediterranean - the smaller next door neighbour of Malta and typically visited by folk taking a break in Malta who fancy a day out. It lies between the heel of Italy and the Tunisian coast.But what those people bouncing around the island in four by fours don't realise is that Gozo is also a great place to learn to dive. I'm not necessarily going to say it's a great place to dive - more of that later - but it's great for learning.
I first got hooked on the idea of diving on a horrible package trip to Rhodes where I did a 'try dive' with a local operator. I was instantly hooked and excited and wanted to do it again. However, the evil red-haired boyfriend I had at the time had totally freaked in the water and was not up for learning which meant, effectively, I was barred. A couple of years passed, we split up, I chucked him out and immediately booked myself on a PADI open water course in Gozo.
I went in September 10 or 11 years ago and back again about 6 years later. On my first visit I travelled with a friend who already dived and wanted to do her advanced course. We filled up our bags with duty free hooch at the airport and headed off to Malta. On landing, you transfer to a helicopter flight over to Gozo - takes 15-20 mins and enables you to tick another method of transport off your 'been there, done it' list. The helicopters are ex-Russian military beasts - nothing pretty, nothing elegant but they do the job. If you are of a nervous disposition you could always take the ferry but it's time consuming.Dive Operator
As this was the first dive operator I'd experienced, I didn't realise at the time how lucky I was to have hit upon these people. Too many dive centres are production line operations - chuck em in, pull em up, give em a certificate, get some more dosh. (PADI - widely thought to stand for 'Put Another Dollar In'). The level of personal care that GAS give their clients is extraordinary - and ideal if you are at all nervous about diving.Why is Gozo a good place to Learn?
However, be aware that often the safe calm place is also a very boring place - a concrete jetty with a snack bar and nothing much to look at under the water. When you are learning, that's not really a problem. You'll be so busy thinking about what you are doing that any great wildlife would be wasted on you.How about for experienced divers?
Good things for experienced divers
There are some very challenging dives here - stuff we called 'SAS diving' for the military level of stupidity and personal risk required just to get in the water. I'm considered fairly tough but some of this was just too scary for me
You can hire a car and some tanks and just go off on your own and do your own thing - many people like the freedom of this approach and there aren't many places in the world where you can do it.
Some excellent caves and underwater scenery
A nice sunk-to-order wreck on the way to Malta
Cheap food and drink and a very relaxed lifestyle
What else can you do in Gozo?
In all honesty and from the perspective of a diver, I'm struggling here - there's not much that doesn't involve the sea. A little bit of sight-seeing (there's a glass works and the main town is good for an hour or so with some nice old churches), a tiny bit of shopping (if you like crochet and embroidery - somebody must as there's a lot of it about). It's probably a lovely place for families or retired people but it's not going to give you a lot of thrills.
Great place to learn to dive - not such a great place for more experienced divers.
But that's just MY opinion. Others will doubtless disagree.
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