Xlendi Cave

Ix Xledni Bay is a typical Gozitan fishing village located in a valley on the south west coast of Gozo. There are a number of bars restaurants and hotels serving the village. And the bay has a small beach, Xlendi bay is very popular with swimmers, snorkelers and divers.

If you enter the water on the left hand side of the valley by the fifth ladder and following a compass heading of 300 degrees you will find the entrance to Xlendi Cave and the tunnel entrance is located just 2 metres deep on the cliff side.  This is a very popular spot for night dives because of its shallow depth.  The cave has an abundance of starfish, sponges, goatfish, damsel and carinal fish.  As divers can surface from many places in the cave it is quite safe and therefore suitable for all levels of diver.  An interesting dive is if you cover the cave at the beginning of the dive and swim through the tunnel exit on the far side of the cliff and then follow the cliff face to the back of Xlendi Bay.  In the summer months there is often the opportunity to see large shoals of barracuda near the Xlendi reef.


Fezzej Rock (Black Rock)

Located south of Mgarr Harbour, offshore from the Mcga Lx-Xini inlet and rising 15 metres above water is Fessej Rock (Black Rock).  This is a rock surrounded with many boulders that hides a great diversity of marine life beneath the surface for divers to enjoy. Boats anchor close to the almost vertical rock, in fact it is a wall where divers of all levels can explore and have fun. Choose a slow descent to the depth you want and then gradually spiral the rock to ascend is our advice to get the most out of the diving experience.  There are some predatory fish next to the boulder shaped wall such as dentex, barracuda and tuna but also lots of other common fish like groupers, tube worms, seahorses, picarels and the occasional octopus secreted in cracks


Inland Sea

The Inland Sea Dwejra, is a lagoon of seawater on the island of Gozo linked to the Mediterranean Sea through an opening formed by a narrow natural arch.

The Inland Sea is an area of shallow water surrounded by rock face and land with an open tunnel leading out in to the sea. The dive will normally start at the tunnel, dropping below the surface before it begins.  Divers must be aware that the tunnel is also used by boats and gets busy in the peak season so care must be taken when travelling through it.

As you drop through the tunnel it will gradually get darker so having a torch is useful but not essential.  The effect of the light as you pass through the tunnel is an impressive sight and may be lessened if you use a torch.  As you come to the seaward end of the tunnel there are two vast columns on either side of you, here you can go either left or right. You will then follow a gradual wall either side  although the seabed slopes off to around 50m, divers rarely go deeper than 20-25m.  Look out for Barracudas and Jacks on this dive!

Divers normally finish their dive at the place they entered but it is possible to exit at the Blue Hole dive site.

The Inland Sea and the Blue Hole dive sites are normally dived on the same day.  At Paradise Diving we normally make it a day excursion.  Travelling over to Gozo by ferry and driving to Dwerja, diving the Blue Hole in the morning then taking a break for lunch at one of the local cafe/restaurants, followed by the Inland Sea in the afternoon.


Diving Malta and Gozo

Comino Caves (Santa Marija Caves)

Ghemieri Caves in Maltese.  Almost the perfect dive? This dive site is situated on the rugged northeast coast of Comino.

Its interconnecting caves/caverns and the fantastic feeling of close contact with the saddled bream in a feeding frenzy makes this a very popular dive with most divers. Your dive boat will anchor in the little bay, which provides shelter from the northwest winds. From here you will be able to see some of the caves from the surface, below the boat the gentle undulating seabed is made up of sand, Posidonia (sea grass) and some small boulders. Normally planned as a second dive and with an average depth of 10m, even moving away from the reef wall will only give you a maximum depth of 16m. Once in the water and descending, the saddle bream will be there to greet you expecting to be fed; this is quite unique to this dive site.

Your dive will normally start at the entrance to the north cave, although a large group might split in two and half feed the fish first and then explore a long reef with a large archway to the south of the anchorage. The cave to the north extends all the way through the headland, and there are at least two routes through it. Starting at 5m deep, hug the right-hand wall and you will see a small tunnel giving way to a wide open area with a brilliant azure blue exit beyond. Explore the right hand wall and on your exit from the cave look to your left; you will see a wonderful swim-through in the shape of a Z, almost as if Zorro carved it with his sword. This is a fantastic photo opportunity, as well as being possible to swim through. On the other side you will be faced with the offshore pinnacle which lies at the south end of Santa Marija Reef (see above). If you follow the coast round to your right at a depth of 6m however, you will be rewarded with a very impressive sight. The whole headland above you seems to be resting on three pillars of rock, with a large horizontal crevice filled with corals, sponges and tube worms. Here you can quite often see many nudibranchs as well.

On returning to the north cave, hug the right wall again, noticing a beautiful hole in the roof creating dancing sunbeams. You will slowly ascend to 3m where you will find a huge air pocket above you. Surface here and you may even surprise some tourists who have climbed down into the cave from the large hole in its roof.

Exiting the cave underwater, turn to your right and you will find a short tunnel giving access to the west cave. This cave is sandy and becomes very shallow – beware boats that take tourists into this cave as, unlike the previous one, there is plenty of headroom on top. When you return to the area under the boat you will be able to feed the fish or, if you have a camera, take some exceptional photographs of the fish feeding and being almost unable to see your buddy due to the number of fish surrounding him. I have been diving this site for almost twenty-five years and each time it still gives me a buzz. I do not normally feed the fish myself, but this practise has been carried out here for as long as I can remember. The photographic opportunity with the light blue of the sea, the hundreds of silver fish on a sandy seabed is too good to miss. Whether you feed the fish, take photographs or just watch this spectacular show I cannot see how you will not be impressed.

Cominotto Reef (Anchor Reef)

This dive site is located on the west side of the small island of Cominotto, to the east of which is the Blue Lagoon.

Cominotto (alternatively Cominetto), in Maltese Kemunett, means “Little Comino” and the diving here is just as dramatic as on its big brother. This site is exposed to the north-westerlies, but should you still want to dive here you can anchor just around the southern tip of Cominotto at “Cominotto Corner”, where you can see what looks like a dark arch on the rockface on your trip towards it. This allows you to dive the beginning of the reef, and at depths shallower than 30m, but it is unlikely that you will have time to reach the eponymous anchor and return back while still exploring at a leisurely pace.

Normally the start of this dive is where you see a large V-shaped cutout in the coast. To the southeast the coast drops almost sheer underwater giving a wall all the way to Cominotto Corner, depths are between 15m and 25m, with lots of interesting overhangs and ledges. Take a torch to explore the reef and you will find lots of colourful marine growth, along with plenty of invertebrates such as tube worms, hermit crabs and octopus. There are a couple of swim-throughs at 5m, one on the corner itself and another in a gravel gully to the southeast of the anchorage.

To the northwest of the V is a large plateau with a drop off on its south side. Most experienced divers will want to find this drop off and then turn right for a deep and exciting wall dive, with depths up to 50m. Under the boat you should notice two large horseshoe-shaped bays in the reef top, depth around 10m. At the opening of these bays there is a wall dropping to 25m. Keep the wall on your right and notice the base of the wall rises then descends gradually to around 38m. There are small boulders dotted around, and one of these contains a relic from Malta’s maritime history: a World War II anchor, completely encrusted in sponges and soft corals. It is four-pronged grapple, now missing one prong and lying at 35m.

After the anchor you can continue deeper – the sand to your left reaches 50m – or you can continue along the wall, ascending gradually as the reef develops a series of terraces and ledges. Keep your eyes on the blue as well, since here you can often see barracuda, amberjacks or small tuna darting in to feed on the reef fish. As the wall starts to turn into a few gullies, look to your left at 19m and you should find a very narrow swim-through. If it looks too narrow, don’t worry – there are another two larger entrances behind. On your return you can explore the reef top – the depth near the drop off ranges from 15m to 8m. Keep looking in all directions as I have seen rays here before now.

Occasionally there are strong currents, and since this side of Cominotto attracts a lot of boat traffic heading to the Blue Lagoon in summer, you should make sure you have a DSMB in case you cannot quite make it back to the boat.

Crystal Lagoon

This shallow, sheltered dive site is very busy with boat traffic during the summer – weekends and holidays especially – so ensure that you surface close to the coastline.

It is also a popular dive, as it is suitable for all levels of diver, and features a long, well-lit tunnel as well as a mixture of sea grass, boulders and dazzling sandy patches. Maximum depth here is 16m so it is perfect for a second or third dive, and great for photography.

The lagoon itself is mostly 5m deep or less, and is a nursery for young fish. There is a boat landing on the left hand side, and just before it a tunnel visible above the water. This tunnel is large enough for small boats to pass through, so once again, please be careful where you ascend. The dive usually starts with the tunnel, the entrance of which has 5m of water so you will be well below any boats. The tunnel is wide, with vertical walls, and a mixture of rocks and gravel on the bottom. A torch is not necessary, but can be useful to search for any critters. Here I have found some fabulous large nudibranchs, quite different to the usual white or blue small ones, and in various beautiful colours. The exit of the tunnel is at 8m and quickly descends to 13m – bear this in mind if searching for the tunnel from the other side. You can turn left and quickly return to the lagoon, or turn right and explore another false tunnel, where there is a large crack in the rock that doesn’t quite come to anything. Continuing to your right you will see an underwater rocky overhang, with an outcrop on top that gives it the appearance of a rhino’s head. Here is an excellent spot to find one or two large grouper, but you will have to sneak up on them. The ceiling of the overhang is covered in growth, usually attracting more than a few nudibranchs.

If you continue on you will enter the Blue Lagoon, but turn left and you will quickly find the base of a pinnacle that rises up above the waves, between Blue Lagoon and Crystal Lagoon. This pinnacle is known as Mushroom Rock, and is over 10m tall. The base is well worth exploring as there are lots of nooks and crannies, overhangs and boulders. Here you may find lobster, octopus, cuttlefish as well as reef fish. I have even seen barracuda and trigger fish around the pinnacle occasionally.

To return to Crystal Lagoon, either use the tunnel, or swim with it on your left so that you are between the coast and the sandy seabed at 16m. In this area you will find small boulders, sea grass, and small patches of sand or gravel. These patches are popular with octopus – just look out for their garden of stones, and their empties (shellfish they have eaten). As you swim eastwards the sandy patches become larger and larger until you reach the mouth of the lagoon. Here is a large sandy area, 10m deep, which usually has several flying gurnards picking their way across the sand. Try not to spook these fish and you might be rewarded with a wonderful display of their iridescent blue wings. If they take flight they often do so with wings closed sadly. Moving north into the lagoon itself you will find all sorts of juvenile fish and cuttlefish as well as booty dropped from boats. This is a great place for new sunglasses, masks, snorkels or towels.