A sport as old as time itself, there’s nothing more exhilarating than plunging into the depths of the sea with only the air in your lungs, the power of your body and the will of your mind while you embark on exploring the world beneath the surface. And whether you’re new to freediving or have broken world records, Gozo is a freediving destination with its very own unique beauty at any depth. With crystal clear waters and sunshine practically every day of the year, Malta’s sister island is a freediver’s dream and the perfect place to experience the ultimate feeling of freedom that freediving offers, to master your body and discover what it’s capable of, as well as be at one with the Mediterennean sea.
Here we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about freediving in Gozo, from the courses available to the top dive sites.
Why freedive in Gozo?
From secret beaches and jaw-dropping aquatic scenery including reefs, plateaus and promontories, to caves and caverns, underwater arches and swim-throughs, as well as shipwrecks, it’s no surprise that Gozo has increasingly become a top freediving destination. And to top it off, unlike Malta which is larger and far busier, Gozo is the ideal place to escape from it all, serving as the ideal backdrop to relax and calm down, connect with yourself and your surroundings.
So what exactly makes Gozo a top freediving destination?
A tiny island – a wealth of freediving activities and sites
One of the smallest islands found in the Mediteranean sea, Gozo’s size may be limited, but what it lacks on land, it makes up for it under the water. What’s more, the island boasts a clean coast, while underwater visibility is second to none, at times reaching up to 30 metres. And beyond is aquatic landscape which can be easily accessed from the shore, several areas of the island are bustling with marine life.
Diving novices and pros – freediving for all
Thanks to the wide variety of diving sites, Gozo is ideal for freediving regardless of your experience and abilities. Home to some of the most impressive diving spots in the Mediterranean, freediving can take place near wrecks, bays and breathtaking cliff edges with dramatic drops, making freediving on the island accessible to all freediving enthusiasts. And at 50 metres below sea level, these depths are easily feasible.
Excellent weather – freediving all year round
Did you think that freediving in Gozo can only take place during the scorching summer months? Think again! With close to 300 days of sunshine throughout the year and with water temperature maintaining a steady 20 degrees even during the height of winter, you can immerse yourself in Gozo’s crystal clear waters whenever the mood strikes you.
So take a deep breath, plunge into the sea’s blue and experience the overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility.
What type of freediving courses can you take in Gozo?
Freediving is all about calming the mind, learning to breathe properly and connecting with oneself and nature beneath the waves. But it’s also a sport that requires discipline and training and achieving all of the above on your own is no easy feat. This is why your freediving experience wouldn’t be complete without the necessary training by an experienced freediver.
Generally speaking, freediving courses are split between those that offer a certification by a recognised agency and those that do not. Here are some courses you might want to consider when freediving in Gozo:
Aimed at offering you a glimpse of what freediving is all about and to increase your confidence in the water, in this course you’ll learn how to breath the right way and hold your breath safely as you get acquainted with the secrets of the mammalian dive reflex and how your body responds. Usually a day-long course, you don’t need to be certified to attend, while you’ll get to put these skills to the test in both a confined setting and out in open water.
Find out more about this course here.
Beginner freediving course
Spread over a number of days, the beginner course will help you build a solid foundation and find out how to dive safely while having a blast. Centred on those techniques certified freedivers use to explore the underwater world like breath holding, equalising properly, buoyancy skills and relaxation techniques, you’ll also learn how to be comfortable in the water and extend your freediving sessions so that you can enjoy longer dives. Depending on your aquatic abilities and how the course is progressing, you could potentially manage to achieve a depth of 20 metres, but ultimately, you’ll discover your natural freediving abilities.
If you’re interested in attending a beginner freediving course, have a look here.
Intermediate freediving course
Looking to take your freediving skills to the next level? Learn new breath holding techniques that will help you increase your average breath hold, improve your freediving efficiency that will make your body stronger and more effective in the water and train better and harder so that you can take yourself to greater depths. During an intermediate course you’ll refine certain skills and techniques you would have established with a beginner course and grasp others, such as pre-diving optimisation, buddy system skills, static and dynamic apnea and Frenzel equalisation techniques, while you’ll get to experience one of the most sought after feelings freediving has to offer – the freefall. At the same time, you’ll be able to hone in further on freediving safety procedures and techniques, the risks of increasing pressure and how to minimise these, as well as how to approach depth and the use of training tables.
Find out more about this course here.
Advanced freediving course
This is the course you’ll need to take if you would like to advance your skills further and come as close to being a pro as possible. A course ideal for experienced freedivers who can freedive to 30 or so metres, during this type of course, you’ll get to master the mouthfill technique and exhale diving which are crucial for deep freediving, as well as other supporting aspects of freediving. The advanced course also covers coaching your buddy during static apnea training, planning your training sessions efficiently and practicing more advanced lung stretching techniques. Typically, this course is spread over a number of days and it includes both theory and open water sessions.
Find out more about the advanced freediving course here.
Coaching and training
Whether you’re looking to improve on a particular skill like finning, equalising and duck diving or you would like to reach a goal like achieving a longer breath hold, a coaching and training course is ideal to help you achieve your objectives since your instructor will create a plan tailored to your particular needs. At the same time, you’ll get the opportunity to truly put your skills to the test. A coaching and training course usually consists of setting a buoy and training with other certified freedivers without any instructions from your coach. Being surrounded with like-minded people, you’ll be able to share your experience and love for the sport. Just keep in mind that this is mainly suitable for those who already have some freediving experience or those who have completed a course.
Interested in a coaching and training course? Have a look here.
What should you expect during a freediving course?
- Freediving Equipment: how to select the right equipment for your body, experience and ability.
- Depth and pressure: how the depth of the sea and underwater pressure can affect both your body and diving.
- Equalisation: learning about the different equalisation methods and how to overcome any issues that may crop up.
- Buoyancy control: how to improve hydrodynamics and efficiency.
- Risk awareness: learning how to eliminate any risks by managing and planning your freediving sessions beforehand.
- Weather: find out more about tides and currents and when to proceed with a freediving session.
- Buddying: safetying someone while freediving is a serious business, so it’s important to know how to buddy efficiently and effectively.
- Rescue skills: acquiring basic rescue skills, including self-rescue and rescuing a buddy.
- The underwater environment: what marine life to look out for and just as equally, what to avoid.
Whereas mastering the above skills are essential to boosting your freediving abilities and confidence in the water, you must also make sure that the course you select gives importance to the following:
- A dedicated and experienced freediving instructor who will be with your every step of the way and who will make sure that things are done the correct way.
- No freediving session is complete without relaxation, breathing and stretching. And it’s not just about learning how to relax and breathe before and after a freediving session or the most effective way to stretch either. Your day should begin with a good stretch, breathing and relaxation exercises to set the pace and tone for the rest of the day.
- While the theoretical side of your course is important, nothing beats immersing yourself in the sea and putting what you’ve learned, like dry skills such as equalising and others into practice. So your course should have a good number of hours dedicated to the practical side of freediving.
Which are the top freediving sites in Gozo?
Whether you’re new to freediving and you’re looking for a quiet, shallow and secluded spot to train or you’re up for an adventure and want to explore mysterious wrecks, home to several species of marine flora and fauna, Gozo offers the very best of both worlds.
Here is a roundup of the top freediving sites in Gozo.
Located close to Dwejra on Gozo’s west coast by the rural village of San Lawrenz, the Blue Hole is a sinkhole in the limestone of about 10 metres wide and five metres across. An iconic and popular diving and swimming spot, the Blue Hole may appear to be just a natural pool, but beneath the water, you’ll find an arch which leads to the open sea, while at the very bottom of the sea there is a cave. Known for its crystal clear and iridescent waters that make the site mesmerising, there is more than meets the eye here. Plunge beneath the waves and you’ll come across the beautiful Coral Gardens.
Find out more about this dive site here.
Just as its name implies, the highlight of this freediving site are the two stunning natural arches, formed one on top of the other. One of the most spectacular geological features the island has to offer, here you can also explore the reef, caves and many swim-throughs, while marine life in the area is buzzing. Expect to encounter shoals of barracudas, amberjacks, groupers and if you’re lucky, even tuna. Dive south towards the shore and you’ll come across large meadows of Posidonia seaweed, endemic to the area, whereas closer to the rocky Xwejni shoreline, you’ll be able to spot cuttlefish, wrasses and octopuses.
See what else this dive site has to offer here.
Dwejra Inland Sea and Tunnel
No freediving trip to the island of Gozo would be complete without a session at the Dwejra Inland Sea and Tunnel. Reportedly one of Jacques Cousteau’s favourite diving spots, here you can explore the small, semi-circular lagoon linked to the sea through a narrow opening formed by a natural arch and cave, as well as the cave itself. Stretching almost 80 metres in length, you cannot miss the lighting effects created by the sunlight hitting the water. And if you head out to the open water, you can visit the Azure Reef. The collapsed arch has created several rock formations and underwater swim-throughs, becoming one more hotspot for divers.
Find out more about this freediving site and what to explore here.
In the village of Ghajnsielem, close by its shore you’ll find one of the most breathtaking dives in Gozo – Ras il-Hobz. Perfect for all kinds of freediving levels, the massive submerged pinnacle is known to attract different marine species ranging from barracudas and striped red mullets to morays, chromis and other types of fish. Playfully called Middle Finger because of its shape and the way it protrudes, the pinnacle and plateau are covered in algae, spiral tubeworms, sea hares and the dotted seaslug. Yet, perhaps one of Ras il-Hobz’s most intriguing features is the noble pen shell, a large species of Mediterranean clam often spotted in the area. Close by, you’ll find the Fessej Rock or Black Rock, an ominous figure rising from the sea 15 metres above water.
Discover everything this diving site has to offer here.
One of the most northerly dive sites on the island, Reqqa Point, also goes by the name of Reqqa Reef and is a rocky promontory jutting out several metres into the sea. Located in the scenic village of Zebbug, west of the Xwejni salt pans, there are plenty of things to see and do here. From its underwater landscape dotted with large boulders, home to a number of marine creatures to its submerged chimney known as Reqqa bottle and vertical drop offs, the site is spectacular. The nearby cave has been dubbed Shrimps’ Cave thanks to the myriad of shrimps that have found refuge there, while the reef’s vertical walls are covered with fissures, crevices and sponges.
Find out more about this diving site here.
Situated on Gozo’s south-west coast just along Mgarr Harbour and close to the ferry terminal, Xatt l-Ahmar is a secluded spot, offering a peaceful atmosphere both above and below the sea. A popular freediving spot, Xatt l-Ahmar is also known for the three wrecks – the MVKarwela, the Xlendi and Cominoland – found at a maximum depth of 40 metres. All featuring their own characteristics, you can explore either one of them and if you’re an experienced freediver seeking a bit of a thrill, you can visit their interior. On the other hand, if you’re interested in marine life, Xatt l-Ahmar doesn’t disappointed. From parrotfish, salemas and groupers to jacks, baby morays, as well as seahorses and octopuses, both fish and sea creatures abound.
Discover more about this dive site and the surrounding area here.
A mental and physical, internal and external, meditative and thrilling experience, there’s nothing like freediving and Gozo offers a wealth of opportunities to experience it to the full, regardless of whether you are looking for a freediving excursion or you want to improve your abilities with the right freediving course. And if you would like to explore more of what the Maltese Islands have to offer, have a look at what freediving in Malta is like.
Ready to explore beneath the waves one breath at a time? Get in touch with us to book a freediving course or an excursion.