Is Gozo good for Sidemount training?

We may be slightly biased, but we think Gozo is a pretty decent choice for recreational and technical sidemount training courses. Our opinion may also be influenced by the fact that we did our recreational sidemount course in a cold, muddy lake in London… in February! Not only could we barely see, but our fingers were so numb we even struggled to operate our bolt snaps!

Fast forward a few years and we spent New Year’s Day sidemount diving in the crystal-clear Mediterranean, surrounded by light and colour. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, one of the highest rates in Europe, Gozo is a fantastic location for Euro-based divers wanting to indulge in some sidemount training and diving.

Where on earth is Gozo?

Gozo is a tiny island sandwiched between Sicily and North Africa. It is part of the Maltese archipelago along with the islands of Comino and Malta.  With over 30 dive sites accessible by shore, none more than a 20 minute drive from each other, Gozo is ridiculously easy to navigate, and completely non-diving days are rare. When the wind blows South, we head North; when it blows North, we head South!  

Is Gozo good for Sidemount training?, Sidemount training

What’s so good about sidemount training on Gozo? 

Apart from excellent diving conditions, one of the best things about sidemount training on Gozo is that it isn’t the easiest place in the world to dive. The entrances and exits from shore range from nice and simple to nice and complex. This is a very good thing! Sidemount divers will master the essential skill of efficiently entering and exiting the water using various methods and techniques at different dive sites. Sidemount divers, both recreational and technical, will face the logistical challenge of finding the best way to get themselves and their cylinders into and out of the water. 

No boats means that the pace of sidemount training is a relaxed experience here on Gozo (apart from some bone-rattling pickup journeys to the dive site). There are plenty of sheltered shallow bays that are perfect for sidemount skills and drills practice. The visibility is almost always excellent and water temperatures reach high twenties in the height of summer. Winter temperatures hover around the mid-teens and during calm periods, the visibility gets even better. With conditions this good, there is no rush to get out of the water. Divers can take their time to master new skills before moving on to explore Gozo’s iconic sites.

Is Gozo good for Sidemount training?, Sidemount training

Where are the best sites for sidemount diving on Gozo?

The dive sites on Gozo are geologically fascinating. Tunnels and swim throughs, mesmerising caves and dramatic pinnacles are just some of the highlights. Sidemount divers, both recreational and technical, have a wide choice of dive sites to suit their needs and levels. With many options for diving below Gozo’s towering cliffs, it’s a case of – choose your depth and off you go.

Favourites with sidemount divers are the MV Karwela with her famous staircase and the Inland Sea tunnel leading out to the open ocean. During high season, divers can also reach sites not accessible from shore via RIB or small dive boats. This gives the opportunity to sidemount sites such as the impressive Gudja caves on the North coast or the P31 Wreck on Comino island while practising boat diving techniques.

If the Gozo sites are not enough for you, Malta is right next door. Malta, while not as easily accessible as Gozo, boasts artificial reefs and important WWII wrecks ranging in depths from recreational to technical limits.

When is the best time for sidemount training on Gozo?

Diving is possible year-round. May to October offers near constant sunshine and excellent diving conditions. July and August are the hottest months and dive sites are at their busiest. The off season winter months can be stormy and many of the dive site ladders and buoys are removed making some sites inaccessible. There are still plenty of options for sidemount training during the off season, but the weather will be more unreliable. 

From Spring to Autumn both drysuits and wetsuits are suitable and divers can choose whether to learn sidemount in a wetsuit with aluminium cylinders, in a drysuit with steel cylinders – or both! At Sidemount Society, we offer a variety of options for tailoring recreational and technical sidemount courses to suit the diver’s preferences.

Final thoughts 

So yes, we’re biased, but for great reason. Gozo is small, but mighty and sidemount divers will benefit from taking recreational and technical sidemount courses in challenging yet excellent conditions before putting it all into practice on a huge variety of spectacular dive sites.  

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