Cathedral Cave – Gozo – Location and General Information
Cathedral Cave is definitely one of Gozo’s most spectacular sites. It is a dive for all levels of divers. Surfacing inside the huge BLUE dome and the scene from the inside of this cavern is an unforgettable experience. This dive site is found at Wied il-Għasri, north of the village Għasri and west of Marsalforn. Divers are not limited to the cave as the huge boulders and steep walls outside are also very interesting.
Cathedral Cave – Gozo – Access
Cathedral cave is on the North coast of Gozo and is mostly accessed from the shore through the Għasri valley or from the ladder at Għar il-Qamħ. It is sheltered from the south winds. Shore access is quite demanding and at St. Andrew’s we often take groups there by boat and anchor directly in front of the cave. It is a 30 minute boat ride from Xlendi Bay along the cliffs of Gozo’s spectacular North and West coast.
From the shore, Cathedral cave can be reached by walking down the 100 or so steps into the valley bed and a 10 minute swim along Wied il-Għasri. The cave can be found on the right hand side at the valley exit. In the summer months a 4 metre long ladder at the nearby dive site Għar il-Qamħ can be used to access this cavern. Divers go down the ladder and follow the wall westward for about 15 minutes to reach this famous cave.
Cathedral Cave – Gozo – Dive
When accessing this dive site from the valley, divers park their vehicle just above Wied il-Għasri, kit up, walk down the steps, walk over the pebbles into the water and surface swim a distance out of the valley before descending to 5 or 6 metres to continue the trek out of the valley under water. On exiting the valley, divers drop to 12, 16 and then 18 metres before following a wall on the right hand side to reach a boulder field that slopes up into Cathedral cave. These boulders are covered in algae, sea urchins and brilliant coloured starfish (Ophidiaster ophidianus).
Divers accessing the dive site from Għar il-Qamħ, walk down the long ladder, dive across to the cliff face and follow it to the west. Those wanting to go deeper can dive around the large boulders at 30 or 40 metres before climbing to reach the shallow cavern. Divers that prefer to stay shallow can follow the wall for about 15 minutes to reach Cathedral cave.
The highlight of this dive is Cathedral Cave itself with its huge mushroom shaped opening between 6 and 18 metres deep. Divers usually follow the many boulders up the gentle slope that lead into the cavern where they can zigzag to perform a safety stop before surfacing in the huge domed vault. Divers can remove their regulators and have a chat because a small window above sea level allows fresh air into the cave. The acoustics are amazing, a great place to practice singing.
The walls inside the cavern are covered in delicate corals, hydroids, sponges and golden zoanthids (Parazoanthus axinellae). The cavern’s sloping floor is an uneven carpet of large and small boulders. The view to the Mediterranean deep blue sea outside is simply breath-taking and perfect for diver-silhouette photographs. Since the cavern mouth faces west, there is more light in the afternoon, therefore darker blue in the morning and lighter, more bright in the afternoon.
On exiting the cave, divers start making their way towards the exit, usually staying shallow. Tuna, Dentex and Amberjack can often be seen hunting on the drop-offs while Groupers are more stationery on rocks deeper down. The shallows are also home to shoals of Damselfish (Chromis chromis) and seahorses (Hippocampus ramulosus) can occasionally be spotted, perfectly camouflaged among the spiky algae near the valley.