Mġarr ix-Xini – Gozo – Location and General Information
This quaint fiord like bay extends from the deep, windy Mġarr ix-Xini valley on Gozo’s south coast beneath the villages of Xewkija and Sannat. It is one of Gozo’s most picturesque bays and also a very popular dive site. It is a 15 minute drive from our dive shop in Xlendi and is sheltered from the north winds. It is a great place to experience diving for the first time or to learn how to dive. Mġarr ix-Xini is also popular for night dives. The bay slopes down gently to 6, 10, 14 and eventually 17 metres where it leads to the open sea to the south and to the Ta’ Ċenċ inlet to the west. It has 2 small caverns on the right hand side and marine life is abundant. This dive is very popular with photographers due to its biodiversity. Small rays, flying gurnards (Dactylopterus volitans), stargazers (Uranoscopus scaber), picarel (Spicara flexuosa) and even seahorses (Hippocampus ramulosus) are often seen here.
Mġarr ix-Xini – Access
Access to Mġarr ix-Xini is through a long windy road starting near a farm between Xewkija and Sannat and overlooking the picturesque valley. The dive vehicles are parked at the water’s edge, making it one of Gozo’s most easily accessible dive sites. Divers walk from the beach into the water. In the main summer season, a steel cat walk is installed over the slippery slip way to facilitate and secure entry and exit.
Mġarr ix-Xini – Gozo – Dive
Divers usually wear their fins standing up in the bay and start by diving down to 1 or 2 metres. They then follow down the gentle slope and head out of the bay following either wall while observing the marine life on and around the small rocks along the walls. The left hand side has a few inlets whilst the right hand wall is straighter and leads about 150 metres to a first cavern. The depth here is still only 10 metres. The cavern extends inwards and has a sharp narrow twist to the left at the far end. This entrance has many tiny holes and crevices with delicate lacy bryozoans (Reteporella septentrionalis) and lightbulb tunicates (Clavelina lepadiformis). This inner part is home to hundreds of bright orange cardinal fish.
The scene on exiting the cavern is spectacular, with the white sandy bottom, the dark uneven rock cavern sides, the shimmering air locks on the surface and the blue sea beyond. Divers then follow the same wall towards the Ta’ Ċenċ inlet where they explore another smaller cavern about 80 metres beyond this first one. Divers can surface in this cavern before dropping down to 12 or 14 metres and venture onto the sand in the middle of the bay in search of fish and other forms of marine life that live there, day and night.
After zigzagging across the bay, divers usually cross to the other side and head north slowly back towards the Mġarr ix-Xini beach. The sheltered valley and shallow depths make the site very popular for night dives, and divers will always find octopuses, burrowing starfish (Astropecten aranciacus), razorfish (Xyrichthys novacula) and a multitude of other species or marine organisms hiding on the sand or around the many little rocks. This dive site is especially popular for macro photography.