If you’ve never been to Gozo, the small island slightly north of mainland Malta might come across as laid-back and sleepy. The rolling hills, the sandy beaches, the idyllic landscape brings to mind lazy days of chilling and distressing from everyday life.
The same landscape and seascape is however, many often the backdrop for wild adventures that only those that are keen on extreme sports can tackle and handle!
Here are 5 extreme sports that you might be interested in:
1. Abseiling, Rock Climbing and Bouldering
Gozo has many cliffs, gorges and deep ravines. Sometimes it’s difficult to believe that an island of this size has so much to offer when it comes to abseiling, rock climbing and bouldering opportunities. Many times the places come with their own dose of history and legends. Among the top favourite jaunts, one must note Ta’ Ċenċ cliffs – the cliffs that are inhabited by colonies of birds. These cliffs are a sheer drop of 120 metres into a deep blue sea below. The highest point in the area is known as Il-Pinnur (meaning the windvane, quite an apt name for the place). If you scale these places, keep in mind that you’re not the first to do so! Inhabitants of the island have been practising rod-fishing and climbing these cliffs for centuries. The Mġarr ix-Xini Valley, is a particular valley, more of a chasm where on one side you can spot the multi-storey abandoned pumping station that was built during the British era. When exploring the area it’s very easy to forget that you’re still on the island of Gozo because the valley exudes the feeling of wild and savage beauty. Next, on your list, you can have the window at Wied il-Mielaħ and also Xlendi Valley. All locations have their own appeal and it is interesting to note that Gozo offers many grade seven and eight climbs, along with several bouldering spots such as Għajn Abdul.
2. Extreme Biking
While we’re not covering extreme downhill mountain biking here, exploring Gozo on a mountain bike has its own thrills especially if you move away from the regular roads and paths and try touring the coast of the island, pedaling along the edge of cliffs and ravines.
3. Scuba Diving
Gozo needs no introduction as a scuba diving location. Even Jacques Cousteau himself considered the Blue Hole at Dwejra among the 10 ten best diving spots in the world. The sea around Gozo offers many interesting dive sites and caves that are suitable for divers with different skills and abilities. Wreck diving is also part of the deal because in Gozo there are several wrecks that can be explored.
If you enjoy the sea, then you can factor in a dose of wakeboarding. Apart from this, the island is geared up for diverse water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, jet skiing stand up paddle boarding, sub-wing and hydro-flying.
Maybe kitesurfing is still in its infancy on the island, but that does not stop enthusiasts from visiting the island with their own gear and trying it out at the sandy bay of Ramla. Terrifically thrilling on the sunny but windy days, the red sand of Ramla contrasting with the blue water and white foam is amazing. In winter the sea temperature rarely falls below 15 degrees, so practicing this sport is still viable during the windy season which is basically from October to May.
And if Gozo’s not enough, then there’s the island of Comino, a boat trip away where you can indulge in more adventures. Comino which is famous for the Blue Lagoon, is also a firm favourite among those who enjoy exploring coastal caves. In Comino there are series of interconnecting caves, tunnels and swim-throughs at the northern side of the island.
In the interest of safety, it is very important that one follows safety guidelines and protocols associated with each of the above activities. Novice thrill seekers should not indulge in these experiences on their own, but under the guide of a professional mentor that knows well the terrain, the sea and the weather of the island.
In recent times, Gozo has often been described as an island of adventure and there is no doubt that this name is fitting. We suggest that you plan your holiday before you visit the island and identify the activities that you want to tackle. There’s one added risk that’s worth noting – if you’re a thrill seeker then you might be smitten by the aura of the island and you might find yourself returning over and over again!