Double Arch Reef – Gozo – Location and General Information
The double arch is definitely one of Gozo’s most spectacular under water geological features. A smaller arch stands on top of a larger one on a rocky headland protruding from the reef in deep water some 300 metres off shore near Xwejni bay on Gozo’s North Coast. This dive site could be accessed by boat but is mostly dived from the shore. It is exposed to all north winds. The reef over the top arch is 17 metres deep and the foot of the bottom one reaches beyond 40 metres. Because of the depth and the arduous surface swim necessary to access this site, it is only for experienced divers. Fish life is prolific above and around this extended rocky headland and the two large archways.
Double Arch Reef – Gozo – Access
This dive site is on Gozo’s north coast, west of Xwejni bay and about 300 metres offshore in line with the salt pans. Boats can be anchored immediately over the double arch reef but most go there from the shore and enjoy the long dive back south, over Posidonia meadows towards the shore. Dive vehicles are parked just off the Xwejni coast road and divers carefully cross the salt pans to enter the water at a small rocky inlet on the coast known as the washing machine because that’s exactly what it looks like on stormy days. The Double Arch reef is about 300 metres to the North. Divers often surface swim the first 200 metres.
The salt pans are actively harvested and in order not to damage or dirty them, divers are urged to only walk on the rocky ridges dividing them.
Double Arch Reef – Gozo – Dive
From the washing machine divers head out north on the surface about 200 metres before descending to 14 metres on the reef near a drop off. The drop off leads down to some house sized boulders at an average depth of 25 metres. Past the boulders the majestic double arch becomes visible and this is one of Gozo’s classic unforgettable scenes.
Divers then usually slowly dive over the boulders and through the bottom arch, dividing their attention between the various forms of marine life found here and the incredible views of the arches above. Grouper, blennies, nudibranchs and anemones are commonly seen while the shaded undersides of both arches are covered in small, colourful sponges and golden cup corals (Astroides calycularis).
Divers may choose to stay at 40 metres and dive around the rocky headland to the west or drop a bit deeper and follow the reef wall to the north east before turning around to look at the view of the double arch from this deeper angle. Slipper lobsters, large octopus and various species of sea urchins can often be seen here.
The numerous crevasses on the walls and the different sized boulders on the sea bed here are alive with marine life but time is limited because of the depth. The dive usually continues through the upper arch and up the wall slowly to reach the top of the reef at about 17 metres. A large shoal of barracuda are often encountered here whilst amberjack and tuna can often be seen hunting off the drop off. Divers take a last look at the double arch and start their long dive south towards the shore over large meadows of Posidonia. This is a 20 minute dive that gets progressively shallower and the final safety stop is done looking for cuttlefish, octopus and wrasse along the rocky Xwejni shoreline.