This was a press trip, but all opinions are my own. I do not accept or write about sponsored trips unless I truly enjoy them.
Welcome back to Shedot.Travels and hello from MALTA! After a year of very limited travel, I was absolutely ecstatic to not only be travelling but also be exploring a beautiful new destination and taking part in a super exiting trip! The Bucket List Company reached out to me and very kindly asked if I wanted to come along on their Scuba Diving trip to Gozo. When I say I jumped at the opportunity, that is an understatement!
So a little about The Bucket List Company- the company was founded in 2015 by Keith Crockford (who still leads a large number of the trips, including my one to Gozo!) after he noticed a gap in the market for adventure trips to incredible places with amazing company. In their own words, they 'specialise in providing group travel to destinations that are off the beaten track, to experience things you’ve always dreamed of'.
Sounds good, right?
They run a ton of trips, from trekking in the Sahara desert, to the infamous Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu in Peru, to safaris in Tanzania. If you are interested in checking them out further, just tap here:
This was the first group trip I've ever done, and my experience was so positive! One of the things I appreciated most about The Bucket List Company was their pre trip care. As I've never travelled solo before, it felt a little scary to be heading off on an 8 day trip with people I'd never met before. The team could not have been more helpful, and responded to all my emails super quickly. Prior to the start of the trip, Keith also set up a Whatsapp group so we could all get to know each other which was amazing! I immediately felt way more comfortable knowing who I would be travelling with.
On the first day, we had an early morning flight to Malta. These were all booked and organised by The Bucket List Company. We all met up at Gatwick airport, and got to know each other on the plane ride over which was lovely. When we arrived, Keith had organised a minivan to collect us from the airport and take us to the port, where we would get the ferry over to the island of Gozo. This has honestly been one of my favourite things about travelling in a tour group- everything is organised for you! The transition was absolutely seamless, with no messing around at the airport trying to work out the best/quickest/most affordable way to get to the ferry. The journey to the ferry took around 30 minutes, and then the ferry crossing to Gozo was around another 30 minutes. It's quite a big boat, and there are toilets and a cafe on board (always providing you with the most important info).
When we arrived in Gozo, we were met by another mini-van and taken straight to Ulysses Aparthotel, our accommodation. I honestly could not recommend staying here more- the staff are all so genuinely happy and welcoming, the bedrooms are a great size and super clean and comfortable, and the dive centre Ritual is attached to the hotel, making access so easy. This is another great positive about travelling as a tour- The Bucket List Company had already checked out the dive centre and accommodation, so you could be sure there wouldn't be any nasty surprises!
That afternoon, I headed out to explore the local area we were staying in, called Xlendi. One of the massive benefits of group travel is you still have total independence, while still having the comfort of your ready made set of friends within the group- it is totally up to you how much time you spend together versus exploring solo.
The next day, we were up bright and early for our first day of our diving course! The majority of us were newbies to diving (I had actually completed the Open Water Diving course previously in Thailand, but about four years ago and had promptly forgotten everything, so decided to do the course again with the others), but one girl was Advanced Level so she would be completing her Rescue certificate. The Bucket List Company is able to cater to all levels! The course started out in the swimming pool which I actually found a really great way to ease us into diving- my previous course in Thailand had started straight in the sea, but I had found this a bit overwhelming. We spent the majority of that day and the morning of the following one learning new skills in the pool and covering the theory in the classroom. The course includes an exam at the end (this is the same for all PADI and SSI courses) so each evening we had reading to cover on the app. The sessions in the pool felt really well organised, and were really well led. I definitely felt comfortable to make mistakes and ask questions, which is so important in an adventure activity like scuba diving!
Other than doing the homework for the course, we spent the evenings getting to know each other over dinners at the numerous local restaurants (another great thing about group travel- Keith knows all the best spots, so was able to recommend places to eat!) and then having drinks back at the hotel bar.
By Day 3 we took our first trip out to the sea! In Gozo, the majority of the dives are shore dives which means you park up and get straight into the sea either by ladder or literally just walking straight in. I'd previously only done boat diving, and as someone who gets very motion sick I was so so pleased to hear about shore diving! It also means the entire thing is cheaper, as you aren't having to pay for the boat hire, and it is much quicker to get started diving. This has meant Gozo has become a super popular scuba diving destination.
We started out with a shallow dive at Xwejni Bay to around 8 metres, again making sure we were eased into the diving and felt comfortable! That afternoon, we finished up with some more theory in the classroom.
The next day, we headed back to the sea bright and early for the first of our deeper dives. There are so many different dive sites around Gozo, and another factor that makes it a perfect dive destination is the size of the island! It is so small that if the wind is coming from one particular direction, you can just travel to the other side of the island and continue diving from there instead. With the standard unpredictable October weather, this was a real lifesaver!
At this stage of the course, we would ordinarily have continued to practice some of the key skills in the sea, but by this stage I felt comfortable with diving again so decided to put a back seat on the course (as I was already qualified) and just enjoy diving. Once again, our instructor was so patient and listened closely to us. I definitely felt very safe. We did two of the most amazing dives at Xatt L'Ahmar Reef and saw an octopus! My absolute favourite thing about diving is all the fish just seem totally unfazed by you and are happy to swim right close to you. It's as if they know we are in their territory now!
The next day, we headed out on another fun dive. We started out at Xatt L'Ahmar Reef for the first dive, then headed across to Ras Il-Hobz for the second. Ras Il-Hobz is better known as 'Middle Finger', referring to the big column that rises from the deeper waters and stops around 8 metres from the surface. This was my favourite dive so far, I would definitely recommend!
That afternoon, I decided to head into Victoria, the capital city of Gozo. From Xlendi, there was a direct bus that took me straight to the heart of the historic city. I decided to head off on my own, and was once again struck by how group travel can really give you the best of both worlds- I had the independence to make my own choices and head to Victoria solo, but as a social person, I was happy to know I would be returning back to friendly faces! Victoria is famous for its medieval Citadel so I wandered up there, and also explored Independence Square and the famous shopping centre Duke's. I will do a full blog of best things to do in Victoria, so keep your eyes peeled for that!
The next day was my favourite day of the entire trip! The dive centre had organised a boat trip, which would take divers out to a ship wreck and also give them the opportunity to explore some underwater caves. Not going to lie to you- boats are not my best friend. I get such bad motion sickness, so initially the idea of spending a morning on a rocking boat didn't exactly appeal to me, but in the end the lure of the dives won me over, and by 8am the next morning, I was on the bus headed down to the port.
There was about 8 of us on board, and we would all be diving in small groups. We sped out to the wreck, which was the first dive site. Typically with my luck, the water was CHOPPY and I was not feeling my greatest, but as soon as we got into the water, the feeling totally vanished! I had the exact same experience in Thailand as well. Diving the wreck was such an amazing experience, especially getting to actually swim through the ship! There's often octopus hanging out at the bottom as well.
We headed back to the boat for an hours surface time (you can't do two dives too close together) while we headed to the cave, which was the next site. This was my favourite dive ever, I honestly don't think another one will beat it! We had to swim through the cave entrance, which we had been warned could get a little dark and narrow (not going to lie, my head took a real bashing at one point). The entrance then suddenly opened out into the most beautiful space. There was light filtering through from the top, which gave it this amazing glow and everything just felt so calm and serene. It was definitely one of those travelling moments that I know I'll remember for the rest of my life. (And we also saw another octopus and a seahorse, so you can't really beat that can you). That evening, we went for a curry all together and could not stop talking about the dive!
The next day was our penultimate day on the trip, so I decided to take the day off diving and head to the infamous Blue Lagoon. This was super easy to reach as well- public transport on Gozo seems quite well organised. I had to get a bus from Xlendi to the port, and then a boat across to the Blue Lagoon. You could either pay €5 to be taken directly there, or €15 to also take a tour of the caves.
The Blue Lagoon is just as stunning as all the Instagram photos promise, with the crystal clear water seeming to glow under the sunlight. However, it was smaller than I expected, with very little 'beach' space, it is more rocky. However, there are options to rent beach chairs so you don't have to be uncomfortable. There are also stands selling different drinks and food, and some public toilets which were surprisingly clean.
I would also definitely recommend walking along to St. Mary's Tower. The walk took around 30 minutes, but you get the most amazing views of the Blue Lagoon as you wander, and the tower was super interesting. Online, it says it is free but when you arrive they do expect a €2 donation which helps maintain the tower. It has some really interesting information about Comino, and you can go all the way to the top for some amazing panoramic views.
That evening, the hotel had put on a Sunday Roast dinner in the bar which I thought was such a lovely way to bring everyone together! We all sat and enjoyed a meal which felt like such a lovely way to finish our final evening together.
And then all too quickly, it was our final day in Gozo! The Bucket List Company had organised all our return travel back to Malta airport, which once again made it so easy with zero of the standard travelling stress. They'd booked us a minivan back to the ferry, then the ferry across and another minivan the other side to take us straight to the airport. After a 3 hour flight home, we arrived back to a very chilly England and all said our goodbyes. This is another reason I love the idea of a Whatsapp group chat- we can all keep in touch! One of the people I was on the tour with regularly books with The Bucket List Company (I think she has about 7 trips pre-booked already) and she was saying whenever a new trip is released, the group chats always light up with people organising to book together again.
Overall, I had the absolute best trip with The Bucket List Company! Not going to lie- before going, I was nervous. As I said, I've done all my travelling previously with either my boyfriend or my sisters, and so travelling somewhere alone felt very foreign to me. I was nervous about all the standard things - what if people didn't like me? What if I didn't enjoy the trip? Booking a group tour can feel like a huge leap of faith, but I can promise you it will be so worth it! I returned feeling more confident in myself and my own abilities, and with an entire new group of like- minded friends. For someone who hasn't done solo travelling before, I found this the perfect way to ease myself into it. I had total freedom to spend my time exactly as I wished, but with that that wonderful safety blanket of my group and tour leader.
If you want to book your own adventure and start making memories, check out The Bucket List Company here. I promise- you won't regret it!
As always, thank you for reading and if you want to check out some more clips from the trip, I have some Reels on my Instagram @shedot.travels, and a full highlight saved that shows exactly what we got up to.
Lots of love!