Devoted to my fellow scuba-divers and those dreaming of it
In my first blog entry “The Diving Paradise,” I wrote about the amazing scuba-diving experience Maldives can offer. However, if you want to save some money without sacrificing the quality of diving, Egypt should be your choice. According to many authoritative Internet sources, the Red Sea remains on the top five diving sites list. Ras Mohammed, Shark and Yolanda Reefs, Eel Garden and Fisherman Bank are the must-see spots if you’re spending your vacation in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Sharm el-Sheikh is a popular touristic town situated on the Southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. It features numerous luxurious five-star resorts, several internationally recognized diving shops and a rich night life, including a casino and some world renowned night clubs such as Pacha and Little Buddha. All the tourist attractions are located in the neighborhood of Na’ama Bay, which features a long promenade with hundreds of traditional Arabic restaurants where a mixed crowd of relaxing tourists and local inhabitants are slowly enjoying their meals, sipping cocktails and smoking shishas, also known as hookahs, in the pleasant coolness of the Egyptian night.
Na’ama Bay is where most of the diving shops are situated, so it’s perfect to go grab a beer after a wonderful but exhausting diving day. Moreover, most of the fellow scuba-divers also live either at Na’ama Bay or somewhere close by (it normally takes a 10-15 minute cab ride to get here from the most remote resort). So the usual routine for our diving community was to grab a couple drinks after a long tiring day so we could share all our overwhelming emotions about what each of us had seen that day. I have to tell you, it turns into a little competition when you dive with the same aficionados every day. The biggest “wows” would go to a person who saw a shark; manta-rays, turtles and other exotic creatures were also highly appreciated.
After that we normally had some rest and then met up again for dinners to enjoy rich Egyptian food, microscopic cups of strong flavored espresso and breathtaking sunsets. I remember experiencing this incredible feeling of relaxation, smoking hookahs and chatting with my fellow passionistas, sharing our funny or extreme diving stories and getting excited for the next day and what other unforgettable emotions it could bring for us.
In the morning a minibus normally picked us up at around five or six and bring us to the Werner Lau dive shop. Those of you who want to start with the Red Sea scuba experience I highly recommend this place not only because we became really good friends, but also because these guys were amazing instructors. I personally did my advanced course there, which didn’t interfere at all with the joy of dives themselves. There also were some rookies who just started their open water courses and some very experienced divers with rescue or dive master certificates and years of experience. However, nobody felt excluded or looked down upon. It was all about expectations and what that particular day could bring with it. At the dive shop, we would check our equipment and see if everything was ready to head over the boat. Hot coffees and teas were always served. Then we boarded and set off for another adventure. The trip to a diving site normally lasted for 30 to 45 minutes, but sometimes we went to really remote spots, and it would take us two or three hours to get there.
We usually had two dives in the morning, then lunch on a boat and then another two or three dives in the afternoon to be at Na’ama Bay right before it gets dark. I have to tell you, scuba-diving is an exhausting activity. It seems like all you have to do is just move your fins. But it’s way more than that. You have to control your breath to not use all your oxygen in the first 15 minutes. You have to control your buoyancy and make sure it’s always neutral, as you don’t want to sink or go up unexpectedly. Then assembling, carrying and disassembling all this heavy equipment eats up the rest of your energy. Sometimes you have to do it up to 10 times a day to make sure the equipment is ready and dry before your next dive. However, because all divers are feeding energy on pure passion and enthusiasm, you don’t normally notice how tired you are until the end of the day. That’s where hookahs help a lot =). By nine or ten in the evening, we were literally falling asleep. So if you want to combine a great scuba-diving semi-safari experience with crazy nights out, it might not work for you and you’d better choose one right away.
Scuba-diving in the Red Sea is just amazing. The water is warm and clear, and the visibility is perfect. When you start descending, you have this feeling of going to a different dimension, surrounded by bright multi-colored corals and hundreds of species of fish. Some of them are curious enough to follow divers all the way along. In Egypt, you get a chance to swim through the mysterious caves, explore the drowned wrecks and even feel a splash of adrenaline when you notice tiger sharks circling deeper at the bottom. One thing I know, it’s really hard to describe what you feel there, 80 feet under the water. It’s excitement, happiness, enchantment and even bewilderment when you stop being a controlling human and become just a patient observer of this miraculous world. That’s why I strongly encourage you to experience it yourself, and then you’ll understand what a devoted scuba-diver feels there.