We kick up our feet (or fins) for a week of Red Sea diving
15.05.2012 - 23.07.2012
To many travellers, Egypt conjures up an image of deserts and temples; dry, desolate and ancient. But once you hit the Red Sea this image vanishes. The Red Sea boasts some of the worlds greatest diving, with parched, lifeless desert giving way to bountiful marine life. Swathes of coral grow just off the shore, encircled by massive schools of multicoloured fish. With this natural treasure trove, the Red Sea coast is a growing destination for travellers of a more aquatic variety. Whilst the towns of Sharm El Sheik and Hurghada have become characterless, overdeveloped resort complexes, some areas have still managed to keep the laid back charm that often comes with a diving hotspot. For us, this place was Dahab.
Dahab feels so far removed from the rest of Egypt that it could almost be a different country. Gone is the religious conservatism of the rest of Egypt, and gone too is the chaos and bustle of the big cities. In Dahab you come to do two things; dive and chill. With diving an uncommon pastime in Egypt, many of the residents and visitors to Dahab are foreigners, giving the town a strange feel; the Arab world meets European Bohemia. Simple restaurants line the bay as far as the eye can see, and as you eat your food you can watch the procession of people wading in or out of the water sporting their SCUBA gear. Days in Dahab slowly melt together until you lose track of time completely, an island of calm in Egypt's chaos.
We weren't in Dahab just to observe though, we had an enticing week of diving planned, which we had been looking forward to ever since we arrived in Egypt. Without an underwater camera, and without a desire to simply list the dive sites we visited, this blog post will be a little simple. Then again, with the simple nature of Dahab this seems only fitting. If we were going to pick one highlight from our week of diving though, it would have to be our excursion to the Blue Hole and Canyon. Reaching 130m deep, the Blue Hole is mecca for deep and free divers alike. It also has the rather dubious honour of being the world's most dangerous dive site, with trained TEC divers and reckless amateurs perishing in its watery depths. With this aside, the site makes for a fabulous dive. The Canyon, just down the road from the Blue Hole, doesn't hold quiet the same dangers but is no less impressive. Diving down to 30 meters under water, you squeeze through a small crevice and enter into an underwater canyon system leading into the open ocean. Exploring inside The Canyon feels exhilarating, like you're flying through a cave.
Although the Blue Hole and Canyon were some of our most memorable dives, they were just two of the amazing sites we visited in our week. When we left Dahab we had clocked up almost 8 hours underwater, over 10 dives, reaching as deep as 30m underwater. Our time out of the water topped it all off. We probably had our most relaxed week of travelling to date. There's not much more I can write about Dahab. If you dive, you must go to Dahab. If you don't, go to Dahab and learn!
Some observations from Dahab:
3. Lion fish