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Diving in Dahab

Waking up next to the Red Sea was lovely. Until Hubs woke up in a grump because I’d been snoring all night. Whoops!  I’m sick and obviously couldn’t help it.  Anyway, I felt bad that I’d kept her awake (I hate being kept awake by snoring), so I crept out of the room and let her sleep until checkout at 12pm.

We found another better hotel to stay in the for the next five days, the New Sphinx.  It had a pool with Red Sea views, and was closer to all the Dahab action, and cost us A$22 per night each.  Bargain.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon walking up and down the main drag checking out dive centres and tour operators.  The main drag is really lively – and a bit annoying. Every five metres you have a tout trying to sell you something, get you to come into their shop “I don’t know what you want but I have what you need”, get you to eat / drink at their restaurant, or take one of their tours.  It’s tiring always saying No. 

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We got jack of it after a couple of hours.  We hired push bikes for three hours, Hubs got a half decent looking mountain bike.  I rejected the first two bikes the kid tried to get me to hire and eventually agreed to an old cruddy looking ‘shopper’ style bike.  We hooned up and down the main drag and I booked myself into a refresher dive course with www.seadancerdivercentre.com – mainly because they are owned and run by a Brit, all the instructors spoke perfect English, and their equipment looked in good condition.  Yay I was doing at least one dive in the Red Sea!  We also booked a boat trip to a marine national park called Ras Mohamed, near Sharm.  And we did manage to get a good deal on a mask and snorkel set, $A20 for a silicon set, suitable for diving too. 

We rode our bikes to the lagoona and had a swim – it was nice, but too many Egyptians there.   Hubs was so disappointed in Dahab. It used to be a smaller laid back town, with hardly any Egyptians holidaying there – not anymore. It was highly developed, busy, and far from being laid back.  Dodging touts and holidaying with heaps of Egyptians was not my idea of laid back, nor Hubs’.

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For dinner we decided on Ali Baba after meeting a Polish girl at the lagoona who had a holiday house in Dahab and has been there five times.  Ali Baba was really nice.  There was hand sanitiser on the table, loads of brightly coloured cushions and lanterns hanging from the wall, and smiley friendly service from a guy called Ahmed.   Dinner was ok – not mind blowing fantastic, but not rubbish either.  When asked how our dinner was, Hubs was honest and said her seafood soup was ok, difficult to eat because all the seafood in it was still peeled – prawns had their shell on, the crab was in it’s shell, and the pippies were mostly closed (shells not open).  Ahmed didn’t really like the criticism and begged us to come back another night so he could make it up to us.  We said we would. 

Up early, I rushed to the Sea Dancer dive centre which is about a 15 minute walk from our hotel. I was so late for my refresher dive course.   My dive instructor was Spanish Elvira, a lovely lady who was excited to be re introducing me to diving.  I had done my homework and we went through my questionnaire and I got most of the questions correct.  We then got kitted up and headed to lighthouse for my introductory dive.  It was great, really great. I remembered everything clearly and it all felt really comfortable.  We didn’t go too deep, just 16 metres.  But we saw so much!  I found Nemo!  We saw heaps of clown fish, yellow tail tangs, parrot fish, angel fish, royal angel fish, giant clams!  It was so excellent!  When we got back to the dive shop I immediately booked myself in to go for a dive in the afternoon.  Who wouldn’t at A$38 per dive including equipment hire?!

I walked back to our hotel and met Hubs for lunch.  We had a crappy lunch at our hotel and I rushed back to Sea Dancer for my afternoon dive.   The afternoon dive as being lead by Paul from Nottingham.  My ears had not popped since my morning dive and I a little concerned about diving again so soon.   Paul arranged for dive master Danny (another Brit) to also come on the dive so if i had any problems or wanted to surface, he could take me back.  The two other novice divers were a young couple – she from Poland and he from Germany, although now they lived in the south of France. 

Our dive was to be in Eel Garden.  Again we got to 16 metres deep and saw, funnily enough, heaps of thin eels sticking their heads up out of the sand.  They looked like reeds at first.  We also saw heaps of tropical fish and it was really cool.  The other two novice divers were a bit annoying – they didn’t keep up with the dive instructor despite being told to do so in the briefing.  Still, I had a great dive.  One thing I’d noticed is that the coral isn’t very colourful – it’s mostly grey with only the odd coral being coloured.  I think the reef is almost dead.  It is a bit sad.

Steve at Sea Dancer, the owner, was trying to talk me into going diving with them tomorrow to the Blue Hole, a famous dive spot in Dahab.  I said I had to check in with Hubs first as I wasn’t sure if she has made any plans for us.  When I got back to our hotel the New Sphinx, Hubs wasn’t there.  So i just hung out by the pool and she turned up about 45 minutes later.  Hubs had hired a scooter for three hours and was on an adrenalin rush when she back – she had a ball hooning around!  We decided that she would hire a scooter the next day and come and meet me at the Blue Hole for lunch (between dives) and do some snorkelling.  A good plan!

After a rest, I was knackered, we headed to Ali Baba again for dinner, to give Ahmed another chance to impress us with a good meal.  It didn’t really happen – the seafood soup contained peel prawns, fish, and calamari, but nothing else.  And we ordered two, yet only one came.  After some confusion we cancelled the other one and shared the one serve we had.  Then the second bowl came out – oh, it was all too hard.  Our fish we ordered, grilled, was a bit over cooked and dry, and the seasoning was not what it said on the menu…not so nice.  Oh well, we tried.  We got a free fruit platter which was the best part of the meal!

After dinner I sat by our hotel pool and had a sheesha – it was so nice lying on the pool lounges, looking at the stars, no one else around.  Aaahhh..

The diving the next day was good too – and I am happy to be alive to tell the tale! Our first dive, again with the young annoying couple and dive instructor Paul, was at the canyon.  We dived down a cliff face so to speak, and reached a depth of 30 metres. There were tons of fish, but again the coral was mostly grey.  Then we saw a big red octopus – two of them.  One swam from rock to rock and literally changed colour while swimming, landed on a rock, and changed colour all over to be the same colour as the rock, camouflaging itself.  It was something like a Hollywood movie special effect! I was totally blown away!

The second dive was at the blue hole.  We had to descend in a narrow hole surrounded by rock and coral.  That was pretty cool – but hard not to touch the coral.  Not that it really mattered I suppose – the coral was mostly grey.   Again, the fish were lovely – but not quite as nice as I had expected – everyone raved about the blue hole, so I was expecting to see more colour and more fish than the other dives.  We got to a depth of 30 metres again.   At about 26m under, I felt something around my hips – my weight belt had become loose and was just about to slip off.  Holy CRAP!  I grabbed it just in time and in my head I kept saying – I have to hang onto this – I must not let go of my weight belt.  The consequences of losing my weight belt could be catastrophic!! 

Dive Instructor Paul saw me with my weight belt and immediately swam to me to hold me steady while I put my weight belt back on.   Phew…. it was on and secure. I was ok.

After that incident I stuck so close to dive instructor Paul that he almost kicked me in the face a few times!  I tried hard to remain calm under water – but obviously I didn’t because I had chewed through my air.  At about 5m under, after doing our 3 minute safety stop, Paul pointed the way out for me and instructed me to go.  The young annoying couple and he stayed down for another 9 minutes. 

Hubs was snorkelling above us and when we weren’t too deep, she and I would wave to each other – pretty cool.  She had fun chasing and catching all my air bubbles!

That was a close call for me today –  it could have been a lot worse!  I still have no idea how the belt became loose…we did our buddy checks and it was on tight.  Oh well, I’m alive and happy to have a story to tell!  I also got another injury during that dive.   Hubs was trying to take a photo of me struggling to put my wet suit on – not a flattering photo at all – so I was telling her off, and as I was telling her off, I got my skin caught in the zipper of the wetsuit and I couldn’t move the zipper up or down – OOOUUUUUUCCCCHHHHH!!!  Far out that hurt!  Paul came to the rescue and just yanked the zipper down.  I was left with a lovely blood blister war wound to show.

We had had such a big day that for dinner we just had lentil soup at our hotel restaurant, smoked a sheesha, and went to bed.

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Four dives in the Red Sea was all I had time to do between flights and the boat trip to Ras Mohamed we had already booked.  We were picked up early – 7.45am, driven to Sharm (2 hours) and then waited about 1.5 hours before boating our boat, Tuna 2.  The harbour before boarding was so busy and we were treated like sheep – shuffled to one waiting area, then another, and another before finally boarding.  It was crap to say the least.  The boat wasn’t that busy, but lucky me happened to get a stinky Turk who sat behind me and his stench had Hubs and I gagging for the first hour of the trip.  HURRY UP and let’s snorkel – so this guy could at least get a wash!! 

Snorkelling was fun.  The idiot cruise leader, Sambl, taught me how to free dive – and I had a ball doing it!  Holding my breath and swimming vertically down, I reckon I got to about 7m deep.  It was great fun!  Hubs and I just swam away from the group despite Sambl’s attempt to keep everyone together – like sheep.  No chance. I told him we were Australian and had been snorkelling and swimming all our lives and we didn’t need to be taught how to swim or snorkel, not like the stinky Turks on the boat!

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We went to three different snorkelling spots at the Ras Mohamed national park.  We saw heaps of lovely fish, and the odd colourful coral.  Again, a lot of the coral was grey-ish.  

On the boat we met Ecuardorian Coco – he offered to show us around Quito when we get there in a few weeks – I think it was Hubs’ generosity feeding him cigarettes that did it!!  He speaks perfect English and would make a good guide if we end up meeting up with him.  We also found out from him that he paid about A$50 less than we did for the boat trip – making Hubs livid.  She hates to be ripped off – but more importantly, hates to be ripped off by Egyptians – and Christian Egyptians at that!! (like her).

After a big day snorkelling and swimming, we were starving and had dinner at Meya for Meya in Dahab – we promised Smiley we’d eat there one night and had to keep our promise.  Dinner was on cushions on the ground and it was tasty. I had bbq’d lamb – yum!  Hubs and I smoked a sheesha while I whipped her butt three times playing backgammon (tola).  Champion!

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Our last day in Dahab I spent relaxing.  I was knackered and just fancied a day by the pool.  Hubs went out for a couple of hours on a quad bike, but didn’t rave about the experience.

Next stop Alexandria!

 

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