Originally the plan was to go to Marsa Alam, approximately 30kms down the road from Abu Dabbab, but I had it on good authority the diving here is superb. Abu Dabbab Dive Lodge is where I’m staying, in a cute wooden cottage. The next day, I dive the house reef. Unfortunately, the dive group has many learner divers. We spend the majority of the dive in the sandy part of the bay and by the time we got to the reef, we had to turn around due to air consumption. Safety first. Sightings included a large turtle, some lion fish and snorkelers. The dive spots I desperately want to go to are off shore and conditions are rough (Daedalus is 8-9 hours or more by boat) so I’ve resided to the fact I’ll need to do a dive liveaboard, on a future trip to Egypt. Not enough time to do it all now.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s 2 day 1 night dive expedition, getting out on the boat, no distractions. Me and the Red Sea. Note, diving here is expensive, especially hiring the gear! Asia is definitely more affordable. Should weigh up if doing my Dive Master is a good financial decision… Bank account, bleeding out and savings in a critical condition.
25- 26 April
Pick up for the diving trip is at 5:40am and I’m on time. The morning’s dive takes my dive count 50! I’m buddied with Seb, a French Investment Banker in his 30’s. We stride into the water, off the back of the boat, descending through a giant school of semi translucent, purple jelly fish… they move in the water like organs beating or a heart pumping blood. Fuck, I love this underwater world. There’s a boat wreck at the dive site too.
Our cabins are small and some passengers opt to sleep on the top deck under the stars. Weather conditions are windy, so I’m sticking to the bunk bed. Before dinner the crew quiz me about where I’m from. Egypt, Brazil, Spain, Russia, Germany, France, England… they name a lot of countries before one guy says, “Australia”. They had me pinned for an exotic Central or South American. I wish.
The site we moored at overnight for the morning dive has some pinnacles and a large coral wall drop off. I manage to get 31 metres down. Unsure of how deep this wall goes as it disappears from blue into black. Advantages of early morning dives are the serenity, abundance of marine life feeding, and often better visibility due to not as many other divers (probably because people like sleep and prefer not to spend close to an hour in cold water before breakfast).
Before the last dive of the day, the zodiac (small boat) takes us a few minutes away to another reef. Here we snorkel and have the opportunity to swim with large schools of dolphins. It’s truely a beautiful experience to swim with so many of them. Mammals with mammals.
Mustafa, one of our dive guides is definitely the best guide I’ve had in Egypt. Cool dude, super funny and lifts the mood of the group, always positive… even when I’m flipping him off under water when he signals, “are you ok?”. He’s kind enough to offer to take a day off to show me around the Marsa Alam and Port Ghalib. A lot of people here in Egypt are so friendly, hospitable and eager to help… yet I feel strange to accept such hospitality. We westerners are taught to be polite and say these things and make offers on the unwritten agreement no one takes us up on it. Society is so broken.
The final dive is by far, the best. Shaab Claude, named after a German girl who apparently died diving there. A small maze of underwater canyons, light beams lasers shining down through the openings at the top. It was a sight to behold. In my top 3 dives by way of formations.
Back on land at dinner in Abu Dabbab, I hover over the dessert portion of the buffet. An Italian guy I’d noticed sitting near my table earlier approaches, giving me recommendations for what’s good. I ask if he’s diving. He advises he’s commencing a dive liveaboard tomorrow, with an enviable itinerary! Elphinstone, Daedalus and Fury Shoals. “You should join”, he says (One of those things you say to people but don’t actually mean or expect them to do). He invites me to sit with him. I decline, telling him I am trying to work out my itinerary for the next few days, pricing, timeframes etc and need to focus. It’s all starting to get stressful and expensive… not like a holiday… more like a logistical challenge.
The Italian ends up joining me at my table to talk desserts and diving. This conversation goes on for an hour or so. We add each other on Instagram and he invites me to snorkel in the bay the next morning. The last thing we exchanged was names and a hand shake.