Diving in Dahab, Red Sea

For those that have read my articles here or on PADI.com/blog it will come as no surprise that Dahab is one of my favourite destinations for diving.  In Fact in the last 12 months I have probably spent a good 5 weeks there.  So makes sense to write an article about this great divers town.

Destination Dahab

Dahab named after the Egyptian for gold is a small resort town on the Sinai Peninsula. This former Bedouin fishing village lies about 1 – 1.5hrs north-east of Sharm el Sheikh and its international airport, the transfer time does vary on the driver, time of day and what state the road is currently in.   After a drive through and over the sandstone hills you arrive at the Dahab check-point and proceed into town.  Now for those that are used to well maintained and manicured resorts the first view of Dahab might be a bit of a shock, maybe not so much as the hustle and bustle of down-town Hurghada can be, but its a proper Egyptian small town not a fake Disney take on it.

Dahab is pretty laid back, friendly and not encumbered with massive hotel developments and bucket and spade type holiday makers, which gives it a  great vibe that will have you hooked in no time.  Every time I go I meet lots of like minded people and make new friends!

The town is made up of 4 parts, Dahab city which is in the south and houses the bigger plusher hotels and the Laguna where the kite surfers find the best wind.  Next is Mashraba maybe  considered the nice part by some with good standard hotels and a number of shops and places to eat, like the great King Chicken!  I though much prefer the Masbat area along the see front with the most dive centres, bars and people I know.   Finally is Asalah where a lot of the locals live and those driving to some of dive sites like Canyons or Blue Hole will pass through.

Dahab has lots of dinning and drinking opportunities spread out along the whole town.  A walk along the promenade can mean you are accosted by a number of touts for each restaurant or souvenir shop, but generally a firm no means they leave you be.  Some of my regular places to eat include, Yalla Bar, Chruchills, Blue Beach, Nirvana and for a cheap and filling lunch the Koshary.   The German bakery with branches in a number of places also provides a good breakfast of pastry, though is a little more expensive then local options.

When it comes to cash points there seems to be a few less then before and often, especially over the weekend they can run out.  Generally I would advise to get out enough cash to cover you for a few days when you get the chance.   There is nothing worse then having to walk from Bluebeach all the way to Mashraba just to find a functioning cash point in the evening while others are enjoying a well earned drink!

Diving in Dahab

If you are reading this then I’m pretty sure you are interested in knowing about the diving.

Dahab Quick Facts

  • Water Temps – 20C to 28c
  • Viz – it does vary on tide and winds but generally 20 – 60m
  • What to see – Turtles, Lionfish, Blue Spotted rays, Napoleons, Seahorses, Jacks.

The diving in Dahab is as relaxed as the town itself, no getting up at dawn to transfer to a boat followed by a 1-2hr boat trip, here many dives start a few steps from the Dive centre.   Dahab is shore diving with the advantage of providing depths for all levels  of diver.   With surprising amounts of coral and fish life within a few breaths of your descent.  The main entry points along the beach front are generally around the lighthouse area, Eel gardens is also great.    A bit further out of town and requiring a taxi ride are some of the best dive spots in Dahab and two of my very favourite dives which offer more challenging dives for those with the correct training (but also fun dives for others).   Blue Hole and the Canyons dive sites are fantastic.

The Canyon is a great dive site, and is essentially a canyon that drops down from about 30m to become a covered tunnel with one or two exits outside onto a wall.   I prefer descending down along the wall to around 40m where the entry up into the canyon is and then up through the canyon – but the other way round is just as good!   The we have the Blue Hole, Dahabs most famous dive site.  The site itself was discovered by the legendary Jacques Cousteau and is about 80 meters in diameter and opens to the Red Sea.   Part of this sites magic is the arch, which is a 26-meter-long tunnel with a roof at around 53ms and is an amazing dive for those with the correct training.  Did I say amazing?  I mean absolutley special!

All Scuba training agencies are well represented and there are plenty of great dive centres to choose from in Dahab catering for your every need from beginner diver all the way to some excellent Tec training, Dahab is also popular with Freedivers (especially the Blue Hole) and Kite surfers.   For those with family or looking to take a break from the diving then there are plenty of activities like Camel rides, trips out into the desert or a visit to the 6th Century monastery of St Catherine’s.

Finally contrary to what you may see or read in the press and TV news Egypt is still a safe and friendly place for Tourists, in fact now more then ever do the Local stores, restaurants and of course all the dive centres and instructors need your support.

Diving Egypt and the Red Sea

Originally posted  28 th May 2013 http://www.padi.com/blog/2013/05/28/diving-egypt-and-the-red-sea/

Egypt probably needs very little introduction, we all probably remember the great civilisation that it left us in school history books. The pyramids, the Sphinx, the great river Nile and in modern times the Suez canal, do I need to mention Cleopatra?

But what the text books didn’t tell us was the amazing world class diving that Egypt has on its doorstep. The Red Sea rightly ranks up there as one of the must dive locations for any diver. Be it beginners just starting their open water diver course to experienced Tec divers, Egypt and the Red Sea has something for you and more.

Diving holidays Egypt

Having recently had the opportunity to spend four weeks travelling round various dive locations in Egypt, I am convinced its a great location to spend your holiday or dive trip. Why? Well for one thing flights and hotels can often be had at bargain prices and there are deals a plenty to be found. Also, once in Egypt, everything is a lot cheaper than you will probably be used to at home (a hair cut cost me 50LE roughly 5euro, 4GBP, 7USD). Eating and drinking out is also very cheap and provides variety to staying in your resort hotel all holiday. If you are in one of the larger resort towns, I would certainly recommend heading into town once or twice. Two bits of advice; try and save small change wherever possible and cash in large denomination bills (200 LE mainly) in larger establishments or your hotel – even if they appear unwilling at first and ask for smaller. This will make things a lot easier and less frustrating in the longer run! Especially as cash machines like giving out large denomination notes.

Have I mentioned the diving is world class? Warm waters year round, amazing wrecks, stunning reefs and marine life that ranges from Manta and Whale Sharks to Blue Spotted Rays and thousands of smaller reef fish in a riot of colour. Shore dives, house reefs, rib dives, day boats or luxury live-aboards the choice is yours. This sounds better and better!

Where to go dive?

There are four main areas to check out for holidays and diving. Watch out for further blog posts on some of these areas specifically in the near future!

1. Sharm el Sheik – Locate a PADI Dive Shop in Sharm el Sheik
2. Hurghada and Northern Red Sea Coast – Locate a PADI Dive Shop in Hurghada
3. Sinai Peninsular (Dahab & Taba) – Locate a PADI Dive Shop in Sinai
4. Marsa Alam and Southeastern Red Sea Coast – Locate a PADI Dive Shop in Marsa Alam

There are many smaller resort areas included in the above and there is something to cater for every taste and budget for accommodation from Eco-lodges to five star luxury villas. Often the limiting factor is which airport is easiest to reach from home.

It is worth noting that even if your hotel of preference does not have a dive center, you can still easily book and dive with your choice of PADI center, as most will offer free transfer from your hotel to the center or dive boat and back.

If you plan to do a PADI course while in Egypt, then make sure you get the most out of your holiday time either diving or spending some extra time enjoying the sun and relaxing with the family. Don’t forget you can complete the theory part of your course via PADI elearning.  A few rainy evenings at home = more time in the sun or water!

Quick Holiday Facts

  • Aiports: Hurghada, Sharm el Sheik & Marsa Alam (though you can connect via Cario easier then you may think)
  • Visibility: 15-70 metres/50-230 feet
  • Currents: Mostly calm but with some great drift dives also
  • Water Temp: 21-30° C/70-86° F year round
  • When to Dive: All Year – Particularly when its too cold at home!
  • Weather: 21-40° C/70-104° F year round
  • Language: Arabic is the local language, but many Egyptians working in tourism can speak in a variety of English, Russian, German, Italian.
  • Currency: The Egyptian Pound (EGP) or LE.  Also the Euro is generally accepted and if using credit cards you may only have the option to pay in US Dollars.
  • Tipping: Known locally as baksheesh, 10-20 percent is standard.
  • Visa: If not travelling as part of a package you can quickly and easily obtain these at the bank counter in the arrivals halls.
  • Useful Arabic: Shukran / Thank you, la’a / No, Ishtah / Awesome

Decompression Chambers

Originally Posted by   12 December, 2012 http://www.padi.com/blog/2012/12/12/decompression-chambers/

Decompression Chambers

On Sunday 18th November I experienced something that no diver ever should, a session in a recompression chamber.  Luckily for me this was only a test drive!

It all started with a trip to the Badischer Tauchsportverband (BTSV) decompression chamber at the Helios Hospital in the German lake side town of Überlingen (a picturesque little town on the shores of Lake Constance and also location of some more normal dive sites)

The chamber itself serves the South West of Germany, Switzerland North of the Alps and parts of Austria and was manufactured by Haux (Haux starmed 2000) and was installed only this year replacing a rather retro looking older one. Continue reading “Decompression Chambers”

PADI Altitude Diver – Diving a Swiss lake

Originally Posted by  20 September, 2012 http://www.padi.com/blog/2012/09/20/padi-altitude-diver-diving-a-swiss-lake/

Mountain Lake Diving in Switzerland – PADI Altitiude Diver

Living in a land locked country like Switzerland doesn’t mean you can’t get your underwater fix.  In fact Switzerland offers a vast amount of Lake and River diving (more on the river side in future post) Continue reading “PADI Altitude Diver – Diving a Swiss lake”