Our Middle East adventure continued with a planned day of scuba diving in the Red Sea near Sharm el-Sheikh.
Sharm el-Sheikh was a sleepy fishing village until the late 1970s. Through the 1980s and 1990s, the Egyptian government focused on turning this stretch of rocky beach into a world class resort destination. The beaches in Sharm are not like the long sandy beaches od the Caribbean that extend far inland. Instead, much of the beach is rocky, due to the close proximity of coral reefs off shore. This has its pluses and minuses – you have to be careful of the rocks, but you get some amazing snorkeling right off shore and fish that come up right up to the beach in less than 3-6 inches of water. Because of these features, it’s also a great site for scuba diving.
We had selected Ocean College for our diving based on its proximity to our resort (they are essentially on property) as well as feedback from other divers I had spoken with. We could not have been happier. We did paperwork the day before, so on this morning, we just boarded the bus and went. We drove from the hotel to the pier in downtown Na]ama Bay where we boarded our boat – Lady Ghada (love the name!).
We dove two local sites off Na’ama Bay. The first site (and the better of the two) was Fiddle Garden where we saw a couple of rays on the bottom (we stayed down for about 30 minutes). The second dive site was the Near Garden, just off the shore from the Hyatt. There were lots of parrotfish here, and we stayed down for about 40 minutes. While diving at Near Garden, I thought about the German tourist who was killed in a shark attack in this very spot while snorkeling back in December–I hadn’t told the ladies in the group about this until after we had finished our dive for the day. We all had some buoyancy challenges on the first dive, but the second was very good.
The lunch served on board the Lady Ghada was excellent and well worth the 50 Egyptian Pounds they charged for it. The boat staff was also really attentive and extraordinarily helpful – which I’m grateful for.
Back on land at the Hilton Sharm El Sheikh Fayrouz*, we headed to the beach for a long nap in the shade of a palm tree.
Seriously, what is not to love about that?
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