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.
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