Red Sea & Indian Ocean
Exceptional shore diving in the Red Sea Riviera
Season: Year-round diving
Visibility: 10-35 metres
Water Temperature: 20-31°C
Dahab, meaning ‘gold’ in Arabic is a reference to the area’s sandy coastline. Dahab boasts some of Egypt’s most spectacular diving and desert trekking. A short walk, jeep ride or even camel trek will bring you to some of the Red Sea’s most impressive dive sites.
Dahab is a sleepy Bedouin town. Without the trappings of all inclusive package holidays and by no means as expensive! as its more famous counterpart Sharm el Sheikh, life in Dahab revolves around a handful of ingredients: Scuba Diving, Sunbathing, Eating and Sleeping.
Dahab is also the preferred base for guided excursions into the interior deserts, as well as to the soaring heights of nearby Mt Sinai, which is well worth a visit to climb to the peak before dawn and watch the spectacular sunrise over the dusty arid mountains. You will need to make sure you are clear of residual nitrogen for this excursion as the mountain top is 2285 metres above sea level. It is not for the faint hearted!
Dahab remains a tranquil ocean-side refuge for scuba divers. Be forewarned – after a few days of crystal-clear diving, desert trekking, ocean-side dinners and countless sheesha sessions, you’re probably going to want to hand your notice in at work and never return from this laid back lifestyle!
The dive sites are scattered along the shoreline and are almost all accessed from the shore, sometimes over rough terrain making a pair of booties a packing essential.
If you have ever wanted to experience the feeling of underwater rock climbing Canyon will deliver. A short swim across a sandy lagoon reveals a ravine, which opens up in the seabed at a depth of 18m. As you swim towards the opening of the canyon you will see a wall of bubbles that look like the inside of a lava lamp rushing out of the seabed. As you approach you will realise the bubbles are escaping from the Canyon. ‘Free fall’ through the small opening at 15 metres dropping deep down inside the Canyon to 30 metres, not forgetting to turn round and look up to see the spectacular display of sunlight pouring through the small crack above - great for photographers looking for that ‘silhouette’ shot. You are then enclosed completely inside this amazing rock formation and you can swim up through the rock chimney breast entering the ‘fishbowl’, where lionfish hunt the numerous glassfish. As you exit Golden anthias swarm around the coral head and a spectacular display of ‘champagne bubbles’ escape through the narrow fissures, created by your swim through.
Once kitted up you have to do a small amount of mountaineering to get to the entrance of the Bells but it is well worth it. Bells is a 30 metre chimney (not for the claustrophobic) that has a small 1 metre by 1 metre opening with room for just one diver. If you have ever wanted to feel like Santa Clause in the chimney this is the dive site for you! Descend feet first, or for the more adventurous head first, through the narrow chimney that dramatically opens out into an upturned ‘bell’. Exiting the bell at 26m you follow the vertical wall, which drops into the stunning abyss back towards the ‘Blue Hole’ where you can exit safely. Remember to look out into the ‘blue’, large pelagic species can often be seen swimming by.
The Blue Hole, once a cave until the roof collapsed is a 25 metre wide circular hole in the coral table that reaches depths of 100 metres. The ‘hole’ itself has nothing to offer inside other than dark and eerie water, instead exit across the far side via a saddle at 7m to explore the beautiful corals on the external wall. Depths on wall environments can easily deceive, keep an eye on your depth gauge/computer and stay within the limits of your qualification. For the technical divers there is a famous arch at around 40 metres on the inside of the wall. If you follow the arch you will swim through a dark corridor exiting the outside of the reef at around 60 metres. This should only be attempted with the correct technical equipment, breathing gases and qualified instructor but is very famous in the technical diving world.
Lighthouse is suitable for beginners and a great night dive. Look out for Pipefish and the rarely seen Sea moths and Red Sea walkman on the sandy slope. The right of the slope is a thriving reef, look for octopi, Scorpion fish, giant Moray eels and even Green Turtles and Napoleon Wrasse.
Ras Mumlah is the most northern dive site in the National Park. The wall is festooned with amazing fan corals dotted along a steep wall. Numerous barracuda and jacks pass in the deep blue of the Gulf of Aqaba.
BLACK ROCK DIVE CENTRE
Owned and managed by enthusiastic British expatriate Hayden Falloon, Black Rock Dive Centre has been operational in Dahab for 5 years. Black Rock pride themselves on their high level of personal service, attention to detail and flexibility to suit your needs and wishes as divers and photographers. Black Rock is a PADI Five Star IDC Centre located in the middle of the lagoon area of Dahab. Located right on the beach, Black Rock is ideally situated to access an array of Dahab’s finest dive sites.
Black Rock can cater to your photographic needs by offering dedicated ‘Photography Dives’. Dive sites are chosen specifically for the subject that you wish to shoot and have a much more flexible schedule to help you shoot with optimal light and fewer divers.
You can also try Ultra Violet night diving. With only a special blue light and a filter for your dive mask, night dives take on a totally new look. This is a perfect opportunity for divers with night dive experience looking for something a little different. This is not the same as the bioluminescence that you can see on almost all night dives. This is fluorescence that is only visible using the special blue light and mask filter. During a UV night dive you will see a beautiful array of colours such as yellow, orange, red and purple. The colours are produced by different coral, sponges and other sea life. If you have seen Avatar this dive will be like you have stepped into the movie!
For the more intrepid amongst you, why not try the camel safari? This is an experience that allows you to fully absorb the blissful stillness of the Sinai desert and to dive a stretch of coastline that is virtually untouched. We will travel to the protected National Park of Ras Abu Galum, where upon arrival we will be cared for by the local Bedouins, offering a real experience of the desert culture. You can stay for a day, overnight or a number of days but you are sure to not want to leave once you’ve taken in what this magical land has to offer.
Your time above the water will be spent stargazing while taking in the beautifully stark and wild scenery of South Sinai.
CORALIA CLUB HOTEL
The Coralia Club is located on the beach and boasts 139 rooms in three categories,: Superior Sea View, Standard Sea View and Garden View. All rooms are en-suite and air conditioned with satellite TV. 40 Superior Sea View rooms all have a view of the sea as well as a terrace or balcony and in-room internet access whilst Standard Rooms all have garden views.
The hotel has 4 restaurants. Zeitouna offers buffet breakfast and dinner, the Pizza ‘n’ Pasta for Italian cuisine at lunchtime, the Lagoon Restaurant for lunch and Mai Thai for lunch and dinner. There are 4 bars including the Sunset Bar overlooking the bay and mountains, the Surf Bar on the Beach as well as the indoor Barracuda Bar and Sultan Bar.
SWISS INN RESORT
This 4 star hotel is set on a wide stretch of fine sandy beach, and is only 3 kilometres from the town centre. There are 150 very comfortable and lavishly decorated room all of which have en0suite facilities, air conditioning, satellite TV, wireless internet connection and a private balcony or terrace. The Khaima Restaurant and terrace serves buffet meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner, whilst the Locanda Restaurant offers an a la carte service. There are bars by both the pool and the beach.