In 2013, my dive instructor in Yap told me that the Red Sea had been one of his favorite dive places. I remember thinking at the time that it seemed incongruous. Scuba diving in the Red Sea? Really? Somehow it wasn’t a place I associated with vibrant coral reefs and tropical fish. But just one more example of how little I know about this wide wonderful world.
So when I learned we’d be spending 4 months in England, I figured this was a good time to go, in that I’d be relatively closer to the Red Sea than we are in Ithaca. Specifically, I made plans to spend a week on a liveaboard (yes, sounds like “liverboard” – yet another way to confuse people when describing this trip). We sailed on the Emperor Asmaa and I shared a tiny cabin with a Swedish woman who was also traveling solo. She happened to be pursuing her “Advanced” open water diving certification as well (which permits us to dive to 30 m/100 ft, compared to our previous limit of 18 m/60 ft), so we spent a lot of time together. Good thing we got along like 2 fish in water!
Overall impressions: it was super. A very intense week of diving, with much higher expectations overall for capabilities and skills compared to other trips I’ve had. This isn’t a beginner’s way to spend a week. The typical day begins with a 5am wake-up and by 7pm, we’ve done four hour-long dives at 3 or 4 different places. My final dive was my 50th overall (since I began in 2013), and there were people on board who have done thousands!
There are plenty of corals, fish, sharks, dolphins, and dozens of other interesting living things to watch. I can imagine how my old dive instructor found this place so captivating, especially since he was remembering it from his visits in the 1980’s-1990’s. Many of my fellow divers reminisced about the massive schools of fish that used to be part of every Red Sea dive. Vivid and diverse corals. Sharks galore and not at only the deepest depths. But like all other oceanic places, the environments are stressed by too many people (tourists, fishermen, industry, pollution, plastics, etc.). It’s still great but perhaps not at its earlier glory days. Plus, honestly, nowhere has ever wowed me as much as the Yap dive sites (damn you, Reed Perkins).
The photos below were taken with my GoPro3 with a simple red filter added to it. Basic no-frills underwater photography. Plus, I’ve put some short video clips online too. The videos show more of the fish than the pictures do.
For truly amazing fish pictures from our trip, check out these taken by my fellow diver Adel Zakaria.