08 October 2009

25 Sep-5 Oct 2009: Sharks Bay, Egypt

Having been without a holiday since the US in June, I thought I had better take one before I started experiencing withdrawal symptoms! The choice was hard, but I decided on sun, scuba diving and slumming on a beach...thus the Red Sea.

I went through a UK company called OonasDivers (the one I went through also for my liveaboard 2 years ago...see the post from Nov 07) and booked myself on a 9-day scuba package to Umbi Diving Village, Sharks Bay (about 20mins from Sharm El Sheik airport and further away still from Sharm itself...thank god!). I invited my very good friend Sera and her very good friend Ria. And what a blast we had!!

Umbi Diving Village is fab_u_lous...lots of character and well run. The accommodation we chose was great (air con, bathroom, balcony, view) and the dive school very well run. My only criticism would be the quality of their dive gear (leaking tanks are not a good way to start any dive holiday!). But other than that the dive guides were fun and professional, the boats in very good running order, and never more than 4 divers to a guide. They were catering to everyone from complete beginner to those who had over 500 dives under their belts.

I can't say I saw anything larger (or should I say more dangerous) than a very large napoleon fish which was about half the size of a human. But the coral was amazing, the fish life opulent, and not that many boats around as it wasn't peak season. We chose the best time as the weather was about 35 during the day/25 during the night, low humidity, not busy and the water temp around 28 degrees. Couldn't ask for more.

I can't say we actually did much outside of diving (me), snorkelling, and lying on the beach (Sera, Ria and me), but that was fine as we had our duty free alcohol, our balcony and each other. We also socialised with other divers who were a great bunch to be around, and enjoyed the array of fab (if not limited) Egyptian food on offer.

Saying that, Ria and myself did an all-day boat trip out to Tiran Island...and unbeknown to us, the boat will filled with 28 Egyptians and 2 of us! We were the only westerners onboard and I think we were more a shock to them then they were to us!! It was funny though...particularly when we stopped for snorkelling as half of them couldn't swim at all, and so they wore life jackets (although only 3 were available on the whole boat) and the snorkelling guide had to have a life saving ring with him to drag them along!

All in all, we had a brilliant time and though I stayed on an extra 2 days after Sera/Ria went home, I could have stayed there for another week. Oh, well, I'll just have to go back next year!

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