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Dahab Trip Report

Dahab is a small town located about 1 hour away from Sharm El Sheikh by car. It's a quiet, laid back place with a small shoreline of restaurants, dive shops and hotels called the Lighthouse area. We stayed at the Bedouin Moon Hotel and used Reef 2000 for our diving which is about 10 minutes away from the Lighthouse area via a taxi and will cost about 10 Egyptian pounds (fl. 6.50) for four people. You can get money out here at two ATM machines, one at the Hilton, the other at the Bank of Cairo in Dahab City. A European mobile phone will work here as well.

If you wish to stay at the Lighthouse area you could choose to stay at Inmo Divers or Penguin Village. We have had no experience with these companies however.

We booked this trip through Diving World which cost fl. 750 ($300 U.S.) per person including flight, transfer, hotel, and breakfast.

Dive site: Lighthouse

August 22, 2001

Left the Bedouin Moon Hotel and made our way to the dive site via the back of a small pickup truck. Ten minutes later we arrived at a small shore line area filled with small cafes and dive shops. Very unlike Sharm El Sheikh as this was more laid back with far less tourists. We were not too sure about the amount of weight needed so we did a check and found everyone ok, if not a little heavy.

Swam out from the shore 10 or so meters then descended. At first the coral was non-existent and not many fish but after a few minutes the soft coral started to appear with a few more fish like Fairy basslets, Unicornfish, Lionfish, and a very nice green and white Scorpionfish which was camouflaged extremely well. Twobar seabream were hovering at 5 meters while a Moses sole swam by on the sand below.

David kept losing his weight belt due to a faulty buckle so every once and a while we would all tackle him while he reattached it.

Dive profile: 40 mins, 20 meters.

Dive site: Lighthouse

This dive was also done at the Lighthouse after a nice relaxing lunch of pizza on the beach front. I took a couple of kilo's off my weight belt before the dive as I seemed too heavy on the previous one. We swam out following the coral on the left side seeing small Network Pipefish, Basslets, Butterflyfish, Snappers, and Lionfish hunting out in the open. A White-spotted puffer was seen resting on a rock just looking at us pass by. Around 25 minutes into the dive we turned around and coming back we saw a baby Lionfish and a small Picasso triggerfish. Lots of juvenile fish at this site.

Dive profile: 49 mins, 15.4 Meters

Dive site: The Canyon

August 23, 2001

This dive was described to us as an advanced dive so David accompanied some other Open Water Divers to another site while Marlies and I did this dive with 7 other divers including our guide Caroline.

The dive site was about a 10 minute jeep ride and as always a shore entry. The swim out to the Canyon, which is a crack in the seabed, started out by swimming out at 5-6 meters for 5 minutes. We then passed by a few pinnacles and looking down we saw the Canyon which starts at 18 meters and drops straight down to 30 meters and a nice sandy bottom.

Dropping down into the crevice was great fun, fantastic visibility and not many divers made it very easy. Once down at the bottom you are then required to exit up through the 'fish bowl' which is a swim up into a bowl like area with thousands of glassfish.  Swimming up further and out the exit Caroline, our guide, checked all our air and dropped 4 divers who were sucking air big time on to the passing group of Open water divers. We then continued on following the reef to a large sandy area where Garden eels were poking their heads out. Gobies and partner shrimp were everywhere busily cleaning out their holes and the occasional Broomtail wrasse swimming by. Turning around Caroline spotted a nice Scorpionfish and Peppered Moray.

Dive profile: 52 minutes, 30.3 meters

Dive site: Bells - Bluehole

I was very curious to see this dive site as many divers have died here. There are many plaques on the hill with the names of some of them. Caroline, our guide again, explained to us that all these divers had died trying to go under an archway at 65 meters using air. 

At the dive briefing she described the dive which would start from a narrow crevice near the shore. We would then descend straight down to 30 meters and swim out into the blue through a hole. It was recommended that we space ourselves out so that the bubbles from the previous diver would not obstruct our view. Once into the crevice you could see your way down quite clearly. Marlies went first filming all the way down. I then followed head down to about 28 meters then swam out through the hole in the bottom. Looking up is fantastic, all the bubbles and the visibility right to the surface was perfect. Looking down all you could see was deep blue, not a good idea to be too heavy in this area as its a long way down.

We then continued along the wall seeing Red banded shrimp, tube worms, and thousands of Fairy Basslets. About half way back Marlies pointed out a huge turtle making a descent right into our group. I waited till it was about a meter away then got off a couple of shots with my camera. I waited for it to turn away but to my surprise I realized it was not going to stop. I had to put my hand on its shell to keep it from running into me.

It then swam toward the other divers and started biting at the inflator hoses. After circling our group it came back to me and was so close I was able to stroke it under the chin. Tired of us it then swam away.

Continuing on we swam over the saddle into the Blue Hole. A very deep and very blue hole, as the name implies. Nothing much to see in it but nice to float over.

Dive profile: 44 minutes, 28.2 meters

Dive site: Moray Garden

24 August 2001

Today we had a guide all to ourselves, Sheriff, who freelances out of Dahab. We all decided we would do a few sites in the south near "The Happy Life Village".  A hotel complex practically in the middle of nowhere and definitely not a place I would want to spend my holiday at. The entry point of the dive had many large stones but not too difficult to make your way in. Once we were in the bottom turned sandy with the occasional sea grass bed. 

As we descended we met the only other divers at this site coming out. We followed the slope down passing two large table corals, lots of Fairy basslets, and Anemonefish. Also at this site we saw a Black-and-white snapper which apparently is the juvenile version of the snapper. 30 or so minutes into the dive we turned around and slowly swam back spotting a nice Peppered moray hiding in the coral.

Once out of the water we parked the truck in the shade and the driver lit a fire for tea while we ate the local Egyptian bread with cheese.

Dive profile: 60 minutes, 24.3 meters

Dive site: Golden Blocks

This site was about 500 meters before Moray Garden. More or less the same type of diving but we did see two huge Porcupinefish which let us get quite close to them. Of course I had my macro setup on, so no picture. There was a small crevice which you could swim down to but nothing interesting was swimming around in it. Coming back we spotted an Egyptian starfish making its way across the sandy floor with a few large Lionfish out hunting.

Dive profile: 53 minutes, 22.3 meters

Dive site: Canyon Coral Gardens

25 August 2001

This site is at the same place as the Canyon except instead of going left to the Canyon we turned right. Lots of nice coral and pinnacles to swim around but not a really exciting dive as there was nothing new to see except at the end of the dive were we spotted a Short Dragonfish (Sea Moth).

This really made the dive as Marlies and I had never seen one of these before and they are one of strangest fish I have ever seen.

Dive profile: 60 minutes, 21.1 meters

Dive site: Rick's Reef

Just up from Canyon Coral Gardens is this site where the entry looks like a W. Our guide told us this would be a drift dive from Rick's Reef to the Canyon Coral Gardens. Same type of wild life and coral but as Marlies was filming two Red Banded Shrimp, I spotted two orange and white Squat cleaner shrimp living in the same patch.

As we finned out of there Marlies kept pointing to the side of her mask. I had no idea what she wanted but as I kept looking I saw that a Cleaner wrasse was trying to clean her ear! That's a first!

Caroline, our guide, pointed out a very small Pyjama slug, the first I've seen here in Dahab. As we swam toward the exit we tried to spot the Sea moth again but it had gone.

Dive profile: 52 minutes, 18 meters

Dive site: Japanese Gardens (The Islands)

26 August 2001

The shore entry for this site was quite difficult because of the low tide and surf. We swam out to a small hole in the reef were we put on our fins and descended down swimming out and over a sandy bowl then turning right, following the reef. The coral here was very large and you could see some damage caused by an earthquake a few years back. We saw a small Boxfish and a beautiful Whitecap goby which disappeared back into its hole when we wanted a better look.

Lots of gobies here with their partner shrimp shoveling out the burrows while the other keeps watch. Near the end of the dive in the sand bowl we spotted a baby Lionfish on the bottom.

Dive profile: 46 minutes, 19.1 meters

Dive site: The Islands

Same entrance as before but this time at high tide which made it a little easier to get to the hole. In the sand bowl we spotted a very white looking flounder like fish which looked something like the Intermediate Flounder but no one had seen this type of fish before so ...

This whole dive was mainly done swimming between huge towering pieces of coral. It was like swimming past skyscrapers in the city, really fantastic. We spotted a Rupert's wart slug, Picasso Triggerfish, Glassfish, Crocodilefish, and the Whitecap goby.

Dive profile: 52 minutes, 17.9 meters

Dive site: Octopus Gardens (Night Dive)

Entrance to this site was the same as the Lighthouse. We started the dive at 20:17 and followed the sand down to the sea grass then turned right following the shoreline. After 5 minutes we spotted a black and white snake eel in the sea grass. We then spotted a Scorpionfish, baby Peppered eels, sea urchins, Lionfish, Parrotfish, Red banded shrimp, large hermit crab, Red Sea Walkman, and a huge sea cucumber which was about 2 meters long and had a feather like mouth.

Near the end Marlies spotted what looked like a Cuttlefish at the back and a big bug at the front. Unfortunately the battery ran out on the video so no evidence survives.

This was really one of the best night dives I have done with so many great fish and weird creatures swimming around.

Dive profile: 48 minutes, 12.9 meters

Dive site: Ras Abu Gallum (Camel Safari)

27 August 2001

Started off from the Bedouin Moon Hotel via a jeep to the Blue Hole then picked up our Camels packed with our dive gear and started the hour long trek. Some of us walked the route up, planning to ride the camels on the way back. The walk was fairly easy but a bit hot at the end. When we arrived at the Bedouin village on the beach we were taken to a hut on the far end where we unloaded the gear and relaxed before our first dive.

After some tea we had the dive briefing then entered the water after a short walk up the beach. The inside reef had valleys which we followed along. At the deep part of the dive (20m), we turned around and came back around the outside of the reef. There we saw 2 baby Pyjama slugs, 2 large Scorpionfish, and a large Lionfish. On the anemone there were many Ghost cleaner shrimp living with the Anemonefish.

The coral here was really fantastic, large and various. After 60 minutes we exited the water and dug into a giant plate of rice, chicken, and vegetables.

Dive profile: 60 minutes, 20 meters

Dive site: Ras Abu Gallum (Camel Safari)

 

Our last dive was at the same spot but this time we entered in front of our hut, where we exited the last time. Again, lots of large coral and thousands of small fish everywhere.

The current was with us for most of the dive which made it very easy to just float along. A large grouper followed us off to the left side where the reef descended deep into the blue. A turtle made its appearance about half way into the dive but kept mostly to itself. Marlies and I spotted a number of Whitecap gobies and some large Scorpionfish.

A very relaxed dive which was our longest at 66 minutes. After we exited the water we let our gear dry out and had tea in our hut. Sybil, our guide who spoke Arabic, then brought us over to a Bedouin who was making bread and cooking it over the fire. After about 5 of these large pancake things we were stuffed.

Back on the camels we set off towards the hotel again. I had no problem riding the camel back but  David either fell asleep or just plain fell off of his. Quite a distance to fall of off a camel and he was lucky it wasn't over the cliffs! He insists the camel threw him off, ya right!

Summary

Overall the trip was well worth the money. The dive sites were nice and we usually did not see any other divers under the water.

We had no problems with Reef 2000. The guides were fairly good at knowing what the terrain was but like anywhere, a great guide really involves spotting the unusual.

This is not a place were you will find any pampering. The dive sites are accessed via jeeps or trucks which are quite old and roads rough. When eating you are most likely sitting on the ground on blankets and pillows but that all adds to the experience.

Would I go back? Perhaps in a few years but not right away. The reason being the amount of dive sites that are accessible. Would I recommend it? Absolutely! We really enjoyed ourselves.

Check out more of the above water pictures      Or more underwater pictures in Dahab.

Photos are currently offline till I upload them to my new site.