Sit back, relax and watch what you could be doing in 2018!
It’s been just over one week since we finished back-to-back dive liveaboards in the Southern Red Sea with an awesome group of divers, but we’re already looking forward to next years trip (confirmed sailing 28 April 2018 Hurghada). Not only were we treated to a beautiful boat with fantastic crew, the diving was simply outstanding and we couldn’t have asked for more! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but JJ’s video diary is worth so much more (thank you JJ!), so sit back, relax and watch what you could be doing with us next year!
Because despite maybe wanting to, you can't spend all your time underwater!
Maybe you’ve got that necessary dry time before flying home or you’re taking a little break in between diving days to spend some time on land, whatever the reason there’s a lot going on in Sharm to keep you occupied. Take a peek at some of our top picks and feel free to contact us for more info.
1. El Sahaba Mosque Old Market – If it’s been a while since you were last in Sharm, or you’re a first-time visitor, we think you’ll be really impressed by the recently completed El Sahaba Mosque. Standing tall in the centre of Old Market, the architecture of the building is truly stunning combined with the setting sun shining off the gold paint work, you’re in for a photo treat! Top tip: It is possible to visit inside of the mosque and if you arrive in shorts, bare shoulders you’ll be provided with scarfs to cover yourself. Visiting during prayer times is not permitted however.
2. Genena City – Specifically Tseppes! If you are a fan of all thing sweets then you should plan at some point to make a stop off here for one of their delicious and freshly baked cakes or quite possibly the best ice cream I’ve tasted (and I’ve tasted a lot!). Located at the back entrance of Genena Mall, you’ll find an inside and large outside sitting area with comfortable swinging chairs and plasma TV often displaying sports games. Top tip: Thursday and Friday nights tend to be the busiest here as this is the weekend in Egypt so you may find it a little noisier and more difficult to get a seat. You can also get a carry out if you’d prefer to walk around the shops, watch the live entertainment or just generally explore the new shopping area.
Introducing our good friend Polina Dionesova
Name: Polina Dionesova
Diver level: PADI Advanced open water diver
Approx. number of dives: 200
1. Why did you decide to learn to dive?
The first time I came to Egypt my mum and I decided to explore as many activities as we can and see as much as we can and one of them was an introduction dive. Then I tried it with my mum but the first time for us it was all about learning just to breathe underwater because it is not normal. We then did it again to actually focus on what we could see under water. After that we decided to cancel all of our other activities and spent 5 days on the boat just making introductory dives because we loved it so much.
Once we came back home we decided to take the Open Water Course in Russia but of course it wasn’t as exciting as diving in the Red Sea for sure. From that time we started to go for diving holidays 2 times a year, I think now I have visited Sharm over 25 times. After 5 years of holidays to Sharm I ended up coming to work here for a while because I loved the place although my work wasn’t related to diving, I dived every day I had off work!
2. How has your life changed since being a diver?
It brings a lot of new things and opportunities to people when they start diving and first of all you can meet so many new people when you go on a diving holiday, from all around the world, and make many new lifelong friends because you have that one thing in common. I’ve even met other diving buddies in their home countries and explored with them. Also, when you first start diving you’re always looking for the ‘big’ things like sharks, manta and turtle but now as we’ve been diving for longer we can truly appreciate the smaller marine life like nudibranchs and pipefish and just the general colour and condition of the reef.
Flights from £1......Stop dreaming and start doing!!
Whilst researching holiday options for a guest I stumbled upon the flight prices from the UK to Sharm el Sheikh with Turkish Airlines who, based on the cost, seem to be leading the way with providing the cheapest airfares for indirect flights to Sharm el Sheikh….so cheap, they list flights from Gatwick to Sharm in March for £1 before taxes and fee’s bring the total to £218 return per person! Not only that but we can help with accommodation offers and diving bringing the total for a weeks holiday, flights, accommodation plus 5 days diving to under £500 per person!
Here’s a quick summary of flight options available and these prices are based on return flights per person (via Istanbul) and include luggage, in-flight meals and movies, seat selection and bags checked in directly through to Sharm. The journey times aren’t bad either and if you’re worried about a longish layover in Istanbul airport you shouldn’t be, you can book yourself in to the Turkish airways lounge for around 30 euro for a relaxing wait or eat/drink at one of the many bars and restaurants…the time passes before you know it and I should know, I’ve spent the past 2 New Year’s Eve there amongst other trips!
Let me introduce you to Nouf Alosaimi....
Name: Nouf Alosaimi
Nationality: Saudi Arabian
Diver level: MSDT (Master Scuba Diver Trainer)
Approx. number of dives: I am really not sure but I’ve been diving since 2009 maybe I have done around 1000 dives but still not sure don’t wanna sound like showing off
1. Why did you decide to learn to dive?
Because it blew my mind! I was completely disconnected from everything that is going on the surface and only focused and connected into my inner self while surrounded by god's art, the corals the fishes and how all of them are living together in a uniquely balanced system.
2. How has your life changed since being a diver?
My life changed 180 degree. I finally found my purpose in life being passionate about something that is fulfilling your life is the best thing that could happened to anyone and now I am taking diving as a career and a full time job, oh man I love my job!
3. Any struggles along the way?
Umm can't remember it because my love and passion for diving blocked my eyes from seeing the struggles or the obstacles plus I have a very bad memory I can’t remember any.
Check out some inspirational stories from my girl buddies all over the world.
This isn’t a feminist/sexist blog about why girl divers are better than boy divers. Far from it in fact since I’m surrounded by guys on a daily basis, I credit my colleagues for helping me become the guide and Instructor I am today. What I do hope to achieve though is to inspire more girls to try diving in 2017 as I think there’s still a bit of a belief that it’s a male dominated sport, where you should be big and strong (2 things I’m not!) to participate. So, I contacted a few of my girl buddies from around the world to get their story on why they decided to learn scuba diving and the impact and opportunity it’s had on their lives since, starting with one of the most water loving girls I’ve ever met……
Take a look at some of our 'best bits' from last year.
Just joking, 2016 hasn’t been that bad a year at all, Different? Definitely; bad? No, not at all. We’re grateful and thankful to still be diving every day in the Red Sea and to have had the opportunity to meet so many new faces from many different countries over the past 12 months. So as we enter the new year, we thought we’d share with you a roundup of some of our highlights. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading about them as much as we did experiencing them, and the final highlight is dedicated to you!
1. Moving dive centre – Obviously the biggest change (and challenge) in 2016 was moving dive centre and we can safely say it’s been the best decision. Not only has it allowed us to bring on new members of the team, it’s also given us a great house reef meaning we can be in the water in a matter of minutes and whenever suits. But the best part of all is having met and mixed with people from different nationalities, whether through daily diving, introductions to diving and qualifying as new divers.
2. Southern Red Sea safari – 2016 was the first year we ran a diving safari to explore the Southern Red Sea and what a great trip it was. Normally we run an annual Wrecks & Reef trip covering the Northern route but given departing from Hurghada was the most suitable option for many guests, we thought ‘let’s give it a go’. The experience of Hammerheads, dolphins, Oceanic white tips amongst other marine life combined with crystal clear visibility and pristine coral reef all played the part of making this one of the most memorable safari’s to date. We enjoyed it so much we got back and started arranging the next one straight away! Despite the lack of direct flights to Sharm, we’re currently looking in to a second liveaboard covering the Northern route for later in the year, so if you’ve missed the dives sites in and around Sharm and we could give you an option of visiting them from Hurghada instead!
Check out our round up of some pretty cool gifts that are guaranteed to generate smiles on Christmas morning.
Christmas present shopping is normally made easy when you’re buying for a water loving friend or relative but in case you’re stuck for idea’s here’s our round up of some pretty cool gifts that are guaranteed to generate smiles on Christmas morning!
1. Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) – My personal thought is every diver should own their own SMB; used to signal the boat at the end of a dive, for surface supervision during drift dives, and in emergency situations amongst other helpful uses, an SMB nowadays is considered an essential piece of diving equipment. Similar to masks, wetsuits, BCDs and many other types of equipment, SMBs come in a variety of styles and picking the right one for you should be based on the size of the balloon you’re trying to fill as well as the inflation method so it’s as easy to deploy as possible, whilst also being large enough to be visible on the surface when waves are present.
2. Apeks Tech shorts – despite the name these shorts can be worn by anyone and are a firm favourite of our instructor Ash. Long lasting and really comfortable (according to Ash) the shorts have two expandable pockets on each side which are large enough to take a spare mask or SMB with you and can be worn by themselves in the warmer water or over wetsuits/drysuits in colder water. Mike’s Dive Store seems to have the best price so far, costing £65 instead of the original £80. Not only this but 1% from all the sales go to helping UK marine conservation through the Sea-Changers charity!
Having a house reef means you can enjoy the Red Sea whenever you want!
So obviously when we made the decision to move to a new dive centre, location was one of the main considerations and whether we would have direct access to the sea or not. Thankfully we can see the sea from the dive centre and better still we can be in it in around a 30 second walk; but what can you expect from the house reef and is it worth diving multiple times? Read on to find out……
The main access to the sea from Monte Carlo beach is via the small jetty that stretches out over the reef which has railings on either side and then at the end has a large opening in the centre you can use for your giant stride, with 2 sets of ladders for ease coming back out again. Once in the water you can make a slow descent down a gentle slopping wall that starts from the surface and continues on to depths of around 40m at which point there is a steep drop-off.
Being that we do the dive as a shore dive, a current check at the beginning to determine the direction of your dive is required. Normally if there is current it is running from right to left so you’d start the dive with the reef on your right and this is a pretty nice direction to take. You’ll find as you make your way along the reef, several pinnacles forming from 20m/23m, each covered in colourful soft corals, with Anthias fish, and sea fans. If you continue deeper down, you’ll still be able to see the bottom which turns in to a plateau at around 45m…past this, we haven’t quite explored yet! On your return, shallowing up you’ll find many colourful fish and a hard coral bottom with blues, purples and pinks before reaching the bright green salad coral at around 8m. Despite the fact that the visibility is so good that you can see the jetty from a distance, if by some chance you can’t look out for a small opening in the reef at around 6m just big enough for a diver to manoeuvre in for a photo then carefully glide back out again (note: check for any lionfish before you entre). Then you’re back at your entry point!
Hammerhead sharks, wrecks, and maybe a dolphin or two!
The summer holidays may just be finishing but it’s never too early to start planning your next scuba diving adventure so why not join us on the Spring 2017 Southern Red Sea liveaboard?
Departing from Hurghada on the spacious, purpose built safari boat, you’ll have all of the conveniences and comforts of a hotel without the daily commute to the jetty and back. Split over 3 levels, the 10 double/twin air-conditioned and en-suite cabins each with their own mini-fridge, are all uniquely situated on either the main or upper deck allowing for cool sea breezes and beautiful scenes to wake up and go to sleep with. You can choose from one of 2 large and extremely comfortable sundecks, fashioned with stylish sun loungers and rattan furniture or relax in the air-conditioned saloon with TV and surround sound system located on the lower deck.
“Just pushing a button is taking a photo. Thinking, lighting, and lots of other things~ that's making a photo.” - David Doubilet
There’s a general saying between divers that the dive they decide not to take the camera, is the dive they’ll see something they want to capture. But then others would contest that spending a dive seeing coral, marine life or other divers through a lens rather than directly is not the same and doesn’t allow you to commit the moment to your memory forever. We’d say there is a time and place for both, but when it’s your job to spend your dives capturing special underwater moments for others to enjoy, is it a simple case of point and shoot and can you still enjoy your dives?
A good friend of ours, Renata Romeo, is a full time photographer specialising in underwater shoots producing some simply stunning pieces of art (although she’d probably blush if you told this to her directly, as is her reluctance to accepting compliments, especially about her photographs). I sat down with her to find out a little more about what underwater photography means to her and get a few tips along the way.
It's easier than you think to get back to Sharm.
"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries" Aldos Huxley
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and you’ll know that we’ve been out diving every day for the past while now which has led to messages from guests asking how they too can get out and join in the fun. It’s probably one of the most common questions you hear on the boat nowadays! Answering just that question, Eve from Newcastle booked a 3-week stay over July and took 3 flights (Newcastle-Amsterdamn-Cairo-Sharm) to get here, did she think it was worth it? Here’s what she said;
“I’ve been coming to Sharm for the past 18 years, normally 3 times a year and so was having withdrawal symptoms of not having being out yet in 2016.” When asked if the 3 flights had been worth it Eve explained “I stayed the whole 3 weeks and made John (her husband) jealous of all the stories of hammerheads, eagle rays and turtles. The most wonderful thing about it is, the diving is the way it used to be when I first started coming out”.
Another example would be Marina from Siberia. Similar to Eve, Marina and her daughter have been coming to Sharm every year for more years than she can remember and so didn’t think twice about coming back this summer, even though it meant taking 4 flights to get here! She had celebrated her birthday with us for the past 4 years and didn’t want to change that, so cake on the boat inbetween dives it was!
We've made the jump to a new Red Sea front hotel
It's been a few months now since our last newsletter where we let you all know our plan to relocate and we're excited and thankful to tell you that it's finally happened. We've jumped ship and can now be found in Monte Carlo, the hotel not the place!
To be a bit more exact, we've moved about a 2 minute car journey from where we were to the 5 star Monte Carlo Resort Sharm. If you're familiar with the beaches in this area, think half way between Reef Beach and El Fanar, we're right there on the sea side with our very own house reef (yes, we're very excited about this!). It was a big decision to move after many happy memories from our first dive centre but we wanted to offer our guests more and think we've found that with the new place.
So, what now? Well we've got a lot of organising and updating to do and a little DIY but we're hoping to have more photo's and updates over to you in the next few weeks so keep checking the website and Facebook page. We'll also be announcing the dates for 2 Liveaboard trips next year so you can start planning now for your next diving adventure!
We love this action-packed weekend bringing together divers and non-divers alike to explore all things water based. Make sure you leave the last week in October free and come join us at the next event.
Each year, normally only a couple of days following the liveaboard, Ash and Hannah pack their bags and jump on a flight to the UK to meet up with our UK based Divemaster Carrie and her boyfriend then make the long drive from Kent up to Birmingham to exhibit at the annual Dive Show hosted at the NEC in Birmingham. The event is organised by DIVER magazine and brings together hundreds of exhibitors including dive centres from all over the world, diving equipment manufacturers, dive and adventure sports clothing and accessories as well as educational talks from leading specialist on topics such as underwater photography, crime scene investigation, adventure dive documentaries and conservation.
This is our 3rd year exhibiting at the event so we’ve been a bit more organised and ‘in the know’ about how things are run and are more relaxed and excited about meeting new people and catching up with the many previous eagle divers visitors who pop by the stall to say hello.
Friday night however, is always a rush to get things set up after the long drive to get here. We seem to always think it’s going to take us longer than it actually does to set the stall up, in reality we’re done in around 20 minutes. Shiny new banner is in place behind the stacked table with promo flyers and of course freebies (even if the only reason you stop by is for a free sweety or wrist band, that’s ok with us!). Next is grabbing a bite to eat and then bed so we have as much energy as possible for the big event!
Having arrived at Gubal island with only one other liveaboard boat in sight our plan was to make just the one dive here in order to leave enough time to get to Abu Nuhas and hopefully dive 4 of the wrecks found there. We decided to dive Bluff point being dropped off by the zodiac on the outside of the reef and drifting along with it on our right hand side back to the boat. Because of the current the visibility wasn’t great at the beginning of the dive but half way along the cloudiness gave way to some beautiful varieties of soft and hard coral formations and copious amounts of marine fauna typical of the Red Sea including butterflyfish, angelfish, unicorn and surgeonfish. After what can be described as a relaxing, lazy dive where the current took us directly back to the boat, it was time to make the crossing back towards the reef of Sha’ab Abu Nuhas, otherwise known as ‘Father of copper’.
I have to admit that the wrecks found on this reef are, for me, the best in the Red Sea. Such a variety, with some being more preserved than others but all equalling as mesmerizing and teaming with marine life. Because of the reefs close proximity to the major shipping lanes of the Gulf of Suez and before the lighthouse existed, many ships have been wrecked here but only 4 are visible nowadays. We were starting with the 1862 British Steamer ship Carnatic that, if we’d been there a few decades ago, would still have contained its cargo of wine, unfortunately it’s all gone now! The video footage showing divers and batfish swimming in amongst the deck is just a small example of what diving on this wreck is like; you really have to try it for yourselves to experience its beauty. We were lucky as well as we had no other divers with us on this wreck and so had it all to ourselves, eventually however every dive has to end and so we ascend back up the fixed mooring point, finish our safety stop and climb back on the zodiacs to deliver us back to the main boat.
Next up? The ‘wreck of tiles’ aka Marcus. Situated to the East of Carnatic this German cargo ship hit the reef in 1981 with the bow only 4m from the surface with the majority of the hull sitting upright until you get closer to the stern which lays on its side at around 25m. Unlike the Carnatic, it is still possible to see the many tiles Marcus was originally transporting alongside my favourite fish to watch, glassfish!
We ended up not having the time do dive all four wrecks but in my opinion we certainly left the best for last, Ghiannis D!