Diving in Egypt


Dahab

Dahab is a small town situated on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Formerly a Bedouin fishing village, located approximately 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab is considered to be one of the Sinai's most treasured diving destinations. Following the Six Day War, the town was occupied by Israel and is known in Hebrew as Di-Zahav, a place mentioned in the Bible as one of the stations for the Israelites during the Exodus from Egypt. The Sinai Peninsula was restored to Egyptian rule in the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in 1982. The arrival of international hotel chains and the establishment of other ancillary facilities has since made the town a popular destination with tourists. Dahab is served by Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport.

Dahab enjoys large numbers of tourists. It is world-renowned for its windsurfing. Reliable winds provide superb flat-water conditions inside Dahab's sand spit. Further away from shore, wavy conditions couple with strong winds to provide formidable conditions for keen windsurfers. SCUBA diving and snorkelling are also popular activities with many reefs immediately adjacent to waterfront hotels. The nearby Blue Hole and Canyon are internationally famous dive spots. Land based activities include camel, horse, jeep and quad bike trips. Mount Sinai is a two hours drive, with Saint Catherine's Monastery being a popular tourist destination.

Blue Hole (Red Sea)

Blue Hole is a diving location on east Sinai, a few kilometres north of Dahab, Egypt on the coast of the Red Sea.

The Blue Hole is a submarine pothole (a kind of cave), around 130m deep. There is a shallow opening around 6m deep, known as 'the saddle', opening out to the sea, and a 26m long tunnel, known as the arch, the top of which lies at a depth of 52m. The hole itself and the surrounding area has an abundance of coral and reef fish.

The Blue Hole is notorious for the number of diving fatalities which have occurred there earning it the sobriquet, "World's Most Dangerous Dive Site" and the nickname "Diver's Cemetery". The site is signposted by a sign that says "Blue hole: Easy entry". Accidents are frequently caused when divers attempt to find the tunnel through the reef (known as "The Arch") connecting the Blue Hole and open water at about 52m depth. This is beyond the PADI recreational diving limit (40m) and nitrogen narcosis begins to have an influence. Divers who miss the tunnel sometimes continue descending hoping to find the tunnel farther down and become increasingly narced. the "Arch" is reportedly extremely deceptive in several ways:

* It is difficult to detect because of the odd angle between the arch, open water, and the hole itself.
* Because of the dim lighting and the fact that most light enters from outside, it appears shorter than it really is. Divers report that the Arch appears less than 10m long but measurements have shown it is 26m from one end to the other.
* There is frequently a current flowing inward through the arch towards the Blue Hole, increasing the time it takes to swim through.
* The arch continues downward to the seabed which is beyond view and there is therefore no "reference" from below. Divers who resist the temptation of the Arch and remain within their training and limitations are in no more danger than on any other Red Sea dive site. However, the Arch has proved irresistible for many and thus the divesite is considered unsuitable for beginners and a potential trap for even experienced divers. Beach and surface of the water at Blue Hole Two freedivers at Blue Hole.

Divers who want to go through the Arch should only attempt it after appropriate training and experience. Appropriate training would probably include mixed gas diving and decompression diving at a minimum.

The Egyptian authorities claim that 40 divers have died at this site since records began; however, many local dive guides believe that the authorities are deliberately underestimating the numbers and that there have actually been at least twice that many fatalities.

Saudi Arabia is clearly visible across the Red Sea.

A famous (and videotaped) death in the Blue hole is Yuri Lipski, a Russian diver who died at 91.6 meters below the surface. Lipski was, tragically, an unfortunate victim of inexperience and lack of proper equipment.

Memorial

When diving on standard air at a depth of 90 meters, the narcosis will be so severe that a person can lose all survival instinct. There have been cases reported where people have been so narced as to remove the regulator from their mouth and offer it to a fish. In the video it is possible to tell when the regulator falls out of his mouth (or possibly taken out due to narcosis) and subsequently he drowns. So far in 2009 two more divers have been killed diving the Bell and Blue Hole area (both in May).

Port Safaga

Port Safaga, also known as Bur Safaga and Safaga, is a town in Egypt, on the coast of the Red Sea, located 53 km (33 miles) south of Hurghada. This small port is also a tourist area that consists of several bungalows and rest houses, including the Safaga Hotel, with a capacity of 48 rooms (126 beds). Having numerous phosphate mines, it is regarded as the phosphates export center. A paved road of 164 km (101 miles) connects Safaga to Qena of Upper Egypt.

Safaga is a marine port connected by a regular cruise shuttle service line. Safaga City is considered one of the most important therapeutic tourist centres, as special medical researches have proved the potential of attracting international tourism to Safaga.

The resort is reputable for its unpolluted atmosphere, black sand-dunes and mineral springs which have acquired specific characteristics for remedy of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

Safaga has a small but thriving tourism industry, specialising in scuba diving.

Safaga was a merchant port for many years; now the town, with its wide azure bay, long sandy beaches and pretty islands, is a favourite sports destination in the Red Sea Riviera. Safaga is especially popular among kitesurfers and windsurfers, and was the host of the 1993 Red Sea World Windsurfing Championships. At 53 km (33 miles) south of Hurghada, Safaga acquires its unique character from both its port and the small surrounding village. A holiday in Safaga is mainly about watersports and sightseeing, with little nightlife around, except for some nice beach parties organised by the local divers and surfers.

The black sand dune beaches characteristic of Safaga are a favourite spot for sun bathers. The sea water is known to be highly saline and rich in minerals which are beneficial for the skin, and it is a popular curative destination in the Red Sea Riviera. Safaga is also home to some of the most outstanding diving of the Red Sea, with the bay’s chain reefs of Tobia Arbaa, and the impressive walls of Panorama and Abu Qifan towering reefs, where often big pelagics such as tunas, sharks and mantas can be spotted.

Safaga is also a good starting point for a day trip into the Eastern Desert to check out the granite quarries of Mons Claudianus, or to the sights of Luxor, one of the most impressive sights of Egypt, only 220 km (137 miles) away.

Taba

Taba is a small Egyptian town near the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. Taba is the location of Egypt's busiest border crossing with neighboring Israel. Little more than a bus depot and a luxury hotel (complete with casino), Taba is a frequent vacation spot for Egyptians and tourists, especially those from Israel on their way to others destinations in Egypt or as a weekend getaway. It is the northernmost resort of Egypt's Red Sea Riviera.

Taba was located on the Egyptian side of the armistice line agreed to in 1949. During the Suez Crisis in 1956 it was briefly occupied but returned to Egypt when Israel withdrew in 1957. Israel reoccupied the Sinai Peninsula after the Six-Day War in 1967, and subsequently built a 400-room hotel in Taba. Following the 1973 Yom-Kippur War, when Egypt and Israel were negotiating the exact position of the border in preparation for the 1979 peace treaty, Israel claimed that Taba had been on the Ottoman side of a border agreed between the Ottomans and British Egypt in 1906 and had, therefore, been in error in its two previous agreements. Although most of Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982, Taba was the last portion to be returned. After a long dispute, the issue was submitted to an international commission composed of one Israeli, one Egyptian, and three outsiders. In 1988, the commission ruled in Egypt's favor, and Israel returned Taba to Egypt in 1989.[1]

As part of this subsequent agreement, travellers are permitted to cross from Israel at the Eilat - Taba border crossing, and visit the "Aqaba Coast Area of Sinai", (stretching from Taba down to Sharm el Sheikh, and including Nuweiba, St Catherine and Dahab), visa-free for up to 14 days, making Taba a popular tourist destination. The resort community of Taba Heights is located some 20 km south of Taba. It features several large hotels, including The Hyatt Regency, Marriott, Sofitel and Intercontinental. It is also a significant diving area where many people come to either free dive, scuba dive or learn to dive via the many PADI courses on offer. Other recreation facilities include a new desert style golf course.

On October 7, 2004, the Hilton Taba was hit by a bomb that killed 34 people (BBC), including Israeli vacationers. Twenty-four days later, an inquiry by the Egyptian Interior Ministry into the bombings concluded that the perpetrators received no external help but were aided by Bedouins on the peninsula.

El Gouna

El Gouna is a tourist resort, developed and owned by Orascom Hotels and Development, dating from about 1990, It is located on the Red Sea in Egypt, 22 km north of Hurghada International Airport.

El Gouna specializes in watersports, including scuba diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing, waterskiing, parasailing and snorkelling. There are two main beaches, Zeytuna Beach located on its own island and Mangroovy Beach. A network of canals allow many houses to have their own strip of beach, even hundreds of metres inland. Most of these canals are crossed by small stone bridges.

There are three centrilized areas in El Gouna, that houses shops, bars and restaurants; - Downtown, Tamr Henna square and the Abu Tig Marina.

Currently boasting 14 hotels (some of which were designed by the American architect Michael Graves) from three star to five stars; a six star hotel is currently under development next to the Abu Tig Marina Extension.

El Gouna hosts a Golf course designed by Gene Bates and Fred Couples. A second golf course real estate project, Ancient Sands Golf Resort, designed by acclaimed golf course architect Karl Litten, is due to open in 2012.

El Gouna has a fully equipped hospital that can handle many medical treatments including dentistry, plastic surgery, pediatrics, ophthalmology and general surgery. It also features an intensive care unit and a decompression chamber in case of diving accidents. The town hosts the El Gouna International School, an Environmental Geographic Information System and a small private airport for charter aircraft. There are also three marinas; - Abydos marina, the Abu Tig Marina and the Abu Tig Marina Extension which is currently in its last phase of construction, which can receive super yachts.

The town also boasts a small museum with some 90 exhibits (including statue replicas and an exhibition hall of contemporary Egyptian paintings by Hussein Bikar) which opened in 1996.

Other attractions/activities around town are; a small aquarium, a go kart track, a paintball arena, tennis courts, horse stables and a football stadium. It also has a Coptic Church: Church of St. Mary and the Archangels.

Marsa Alam

Marsa Alam is a town in south-eastern Egypt, on the west coast of the Red Sea. It is currently seeing fast increasing popularity as a tourist destination and development following the opening of Marsa Alam International Airport in 2001.

Marsa Alam is situated near the Tropic of Cancer where the Arabian Desert meets the Red Sea, and it has the appearance of a tropical paradise with its palm trees, mangroves and sea coasts fringed with barrier coral reefs. It has already gained a strong reputation amongst scuba divers due to its numerous and unspoilt diving sites both along the coast and offshore. Sightings of spinner dolphins, dugongs and hammerhead sharks are a frequent occurrence for those who venture into its waters.

Marsa Alam also has some inland attractions, such as the Emerald Mines and the Temple of Seti I at Khanais.


Dahab is a small town situated on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Formerly a Bedouin fishing village, located approximately 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab is considered to be one of the Sinai's most treasured diving destinations. Following the Six Day War, the town was occupied by Israel and is known in Hebrew as Di-Zahav, a place mentioned in the Bible as one of the stations for the Israelites during the Exodus from Egypt. The Sinai Peninsula was restored to Egyptian rule in the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in 1982. The arrival of international hotel chains and the establishment of other ancillary facilities has since made the town a popular destination with tourists. Dahab is served by Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport.