Diving in the Red Sea: What's the Difference to Diving in South East Asia?

It just made sense to me to make the trip happen. I was headed for Egypt in March and Red Sea was just a short flight away from Cairo. It was to be the furthest place I would have dived from Malaysia. 

After my grand trip to around Egypt (read my post on How Much to Tip in Egypt), I flew into Sharm el Sheikh and then arranged a driver to pick me up from the airport and drove me to Dahab (main reason for this visit). The journey was filled with sand stones hills on both side of the expressway, it was a rather spectacular sight to behold. 

Dahab was a small beach town filled with predominantly diving visitors and businesses that centered around such tourists: dive centres, inns, beach side restaurants, mini markets, etc. It was the only town in the entire Egypt that I felt comfortable travelling in. People were friendly, honest and helpful; not at all qualities you'd find common in the rest of Egypt. Some locals debated this was the real Egypt. Can it be real Egypt when it's such a minority? Or would it be what real Egypt would have been like if not for the corruptions, the financial instability and being poverty ridden? 

I spent the first two days exploring my way around town, checking in to a fancy boutique hotel slightly outside of town (which I later regretted). I checked out two days later and checked into a Dahab Divers (dive centre + hotel) that had a fairly good review online. It was the best decision I made on the trip. I met a cat which I named Muffin and we had an instant bond the first moment we met. If I didn't know better, Muffin was the defining reason I chose Dahab Divers over all the others. 

She responded to her new name after two days with me. 
Wasn't she precious? 
(Muffin would come to my room to chill with me)

Diving in the Red Sea was very different to diving in tropical waters. I'll list them down in point forms: 
  1. Firstly, it's a lot colder. In March it ranges around 21-22 degree celsius (1-2 celsius colder in winter and 2-4 celsius warmer in summer) which meant a thick 7mm wet suit is needed. And because of that, heavier weight belt was needed. 
  2. Which came to the second point: Weight. You need more than twice the weight on your weight belt when you dive. I was doing 2-4kg in SEA, in the Red Sea I was doing 8-10kg. 
  3. Salty. 7mm wetsuit wasn't the only factor that contributed to a heavier weight belt. The Red Sea is saltier too. Which made sinking more difficult. Hence the added weight. 
  4. Buoyancy. With such heavy weights on you, once you pass 12m depth, you starts sinking really fast. Which meant you need to buck up on your buoyancy control. Work those inflator and deflator!
  5. Shittier Equipment. Whether you're going for the fancier hotels, mid-range, or budget stays. The gears you will be using/renting here are generally crappier (I dived in Egypt but the surrounding Red Sea countries pretty much share the same culture and mindset). The gears are pretty worn out and unless absolutely need to, they don't replace their gears. It's not uncommon you get a leak in your BCD, wet suit and booties with holes, or a faulty flipper. 

Aside from that, you get pretty much the same thing under water. The corals are more abundant when present, if you ever make it to The Island (dive spot) you get a forest maze of really gorgeous coral formations, prettier and very different from the ones in Bunaken, Redang or Sipadan, but only if you dive on a good visibility day, which isn't common. 

The underwater archipelago in the Gulf of Aqaba is vastly varied, you get a whole lot in a small area. In the same day, you get to dive in canyons, small caves, drift through coral reefs and hover above a sink hole in the sea (will blog about this one in the next post).

Some of my more memorable dive spots were all done in Dahab (I also did Ras Mohammed in Sharm El Sheikh but that didn't impress me much), below are some dive sites I highly recommend. 

The Canyon. 
This was a fun dive as you swim in, out and around narrow holes on the reef wall. 

The Islands. 
One of the most beautiful coral formations I've seen in all my dives. 
But make sure you catch it on a good visibility day. 

Blue Hole. 
Last but not least, the legendary sink hole. 


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