One of the highlights of my two months in the Middle East was without doubt the unbelievable diving I did in in Aqaba, southern Jordan, and Dahab, Sinai.
After a wonderful two weeks exploring Lebanon, Jenstar and I flew back to Amman and made our way down to Aqaba for a further two awesome dives. Marine life this time included heaps of puffer fish, baby eels, parrot fish (the gorgeous purple and green fish that is one of our favorites), clown fish (think Nemo), angel fish and some stunning coral. It was fun being back in Aqaba too and we loved lunch at our regular local jaunt – hummus, arabic salad, tehina salad, falafel and heaps of pita bread for US4$.
From there we ferried it to Sinai and made our way to Dahab, a chilled town with heaps of restaurants along the water. It’s a place where one does very little really aside from diving and it’s a good spot to chill out for a bit. As an aside, as a Saffer, you DO need a visa for Sinai (disregard everything else you read and hear). Having been to Egypt before, I was aware that one needed a visa but I’d heard that Sinai was different. Stupidly, I failed to confirm this with the embassy so after having been stamped out of Jordan and getting onto the ferry, we were escorted off! Long story short – exit stamps cancelled, Jazza takes Jenstar out for a gorgeous Italian meal to apologize and some 24 hrs later, this time with the required visa in hand, we boarded the ferry to Nuweiba and then made our way to Dahab.
The five dives we did here were simply spectacular. I can’t really describe all the fish we saw except to say that it was unreal. Some of the colours we saw were the brightest I’ve ever seen with this one tiny purple fish encapsulating what purple should look like. Our first day of diving was at Lighthouse Point and The Islands where marine life included heaps of gorgeous parrot fish, stunning blue spotted stingrays, big and small eels, fierce lion fish, beautiful angelfish, cool looking trumpet fish, unicorn fish and dottybacks. The coral of all shapes and sizes was some of the best and brightest I’ve ever seen. The spot was hit by an earthquake some 10 years ago so there were fingers of coral on their side, which was interesting to see.
Our second day of diving took us to the ‘Canyon’ site where we dropped into this wicked canyon, and then to Bells/Blue Hole. On this dive you enter through an opening between two rocks and drop straight down to 27 m. Again, I can’t describe all the amazing fish we saw but I do want to mention having our teeth cleaned by cleaner fish, which was great fun!! I also must mention the trumpet fish we saw reverse perfectly along a straight line, kind of alley dock back into the wall we were floating across and then head out in the deep blue abyss. I’d never really seen a fish go backwards!
To end things off, we did an unbelievable fluorescent night dive. In addition to a normal white light torch, you have this fluoro light and these yellow tinted glasses that you wear over your mask. Only a handful of people have this equipment and it just so happened that one of the instructors at our dive shop was one such person. With this light and these glasses, everything glows. The coral glows colours you don’t see with just a normal light while the eyes and scales of many fish also light up. Scientists think it’s how fish see each other at night and it was incredible to see everything “come alive” with this light.
Aside from spending the majority of time under the water, we did trek up Mt Sinai early one morning to enjoy sunrise at the spot where Moses received those commandments some time back.
And then after a week that went too quickly, we returned to Israel to catch up with now old friends in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It was an amazing way to end what was an unbelievable two months in a region I had no intention of visiting on this trip.