Diving Dahab

stretch of Dahab

Our destination after Cairo was a seaside town, called Dahab, for some solitude away from the truck, rest and relaxation. Dahab is a chilled out town on the Red Sea, catering to backpackers and holiday goers. There are so many tourists here that in spite of it being Ramadan, the restaurants and shops are all still mostly open. The restaurants line the shore, where you can relax on oversized cushions, sip a cool beverage, dine on fresh seafood and smoke a shisha. Dahab is notorious for it’s top-notch snorkeling and diving. Our decision to not dive with Mike and Sarah in Thailand has been eating away at us ever since we said our goodbyes. But since we can now reasonably budget for the last couple months of our travels, we were able to scrounge up the funds to take our PADI Open Water Course in Dahab to become certified scuba divers.

There are over 50 dive schools in Dahab, so choosing can be a bit daunting. We did a little bit of research and decided to sign up with a small dive centre called ‘Sea Dancer’. After speaking with the manager Steve and with Paul, who would be our instructor, we were confident we’d be in good hands. Paul had oodles of diving, and life, experience to pass on to us and Mark and I would be the only two students in his class. We signed up to start the very next day.

The course is structured so that you have five confined dives, where you practice skills like taking your mask off underwater and swimming with a compass, and four open water dives, where you practice more skills and get to swim around a bit too. Both of our confined dives and our open water dives actually took place in open water, the Red Sea, which was great because we got to see even more fishies. Most people start learning scuba in a swimming pool. In addition to the dives, we also had to read a thick manual, upon which we were quizzed daily. And we have to watch a super cheesy educational video repeating all the things we read in the manual.

Even though I was prepared before entering the water for the first time, I still slightly panicked. It’s such a strange sensation. As excited as I was to become an underwater explorer, my instincts were telling me I was crazy. We humans have spent millions of years evolving from sea to land, and now I’m just going to throw myself back in there to try and breathe underwater? I was determined to try. After the end of the first session, I had consumed over 40 bar more air than Mark. That’s a lot considering there’s only 200 bar in a tank to begin with, and I’m much smaller than Mark. The number one rule in scuba is to breathe slowly and to relax. I was not relaxed. After the first morning, I felt shaky and hesitant to even get back in the water. Whereas Mark was a natural and couldn’t wait to get back in the water.

I stuck it out, however, and got better and better with each successive dive. Until finally, on our last dive, our oxygen consumption levels were exactly the same and we stayed underwater for 56 minutes. As I started to relax underwater I also started to look around and appreciate my surroundings. We were diving amongst columns of dazzling coral teeming with fishies. The fish were absolutely fantastic! The variety was outstanding. We saw lion fish, scorpion fish, angel fish, butterfly fish, trigger fish, parrot fish, clown fish, all sorts of puffer fish, barracuda, grouper, snapper, surgeon fish and octopus, to name just a few. It’s hard to believe that all this rich life exists in the Red Sea whereby in contrast, barely a blade of grass can grow in the dry desert and crumbling mountains surrounding it. The diversity of the dive sites and the sea life you see here will be very difficult to top.

Needless to say, by the end of the course, I loved scuba diving and so did Mark. I do not love the gear however, which makes me feel like I’m an astronaut or a Ghostbuster. But it’s worth it. I may not be exploring outerspace, but I do feel like I’m exploring places not many people get to go, which definitely has its appeal. To quote my scuba manual:
“Now that I’m PADI certified, I can go places, meet people and do things.” I love this quote. Perhaps they should have added ‘underwater’ to the end of that sentence.

Scenes from Dahab:
Mark hard at work writing a blog post.

writing a blog is hard work

Cats rule Dahab.

kitties in dahab

Sheesh-a!

sheeshas for sale

Comments

    Love the quote. I can picture you at a party, meeting people and doing things with your diving gear. You did it! Woo!

    I’m so proud of you Meghan for getting over your fear of diving – that’s my GIRL! What a lovely experience to be up close and personal with the fish. You did not mention seeing any sharks – was that on purpose??? xxxooo

    Congrats you two! I’m so glad you enjoyed your underwater experience. No doubt you’ll be able to put it to good use living on the West coast. Fun!

    We actually didn’t see any sharks. But I don’t think I’d be overly afraid. There are mostly reef sharks in the area. We snorkeled with them in Thailand and it wasn’t so bad. I was concentrating so much on my breathing underwater that I didn’t have time to be scared of any fishes. I was scared enough of the breathing. Ha!

  1. Bruce The Moose

  2. M&M
    Way to go Meg – getting over the fear. Breathing easier. The water must be so clear and warm. Love to see some pics of the fish and coral…and you in your gear..
    Love Dad

    Thanks dad. Unfortunately we don’t have any shots of us in our cumbersome scuba gear. Nor do we have any underwater :( Need an underwater camera for that!

    So cool, good for you guys. I can imagine I’d be the same as you Meg, the breathing part. The underwater world freaks me out a bit, even snorkeling gets me, I guess being PADI certified could change all that tho, meeting people, going places, and seeing things…wowie! I liked the comparison of the rich life underwater to the dry land. Sebastian must be right, that darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter, under the sea!

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