People ask me why I go diving in Sharm el Sheikh twice a year. Here are three good reasons to go diving in Sharm:
- It is a relatively short flight (5 hours) to get to an area that is warm all year around and the closest place to the UK with coral reefs.
- Most of the dive sites are healthy with beautiful corals and a wide variety of colourful fish.
- It is relatively cheap.
I just came back from my 10th or 11th trip to Sharm. I normally go for two weeks twice a year, but this time I went for three weeks. My partner was going to finish his Dive Master the first two weeks with one week of fun diving with me. Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan.
I was feeling slightly under the weather the day we left the UK and I ended up with a bout of sinusitis. I managed to complete my first (and 200th) dive on the first day with no problems. However, when attempting my second dive of the day, I felt stabbing pains around my eyes at three meters and had to come back to the surface. Not good! I attempted to dive on the second day, but couldn’t get past a meter, so the rest of that day was spent sleeping on the boat and the next couple of days were spent by the pool. A hard life you may think, but if you have purchased a 15 day dive package over three weeks, it kills you to think of losing any diving days. I spent my days by the pool (in the shade), reading a book, and napping, while my partner and friends were out on the boat diving and enjoying themselves. By the time I was feeling better, my partner was feeling worse and got what I had. He had to put off his Dive Master course and fun diving as he wasn’t able to clear his sinuses. The poor soul is sitting here next to me still all blocked up! At least he managed to get a week of diving in before it all went pear-shaped.
So, what is a soul to do in a diver’s paradise when they can’t do any diving? Fuck all really. How much time can you spend surfing the net, sunbathing, going to the gym, sleeping, reading, drinking, eating, etc? I can manage two days tops. My partner had to endure about two weeks. We are action people, which is why we go diving. We get up early to go diving. You can sleep on the boat in between dives. There is not a lot to do in Sharm. There is no culture. It is a resort, not a town. There was nothing there when people first started diving in that part of The Red Sea. Development for tourism really didn’t take off until the early 80’s. The place is full of hotels, some of which will never be completed.
When you have paid for and organised your holiday around diving, it can go against the grain to spend any more money on excursions that don’t live up to the hype. Shopping for cheap tat is also not an option. There is nothing that we want to buy as we really don’t need anything. All that was left to do was to suck it up and accept the situation as best as we could. I had a day off after my first full week of diving in order to keep my buddy company. I took the opportunity to have my legs sugared! It killed an hour. The rest of the time we hung out by the pool and took advantage of the all-inclusive. Meaning: we started drinking at 11am.
There is nothing to see and nothing to do. How people who live there can say they are living the dream is beyond my comprehension. The last few years, most of what I have heard is negativity and a lot of complaining. If living in the sun and diving every day is your dream, great! However, I can think of better places to do it, where you can actually do things and get a bit of culture to boot. A few people I know that have left to go back to the UK say that the only things they miss about Sharm is the diving, the weather, and their friends. Nothing else. I think that sums things up.
I realise that my frustration about Sharm probably has more to do with the fact that I have been going to the same place for too long and twice a year. If I only went for a week once a year, I might not feel the same way. I personally like more variety in my life as I feel that there are so many places to visit and things to do. I have dived most of the dive sites at Sharm, and although you can do the same dive site twice and it will be different each time, it can get monotonous. If anything, this trip has taught me that I need to try something else and go somewhere different. I doubt that diving in Marsa Alam or El Ghouna is going to offer anything on the culture front, but at least the dive sites won’t be so familiar to me. I might even consider doing a Live-aboard in the future.
Being ill on this trip has showed me that I need to re-think my holidays in order to get more out of them in case things don’t go according to plan. Diving will still be on the agenda, but it will be a long time before I go back to Sharm again. I can’t say the same for my partner as he will now have to go out again in May to complete his Dive Master course and then go straight in to do the Instructor’s course. It can be a tough life for some, eh?