Top 5 Red Sea liveaboard tips

Article
September 14. 2012.
A guide to make an unforgettable dive trip to Egypt.

The Egyptian Red Sea liveaboard trips are really special. The value for the money is incredible, you can join an all inclusive week long trip with 20-22 dives even for 600-700 euros (800-900 USD). The boats are huge (28-40 meters long) and the typical safari boats offer twin or double cabins with en-suite bath, toilet and A/C. Maybe you think a diver can't make a bad decision with prices like this so nearly doesn't matter which trip he chooses. But as a seasoned Red Sea traveler I can make this picture a bit more detailed so here come my advices. Maybe the first questions are: when, where, who?

Red Sea diving (Click for the gallery)

1. Many people use to say the Red Sea is an all year destination so doesn't matter when do you arrive. Well, the water isn't cold in any season but there are differences. In February in the north you can expect only 20-21 Celsius degrees which isn't comfortable in a 2 mm wetsuit if you plan 4 about hour long dives per day. The winds are stronger so taking on the wet diving suits isn't much fun. In August the water can be 29-30 degrees hot, some divers just pick up their tanks and submerge. If you prefer the lazy warm water dives, travel between June and October.

2. The Egyptian Red Sea means bigger area than you might think. From the very northern part of the Sinai to the Sudanese border the distance is about 800 kilometres. You would need at least two weeks to see the famous spots from north to south. So choose your route carefully. The highlights of the northern routes are the Ras Mohamed national park and the several wrecks, it's enough to mention the legendary Thistlegorm or Salem Express. There are southern routes to the pristine reefs and wonderful caverns around Marsa Alam. And there are special trips to the open water reefs like Brother Islands, St. John's, Daedalus, Zabargad- these are the places where you can expect pelagic animals like sharks and manta rays but only experienced divers will enjoy the dives at steep walls in strong currents. Most of the organizers will inform you about the route's highlights and you can choose based on your preferences.

Oceanic whitetip shark (Click for the gallery)

3. As I mentioned above there are plenty of boats of high standard. You'll be surprised the bigger, well equipped boats isn't really more expensive than the smaller ones. But the size doesn't matter. I've been to trips with an old wooden boat with common A/C and we had an awesome time. And I've had wonderful trips with modern ships as well where we enjoyed the spacious saloons, huge TV sets... Don't forget, 95 percent of the Egyptian liveaboard boats offer more comfort for less money than any other countries' vessels. It's much more important the group who you join. There are people who like to party every night and skip the early morning dives. Others are keen to do deep technical dives. If the majority of the divers are inexperienced they would go for the shallow easy spots where no one sees a shark. As an independent traveler feel free to ask the organizer about your possible buddies or contact and ask a friend from a forum who you trust and travel with him.

4. Liveaboard life is the real divers' dream. In Egypt you visit exciting wrecks, breathtaking walls, lively reefs- many fantastic moments during a single week. Between the dives the guests don't care too much about what they wear. You need to pack only a few t-shirts and bathing suits, and keep your valuable baggage space for spare items. A second mask, an extra fin strap, or maybe a simple reserve regulator will save your dive trip while a fancy dress won't. The boat won't go back to the shore until the last day of the trip, if you forget something you won't get it after leaving the harbor. Leave your hard suitcases home, the space is limited in the cabin- choose a soft bag.

Red Sea Wreck (Click for the gallery)

5. There are plenty of food on the all inclusive Egyptian dive boats (all of them are offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks as well), but don't eat too much and be careful to avoid diarrhea. The A/C in the cabins can be too cold and if you're unlucky and caught a cold you can finish diving on the second day of the trip. There are some local medicines for nausea and the diseases on the boats and the dive masters will kindly help you with them. Don't forget the insurance! Choose a recognized one like DAN. The most dangerous thing is drifting away from the dive boat in the open sea. There are boats who give an electronic signalling device (EPIRB) to every guests but I recommend to dive carefully and stay with the local dive masters who know all the places very well. For your own safety I recommend liveaboard diving only if you are skilled and experienced diver. To dive from the small RIB-s shouldn't be a problem. To swim against a current near a 700 meters deep wall or to dive with sharks shouldn't frighten you. Know your equipment and know your limits and be prepared for challenging conditions. The most important: it's your decision to dive or not to dive.

An Egyptian liveaboard holiday is a must for every adventurous diver. Sometimes the weather doesn't allow visiting specific places, sometimes you miss an extraordinary encounter but the Red Sea will compensate with its thousands of another underwater wonders.

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