Diving the clear blue of the Red Sea.

Aqaba Travel Blog

 › entry 121 of 251 › view all entries
Breakfast at the Movenpick.
This morning we ate breakfast at the Movenpick’s fantastic buffet, then headed over to Dive Aqaba, just down the street. We had booked ourselves on an all-day dive trip in the Red Sea. Very exciting!

We walked in to Dive Aqaba and I immediately felt welcomed and comfortable. It felt good to be in the familiar surroundings of a dive shop and I was so excited to go diving! The owner, Ashraf, is an outgoing Jordanian (who calls everyone “mate”), and the crew appears to be a mix of Jordanians, Brits, and, I assume, some Aussies. (I guess I didn’t actually meet any Aussies, but I assume there are some there…no dive center would be complete without ‘em. :^)

We went through the equipment selection and I was pleased to see that everything was newer and well maintained.
Steve suits up at Dive Aqaba.
I ended up with a wet suit that actually fit me just as well as the one I have at home (rare in rental land!), and a really cool new Mare’s BCD.  

We sat around awhile as people slowly filtered in. After a bit, Chris from UK walked a few of us down to the boat. The boat had an interesting configuration, and wasn’t very well suited for a large group. The tank area was quite small, while the dry cabin was very large. There was a nice sun deck on top, partially canopied.

We waited. And waited. Finally some others showed up. Then the food came and was loaded on board. Then we waited some more. Finally, 90 minutes after the planned departure time, we were off. (Apparently the crew and several of the clients had had a late night, hence the slow movement in the morning).
The Cedar Pride. Photo by Ron Abbotson (taken from the Internet).
The water was a beautiful dark blue color, and super clear. It was a hot, sunny day, so it felt great to be on a boat. It felt even better to be on a DIVE boat!  

Our first site was a wreck called Cedar Pride. We were paired up with Divemaster April from Devon, who earlier had encouraged us to don extra weights due to the high salinity in the water. On her advice, I jumped in with an astounding 8kg (I couldn’t quite figure out the math at the time, but that’s 17.5 pounds! That is a ridiculous amount of weight. In Thailand just last month I was using 8 lbs). My weights couldn’t be easily subtracted from the belt, so I just filled up my BCD and dealt with it.

Despite my battle for buoyancy, this was a top-notch dive.
Steve chills on board.
The wreck was on its side and perfectly visible. Such clear water! The light was excellent and the colors were vibrant even way down at 25 meters, so it actually felt and looked like a shallow dive. And there was none of the heavy current I have found at other wrecks. There was a nice, easy swim thru. Steve really loved this dive too… this was without question our favorite wreck dive, ever.    

We surfaced, and then some other divers went down for resort dives and check outs. I guess this is how they deal with the small tank area -- staggered entries.

It was noon, and my stomach was starting to remind me that it had been many hours since breakfast. We all waited hopefully for lunch. Then we waited more. At 1:00 it seemed clear they didn’t plan to feed us until after the second dive.
Either feed me or put me in the water!
What’s more, there were no snacks on board. Dive boats always have fruit or something on board to snack on between dives, and this was an expensive trip (90JD per person including rental), so I think we deserved a banana or two. But, no.

During the wait, we chatted with some of the other divers. It was a diverse crowd, with an Israeli (traveling on an American passport), three Spaniards, several Jordanians, a Romanian, some Brits, and some others whose origin I didn’t identify. We ended up talking with one couple (he from UK, she from Ireland) for most of the time. He was a fellow pilot, and one of those guys with a ready supply of fascinating stories about his life and travels. We were like children at his feet… “tell us another story, please!” It made for a nice surface interval, despite the hunger pangs.
Life at Japanese Gardens. Photo by Brian McMorrow (taken fro the Inernet).

The second dive wasn’t until after 2pm. It was all very disorganized, which I was beginning to think is this group’s hallmark. There was no clear “boss” on board, so they kvetched about who would go where and when. It seemed like none of the Divemasters wanted to go diving! (Maybe the plan was to starve us all so they wouldn’t have to bother?) One of the guides was a particularly big asshole, and I really hoped we wouldn’t get stuck with him. I was getting pretty cranky with the delays and their complete lack of organization.   

We finally jumped in, and five of went off to the Japanese Garden with April. I had removed a good amount of weight this time, so things were better on that front. It was a nice coral dive, with clear (but pretty chilly) water and bright, delicate corals.
The highly anticipated lunch.
It was very pretty… a really nice dive. And the whole group was good with their air, so we had a long dive and still we all came up with air to spare.

They finally fed us after 3pm. It was a pretty nice spread, with two starchy vegetarian options for me. I took a small plate of food, and was still hungry. But when I went back for more, they had taken it down already -- that’s about the only thing they were able to do promptly all day. Figures!  

Back on dry land, we met up later that evening with Turlough and Aioffa (the couple I mentioned earlier) in the hotel bar. The two of them were super smart, sparkling conversationalists, and very good company. After a couple hours there, during which I sloooowly drank two small glasses of wine, we headed over to Dive Aqaba for a BBQ.
Turlough, Aoilla, and Ashraf at Dive Aqaba.
  Of course they were getting a late start on things. It seems Dive Aqaba was determined to starve me today! My stomach felt terrible (again), perhaps from the wine I had had, so I only lasted until 10:30 or so… and they still hadn’t put anything on the grill at that time. Steve and I reluctantly said goodbye to our interesting companions, and went back to the hotel where I feel asleep in about 5 seconds.

The final verdict on the day is: Diving the Red Sea is FANTASTIC. Diving with Dive Aqaba was a bit of an exercise in frustration for someone who likes things to move efficiently and punctually. Maybe it was just an off day for them…I’d like to think that, since Ashraf is a genuinely warm and wonderful guy. But if I had to do it again, I would probably go with another operator.

cmgervais says:
Hi - thanks for the tip. We stayed at the Renaissance. It wasn't my favorite place but... at least there were no bed bugs!! YIKES!
Posted on: Jul 11, 2008
LolaArizona says:
Beware of the rooms at the 5-star David Intercontinental Hotel, Tel Aviv ... my husband just came back from one night there and he's COVERED in BED BUG BITES ... thousands of them. He's a Boing 777 pilot for a American-based commercial airline and the David is the crew hotel. When he checked out yesterday he tried to get the front desk to at least acknowledge the situation (kind of hard to ignore hundreds of bites visible on his arms and neck) but they totally ignored it. We've now emailed hotel management as well as Intercontinental Hotels management and his own employer. Bed Bugs are awful and can invade your luggage leading you to carry them home. Get educated and stay safe! And at least until the David IC Tel Aviv addresses this issue ... BE CAREFUL if you're staying there. Lola Arizona

Posted on: Jul 11, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Breakfast at the Movenpick.
Breakfast at the Movenpick.
Steve suits up at Dive Aqaba.
Steve suits up at Dive Aqaba.
The Cedar Pride. Photo by Ron Abbo…
The Cedar Pride. Photo by Ron Abb…
Steve chills on board.
Steve chills on board.
Either feed me or put me in the wa…
Either feed me or put me in the w…
Life at Japanese Gardens. Photo by…
Life at Japanese Gardens. Photo b…
The highly anticipated lunch.
The highly anticipated lunch.
Turlough, Aoilla, and Ashraf at Di…
Turlough, Aoilla, and Ashraf at D…
The dive sites of Jordan.
The dive sites of Jordan.
Surface interval.
Surface interval.
photo by: vances