Has to be said that I’m no diver, not even a snorkeler and barely a swimmer. I can probably swim 100 meters maximum. Maybe further if I had a 6 pack before entering the water.
Simply, I like the waves and to paddle about at a (tropical) beach – but that’s usually about it.
Yet, when special places require it – I grab a mask and flippers and go for it.
Places like the Red Sea coast of Egypt with its alluring Blue Hole at Dahab.
To quote Wikipedia: The Blue Hole is a submarine sinkhole (a kind of cave) around 130 meters deep. There is a shallow opening around 6 meters deep, known as ‘the saddle’ – opening out to the sea, and a 26 m long tunnel, known as the arch. The hole itself and the surrounding area has an abundance of coral and reef fish.
It was very windy today – and waves came in and me being the poor swimmer, I donned a life vest for floatation which was great as I snorkeled around the sheer cliff-side of the hole. Amazing.
And across the center – not dark endless hole but soothing blanket of brilliant bright blue with beams of light.
It seemed more like floating towards a heavenly sky than looking towards the depths of a dark ocean. Very calming. Quite the opposite of what I expected.
Below me I could see divers sometimes – their exhaled air bubbles zipping up to me like crazed jellyfish.
Flipping along, floating, staring down at the wall of sea flower colors and schools of striped fish. Surreal. Calm.
The best sight for coral and fish was the right side of the saddle, near the open sea.
However, if you’re a diver the Blue Hole is to be respected …
The Blue Hole is notorious for the number of diving fatalities which have occurred there, earning it the sobriquet “World’s Most Dangerous Dive Site” and the nickname “The Diver’s Cemetery”. (Local divers think up to 200 diving fatalities; Egyptian authorities play down the statistics at around 40, since records began.)
Floating on the surface – there’s no issues. Beyond been blown away with strong winds today; my life vest will save me the puff and panic of the currents.
From experiences of snorkeling before in the Caribbean of Belize and the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, I found water always entered my mask. PROBLEM: Facial hair; it breaks the vacuum seal.
Today, for the first time since growing my goatee beard in Kenya in 1994 – I shaved it clean off, to solve this issue. (Some say use Vaseline to seal it but I wanted a total guarantee of hassle-free snorkeling). Done. Visibility perfect. No sea-water eyes.
I regard the Blue Hole experience as my best day of snorkeling yet.
[ PS: My goatee will be back within days; hate this soft, bare-chin – feels like a baby’s butt cheeks. Not a good look. ]
Dahab Blue Hole – Snorkeling Advice
GETTING THERE: Easy. Any hotel or agency can arrange this. More people per vehicle is cheaper. Go early morning.
COSTS: It will cost you less than $US10, including mask, snorkel, flippers. An arranged restaurant will look after your gear / valuables and prove safe and charge no extra fees. However, don’t tempt fate by taking passport and credit cards, etc. If you want a wet-suit top (can be cold winds) or a life-vest it’s about $4 extra.
FOOD + DRINKS: Available (but no beer!)
TIPS: Maybe wear a t-shirt if out awhile and apply tons of sunblock – baking hot, even in April. Yet, I managed to get sunburnt on my forehead. So watch the scrapping-off-effect of your sunblock when pulling-up your mask (which I did a lot, just to float about and wonder at sea and sky).
If you’re a poor swimmer and the sea is rough – use a life-vest for an amazing stress-free paddle.