The Red Sea is home to the
best diving in the world. For those working in Jeddah,
the opportunity to enjoy this bounty is right on your doorsteps.
After diving and "working" in Thailand for about a year, I decided I needed a change of scenery. A roundabout trip from Thailand to Canada brought
me to Dahab, Egypt, a small diving destination on the
western coast of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea. It was
definitely a change of scenery! I went from a verdant
tropical island to a small desert town. The surrounding
landscape was stark and coloured primarily with variations
of brown, brown, and brown. Until you descended into the
sparkling blue waters of the Red Sea.
Topside may have been a monochromatic palate of browns, but
the undersea landscape was a profusion of colour. There were
red, yellow, and purple soft corals, playful orange and
white clown fish, multicoloured parrot fish, elegant lion
fish with bright orange and red fluttery "manes", quick-to-
hide octopi, yellow butterfly fish, vivid blue surgeon fish,
tiny Christmas tree worms (they really look like miniature
Christmas trees) and pearly grey dolphins.
But even the dive sites that weren't overly colourful
amazed. There were all sorts of weird and wonderful things
to see. Black-and-white banded sea snakes that are hugely
poisonous but have such tiny mouths that the only place they
can bite you is on the webbings between your fingers. Pale
sand-coloured garden eels live in holes that go straight
down into the sand; they extend out of their homes and move
gently with the movement of the water (picture a field of
wheat on a breezy day), but drop quickly down into their
hole when something (e.g. a diver) comes swimming along. And
the fascinatingly deadly stonefish: it lays perfectly still
and blends completely into its surroundings (like a stone)
until something tasty unknowingly swims by and - whoosh! -
it gets sucked into the stone fish's mouth.
I have about 600 dives in my logbook. I've dived in the Gulf
of Thailand, the Andaman Sea, the South Pacific, the Pacific
Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean. But my dives in the Red Sea …
those are the ones I remember the most.
So if you go to Saudi Arabia, be sure to get take advantage
of your proximity to the Red Sea.