Scuba diving has been on my living list for quite a while. I never thought I’d cross it off soon and definitely did not think I’d do so in Egypt. But when Mark and I found ourselves in Sharm el Sheikh, a coastal city along the Red Sea, we knew it was the perfect opportunity to get our flippers wet for the first time.
Getting to Sharm el Sheikh from Cairo
To get to Sharm el Sheikh, we booked an 11 pm flight from Cairo via Egypt Air. We arrived about an hour and a half later to a city that was a complete contrast to Cairo, where we’d been for the past week. Sharm el Sheikh was a breath of fresh air. Completely devoid of Cairo’s traffic and noise, I knew we were going to love our stay here.
My First Snorkeling Experience…
The hotel we opted to stay in was situated on the beach at Na’ama Bay’s entrance. This was the site we went snorkelling for the first time and what an experience that was! Since
I can’t swim I’m not a very good swimmer, jumping into the Red Sea did not seem like a great idea and I was extremely terrified to do so at first, even though I was wearing a life jacket.
Can Non-Swimmers Go Snorkeling?
While snorkelling does require a good level of swimming skills, it is possible to go for it without knowing how to swim. I find that having someone who can swim close by is a major key to enjoying the experience. Just don’t try to drown them, like I almost did with Mark. (I freaked out once when the water got into my snorkel gear).
The experience of being underwater, admiring the beautiful coral reefs and fish was priceless. After my brief panic episode, I got a bit more comfortable. Even more so after I changed my gear to a full face mask and took my flippers off.
Scuba Diving in the Red Sea
On our second day in Sharm, we decided to take our underwater adventures further by going scuba diving in Tiran Island. We booked a tour with ‘Mister Diver’, a local operator, got an instructor assigned to us and soon we were off to board a boat to the dive site.
We were welcomed by a pod of wild dolphins en route the first dive site. Everyone was so excited to see them. The dolphins swam very close to the boat too. The day was definitely starting on a good note.
Soon afterwards, it was time to get into the water. The professional divers went in first, while we had the option to either snorkel or stay on the boat. After my experience snorkelling at the hotel, I was leaning towards the latter. But I went in – after much convincing. It was fun but I decided to remain on the boat for other stops!
The second dive site was our chance to get off the boat and go deeper into the water. I almost bailed out completely, but again, after a bit of reassurance from our excellent instructor and Mark, I went for it.
Scuba diving was amazing! It was so much easier than snorkelling. I thought that the reverse would be the case but it wasn’t (in my experience). I also thought I would struggle with the underwater breathing apparatus, but I was absolutely fine. I am now looking for the next opportunity to go scuba diving again!
If you’re willing to try either snorkelling or scuba diving for the first time, here are some tips for you;
Tips for First Time Snorkelers/Scuba Divers
- Snorkelling: Wear a life jacket if you can’t really swim (well)
- Having someone who can swim close by is a major key to enjoying the experience
- If available, wear a full-face snorkel mask. It makes breathing underwater so much easier.
- Scuba Diving: Go with a professional guide/company.
- Pay attention to the safety briefing, hand signals, etc…
- It is advisable not to fly immediately after a dive. Some experts recommend waiting up to 24 hrs before you do so. We flew out the next day after our dive BUT we didn’t go too deep into the sea for that to be a problem.
Overall, our experience in Sharm el Sheikh was a wonderful introduction to the world under the sea. It’s one I would recommend whether you can swim or not.