Dahab - the Blue Hole

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Thursday, March 2, 2006

Just when I said that everything was fine and cheery in Dahab, the weather changed. Nothing too serious, but onshore winds arose out of the Gulf of Aqaba and started whipping the Egyptian coast. Waves built up, restaurant furniture was washed out to sea (and subsequently floated by as you were having breakfast) and generally it was no longer as pleasant as it had been. I should learn to keep my big mouth shut.

But we still went diving. Our destination was two of Dahab's premier deep dive sites - 'The Canyon' and 'Blue Hole'. It would be the final part of my informal test to see if I could cope down at Ras Mohammed and the Thistlegorm wreck, and at depths of 30 metres you wouldn't be affected by surface conditions too much anyway.

First stop was The Canyon which was a swim against the current until you reached an underwater canyon. You then descend another 10 metres to the canyon floor before exiting via a different entrance and swimming back to shore. Not much really to see but my deepest dive to date, no problems and plenty of air left at the end. I didn't take my camera.

After lunch the Blue Hole was incredible - my favourite dive ever. It doesn't look like much as you approach it by jeep but the underwater topography makes for an awesome experience as the sea floor drops abruptly away from the coastline to depths of up to 100 metres. Coral and fish swarm over the resulting cliff faces making a very unusual but immensely beautiful environment indeed. Exhilarating would be a good way to describe the results.

You start at a place called Bells (named from tanks bumping against the rocks as people getting in sounds much like church bells) and quickly descend one at a time to a depth of 28 metres through a very narrow funnel in the cliff face. Once buoyancy is sorted you are ready to drift along the wall for the next half a hour. Magic! There is no sea floor visible below (it's about 60-80 metres depth here) and the massive cliff just keeps going and going. You just glide by and enjoy the show.

Millions of tiny schooling fish teem by and bigger guys like Trevally also hunt the waters. A friendly Moray Eel didn't mind posing for a few photos and the couple of Lionfish we saw weren't particularly perturbed by our presence either. You just had to be quite careful to avoid overhanging rocks and corals as you continued along the face (especially when trying get close to take photos).

There was some nice coral around too including a variety of less common soft corals. Look out for a 10m square grove of beautiful round, flat-leaved stuff in particular. Unfortunately I also saw a Crown of Thorns starfish (above left) which means more of this will be gone in years to come.

When you get to the end of Bells you swim over a saddle and into the Blue Hole itself - a 100 metre deep, coral-lined pot formed in the coastline that you swim over to reach shore. Paddling across it resembles what space would be like - weightless and with nothing around or under you. Great feeling unless you suffer vertigo!

So a great day was had by all - everyone raved about the Bells wall despite the trudge to get there and choppy seas getting in and out. Cheers to Mohammed our dive guide for taking us to such an awesome place. Woohoo!

Words from the Wise #72

"Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors."
African Proverb
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