Marsa Alam Holiday – Part One
Day 1 – Marsa Alam Trip 6/2/13
As usual the airport meet went without a hitch, with the usual exception of Pavel arriving 40 mins later than the pre-determined time.
Andrew sneaked off to the Champagne and Fish bar for some 8am refreshments while most other people headed to the Red Lion for a full English and a pint of lager – you can take the Brits out of Britain….!
On the plane Andrew and Andy continued with some in flight refreshment with several units of vodka and orange ending up over Andy’s lap.
After the 5 hour flight we arrived in Marsa Alam, collected our bags and made the 10 minute coach trip to the Resta Grand. There were definitely a few ;ooos’ as we pulled up outside the hotel as the hotel lives up to its name when up-lit at night, ‘Grand’.
We made our way from reception in the golf buggys to quickly drop off our bags in our rooms to go back to the bar for a quick drink. The crew form Emperor Divers with whom we are diving with for the week kindly met us and briefed us on the week planned week ahead.
The majority of the party then went for some well-needed food from the restaurant followed by a quick night cap before heading to off to their rooms. In the morning it appeared that Andy, Andreas, Raj and a few other nameless individuals managed to keep going until the bar shut and waded in to the hot dogs kindly provided by their waiter.
Day 2 – 7th Feb 13
We all met for breakfast to line our stomachs for the 1.5 hour boat ride to our dive site for the day. The bleary eyes soon disappeared when the boat set sail and we were hit by the fresh cool breeze.
Our first dive site of the day was Marsa Morena, meaning ‘Eel’ in Arabic. As we are fairly large group this year (28 of us)we had 2 boats ‘Isa and Amy’ which were moored next to each other, and provided some good banter throughout the day. Isa was the training boat and for those who wanted to take it a little easier. Amy was for the more experienced divers who were guided by the Emperor team. Ian took Sarah for her first open water dive and she wasn’t disappointed by what lay beneath the waves. There were lots hundreds of Antheas, chocolate drops and even a small family of squid. I took Natalie and Jess off for their Nitrox dive as part of their course while others followed their guide to see the pristine coral that makes this part of the Red Sea so special.
After a 40 minute dive we came to the surface for some lunch and start the tanning procedure. At 2.30pm we moved from the North reef to the southern part, a wise move! After lunch Sarah’s sea-sick tablets had worn off so she decided to sleep through the rest of the day. So the rest of ‘Amy’ all went down together. After a 5 minute swim across the sand bank looking for the garden eels we made it to the stunning coral reef. It didn’t take long before our guide ‘Mad’ pointed out a scorpion fish, it was so well camouflaged that I still think that half the group couldn’t see it. After exploring some more of the nooks and crannies in the coral we stumbled upon a large green Turtle munching on some soft corals. Having spent about 5 minutes chilling with it, we checked our air gauges which signalled the point to turn around and make our way back to the boat.
It was a little bit choppy on the way back to the marina which was quite good fun for those who don’t suffer from motion sickness. We arrived back at the hotel with red faces courtesy of the sun and big smiles, went for showers and some food before a cheeky beer or two and an apple and lemon shisha.
The “adults” went to bed around 10.30pm while Zoe, Andy and Andrew stayed up propping up the bar drinking the barmans’ ‘special pink drink’.
Day 3 – 9th February 13
Everyone made to breakfast on time and headed back to the marina to meet our boats. Andreas informs me that Andy didn’t make it back to the room until 3am, it appears that a romance may be blossoming between him and Zoe – I will keep you informed on how this progresses throughout the week.
A giant stride off Amy and we were soon under way on the first dive of the day. We followed the reef wall to our right. Myself, Zoe and Natalie descended to 27m for the deep dive as part of their Advanced Open Water course. First they saw how the colour red disappears at depth, we compared depth gauges and computers before an underwater game of rock, paper scissors to test for narcosis. There wasn’t a clear winner and lots of bubbles from the laughter, so we knocked it on the head and headed back up the reef to join the others. ’Murphys’ laws typically meant that we missed the Eagle Ray that glided by the others.
Probably some of the best coral in the world, bright purple broccoli, brain and lots of other hard corals make this area truly rainbowesque. This time we saw a few deadly scorpion fish looking for prey on the sandy bottom (Melvin would have loved it!) and Ian and Sarah spotted an Octopus – which made Jess just slightly frustrated.
Congratulations to Sarah who passed her open water course with Ian.
Ian, Zoe and Debbie went off with Ian to carry out some navigation and buoyancy skills. We descended once again and were immediately welcomed a large green turtle right beneath our fins. I buddied up with the newly qualified Sarah while Dave and Jenny made off in to the blue.
We were all looking around for our first encounter with Dennis the Dugong however he was nowhere to be seen, apparently there is a much better chance to find him in a couple of days.
No matter we still found it compelling with the setting sun twinkling over the coral pinnacles. Myself and Sarah let the group go as we slowly meandered our way along the reef wall. As Sarah signalled that she had 70 bar we came across a large green turtle who was buddies up with a large Remora stuck to its back. After a few underwater holiday snaps later we slowly made our way to 5m where we finished our safety stop before being collected by the zodiac.
As I try and upload this blog update via receptions’ dodgy wi-fi signal, half of the gang have gone for a night dive. Myself, I prefer a cold beer watching the golden setting sun.