Sean Chinn concludes his travels in Jordan with an overview of the diving highlights on offer in Aqaba.
Hopefully you have all read my article on diving the new C-130 Hercules dive site in Aqaba. If you haven’t then you can find it here: www.scubaverse.com/making-history-aqaba-scuttling-c-130-hercules/
As well as the Hercules site, Aqaba has a host of underwater delights on offer. In my opinion, Aqaba is a perfect destination for those new to diving who want to enjoy some nice relaxing easy dives to gain experience while being amazed at the colour and thriving fish life the coral reefs have to offer. It is also perfect for clubs from the UK or Europe to organise trips to and potentially use as a base to run courses; making use of the warmer waters and working with the local friendly dive centres for a great professional service.
A Wreck Specialty would be perfect on my personal favourite dive site of the trip, The Cedar Pride. This is a relatively shallow wreck at a max depth of 25m to the sea floor. With clear waters it really is a fun wreck to explore, with 32 years of coral growth creating stunning areas of colour and fish life. Many lionfish can be found hiding within the nooks and crannies. It is also easy to penetrate and find small schools of fish hiding inside using dark areas for protection. I only did the one dive there and was concentrating more on photographing the outside but would love to go back and explore more of the wreck.
Japanese Gardens and The Power Station were also extremely pleasant dive sites full of coral and fish life, providing lots of colour typical of the Red Sea. These are also sites where you were able to explore a little deeper if you wanted to, as they either slope to around 30m in the case of Japanese Gardens, or have a steep wall drop off like The Power Station. However, both also provide nice, easy shallow dives on the coral plateau for those willing to take their time and look for the little creatures that call the reef home. Sometimes taking your time can be the most fun as you’d be surprised at how much you miss whilst working along the reef and neglecting taking a closer look.
One of the major highlights for me was getting under the jetty of Berenice Beach Club. As I stated in my previous article, Sindbad Dive Club have their own jetty meaning all the dive sites are within easy reach of the club. What you should realise though is that you don’t need to get on the boat to have an amazing experience underwater. Grab a tank, or even just your mask, snorkel and fins, and jump in under the jetty and explore the house reef. The life under there is amazing and I decided on one surface interval to have a little snorkel and loved working my way through the piers, following the school of sardines that call the jetty home. Lionfish would creep into view as they came away from the camouflage of the pier and into the blue. I could have stayed there all day but I needed to save my camera battery for the dive on the Hercules in the afternoon.
I also got the chance to do a sunset dive and explore the macro life of the reef under the jetty and beyond. The peppered moray eels are bountiful and are great to watch as they explore the sea grass, keeping an eye out for scorpion fish camouflaged in the reef. Again, this is a place I would love to explore more and see what other critters were hiding from me.
I’m looking forward to the day I get back to Aqaba and explore more of what I missed on this short trip. I would definitely recommend it as a destination for people looking for an enjoyable diving experience that is not too challenging, and where you can also enjoy land based adventures. Be sure to think of Aqaba when booking your next holiday!