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A Brief History of Sharm el Sheikh



A warm welcome to our latest blogger, Beth Sanders, who joins us from Camel Dive Club in Sharm el Sheikh.

I will “begin at the beginning…” to quote another famous Welsh poet! I would like to start with the roots of Sharm el Sheikh to help you understand how this captivating place grew into the magical area it is today.

Now, I may be getting on a bit but I wasn’t actually here at the beginning. However, I am lucky to see some of the founders on a daily basis as Camel Dive Club was established in 1986. I am proud to say that they are still very active members of the community. I get sat down and shown pictures of the good old times on average once a week.

“Boring” some may say, but I love every second of it! To imagine and hear about how Sharm was before the hotels and all those ghastly taxi drivers is a privilege that I would like to share with you.

Sharm el Sheikh is of great strategic importance geographically and like many great territories it has had its ownership changed many times. That is, until 1982, when it was for the final time restored to Egypt.

The diving here started long before that though. The first tourism originated as early as 1967 when Sharm was nothing but an occasional base for local fisherman passing through. With few hotels, and a unique underwater topography, divers started to appear. Not wearing what we wear today for a dive but clothed in the old BLJ’s and very unfashionable fins, masks and wetsuits.

They discovered an underwater realm with a thousand different blues and kaleidoscopic fish. They of course told their friends. It was tricky to get to Sharm at first: no airport, frightful roads and nowhere to stay, but with demand so comes the supply.

Hotels, dive centers and even roads started to emerge in the desert landscape! Sharm grew from having three resorts in 1982 to 91 resorts by the year 2000! Sharm el Sheikh with its year round sunshine and warm water turned into a destination enjoyed by divers and holidaymakers alike.

Now I won’t lie to you Dear Reader… Sharm, like many other places in our crazy world, has had its fair share of annoyances over the past few years but if anything this only drives to make this amazing place stronger. The already tight community pulls even tighter together and the diving gets better and better.

Having lived here for so long, I have to say that I feel safer in Sharm el Sheikh than most other places in the world, especially as a single female. I always feel reassured by the smiles that meet me as I go about my daily tasks. This is something that is very difficult to find anywhere in this day and age.

With fewer dive boats than in the early 2000’s, I personally have seen that these days the coral is gaining strength and other marine life recuperating quickly.

Rare fish like sailfish are becoming almost a regular encounter and whalesharks are popping up all over the place. It’s getting increasingly difficult to finish a dive briefing without someone screaming DOLPHINS halfway through!!

This summer was honestly the best summer of diving in Sharm el Sheikh I have ever had in 10 years of living and guiding dives here.

Many tourists and residents leave, but they always return. I think Sharm el Sheikh is a bit like “Hotel California” – you can leave, but you can never check out!

When are you coming back?

Inspired? Take a look at and book your trip!

There’s still time to enter our fantastic competition to win a holiday to two people to Sharm El Sheikh in association with Camel Dive Club and Hotel, the Egyptian Tourism Authority and Westfield (Sub Aqua & Marine) Insurance Services Ltd. Enter here for your chance to win! Competition ends: 23/12/17.

Beth "my lovelies" Sanders achieved her PADI Open Water in her native Wales and became completely addicted to the underwater world. Her fixation has cost her jobs, boyfriends and a whole load of other 'respectable' things so finally she had to make the diving pay! Becoming a Scuba Instructor was the only option... Beth was very lucky to combine this with her love of warm weather and has lived in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt since 2007. Currently operating as a freelance dive instructor and environmental tourism consultant, Beth can usually be found chatting with guests and even occasionally underwater!

Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: Erebus – The story of a ship (2019)



In a title of six words, Erebus: The story of a ship, Michael Palin tells us precisely what his book is all about. Through a comprehensive analysis of the Ship’s Logs and crew reports, personal letters, private and naval journals, books, papers and newspaper articles he documents the life of the ship and its crews. He traces their histories from the launch of the ship at Pembroke dock in 1826, via unremarkable Mediterranean patrols, lengthy voyages to Australia to bone chilling Antarctic and Arctic expeditions. They culminate in the last crew abandoning the ship, trapped in Arctic pack ice, in 1848.

However, Erebus: The story of a ship is more than a mere chronology of dates, actions and events. Michael Palin tells us a complex story. It’s an evolving story of the interpersonal relationships of those men serving on the ship; relationships that blossom and those that deteriorate. It includes accounts of influential men and women who shaped the voyages and crew selection. It also notes the impact of sponsors and suppliers who may have contributed to the final tragedy. It’s a story illustrated by Victorian photographs, other colour photographs and paintings, sonar images, maps and sketches. They all serve to provide a picture of the life and death of those on board HMS Erebus.

In 1846, during the heroic but ill-fated Franklin Expedition, HMS Erebus, her companion ship HMS Terror, captained by Francis Crozier, and a total of 129 men, “vanished off the face of the earth whilst trying to find a way through the Northwest Passage” (ppxii – xiii). This was the prized northern route to China and India via Arctic waters. HMS Erebus wasn’t seen again until one hundred and sixty-nine years later under thirty-six feet of Arctic water. Divers found the wreck remarkably intact as their description and photographs reveal.

Palin describes how the search for Erebus and her crew extended over decades – often suggesting missed opportunities as well as shocking findings. His summary account of the last desperate months and weeks of their survival, as the expedition disintegrated, is poignant in the extreme.

It’s tempting to describe the book as a slow burn that builds into an inferno – but words like ‘burn’ and ‘inferno’ are at odds with Palin’s descriptive account of the mind numbing cold of Arctic winters and a ship entombed in pack ice for years. Certainly, the pace of the early chapters appear relatively slow when compared to the final crescendo – but they provide an invaluable background to an understanding of the unfolding drama.

You don’t have to be a historian or a marine archaeologist, a sailor or traveller to marvel at the story of HMS Erebus and her crews. You don’t have to be a sentimentalist to read: ‘The one comfort from the whole unmitigated disaster was the news that bodies had been discovered far enough south to prove that Crozier had led his doomed men to the last link in the chain of marine connections that made up to Northwest Passage’ (p. 261).

Erebus: The story of a ship (2019)

  • By Michael Palin
  • London: Arrow Books        
  • ISBN 9781 784 758578     
  • 334 pp

Michael Palin has written and starred in numerous TV programmes; perhaps Monty Python is one of the most famous. He has made several acclaimed travel documentaries to the North and South Pole as well as the Sahara desert and the Himalayas. His books include Hemingway’s Chair (1998) and The Truth (2013). Between 2009 and 2012 he was President of the Royal Geographical Society. Michael Palin was knighted in 2019 and lives in London.

Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at

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SSI introduces new SSI Decompression Diving Specialty Program



SSI has announced the latest addition to their Recreational Diving program, the SSI Decompression Diving Specialty.

SSI developed this innovative new specialty to bridge the gap between recreational diving and their Extended Range (XR) programs. The SSI Decompression Diving Specialty is the perfect opportunity for recreational divers to get a small taste of what more advanced diving is like without having to commit to going entirely technical right off the bat.

Often, the difference between recreational equipment and a more technical set-up seems intimidating and overwhelming to the standard dive customer. However, if you are looking to market your technical diving program, the new Decompression Diving Specialty is the perfect way to slowly introduce your dive customers to the excitement and adventure offered by the Extended Range (XR) programs.

The Decompression Diving Specialty provides SSI divers the training necessary to independently plan and conduct decompression dives using either traditional recreational equipment or introducing them to using a sidemount system. This program will take divers to a maximum depth of 40 meters with a maximum accumulated decompression time of 15 minutes.

If you are a current SSI Extended Range Nitrox, SSI CCR Extended Range, or SSI SCR Extended Range Instructor or higher and interested in teaching this exciting new program, simply sign-up online for a FREE online upgrade. If you are currently an SSI Instructor in any other discipline, contact your affiliated Training Center for more information on becoming an SSI Decompression Diving Instructor and learn how to start introducing divers to the world of decompression diving today!

Find out more at


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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email

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