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The most chilled out diving in the Red Sea?

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Red Sea

While relaxing on the beach at Marsa Shagra recently it occurred to me that this was the fifth time I had visited this charming and relaxed dive destination. This is very unusual for me; with so many places to visit in the world, I rarely go back to the same place twice.

But Marsa Shagra is rather special. I always say that although it might not offer the very best diving in the Red Sea (for that you probably want to take one of the liveaboards to the offshore reefs), it certainly does offer the most chilled out.

Red Sea

Once you have checked in and been checked out by one of the dive guides, you are free to dive on the house reef any time you like. No need for a guide. So it is perfectly possible to find yourself and your buddy all alone on what must be one of the best preserved house reefs in Egypt.

Red Sea

Successive Egyptian governments have pressured the owners of the village to expand, but they have always resisted. The result is that the house reef is in excellent condition with fewer divers visiting it than might otherwise be the case. This ecological outlook (they describe themselves as an ‘Eco-village’) is evident throughout the operation – everyone there is concerned with the welfare of the reefs and marine life, which is a delight to see.

Another thing that makes Shagra an ideal venue is the range of diving available. As well as the house reef there are excursions by truck up and down the coast to visit numerous other shore diving sites. There are also speedboat dives out to sites offshore, including Elphinstone Reef, where it is possible to see large pelagics. While we were there, others (not us unfortunately) saw oceanic white tips and even a whale shark. We were lucky enough to see the mythical Dugong not far from Marsa Abu Dabab though, so we couldn’t complain.

Red SeaBooking onto dives seems complicated to begin with, but in reality is simple. Just go to the dive centre, check in on the computer screen and see what excursions are available for the following day – easy! Some dives require a minimum number for a trip to go ahead, but that is rarely a problem even when the village is quieter. On this visit I was in a small group of four. We all wanted to visit Abu Ghusun, a very pretty reef with one of the few wrecks in that part of the Red Sea. It’s a great dive, but many people seem to be put off by the hour-and-a-half drive involved. After three days of trying with no luck (just the four of us were booked on and the minimum required was ten), the dive manager took pity on us and agreed to run the trip for just us! That was a result, especially since it turned out to be my first dive of 2015 – and my 1000th dive to boot.

And that is one of the other special things about Marsa Shagra – the staff are truly excellent. Always friendly and helpful, they go a long way to making the experience as great as it is, be it the dive guides, admin folks or the catering staff.

Red SeaSpeaking of the catering, that is also excellent. When I first visited Marsa Shagra in 2003 there was a small Bedouin bar on top of a small hill where you could drink and relax. That has now been replaced by a restaurant where great food is served buffet style. The staff are very proud of the food that they serve. This was at no time more evident than on New Year’s Eve, when they put on an enormous and extravagant spread that was a sight to behold. Dinner was delayed for a good hour or so as no-one wanted to spoil all their hard work by eating it!

Red SeaThe Bedouin bar has now moved to the far end of the beach and is a great place to spend the evening relaxing and stargazing at the end of the day.

There is a choice of accommodation, once again to suit all tastes and pockets, ranging from simple but roomy tents through to en-suite guest houses with air conditioning. The bonus for those in the tents is that they are on the beach and look out onto the sea, so if you rise early you can watch the spectacular sunrises.

And as if all of this wasn’t enough, there are a number of other activities available, including a desert star gazing tour, camel and horse riding and quad biking (great fun on your off-gassing day).

Red SeaAfter a visit a few years ago I asked the group (about 15 of us that time) what they thought could be done to make the place any better. A lot of head scratching ensued. One person suggested it could be free (yeah, right), but really the only thing we could think of was that they could probably do a slightly better job of keeping people in the same group next to each other when they allocate lockers for your dive gear – but that is probably not down to them anyway, since some folks seem to ignore their allocated number and just go where they will. So, that was all we could come up with.

Red SeaHmm… maybe a few cushions to sit on when you go on day long truck dives… but now I’m just being picky.

So there you have it. The dive club that I belong to is already planning a visit to the Red Sea at the end of the UK dive season, so it’s very likely we’ll be visting Marsa Shagra again. As for me, I fully expect that I will be returning in the not too distant future. There are plenty of other places to visit in the world, that’s true; but once you find somewhere this special, you’ll be drawn back time and time again – it’s like visiting an old and much loved friend.

For More details for holidays to Marsa Shagra, contact Oonasdivers by calling +44 (0)1323 648924, email info@oonasdivers.com or visit www.oonasdivers.com/egypt/resorts.

Scubaverse.com has teamed up with Oonasdivers to give one of you the chance to win a dive holiday to one of the Red Sea’s other southern dive villages, Marsa Nakari. To enter this awesome competition, click here.

Nic Weeks is a BSAC Advanced Diver and Open Water Instructor with Holborn 0130 BSAC. He started diving in 1992 and has logged over 1,000 dives at locations all over the world.

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WIN one of the NEW Momentum M20 Dive Watches!!!

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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Nautilus Diving to give away one of Momentum’s new M20 Dive Watches as a prize!

Leading watch brand Momentum has introduced the new M20 series of watches. The new collection includes the M20 DSS Diver with a classic black dial, or striking Bahama yellow dial, and the M20 GMT Diver in a black & blue “Batman” version.

The M20 Dive watch features a solid 316L stainless steel case that is beautifully rounded and polished, taking its design cues from our original 1990’s Aquamatic model. The case is just under 42mm in diameter, but the smooth curves make it feel much smaller. Style, performance and unmatched comfort on the wrist.

The M20’s elegant yet durable design allows it to be worn in almost any situation. It has a 200M depth rating along with an off-set screw-down crown for added comfort.

The M20’s are also very legible, with its double-dome sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating there is virtually no glare. At night, the SuperLuminova luminous dial and hands come to life, a vital feature for serious divers where light may not reach certain depths.

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can find here), we reported that the Women Divers Hall of Fame have announced the selection of how many new members who will constitute the Class of 2021?

Is it:

  • A) five
  • B) six
  • C) seven

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Nautilus Diving Momentum M20 Dive Watch October 2020

Competition
  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Nautilus Diving and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. Your information will be shared with the competition's sponsor unless you tick the opt out box. This competition closes on 09/12/20. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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Dive Training Blogs

5 Easy Steps For Choosing A Scuba Diving Center You’ll LOVE! (Watch Video)

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How do you pick which dive operation wins your money for your scuba diving vacation? If you only get to dive on vacation, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and getting experiences you enjoy. That’s why we are giving you our easy 5-step process for filtering out dive centers and narrowing down your selection to find the scuba team you want to be diving with!

In this example–driven video, we are showing you our procedure for how we pick our scuba dive operator. In this case, I use the island of Barbados, as I’ve actually never been scuba diving there.

THANK YOU so much to EVERYONE who is a part of this great community. We promise we have so much more planned for this channel. We’re going to keep spreading information and positivity to the Scuba Divers around the world! IMPROVE. INSPIRE. EXPLORE.


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Spend 7 nights at the Cinco Plazas Apartments, Lanzarote with flights and 5 days diving from just £625pp with Diverse Travel this winter.  Travel 12th November - Spaces are limited - contact us now to book. Other dates available.

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