Jeremy from Sea to Sky tells us about his experience on Aziab Yacht
Freediving, sailing, yoga, Red Sea… what a combination!! And combining all.. what an experience.
Even with a Scuba background, as an Instructor and a passionate teacher, never would I have imagined that I would be Freediving off a yacht in the middle of the Red Sea amongst 100’s of dolphins, Corals and a wreck, let alone starting or finishing the day with Yoga.
However, I am delighted I did and even happier to make this trip available to all of our Sea to Sky clients.
The story actually starts for me in Wadi Lahami. I had flown out of Italy, where we live, on the Sunday and arrived in Marsa Alam that evening.
The boat was moored at Hamata Port, not far from Wadi Lahami, so was perfect for me to stay there. It also gave me the excuse to dive the Fury Shoals for a day on the Monday before the transfer on Tuesday morning.
I awoke to a few missed calls from my two guests Sam and Harry. I digress a bit here, as Sam and his brother Harry had booked the trip through us and, as we offer more than a basic buy the trip and see you later type adventure, I made sure I accompanied them to ensure they had the best time.
I had arranged Sam’s hotel in Hurghada and local taxi to collect them from the airport to their hotel.
TOP TIP: buy a Vodaphone Sim card on arrival as this will save you so much aggravation over phone costs and network roaming. €20 will ensure you have enough data to last a week easily, and that’s with everyone hotspotting off you. Oh, and make sure the guys at the Vodaphone stall insert the sim card and activate it for you, as it saves any miscommunication.
Anyway, back to the story. Sam and Harry made their own way to Hamata, which ended up being to Wadi Lahami as they missed the transfer and jumped into a cab, but arrived safely and all three of us waited for the mini bus to collect us. The other guests meanwhile had all been collected in and around Hurghada and were on their way!
After a hearty breakfast, the mini bus arrived and transferred us to Hamata to meet the other guests and crew.
We arrived at Hamata at approx 12pm and introduced ourselves to the other guests and immediately started chatting and getting to know each other. The guests were:
- Nahla (Our freedive instructor and one of the loveliest people you could hope to meet)
- Sarah (A yoga instructor, but not on this trip, who’s passion is Pizza and Pancakes and her husband – in that order!!)
- Megan (An awesome French lady whom I’m sure brought her own banana tree with her, as she ate so many)
- Alex (Our star TV presenter, amazing freediver and all round superstar)
- Ingrid (Downhill skiing yogi who’s single handedly changed my mind about Yoga)
Oh and Sam and Harry – what can I say about those two!! Sam is a great friend whom I’ve know for many years and one person you can rely on. Harry was just an awesome guy – he had one weakness, and that was Pasta. Good god he can eat, love him!
The boat and crew
The boat is called Roaga and is a 50.5 Cyclades with 4 double cabins and one bunk bed style cabin. Two of the doubles have private bathrooms and the others are shared bathroom.
Downstairs was seating, the Galley and charging area, and upstairs is where we spent all our time, either eating or diving.
The boat is immaculately kept and looked after by Captain Mohammed Said, who funnily enough I knew from years ago whilst diving elsewhere. Mohammed number 2, who did everything all the time, Abu Selim the Masterchef and who also helped run the boat, and lastly Mahmoud Hassan, our guide and a funny and caring person.
We LOVED the crew and couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people.
Oh and the crew slept either outside on the deck or bench seating or in the galley area. How they do this trip after trip is beyond me, hats off to them.
So after arriving on board settling our stuff into the cabins, it was time to depart and head to Om Elsheikh Island, arriving at 12:45pm, to moor up and have an awesome lunch of fresh lentils, cheese filo pastry and fresh salad.
We spent the afternoon chatting and snorkelling and generally getting to know each other better.
We spent the day at the island, which was like someone had dropped a desert Island into the middle of the red Sea, it was so beautiful.
Day 2 was the also the start of our introduction to freediving with Nahla. We covered such areas as Recovery breath, breathing as well, dry static exercises and some static in the water. A great experience and I suddenly realised that freediving was going to be a challenge!!! But a good one.
The next challenge was Yoga. We all took the little zodiac to the island at 4pm to start session 1, Vinyasa. Wow is all I have to say, I have never been stretched or put into positions since forever, but a great, great session that was loved by all. Ingrid was very soothing and a great teacher. After Yoga we departed for Syaal Island, another paradise not far away.
I wont catalogue what we had for breakfast/lunch/dinner everyday but I can assure you it was fresh, tasted sublime, and we always had too much variety, just exquisite and how chef cooked all that food in the smallest galley in the world is beyond me. We always had fresh dates and fruit and snacks available at all times.
Day 3 started with another session of Vinyasa Yoga on the Island at 07:30am, a great way to start the day, and after a great breakfast we had our freediving session. The session included Buoyancy check, how to equalise, duck dive and some line work to 5m. Another great session, fuelling our appetite for more of the same.
This day was also the day we departed for Sataya Reef, home of the dolphins. We left at 3pm and arrived approx 3 hours later, ready and anticipating the following day.
The highlight of the trip, Sataya!!!
We arrived at Sataya to be met by hundreds of Dolphins in their natural playground / resting place before their nightly excursions for food. We jumped in at 07:30hrs and stayed with them for just about two hours….the freediving was magical. Just being up close and personal with such creatures was indescribable.
After another amazing breakfast at 10am we had another freedive session with Nahla, covering linework, body position and becoming streamlined in the water – not easy but so satisfying.
Lunch was at 2.30pm and after a brief rest and sunbathe we were back in before the dolphins went out for the night.
Thanks must go to Mohammed Said for constantly navigating the pinnacles of Sataya and dropping us in on top (not literally of course!) of the dolphin pods. I think this day was the culmination of the all the best days together as in the morning and afternoon we were literally the only divers there and could play and swim with the dolphins without stress.
Last day at Sataya……. and, after jumping in at 07:30am, we again swam with the dolphins for a few hours, only coming out for breakfast at 10am.
After breakfast we all either relaxed or played off the boat on floaties – or if you were Sam, Harry and Mahmoud, showing off their athletic somersaults from the boat. I have to mention Megan who’s climbing skills were something to behold.
After lunch we headed to Halawi reef to swim with barracudas, a beautiful turtle and amazing Corals that only the Red Sea can deliver, a lovely change.
We then headed back to Sataya to practice our free immersion to 11m, another great experience.
A few games on the boat were followed by an amazing dinner!!! We gave the chef a night off and cooked up a storm in the galley ourselves, mostly Alex who’s passion for chopping really shone through.
Last but one day…….we left Sataya at 07:15 and sailed to the Abu Galawa wreck arriving at 08:15ish.
The wreck was a beautiful dive and so many hard corals to look at, a wonderful sight. We dived for about one and a half hours and then had breakfast before leaving for our long sail back to Om Elsheikh where I think by then we had all dived out (only Alex went for a dive).
Then the storms hit us. I have worked and been coming to Egypt for over 15 years and have never seen storms like this, just ask Alex. The lightening was a wonderful sight (and at the same time a little bit frightening!).
Time to go home. We arrived back at Hamata in the morning after mooring up in the bay overnight, and after banana pancakes made by Sam and Alex, we packed and said our goodbyes. The transport arrived at 10am to take us all to our respective destinations.
So apart from the Vinyasa sessions on the islands we had Yin Yoga every evening on the boat. This, speaking as an expert of course(!!!), is a more relaxed Yoga, holding postures for a few minutes. An ideal Yoga for the limited space on a yacht and with the combination of the relaxed postures, boat sways and Ingrid’s voice, most evenings I left my body and landed I don’t know where – loved it.
Well that’s it for the blog, I think I have covered everything on what was a trip of a lifetime. I have made many friends, and unlike a lot of trips, we will stay in touch and we will meet up again.
Big thanks go to Omar and Yousra for running a professional and slick operation, the crew who I cant praise enough and to each and everyone of you, Sarah, Megan, Ingrid, Sam, Harry, Nahla and of course Alex.
If anyone is thinking of Booking I am more than happy to talk through with you every aspect, so rest assured you can be prepared and a little better informed of the magical experience you WILL have.
I think the highlight for me was Sarah – I have never witnessed such joy on someone’s face whilst swimming with dolphins!
Aziab SeaFaris and Sea to Sky
I have known Omar and Yousra, the owners of Aziab SeaFaris for a couple of years now. Filomena had met Yousra and Omar 5 years ago at Wadi Lahami in Southern Egypt. My first impressions of Omar was what a chilled out and gentle soul he was, very articulate and above all, professional. When we were looking at add an Egyptian based diving, sailing and yoga experience together, we approached Omar to ask if we could collaborate / partner with them, as experts in the region, and we were delighted when he said yes.
Please get in touch to find out more about this fabulous experience.
Join Sea to Sky and embark on new diving adventures! Visit www.myseatosky.co.uk for more information.
Solo Travelling and Scuba Diving
Solo traveling elicits strong reactions, with some relishing the freedom it brings, while others shy away from the idea. The dichotomy lies between the autonomy of solo journeys and the comfort of companionship. Scuba diving group trips for solo travellers emerge as the perfect synthesis, offering a unique blend of freedom and camaraderie.
Embarking on a solo scuba diving adventure is a thrilling journey into unparalleled freedom, new discovery and self-discovery beneath the waves. However, solo travellers should be mindful of considerations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, especially those diving abroad, taking precautions before leaving their home country is crucial for a safe and enjoyable journey.
“I started travelling solo by chance”- my wife recalls- “I joined a group from the diving club planning to travel to Tobago, people pulled out at the last minute and I decided to go ahead alone. I did enjoy the freedom: I could travel at the times I wanted, to the destinations I wanted, no need to negotiate when and where to eat and the air conditioning temperature. Diving is a social sport anyway, and the divers one meets are by definition like-minded people. It’s an opportunity to make new friends, often from different nationalities. I’ve gained so much in self confidence and interpersonal skills, way more than on corporate training courses J. However, as a woman solo traveller, I’ve always had to be mindful of personal safety in circumstances where one simply doesn’t know what to expect. I remember the apprehension I felt on the boat ride alone from Batanga to Puerto Galera in the evening. Also the same feeling whilst waiting in Dubai for someone to pick me up and drive me 2 hours to Musandam. This someone is now a dearest friend. The best thing for me is always to book through someone that has made the same journey, lived the experience directly and has close personal links at destinations.”
In essence, scuba diving trips for solo travellers offer a harmonious blend of autonomy and companionship. These journeys transcend traditional group travel challenges by uniting solo adventurers with a common passion.
The first question and one of the most important, as the answer usually determines your location is Liveaboard or Shore based, and there are Pros and Cons to both:
Immersive Dive Experience: Liveaboards provide uninterrupted access to dive sites, maximizing your time beneath the waves.
Varied Destinations: Journey to remote and pristine locations, exploring a range of dive spots during a single trip. Usually these site are only accessible by Liveaboard
Community Experience: Forge close bonds with fellow divers on board, fostering a sense of camaraderie.
Limited Amenities: Space constraints on liveaboards might limit facilities compared to resorts.
Community Experience: Liveaboards forge a close-knit community of divers and individuals, which may not be conducive to everyone’s character, particularly for people who enjoy some time alone to charge the batteries, or those not keen on negotiating group dynamics in a somewhat confined environment.
Comfort and Amenities: Resorts offer a comfortable stay with various amenities, including spas, swimming pools and restaurants.
Flexibility: Choose daily dives or explore at your pace, enjoying the freedom to create a personalized itinerary.
Onshore Exploration: Besides diving, resorts often provide opportunities to explore local culture and attractions.
Fixed Locations: While convenient, resorts limit you to specific dive sites accessible from shore.
Time Constraints: Day trips or tight schedules may impose time restrictions on your underwater adventures.
Flexibility: Unless you are certified as a solo diver then you have to dive with a buddy or with a private guide, which could be a costly option.
Personal Preferences: Evaluate your preferences for accommodation, community engagement, and the overall pace of your dive experience.
Destination Exploration: Assess whether you seek the thrill of exploring multiple dive destinations on a liveaboard or prefer the convenience of a single resort location.
Choosing between liveaboard trips and dive resorts hinges on your desired balance of adventure, comfort, and community. Whether you opt for the dynamic exploration of liveaboards or the leisurely pace of resorts, each option promises a unique and unforgettable underwater journey.
Dive Destination – Research and Planning
Conducting thorough research on dive destinations is crucial. Understand its culture, local customs, and any travel advisories. Always check government advice, BUT also consider joining Facebook or similar groups and get some real-world advice from like-minded divers.
It’s essential to opt for reputable dive operators with a strong safety record. Sea to Sky, a trusted name in the industry, places a high priority on guest safety, offering comprehensive services, advice, and recommendations.
Ensure you are aware of any health risks or vaccinations required for your destination. Carry a basic first aid kit, if weight allows and any necessary medications. We would advise not to take any over the counter medications aboard, as most are readily available and in a lot of cases cheaper. If you are prescribed medications, please ensure that your country of entry allows your medication, and in all cases please take a doctor’s letter/prescription.
Solo divers should be mindful of diving in secluded or challenging dive locations. Opting for familiar, well-monitored locations where assistance is readily available if needed. Sea to Sky takes a personalized approach, considering guests’ experience and certification levels to suggest optimal dive locations within their limits.
Being cautious about equipment is paramount for solo divers. Rigorous gear checks to ensure everything is in optimal condition are essential. For those renting equipment, Sea to Sky ensures that the dive centre or liveaboard operator’s gear is regularly serviced and up to date. Please self-check all equipment, we are happy to advise on what to and how to check any equipment.
Safety and Security
Invest in comprehensive travel insurance and Dive Insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and potential diving-related incidents. Keep a digital and physical copy of your insurance details. Secure important documents like your passport, travel insurance, and diving certifications in a waterproof pouch. Consider making digital copies that you can access online. Share your itinerary and emergency contact information with a trusted friend or family member. Keep them informed about your whereabouts and any changes to your plans. We personally use Nord Locker to store all relevant information, including copies of passport, accessible via the cloud (No affiliation, it’s just what we use).
Inform your bank about your travel dates to avoid any issues with your credit/debit cards. Carry a mix of local currency and cards. We can advise country by country what cash to take, as in some destinations Euros or Dollars are the better option. Be cautious when using ATMs and choose secure locations (inside banks for example). Keep a small amount of emergency cash separate from your main funds. This can be invaluable in situations where card payments may not be accepted.
Communication and Connectivity
Consider getting a local SIM card to stay connected. Check the network coverage in your destination and inform your loved ones about your contact number. We also use an ESim called Airolo (Again no affiliation) but some of the charges can be quite high especially in Egypt, but for peace of mind it’s great. Carry a portable charger for your electronic devices, including your phone and any underwater cameras. Also check with the country you are travelling to ascertain what plug is compatible.
Familiarise yourself with the local culture and customs to show respect. This includes appropriate clothing, gestures, and behaviour, both on land and underwater.
What sets Sea to Sky apart is the personal relationships developed with its suppliers and its commitment to providing 24-hour telephone contact for guests, offering reassurance and assistance around the clock. Solo travellers can dive with confidence, knowing that expert guidance and support are just a call away.
In essence, while solo scuba diving opens doors to incredible underwater experiences, travellers must exercise caution, conduct diligent research, choose reputable operators, and prioritise safety.
For any information or assistance you require please feel free to contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Sea to Sky and embark on new diving adventures! Visit www.myseatosky.co.uk for more information.
The BiG Scuba Podcast Episode 172: Dr. Joseph Dituri
Gemma and Ian chat to Dr. Joseph Dituri. Dr. Jospeh Dituri lived undersea for 100 Days in a mission combining education, ocean conservation research, and the study of the physiological and psychological effects of compression on the human body.
Dituri enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1985. He served continuously on active service upon various ships and shore stations where he was involved in every aspect of diving and special operations work from saturation diving and deep submergence to submersible design and clearance diving. Now that he is retired from 28 years of active service to the United States, he is the president of the International Board of Undersea Medicine. He also volunteers his time as the CEO of the Association for Marine Exploration. He is an invited speaker on motivational, sea and space related topics.
Fuelled by his passion for exploration, discovery, adventure, and making the greatest possible positive contribution to the world, he is fighting for change in a big way and with great enthusiasm.
You can listen to Episode 172 of the BiG Scuba Podcast here.
We hope you have enjoyed this episode of The BiG Scuba Podcast. Please give us ★★★★★, leave a review, and tell your friends about us as each share and like makes a difference. Contact Gemma and Ian with your messages, ideas and feedback via The BiG Scuba Bat Phone +44 7810 005924 or use our social media platforms. To keep up to date with the latest news, follow us:
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