I should probably begin this post by saying that I am not a strong swimmer.
In fact, I’m actually quite terrified of the ocean – the size, the depth, the unknown… but despite this, one of the most incredible things we did during our visit to Sharm el Sheikh was spend a day snorkelling out in the Red Sea. We booked this (along with a stargazing and Bedouin dinner trip) through Sharm Excursions, which I’d be happy to recommend based on our experience.
I already felt a bit queasy before we even boarded our boat, named Queen Three, but luckily this slowly began to fade after we left the marina. The warm breeze of the ocean air and the size of the boat meant I was able to keep feelings of sea-sickness at a minimum for most of the day, but if you’re prone to motion sickness too I would bear this in mind before you book, as this is a full-day trip.
We sailed for about an hour before arriving at our first diving spot – Tiran Island. You’re not able to go ashore here as it’s used as a military training ground, but the nearby reefs provide an excellent opportunity to snorkel or dive amongst the beautiful tropical fish. The water temperature is comfortable, but changes with each stroke you take – slightly colder in the deeper parts, with waves of warmer water where the sunshine hits.
The guides on board join us in the water at each diving spot, and swim alongside the group. They carry a life ring with them to help make sure we’re always safe, and are able to stop for a break should we need to – just hold on to the ring if you’re tired and they’ll pull you along! Stronger swimmers venture a little further away from the guide, while those who are more nervous (like me) stick to him like glue. This has its advantages though, like when he dives down into the water to literally point out the different species of fish to you.
Back on board, our friendly guide brings out a colourful poster with pictures of all the tropical fish you can expect to find in the Red Sea. I immediately point to the shark in the top left corner.
“Yes… there are sharks”, he tells me reluctantly. I don’t ask him any more about that.
“But, I saw a turtle out here just last week, and yesterday we could hear dolphins in the water” he explains excitedly. “We looked up and there in the distance, we could see them jumping out of the sea!”
Not long after, we arrived at our second diving spot, where a large shipwreck can be seen towering dramatically out of the water. Our boat isn’t able to get very close to it, but we anchor just south from the site and enter the water here, swimming alongside the coral which the ship crashed into around 35 years ago.
I continued to follow our tour guide in the water, slightly more worried about encountering a shark, while trying to spot some of the other fish he showed me on the poster earlier. And as I’m wading through I heard it. Dolphins! The sound was incredibly distinctive; high-pitched and whistle-like, piercing through the water as you swam. I turned and looked at our guide who stared back at me while pointing excitedly at his ears.
“Can you hear that?!” he gestures.
We lift out heads up from the water and stare into the distance hoping to catch a glimpse of them. But today was not our day.
The swim back to the boat was incredibly tiring; I made the mistake of going too far out and forgetting you have to swim the same distance back, which was made even harder because it was now against the water current.
Luckily, it was now lunchtime back at the boat.
Soft drinks are available throughout the day, and the food served was prepared fresh on the boat – a mix of chicken, vegetables, rice, bread, salad, and more.
The tour makes three stops, and ours was meant to include a visit to Blue Lagoon, but instead we ended our day near the marina from which we left. All of the tour boats dock together at each spot throughout the day (meaning it’s important you remember the name of yours before boarding), and all the guides from the other tours joined our boat here, jumping into the water from the back and inviting guests to do so too. A fun end to a fantastic day.
You get a really good amount of time at each diving spot and the whole day was relaxed and never rushed. You’re not pressured to enter the water too, so if you’re not up for a swim you can sunbathe on the deck instead. Just be aware of the photographer on board – he’s lovely, though a little embarrassing if you’re not up for posing like me.
Overall, an unmissable trip which I can’t wait to do again.
- Adult £27, child £17
- Hotel transfers, lunch and drinks included
- Life jackets, flippers and snorkelling equipment are available to rent from the marina
- You’ll need to buy a VISA upon entry if you want to visit Ras Mohamed
Shipwreck photo by Rob