Safaga – Egypt’s best kept scuba secret
Where can you see Manta Rays, Whalesharks, Hammerheads and Dolphins? In Safaga, Egypt! Safaga is a small little beach town, about an hour from the International airport of Hurghada. There are some resorts and hotels but it’s a nice combination of local Egyptians and tourists in one spot. Without the noises and shopping malls of Hurghada. Without getting harassed on the street to get you to buy something. No, it’s all very easy going and oh yeah, the diving… it’s breathtaking!
Last year I was lucky enough to do 2 weeks of day diving in Safaga. The first time I went in April and the second time I went in September. Both times I went diving on the day boat of United Divers, the Compass. This is the boat where Ulli, from Ullisdiving, also does her tech courses. So yes, want to try some kind of cool intriguing tech stuff? Again; Safaga is the answer!
The big difference between April and September was the water temperature. I remember diving in April in a 5mm whilst in September I could just dive in my sharkskin rash guard. Diving in Safaga is first of all for me very ‘orange’. There are so many small little orange fish that create such a colourful underwater scene. And ofcourse you never know what you will encounter. Maybe…. dolphins?
Dolphins are almost always there, but more often than not you see them sooner on the surface than diving. Though that is very much possible as well! As they’re on of the most playful and curious creatures. I remember on my first Mares Horizon (semi closed rebreather) tech dive with Ulli I kept hearing a dolphin sound but couldn’t find it. Then all out sudden, out of nowhere, a “rocket” flew by us from the bottom up to the surface. A hunting dolphin! After that, we never saw the dolphin again. He was in hunting mode and had no time to stop. Super cool experience, a little something to get the heartrate going.
Manta Rays and Whale Sharks
In the weeks before my arrival I’d seen Hamada, the owner of United Divers post several video’s of both Whalesharks and Manta rays! Whalesharks almost always at the surface, they’re very curious and come up to the boat. A great natural experience as they’re not being fed in Egypt or something. The Manta’s I believe where mostly spotted around the dive site Panorama reef. We tried one morning to go there at 5 AM (from the Ramadan 3 – their liveaboard boat), but sadly the manta’s where still sleeping. They’re a bit a mystery in Egypt still, such as many things in this beautiful country. Sometimes they’re there, sometimes they’re not. Of course 2 days after I left, they were back.
Deeper, where it’s a bit cooler, is where the hammerheads hang out! Truth be said, you need to be lucky! But they’re there. So especially if you’re doing a tech course with Ullis Diving, where you get to go deeper than 40 meter… your hammerhead chances will increase!
My Egypt Travel tip: Combine a week of diving in Safaga with a liveaboard. This is the way I’ve done it twice now and absolutely love the setup. Start with the liveaboard (I always go on the Ramadan 3 from United Divers) and finish in Safaga. And try something new! Side mount, Rebreather, Advanced Nitrox… it’s all possible here!