Diving in the Red Sea: No Experience Necessary

Diving is one of those activities where it’s really better if you know what you’re doing.

There are any number of things that could go wrong, including:

  • Running out of air
  • Surfacing too quickly
  • Panicking
  • Man-eating sharks (Which I still firmly believe should not be culled. I’m talking to you, WA.)
Egypt holidays
This is not me. I’m not quite that brave.

Before we went to Egypt, I’d only been diving in the Southern Hemisphere and Jared hadn’t been diving at all. But a large part of Egypt holidays, to me, meant getting wet in the Red Sea.

In Hurghada, an up-and-coming resort town on the banks of the Red Sea, Jared’s lack of experience wasn’t an issue. The solution was an ‘introduction dive,’ where he’d be accompanied by an instructor at all times.

I thought that meant Jared would get what amounts to a one-day experience; something between snorkeling and diving, where you don’t really go deeper than 10 meters. As a bonus, I’d be able to steal glances as the instructor helped him get ready, since I’d forgotten the routine.

Egypt holidays
Hurghada, the 3rd largest city in Egypt.

Once we were on the boat the instructor sized Jared up, decided he looked capable, and left me to help him with the gear.

“But I haven’t been diving in over a year,” I protested.

“That’s okay. You have an advanced certificate.”

Because breathing underwater is just like riding a bike. Jared and I bluffed our way through setting up the tanks, BCDs, weight belts, and fins.

Once we were kitted up, the instructor ran a quick check (we passed) and all but threw Jared into the water. He then jumped in and put the regulator into Jared’s mouth.

“Breathe in. Good, now breathe out. Perfect. You’re ready.”

That’s it? I wondered. I wasn’t even ready! I thought back to the two days of dive training I’d had before I was allowed to go anywhere near the open sea. Egypt, it appeared, took a more relaxed approach to diving. I fervently hoped that there weren’t any sharks in the Red Sea. (Note: According to Wikipedia, “There are 44 species of shark found in the Red Sea. This list is not exhaustive.”)

He instructed Jared to let the air out of his BCD, without telling him why, and before Jared knew what was happening, he was submerged.

Jared kicked, shook his head, and forced his way to the surface. I imagine it would be like someone shoving you into space and saying Good luck! You got this! when your only relevant experience was a class field trip to the planetarium.

“I just need a minute,” he said.

The guide was calm and unconcerned.

“No problem.”

Shortly afterwards, the three of us were 20 meters deep, gliding through the ocean. The instructor kept a tight grip on Jared’s hand for a while, then passed him to me.

It wasn’t exactly a romantic aqua-stroll; I felt like a panicked babysitter clutching a child’s hand, terrified that something would go wrong. Jared was relaxed, but neither of us were exactly comfortable.

Egypt holidays
Post-dive. You may find it interesting to know that it took me 45 minutes to comb out my hair once we returned to the hotel.

We were there in February, so we missed whale shark season (a HUGE item on my bucket list). The dive itself wasn’t outstanding, though it had the potential to be – as soon as we surfaced, a pod of dolphins danced through the water. A few minutes later the rest of the group climbed onto the boat.

“That was amazing,” one lady said. “I’ve never seen dolphins underwater.”

I seethed, incredibly jealous, because neither had I.

However, my ruffled feathers were smoothed by the smorgasbord of Egyptian food the dive crew laid out for lunch. Egyptian food is amazing (seriously, I drool at the memory) and I got starry-eyed at the spread of dips, meat, cheese, and flatbread. After gorging myself on falafel, the dolphins became a distant memory. (I’m fickle like that when wooed with food.)

Egypt holidays
I didn’t take a picture of the food (that wasn’t really a thing in 2009) so here is a stunning pyramid.

Would I go diving in Egypt’s Red Sea again? Yes, but if the opportunity came up I’d time my visit between May and July to coincide with whale shark season.

Jared, on the other hand, hasn’t been diving since. For him, the charms of Egypt were very solidly fixed to the land.

Egypt holidays
History is Jared’s jam.

Disclosure: This post contains a sponsored link, but all opinions are my own.

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  1. I had a similar experience diving in Malaysia about 6 years after I first learned. They didn’t do any refresher course at all and I had a minor panic attack 18 m down. Should be diving again in a month at Byron, so fingers crossed they’re more safety aware!

    1. Byron! I did one dive there and all I remember was that it was the best visibility I’d ever experienced. We could see a leopard shark circling 20 meters down before we even got in the water. Looking forward to hearing how it goes!

  2. I will be going to Panama in a couple of months and am stoked go diving, although I’m nervous to dive because it’s been over a year. I’m hoping it’s a good experience!

    1. I was so nervous – I have such long stints between diving and every time it’s like the first time. Panama sounds like an incredible place to dive!

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