Regaldive Manager Phil North recently took his young family to visit the newest addition to our collection of Red Sea resorts, Abu Dabbab Diving Lodge.
My wife and I are both eager divers. In recent times, with a young family to nurture, diving opportunities have been limited to my work adventures rather than something to share together. Earlier this year, however, my eldest turned eight. Given his eagerness to discover what all the fuss is about with his parent’s diving obsession, we decided the time was right for a family diving and snorkelling holiday.
Tara and I have both been very fortunate to be well travelled; exploring, living and working in all manner of destinations. So while there was a temptation to go exotic, the practicalities and costs of a holiday with a young family persuaded us to look at destinations closer to home.
Our attention soon turned to Abu Dabbab Diving Lodge in the south of Egypt. I had met the Abu Dabbab team of Rita, Khaled and Isabela after an introduction and recommendation from an industry friend in the know. It had immediately caught my attention as something different, and a little special. Abu Dabbab Bay is known as one of the finest bays in Egypt, a sweeping bay of white sand, with green turtles eating on the seagrass and coral reefs fringing the bay on both sides.
Having spent many years living in South East Asia, and having a preference for smaller, more intimate resorts, the 60 or so wooden bungalows set amongst tropical gardens, oleander and hibiscus appealed greatly. Less than half an hour after my excited family exited Marsa Alam airport, we were enjoying a welcome drink and settling into our bungalow. For us, it was perfect. The bungalows are simple but charming - and well appointed with everything we needed. With four it was a touch cosy, but we are used to that. For two or three, the bungalows have ample space. It didn’t take long for my daughter to get changed and launch herself into the child-friendly pool, full of smiles, laughter and joy.
Then we headed down to the beach and the dive centre. The diving lodge is set back from the beach, just across a dust track, a very straight-forward two minute walk away. The diving centre is run by Blue Ocean, who also manage the lodge. The spacious and tastefully decked out dive centre is right on the beach. With house reef diving available, plus boat diving to sites only a few minutes away, it was ideal for us. We arranged a Bubblemaker for my eldest, and also some diving for Tara and I, swapping diving opportunities with parental duties.
One of the really big draws of Abu Dabbab is its proximity to Elphinstone. One of Egypt’s most celebrated dive sites is usually only the preserve of liveaboards, but is a mere 25 minutes by speedboat from Abu Dabbab Bay. Plunging reefs almost heave under the weight of marine life, with the signature anthias in abundance, plus all manner of other marine life. A silvertip shark greeted those divers paying more attention than yours truly, but the real highlight was a small pod of dolphins cruising past excitedly, seemingly on the hunt, their energy and presence almost palpable.
One of the other unique aspects of Abu Dabbab is the opportunity to do an overnight dive trip. For those who have never done a liveaboard, this is the perfect introduction. The kids were keen, so we booked on and headed south to Hamata, 90 minutes away, to pick up the boat. We headed out to the reefs of Wadi Gamal and Sataya Dolphin House. We were given a family cabin at the front of the boat, which was just perfect. After enjoying his first experience, my son made a second ‘dive’ - he’s clearly got the diving bug too. Tara and I also got to enjoy some beautiful dives with no crowds, but the big highlight was Setaya. Dolphins use this protected area to rest between hunting sorties, and sightings are very regular. We had the opportunity to snorkel with the dolphins twice in shallow, calm, azure blue water. You could clearly see the bonds amongst the dolphins, hear their chatter, and appreciate their playful nature. A thrilling experience for an adult - let alone a child.
After five nights in Abu Dabbab, with its relatively simple and natural vibe, we spend the final two nights of our trip at the all-inclusive Sunrise Marina Resort in Port Ghalib. A very different resort, but the perfect end to our holiday where the children could enjoy the facilities of the aquapark, leaving my wife and me to relax in the sun.
For those with families, I should also mention how wonderful all the staff were with our children, showering them with genuine and heartfelt attention and affection; far beyond any job description. It helped make the trip all the more magical; one that will live long in the memory of our family.
So who is suited to Abu Dabbab? In addition to families looking for a more simple experience that is closer to nature, Abu Dabbab is also ideal for singles, couples, and dive clubs looking for a low key, but superb quality dive adventure in the southern Red Sea. Diving is available for all abilities.
Find out more about Abu Dabbab Diving Lodge, the newest offering in our extensive Red Sea portfolio here, speak to our friendly Dive team on 01353 659999, or send us an email.