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3 May 2019, Phil North

red sea, diving red sea, emperor divers

A short work trip in early 2019 afforded me a free day to go diving with the friendly team of Emperor Divers in Marsa Alam. It had been too many years since I’d had the opportunity to dive the vibrant reefs of the Red Sea, so naturally I jumped at the chance.

I was picked up in the morning from my hotel, the impeccable Sunrise Marina Resort in Port Ghalib, and a few minutes later was welcomed at the Emperor Divers dive centre on the far side of the marina. As this was a work trip rather than a diving trip, I hadn’t brought my dive gear. The Emperor team quickly and efficiently got me kitted out with excellent quality rental gear however, and we were on our way,

One thing that came flooding back to me as we ventured out onto the Red Sea was the colour of the water. I’ve been fortunate to dive many places, and there is nowhere else I’ve been where the colour of the water is quite the same majestic hue of turquoise. It brought a smile to my face before I’d even entered the water.

Many moons ago, when youth was on my side, I spent a season as the videographer for Emperor in Sharm el Sheikh, careering around underwater getting shots of the clients, their experiences, and the marine life they saw. This was my first opportunity both to dive the southern Red Sea, and also to be an Emperor customer. I must say both were a privilege.

With the chance for only one day’s diving on this trip, I was not expecting too much in terms of marine life encounters. The fact I was diving in early January, one of the cooler and quieter months in this area, also added to my relatively low expectations. How wrong I was.

We dropped in on our first dive and ambled along a fairly quiet patch of reef. This gave me a few welcome moments to get settled underwater and to get my bearings. We then came across a wonderful pinnacle dripping in life and colour. Healthy soft corals reached out into the blue to catch the current, and a vibrant community of marine life called the pinnacle home. As is common in the Red Sea, the picture was made perfect by the carpet of fluttering orange adoring the reef, as anthias constantly jostled for position. There are few places in the world with the kaleidoscopic colours of the Red Sea, and we are so fortunate to have it almost on our doorstep.

As we crossed from the first pinnacle to another, the dive just got better. First, a green turtle of impressive size swam serenely past, almost oblivious to the group of divers admiring her beauty and grace. Shortly after, a small school of five or six eagle rays glided past to add to the sense of glee. These were smaller eagle rays, not the juveniles sometimes found in sheltered bays, but not adults either; possibly young teenagers, making their way in the world. Another gorgeous pinnacle ended a perfect first dive.

I’d have been more than happy with my lot from just that dive. It was well worth the chill that greets recently surfaced divers at this time of year as they struggle, unglamorous, out of their neoprene. The surface interval brought more delights, and a first for me. This area of the Red Sea is known for a small population of rare dugongs. These unusual animals, who some attribute to the legend of mermaids, spend their days munching on the plentiful seagrass. The dugong is rather unlike any other animal bar their close cousin, the manatee; and they had been on my wishlist for many years. The chance to see one while snorkelling, however fleetingly, added to the magic of my morning.

A second dive brought more turtle encounters, bringing an end to a perfect day, and one that I’ll cherish for many years to come. My thanks go to Seamus, Paul, Hamada, and the entire Emperor team in Port Ghalib for such a fantastic day.

Emperor Divers are one of the longest running and most experienced dive operators in the Red Sea. They have gained a well-deserved reputation for both professionalism and excellent customer service. Based in the Marina Lodge in Port Ghalib, a short distance from Marsa Alam airport, Emperor Divers made the ideal base to explore the diving in this area.

If you’d like to discover the underwater treasures of Marsa Alam for yourself, contact Regaldive for a quotation.  

Emperor Divers operate another dive centre in El Gouna, along with a number of liveaboards as well. Contact our friendly team on 01353 659999 for full details of the diving opportunities on offer with Regaldive and Emperor Divers

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