Snorkeling In Sharm El Sheikh – Choosing The Right Trip For You
Written by Jaillan Yehia
I’m the first to be picked up for today’s boat trip to go snorkeling in Sharm el Sheikh, so I get chatting to the rep as we take the minibus to the next hotel.
Like the rest of the staff at Emperor Divers – and as I soon realise the clients too – my guide is a Brit. I ask him how he ended up in Egypt and the explanation that follows about why Egypt is the perfect mid-haul holiday destination is far more straightforward than I expect…
Sharm is the closest top notch diving spot to England that’s hot all year round, the guide explains. Unlike most world-class dive sites, you can fly here in 5 hours from the UK, and be home in the same amount of time if you need to be there for your family and friends; it’s a no-brainer for a dedicated diver. Simple.
Sharm is synonymous with incredible undersea activities, with 260 species of marine life including dolphins, turtles and every colour of fish and coral you could imagine. Divers and snorkelers head to Ras Mohammed National Park as well as the famous nearby wrecks in the Red Sea.
But for a semi-experienced snorkeler like me today’s trip is even more ideal. That’s because Emperor are one of the only companies who organise dedicated day trips purely for snorkeling in Sharm El Sheikh, rather than tagging us onto a diving trip, hanging around while the the more complex needs of the divers are (quite rightly) taken care of in great detail.
As I’ve snorkeled before, I’m happy using the equipment, but there’s a wide range of snorkeling abilities on board including a couple of people who are totally new to it and quite intimidated by the masks, flippers – and even in the case of one girl scared by the idea of being within touching distance of fish.
The boat itself isn’t the most modern or luxurious vessel on offer, but it is fine for our needs and I feel safe onboard.
Next the undoubted matriarch of the company, Sarah, takes charge and patiently tells us what the day will entail, while slipping off into asides to the boat’s crew in what seems like pretty fluent Arabic.
It turns out she has seen Sharm’s diving and snorkelling industry grow from the ground up and remembers when the only way to get under these waters was to lug your own equipment down to a single broken jetty and fend for yourself.
Despite being a total pro she’s happiest looking after the nervous passengers and gently convincing them to give snorkeling a go – and says she specialises in coaching people who are unsure of what to expect and gets a massive kick out of seeing them leave at the end of the day having conquered their fears with a great big smile on their faces, which must be so rewarding.
Those of us who are confident aren’t babysat on this trip like I have been on other trips, and the fact we’re free to explore the area around us until lunch or tea is served without being forced to stay in a pack is greatly appreciated.
Pick up is later in the morning than most trips too, which suits me perfectly as I did the tiring day trip to Cairo the day before, and we’re taken to two quieter snorkeling spots at a leisurely pace rather than rushing to the three most famous spots. Organisation-wise this seems spot on.
Plus instead of being kitted out on land with the gear we need, wasting time and creating a sense of boredom, we choose the right flippers and masks on the boat.
There are some new flippers being trialled on board today for the first time. Most flippers have a solid heel section which is prone to splitting, but this design has a strap that fastens around the heel, making them easier to adjust and hopefully longer-lasting.
We’re all asked to give our verdict on the flippers and we give them the thumbs up. Sarah tells the crew in Arabic that the new flippers are the best – ‘Meya Meya’ she says. It means ‘100, 100’ but in Arabic it translates to ‘excellent, excellent’, and honestly, that was pretty much my verdict on the day as a whole.
Questions To Ask About Your Day Snorkeling In Sharm El Sheikh
Do you get kitted out with gear on land or on the boat?
Getting your gear before departure wastes time and might make for a boring start to your day
How large is the group?
If there are too many people will you be lost in the crowd?
Is the group mixed nationalities?
As great as it is to meet new people from other countries if you have to hear everything that’s said all day repeated in 3 languages, you’ll get a headache by the end of the trip!
Are you allowed to go off and snorkel at your own pace, or do you have to stay with a leader and the rest of the group?
If you are more or less confident than the average person, it can mean you don’t get the experience you’d like if you’re led around as a group
What time is the pick-up?
Do you want to be picked up super-early to cram a lot in or would you prefer your day to unfold at a more leisurely pace? I know which I prefer.
Are nervous snorkelers catered for?
If you haven’t snorkeled before or are afraid of water, swimming or fish, this is the number one question you need to ask before you book, as the attention you are given can make or break your impression of snorkeling.
Savoir There was a guest of Emperor Divers but all opinions are honest – if my best friend asked me what I thought of this trip this post sums up exactly what I would say to her.
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