May 16, 2016
With the temperatures unseasonably warm and rising we headed south to Aqaba on the Red Sea, one of the hottest places in Jordan. The landscape was desolate and washed out in the intense sun.
As we passed the Wadi Rum turn off the sky was so hazy you could barely see any of the rock formations the region is known for, leaving me wondering if we really wanted to do an overnight in this famed desert in two days’ time. We left this decision for a future date and focused on our next adventure, diving in the Red Sea.
I had arranged a two tank boat dive with Ahlan Aqaba Scuba Diving Center, a highly rated dive center on Tripadvisor and conveniently locate around the corner from our hotel, Movenpick Resort and Residences Aqaba.
Ricki, the Padi instructor, sent me an email that he would meet us at our hotel at 9am and walk us to the dive center, completely unnecessary as it was easy to find and literally 3 minutes from the hotel, 2 if you use the back entrance.
There were only a handful of guests, all with different agendas on the same boat – Don and I are certified and were doing a two tank dive, one young Indian man currently living in SF was not certified and doing an introductory dive with skills component, another German young man was doing a nitro course, and an older woman from New Zealand was from a cruise ship in port and was just snorkeling, She was there with a crew member from the ship who also dived with us.
Ricki did a great job managing the different needs, taking the certified people down first and then while we were resting between dives taking the uncertified guy down. There was a lot of idle time but on a very hot day there is no other place in Aqaba that I would rather be than hanging out on boat, the coolest place in town.
I should mention that Don and I are new to diving and so I can’t really compare the quality of the coral, marine life and visibility to other locations.
The Dive Sites
First the Cedar Pride Wreck. At 18 meters or so, it was deliberately sunk here for recreational purposes in 85.
Lots of jelly fish in the water,
the non-stinging kind.
The second site was the Japanese Gardens, a pretty reef with colorful fish at 15m. The German told me he thought that the reef was not as nice as others he had seen because a lot of it was dead. New to diving I found the marine life fascinating and the diving easier because we stayed at a consistent depth.
The third site was the Power Station, a wall that drops off into the abyss. The same kind of marine life that we saw at the Japanese garden. Wish I had had my camera but we went down to 18 meters and my camera is only good to 15m.
This third dive was an add-on to the original program. They had asked us once we were on board if we wanted to do a third dive and would only do it if everyone at least agreed to wait until the end of the extra dive.
As you emerged from the sea on to the boat after the third dive you could smell lunch – chicken kababs on the barbeque. A nice spread of salads, humus, chicken kababs, roasted peppers and pita bread. Sandwiches had also been served earlier, with water, soft drinks and tea available anytime.
The boat was shaded, plenty big for our group and well run. The staff does practically everything for you and keeps your gear organized. Great for beginners but maybe a little too controlling for advanced divers.