The Red Sea is one of my most special dive destinations because of the combination of the beautiful soft corals, the delightfully colored and prolific marine life, the world class shipwrecks, and of course the tropical water temperatures. Despite certain warnings and concerns of the United States government, I have been traveling to the Red Sea since 1998 and since August of 2010, I have been there for a total of 21 weeks. Each time I go, I dive with Capt. Karim Eric on his own liveaboard, the M/Y Aeolus, and we dive the northern area on either side of the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
My most recent trip was from August, 2013 until the end of October when many people were again too afraid to go to the Red Sea due to what they hear and see from the media. Unfortunately, the media does not portray what the great majority of the Egyptians feel they want for their future. But fortunately for me, I’ve never seen any safety problems whatsoever with traveling to the Red Sea and I even went to Cairo and spent many days touring for the antiquities as well as the famous Citadel and Library in Alexandria on this last trip.
Each time I go to the Red Sea, I leave from JFK in New York on Egypt Air and fly into Cairo for a two-hour layover before my one-hour flight to Sharm el Sheikh. Once I missed a flight home to JFK and spent 24 hours in Cairo airport and can attest to it being an extremely safe airport! And as for Sharm el Sheikh, absolutely no one there would even know there was any unrest whatsoever in Egypt if they didn’t have internet contact.
While in Cairo and Alexandria, I can attest to the fact that the streets are as busy as they have always been since the 90’s and people are walking and driving as normal as people do here in the U.S. (Well, as normal as Egyptian driving is anyway…) While traveling between any Egyptian cities, one can expect to make short stops at a number of police or military checkpoints watching for any illegal weapons or signs of terrorism. This surely gives me a sense of protection every time we get stopped.
It’s too bad for the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism that the media has been so rough on travel there, but the recent decline in the number of divers in the Red Sea has surely given the reefs and fish populations some extra time to rebound and flourish. Best of all for me, many times I was able to dive many popular dive sites without any other boats and divers around. My best four dives on this last trip were on the world-famous USS Thistlegorm when there were NO other boats and divers for a day and a half!
Author: Roger Roth