The Red Sea in summer
I am surrounded by sparkling sky-blue sea, softly caressing breeze, infinite tranquility and serene silence as I am sitting in front of the captain’s bridge. Meanwhile the large boat glides from one coral reef to another and I can hardly wait to dive! Until now I have been travelling to the Red Sea for safaris only in the spring and late fall when you could already use a sweater between dives and sometimes a hat too to warm your ears. But to enjoy the richest spectacle, I used to prefer these two periods.
Now, that I have also experienced a summer diving safari, I know this season cannot be missed either in Egypt! The sea is transparent and visibility can be well over 40-50m! From the bow I am gazing at the corals on the sea bottom and schools of fish startled by the noise of the engines. We arrive to the next dive site. We anchor and start getting ready for the dive. I can see the velvet blue rippling beneath me from the boat and the nearby reef glistening in emerald green and dark brown colours.
This time I leave my dive suit on the boat as only a pair of shorts will do in the 28-30-degree water. I cannot see any other boats in the area. And this continues on at almost every site during the week. We are in the Ras Mohamed National Park and getting ready to jump in at the Shark-Yolanda reef. In August at full moon red snapperfish, barracudas and batfish gather here into schools by the hundreds, getting ready to spawn. These gatherings provide an impressive sight!
Finally I am in the water and I can give myself over to weightlessness. Black pilotfish flash by me. I turn onto my back to see the sun rays breaking the water surface and as I begin to laugh, the bubbles escape from my regulator scaring away a small fish swimming above me. I turn towards the reef and suddenly an underwater fairy garden unfolds, made of shells and lacy corals in the shape of an “S”. I watch as a snail wearily begins its long journey on a rock and next to it a clownfish is playing among the purple-tipped tentacles of a poisonous anemone. It is just like a kid – I figure.
I notice a barracuda not far from the reef. Motionless it opens its teeth-filled mouth and moves as I move by it, frozen as a majestic statue. At the end of the dive I approach the boat and see a turtle rushing to the surface for air. I watch it holding back my breath.
As I reach the back of the boat, helping hands reach for me and the ever-ready crew take my fins. Summer is not only great because you can survive a holiday with one T-shirt a day but also because the days are a lot longer than in spring and fall. In the evenings, when the group gathers on the covered upper deck, the sea stands still in ink-blue silence, only a couple of strayed waves splash against the side of the boat and rock you gently like a cradle. The week seems to be passing a lot faster this time around. I ponder the idea of being able to spend a whole month at sea. And I will – at least another week. Next summer!
Text: Livia (Völgyesi) Hertelendy
Photos: Daniel Selmeczi