Home Dive Spots Full immersion holiday: the Liveaboards!

Full immersion holiday: the Liveaboards!


Just imagine…living for seven, ten or fourteen days on a floating hotel, pampered and spoiled, in air-conditioned cabins with en-suite bathrooms and piped music, a comfy lounge with all entertainment gadgets from DVD's to video's and surround Dolby stereo, a kitchen open the whole day serving main meals plus an embarrassingly big amount of snacks and treats in between, with no other horizon than a blue sea and 180 degrees of pure, sunny, clear sky in all directions.

The only stress being whether you make a dive or not, you eat or not, you drink or not…and how much lead shall I need, shall I take the camera underwater or not, maybe a nitrox tank will do for this long shallow barrier, or shall we have a slice of cake after or before the dive???

Yes a live aboard is an extreme holiday, for extreme divers, or for lovers of extreme beauty.
You live in close contact with virgin nature and passionate people, and the activities are limited to diving, diving, diving, and perhaps some sun tanning, snorkeling, and swimming, with one or two "stressful" matches of backgammon in between… Of course the space is limited, and total privacy is somehow a luxury. That's why it is recommended that a liveaboard safari trip is booked only in groups of good buddies or families (but there is also a twist to it if you are a laid back person, sociable and curious, and you go for an individual trip looking forward to meeting totally unknown people from all over the world…).
Liveaboard holidays in the Red Sea have become a must not only because of the fascination that a cruising holiday has over all of us, but also because some remote locations (and consequently virgin dive sites) could only be reached with a safari boat.

Traditionally, there are seven main liveaboard routes in the Egyptian Red Sea. The top of the top is of course the South Marine Parks itinerary, probably the most sought-after safari in the world by passionate divers.

It takes you to the best and most remote dive sites of the legendary South, from Daedalus Reef to Zabargad Island, to Rocky Island and St. John's Reefs. This means manta rays, dolphins, and a true festival of sharks from hammerheads to tigers, silky, oceanic black and white tips, etc. etc. etc…. Weather conditions are better from April to November, but top pelagic season is May and June.

Next for amazing underwater life is the South Safari from Marsa Alam to St. John's. It follows the coast to visit unforgettable sites as Samadai, house of a huge and friendly community of spinner dolphins, Shaab Osama with its wealth of sharks, down to great St. John's with top dive sites in between.  December is a quiet month for this safari and weather conditions are still great. A variation of this route is the Marsa Alam - Elphinstone - South Safari, which doesn't reach St. John's but goes a bit north to magical Elphinstone Reef, a site of election for sharks’ sightings.

Another favorite is the safari to the Brother Islands, two underwater mountains exactly in the middle of nowhere which have fuelled the imagination (and the pub tales…) of all Red Sea divers during the past fifteen years… Hammerheads are their main highlight, but the thriving underwater life helped by isolation and constant open sea currents is something not to be missed.

For intermediate divers, a great choice is the Safaga safari. The itinerary, at only 60 km. south of Hurghada, touches dive sites protected from rough weather, and ranges from easy shallow but colorful dives as Shaab Saiman and Ras Abu Soma to the top drift and drop off dives at Panorama Reef and Abu Qifan, where white tips reef sharks reside, including, for the wrecks, the poignant Salem Express.

A must for wreck lovers is the North Route Safari. Variations depend on whether you depart from Hurghada or from Sharm el Sheikh, but the main destinations are the underwater museums of Abu Nuhas (with four historical wrecks: Chrisoula K., Kimon M., Giannis D. and Carnatic) on the eastern side of the Straits of Gubal, and the South Sinai's Thistlegorm and Dunraven. Finally, a refreshing series of dives is done in fabulous Ras Mohamed Marine Park.

Remember that some itineraries are only for experience divers and require an Advanced Diver Level and at least 50 logged dives! Ask to your tour operator which route better fits your skills in diving BEFORE buying your package!  ..and then … ENJOY YOUR TIME!!!

 

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John Kean is author of 'SS Thistlegorm, The True Story of the Red Sea's Greatest Ship Wreck'. He is also a board member of Sharm El Sheikh's SSDM
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Liquidskin is the first bi-silicone mask worldwide. As its name implies, Liquidskin adapts perfectly to almost any facial shape. Until now masks
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