Diving at Soma Bay, Egypt

Posted on April 16, 2015

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Soma Bay is on a small peninsular on the Red Sea, about 45km from Hurghada in Egypt. It’s a tourist resort, but a nice one. Small, with just a few hotels, mostly five star including a Sheraton, Kempinski and Robinson. Reefs surround the peninsular so snorkelling and diving is abundant, and the bay itself, on the southern side, is fairly sheltered so there aren’t many currents. It’s also incredibly windy which make it an excellent designation for kit surfers and windsurfers.

IMG_0163We stayed at Breakers, a surfing and diving lodge on the Northern tip….and I absolutely loved it.  Luxury Hotels have their place however sometimes I just prefer a more relaxed friendly vibe, and Breakers certainly has it. There’s a mix of ages and backgrounds, mainly German and Swiss whilst we were there, and a congenial atmosphere. The roof deck comes complete large bean bags and cushions – is a perfect spot for a pre dinner drinks watching the sun go down over the mountains.

Food at Breakers, and the other hotels, is largely buffet style which would generally put me off however I was massively impressed with all the fresh food and fish/meat grilled or BBQ’d to order. Mostly check and fish, there was also a number of other options. Hot and cold food – I loved the cucumber and tomato salads with feta, baked aubergines and various hummus/tahini/yoghurt type sauces. At the Sheraton I was particularly wowed by the fresh tuna sushi – straight out the sea that afternoon. Wine is expensive and not great but local beer is good and we quickly got into the habit of a pre dinner G&T (the beanbags and view helped!). For drinking purposes only use bottled water, which is all charged for but not ridiculously.

IMG_0257On the sea font at Breakers is a 420m long wooden pier, taking you out to the house reef. They do all the check dives and open water courses here, plus it’s a great spot for snorkelling.

Breakers hosts the local dive lodge, Orca, which is exceptionally well managed. Relaxed, everything worked like clock work, was fun and the equipment was in prefect condition. The boats the used were the best dive boats I have ever been on and they make a point not to overcrowd them so there is plenty of space. Each dive group was a max of 6 people, usually 4 or 5 with the choice for experienced divers of being guided not.

IMG_0251Already a huge fan of diving in the red sea, this trip served to compound that view. Fish life is aplenty – including banner fish, clown fish (and a few babies!), angel fish, scorpion fish, barracuda, tuna, spotted rays, turtles, moray eels and for those with keen eyesight, the odd stonefish. At Tobia Kebir we swum with a 5ft long, 4 ft tall Napoleon Wrasse – absolutely incredible to be so up close with such a huge fish who was seemingly oblivious to us. And this would have been the star attraction had we not spotted a pod of dolphins whilst diving at Abu Kefan…who then came over to check us out and play. Two days afterwards I still had a huge grin on my face – an exceptional experience!

photoAbout 7km south of Breakers is the 7Bft kite surfing lodge. There’s a free shuttle from Breakers, or it’s a nice walk along the coast and Marina, with a little off roading the last couple of kilometres. It’s a nice place to while away a few hours and watch people on the water.

I was quite happily amused locally with diving, various water sports, and doing a bit of training (I’ve signed up to a triathlon in the summer) but there are a couple other excursions that I heard good reports of:

A day trip to Luxor to see the temples costing around £100 per person (more about my trip to Luxor in 2010 here)

Horse riding on the beach, and if warm enough, swimming with the horses

It’s an easy and cheap trip from the UK with virtually guaranteed sunshine. What’s not to love?

To get to Soma Bay, flight/hotel packages are often best value. It’s also easy enough to book your own flights, although there are limited scheduled flights, and then take a taxi (around £40) to Soma Bay. Make sure you have cash when you arrive – £ or US$ are ok – for the visa. Add about 20% to the published prices, there’s a little racket going on there!!

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