Ankur and I had received our SCUBA diving certification (Open Water Diving) in September 2012. While I was keen to get the Advanced Open Water Diving certification as well, Ankur had pretty much had enough of the underwater world. I guess after the first few dives, he had figured our that he might never get lucky enough to run into a mermaid. Hence, diving did not seem worth the effort.
As we set foot in Aqaba, we realised that the Red Sea water was still cold in March – taking a dip was a Herculean task, which made us wonder whether we were indeed warm blooded creatures! This was enough to ensure that Ankur read a book at the shore while I went diving.
Strike a good deal
You can bargain for everything in Jordan – right from a bottle of water to the price of a dive. You can bargain everywhere in Jordan – across the counter and on email too! I received quotes ranging from JD 50 per dive to JD 25 per dive (provided we do a total of 4 dives). There was an option of a boat dive – fishing and diving, which was slightly on the higher side. I decided to go ahead with a shore dive (with Aqaba International Dive Centre) – most of the dives in Aqaba can be done from the shore as well as the boat (same dive site).
Where to stay?
If diving is all that you want to diving, it would make a lot of sense to stay close to South Beach, which is about 30 min drive from Aqaba city. There isn’t anything to do in the area – not much of a market place or restaurants. However, there are plenty of dive schools offering budget accommodation.
Diving makes me hungry!
We stayed a little more towards where the ‘action’ was – the Intercontinental at downtown Aqaba. There were some very nice restaurants 10 min (walking distance) away. We had dinner at Ali Baba – highly recommended – I haven’t eaten more fragrant rice ever in my life! Another night, we had a vegetarian pizza at Papaya – great service. Limited options for us vegetarians, but great value for money and flavoursome food at both Ali Baba and Papaya.
There is plenty to choose from – the Rainbow Reef, Japanese Garden, dive the Tank… and even a wreck.
I did only one dive – the Japanese Garden. The coral health was as good as that in the Maldives and I could not stop admiring the sea goldfish. I even saw a box fish and a puffer fish.
There was plenty of soft coral – I sat down on the sea bed and just stared at a coral hill… It was like being on the sets of ‘Finding Nemo’ – there were so many clown fish. I was hoping that I would run into Nemo, with the special fin, but I wasn’t lucky. Maybe he was off for a vacation to meet Poseidon at Atlantis?
I think my next dive will be in Croatia – in August. Hopefully, Nemo will be back from his vacation and we can exchange notes on a few dives. Maybe Ankur finds some optimism to dive and try his luck in meeting the mermaids……
As always… send me an e-mail if you need any further details. Glad to help!
Let the travellers’ tribe grow!