Red Sea: diving in a fascinating bay with turtles

Whether with fins – mask – snorkel or better when diving, meeting with turtles is always a magical experience.

If we can see them all over the world, there are places where we can be sure of seeing turtles on every dive.

Egypt and its marvelous Red Sea is certainly part of it and the bay of Abu Dabbab even more. A few hours flight from Europe, this destination hides treasures of life in its clear waters .

We planned to dive in the bay of Abu Dabbab hoping to see the dugongs (before realizing that they are more often in a nearby bay accessible only to snorkelers) and we fall in love of the two coral reefs that enclose a large herbarium where turtles lend themselves willingly to the game of photographers and other underwater paparazzi.

As I explained in the article “diving with the dugongs in Madagascar“, dugongs are large mammals threatened with extinction. I really wanted to have the unique chance to meet them and I felt disappointed when the head of the dive center told me that it was more during a snorkeling trip that I could hope to see.
However, I am fortunate and continue with my positive attitude and my special trick to make each dive a magical moment (Just for you, I’ll explain here what it is 😉) .

Therefore, once the disappointment is over, I decided to focus on the discovery of the bay and the promise of a rich fauna and flora as I already observed it especially when I tested the diving cruise.

Abu Dabbab is a large semi-circular bay located between Marsa Alam and its airport. Here, at the edge of the Red Sea, the Sahara desert dies in the clear waters of this sea full of life and colors.

On these shores, resorts have grown since the construction of the airport that has allowed Marsa Alam to become a popular tourist area for scuba diving enthusiasts.

Some diving clubs are located in the heart of this bay, settling here and there between the two huge hotels that stretch at its ends. This is the case of the Blue Ocean Center, which was recently taken over by Corina (proof that diving is also for women).

Other facilities offer half-day excursions for diving enthusiasts wanting to explore the amazing Abu Dabbab Bay.

Shallow, Abu Dabbab Bay attracts a large audience. Indeed, this dive spot is clearly accessible to divers of all levels and allows to go to meet this fauna and this extraordinary flora even on the occasion of an intro dive.

On the north reef, the wall leads the divers to a depth of about thirty meters. Here we cross glass fishes schools in the hollow of a rock, an absolutely huge moray eel, a bench of cuttlefish playing with us moving from east to west twirling among the corals, soft worms or anemones who let themselves go by the roll of the sea.

Des calamars qui nagent proche de la surface
© DifferentDive | DDIVE

The show is everywhere. Titan triggerfish sleeps on the reef, the blue-spotted stingrays takes a close look at us, the stone fish try to remain camouflaged (but we have seen him!) while lion fishes spread their fins like sails.

The South Reef also offers us a marvelous show and we like to think that we are at once in a giant open-air aquarium where sea creatures evolve in freedom and seem almost to enjoy the swim of snorkelers and divers, … ephemeral passersby.

Lesser than its northern counterpart, the southern reef ends with some coral potatoes scattered here and there  at about 20 meters deep.

While one might think that the show is only happening on both reefs, it is in the middle that we will meet surprisingly and fabulously large green turtles.

The shallow bottom between the two coral reefs hosts an herbarium. Those who, like me, are familiar with Mediterranean type herbarium where posidonia are present in abundance will be surprised while seeing these tiny green grasses dotting the sandy bottom of Abu Dabbab Bay. Difficult to imagine that these small grassy spots serve as food for these great reptiles.

And yet …

While swimming to the south of  the southern reef, we let our eyes get lost on the left from time to time to see … to see what?

And suddenly it’s there, this huge shape with undefined outlines. We hesitate a little and take the course to the north decided to go see more closely.

A green turtle, huge, graze (can we say that for a turtle? 🤔) peacefully under the crackling flashes of a photographer.

Un plongeur photographiant une tortue
© DifferentDive | DDIVE

She is huge and receives on her back two remoras somewhat fearful. We are waiting for the photographer’s departure to approach us too, this fantastic prehistoric creature. She does not seem at all embarrassed and it is the heart full of joy and gratitude that we leave her a few minutes later to venture further into the herbarium.

And it’s a festival of life that begins. Not one or two but seven turtles will do us the honor of their presence to make this exceptional dive. Some look at us with a distracted eye as one of them tells with a paw on the camera that we are getting too close and she wants to “have lunch alone and peacefully.”

The show is also made even more beautifull by the passage of a kind of an eagle ray or jack fish.

Deux plongeurs derrière une raie
© DifferentDive | DDIVE

Of course we repeat the experience the following days without getting tired of the impressive show that is offered to us and amazes us and it is the head full of beautiful images that we end our stay in Marsa Alam.

Une tortue évoluant dans l'eau claire
© DifferentDive | DDIVE

Have you always wanted to meet sea turtles? For sure, Abu Dabbab Bay will most certainly please you

From now on, Abu Dabbab Bay is my favorite landmark for sea turtle observation.

What is your special turtle spot?

Above all … do not forget to be happy  🤗

Helene

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