Marsa Alam – The Red Sea

The main reason we wanted to visit Egypt was to snorkel in the Red Sea. Our destination of choice for the snorkeling after much research was the area known as Marsa Alam. We drove 6 hours from Luxor to Marsa Alam to reach our destination of Resta Reef resort. The resort had its own house reef, which was amazing, but unfortunately it was not sheltered from the wind. On a few of the days it was unsafe to snorkel with the large waves crashing onto the reef, so those were snorkeling days lost.

Just next next door was the resort called Coraya bay, which had a sheltered bay for snorkeling that was protected from the elements. We managed to convince them to allow us onto their beach after much performing….we now know that hotels own beaches in Egypt and assuming you can walk along a beach and swim where you want is a mistake.

One of the days that we were not able to snorkel at Resta Reef, we instead went on a snorkel tour, where we were taken out to sea to a pristine reef for snorkeling. We managed to see lots of corals and turtles, but one thing that still eluded us was the Dugong. We were taken to the dugong feeding area, and although they were around, we were unable to see one, which was very dissapointing.

After a few days at Resta reef we were almost going to leave Marsa Alam altogether, but we werent ready to give up the fight to see a dugong. We did some more research and found good reports about dugong sightings at Abu Dabbab bay, so we booked accommodation and left Resta Reef resort.

Abu Dabbab lodge was where we checked into next. The lodge was a 5 minute walk down to the beach, and we were excited to find an awesome reef on both sides of the bay, as well as an abundance of sea life such as turtles, lion fish, sting rays, moray eels, octopus, and too many other reef fish to name. The reef at Abu Dabbab bay was the best reef we have ever seen, corals and fish in huge abundance, and the best part was we did not need to book a tour, and we could enjoy snorkeling all day in the pristine clear water.

After searching since Indonesia for dugongs, we finally got to swim with one in Abu Dabbab bay! The dugong visit to feed on the sea grass, and we were able to swim right next to the dugong many times, he was not phased by our presence and we got to have a magical encounter that we will never forget.

Another amazing experience was the dolphin tour that the guys at Abu Dabbab arranged for us. Our tour began at sunrise, with a 2hour bus journey to the port, followed by an approximately 2.5 hour boat trip in big swells, to Sataya bay, which was a reef 11km off shore, where the biggest pods of spinner dolphins frequent. We managed to swim with the wild dolphins many times as they circled the area, playing with each other, making dolphin sounds, and investigating us. This was another experience we will most certainly never forget.

The reef and sea life in Abu Dabbab bay was so exquisite, that we extended our stay, to have more time with the fishes. The beach was amazing to relax on, with lots of free beach chairs and beach tents with bars etc, but we spent most of our time in the water.

Another unforgetabe experience we had at Abu Dabbab bay was an introduction to scuba diving. We went into the water on the beach with our diving gear and swam along the amazing reef. It was a new experience being at the bottom of the sea as opposed to floating on the top with the snorkel, holding your breath to dive down. We absolutely loved the experience and the location was the perfect one to experience this for the first time.

We felt we could have stayed at Abu Dabbab forever, it was everything we were looking for, but it was not cheap, so we had to move on to our next destination on our Egypt journey.

bali Gili Islands Nature

Gili Air, an escape from the real world

Gili Air is a small rustic island near to Bali, that is only accessible by boat, and on the island there are no cars or petrol motorbikes.

We arrived by fast boat, which we took from Padang Bai, on Bali.

Gili Air island does not have proper paved roads, only dirt roads and foot paths. The only way to get anywhere is by foot, bicycle, boat, or by horse and cart. It is so small, that you can walk around the entire island in about 2 hours.

The entire island is literally a village in the middle, with restaurants, dive shops, and bars around the edge, facing out to sea.

We checked into the cheapest island accommodation we could find, which was Gili Air garden. It was a small bungalow, with a futon, fan, mosquito net, and private bathroom. It only took about 3 minutes to walk to the beach from the accommodation so we were able to really take advantage of the warm tropical ocean numerous times a day.

The island was filled with lots of travellers from all over the world, mostly backpacker types looking for a relaxed island life. If there ever was a ‘chill out’ island, Gili Air is it.

We explored the paths around the island and through the villagers’ houses on foot, and other times we hired a bicycle to get around, just for something different. It was fun to cycle without any cars to worry about.

We made the best of the island, going snorkeling at the beach every day with turtles, and lots of vibrantly coloured fish and corals. Every day we went snorkeling by ourselves for hours, and one of the days we treated ourselves to a snorkeling tour with a local guide. The guide took us on a boat to some amazing coral reefs around the island, where we saw lots of beautiful fish and of course more turtles.

Some evenings we were treated to an amazing sunset on the beach, the sea was extremely calm with no waves and the water reflected the pink sky like a mirror. The weather was hot and humid every day, with occasional down pours of heavy rain, and thunder storms which didnt seem to last very long. The nights were less humid, but still very hot, so having a room with a fan or aircon is a necessity.

The electricity supply on the island is a bit dodgy, and the entire island often had days where there was no power for hours a few hours in the afternoon. We also experienced power cuts during the night, which was bad when your room is like a sauna, and you cant open the door without inviting a million mosquitos.

While we were on the island, there was a free trance festival at one of the beach bars, which made our experience even more interesting.

We saw some of the local wild life again, with a scorpion we found in our room one night, lots of large golden orb spiders and giant snails that we would find crossing the foot paths at night.

On one of the days we thought our eyes were playing tricks on us, as we noticed what looked like a horse on a boat….and it turned out, that it was! The first and probably last time we will ever see a horse on a boat! We suspected the horse either went on one of the many snorkeling tours available on the island, or possibly just a trip to the vet, lol!

We got so used to the extremely slow and relaxed lifestyle on the island that we were not looking forward to going back to the real world.

If you are looking for a place to do nothing but relax, snorkel, lie on the beach and chill, Gili Air is definitely the island to do that.