Why I love the Red Sea Surprise
Ask me my favorite place to dive and without missing a beat my answer is always: The Red Sea.
There are plenty of reasons tourists flock to the Egyptian Red Sea: 30 meter visibility (100 + feet), guaranteed sunshine, and spectacularly healthy and vibrant coral reefs- but the Red Sea Surprise is what keeps me jumping back in for a 3rd or even 4th dive of the day - everyday.
The Red Sea Surprise is a completely natural (read no chumming) and unexpected sighting of something super cool, like a giant manta ray feeding in graceful arcs just below the surface as you are doing your safety stop. It can also be a whale shark sighting when you are looking for nudi branchs. Or, as was the case on my most recent trip- two whale sharks decided to show up and take the stage away from the hammerheads and a huge thresher shark!
The Red Sea Surprise does not have to be humongous to qualify- it just has to be totally unexpected and awesome in it's own right. For instance, I once turned the corner on Shark Reef to catch a Napolean Wrasse chomping on an octopus. Slithering tenticles were comically hanging out of its closed mouth by the time I trained my camera on the spectacle.
Another time, in Naama Bay, mere meters from the shore I witnessed a mimic octopus doing it's thing right there in front of me and my two dive buddies. It's long been thought the mimic octopus is not found in the Red Sea - but we know better!
The Red Sea Surprise can also relate to unusual sea conditions - the Thistlegorm wreck is located in one of the busiest locations in the Gulf of Suez and is normally awash in strong currents and waves. One day, we pulled up to tie up the dive boat and the sea was strangely calm and as still as a millpond. You could actually see the Thistlegorm's bow - 22 meters down- from the surface of the water clear as day. We had a few incredible dives under these unusual circumstances and were able to visit both locomotives - that are about 30 meters away from the main wreck on either side of the Thistlegorm and normally not easy to dive.
The Red Sea offers all kinds of diving from Wrecks & Reefs in the north, to big Pelagic & Shark dives in the middle, to pinnacles and swim-throughs in the south. Each area has it's cast of regulars and features that you can expect - but don't forget to keep one eye in the blue and the other on the reef so you can catch your own Red Sea Surprise!
Tell us about your unexpected sightings in the comments below!