Last week we had our second excellent experience with Colona Divers, this time in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Colona is a Scandinavian dive operator with shops in Hurghada (where we first dived with them in 2005) and El Gouna in addition to Sharm.
We did dives 22-30 with Colona from October 10-15. We should have started our diving on the 8th but I was feeling ill (heat exhaustion) on the evening of the 7th so we decided to join Colona as snorkelers for our first day. Unfortunately there was some miscommunication between the dive shop and the dive masters on our boat. We enjoyed our first snorkeling stop but the next two stops were for drift dives (we were the only snorkelers on the boat) and we were not informed of this – in fact the dive briefing indicated the boat would remain stationary. At the second stop, after swimming around a bit, we noticed the boat had moved quite far away – to the other side of the reef! Alarmed, we quickly aborted our snorkeling and swam quickly to the boat. The divers had a third dive but we stayed on the boat. In retrospect we could have also probably cleared up the confusion at the time but we were spooked and actually not too happy with Colona after that day.
More health woes (Pharoah’s Revenge – me again) prevented us from diving (or even leaving the hotel – poor Arthur!) on the 9th of October. Colona was extremely understanding of our postponing our diving two times in a row, and this was a great reflief.
Finally on the 10th of October we had our first dives with Colona. Since our last diving was just under a year ago in Key Largo, we started with a Scuba Review with Sarah, a freelance diving instructor working in Sharm for various dive shops. We aced our written test and the underwater skills review went fine as well. We had to show that we could clear our masks, retrieve a lost regulator and maintain buoyancy underwater. After the skills review we had a relaxing dive at ‘Middle Garden’, a local dive site. Highlights of this dive were seeing a very small baby Blue-spotted Stingray (about the size of hamburger bun), a family of Red Sea Anemonefish (Clownfish) with a baby, and two Red Sea Walkmen.
Over the next few days we made more dives with Colona and their great dive masters and guides. Yolanda & Shark Reef was a particularly memorable dive. During the week we saw many more (adult) Blue-spotted Stingrays, several Moray Eels, Lionfish, Unicornfish, Porcupine- and Pufferfish, huge Groupers, schools of Bannerfish and Batfish, our first octopus, and lots of beautiful corals and a huge variety of reef fish on our dives.
One day there was an underwater videographer from Hydrosphere on our boat. She took videos of the guests setting up their gear, jumping in the water and swimming around during the dives. At the end of the day, as the boat sailed back to the jetty, we all watched the video she made. She saw a lot more sealife than we did and made a great video in a very short time, we were very impressed.
Sarah, Lindsey, Pertti, David, and Agany were all great dive guides. We also went snorkeling once with Judy and she was an excellent snorkel guide. Laurie and Marianne were also great with their boat briefings and keeping track of everyone. We were on three different Colona boats during the week and the crews were also outstanding, helping divers with their gear and serving delicious and filling lunches. We were on the Colibri, the Dalia R and the Diavola (recently out of dry dock), all extremely comfortable dive boats.
It was a great week of diving with a super dive operator. We are looking forward to our next diving with Colona Divers!