Underwater Love in Aqaba

Tags:

Be Sociable, Share!
Underwater Love in Aqaba

With the sun blazing above, I close my eyes and launch backwards over the side of the boat. The desert temperature, which had pounded mercilessly on the thick black dive suit abates almost instantly, and at eye level the blue waters take on an extra shade of luminescence. A heavy splash signals the divemaster’s entrance, and we take the cue to let the air from our jackets and slowly sink into the calm Red Sea.

Aqaba is something of a paradox of geographical blessings. On land the cityscape is the bleached white and tan of a typical Middle Eastern town. Square buildings are bordered by a horizon of dusty mountains, with only the odd palm tree providing a break from the desert scenery. But below the surface, Aqaba as you knew it vanishes in a swirl of exotic underwater perfection.

Most far-flung dive sites enjoy the kind of colour scheme which holiday brochures are quick to capitalise, but here in Jordan’s Special Economic Zone, the spectrum really is something else. This is turquoise like you’ve never seen it before, rendered searing bright from the overhead sun, and painted in stark contrast to the heavy carpet of ever-changing coral, which stretches as far as the eye can see.

Then of course, there are the fish. Despite being a relatively diminutive stretch of coast, this part of the world forms a natural slim gulf with plenty rocky outcrops, making it perfect for aquatic life to intermingle and coexist. The variety of sea-life here puts the region on a par with the Great Barrier Reef – quite some feat when you consider it to be at least ten times smaller. The net result is to herd these many types into one convenient location, making diving here a voyage of quite breathtaking discovery.

Moving through the calm waters towards these mighty remains we’ve already encountered an impressive array of marine life. Our dive master stops us to point out an enormous lion fish its huge main of dappled spines striking quite an incredible contrast to the waving seaweed. Seemingly unperturbed this ornate predator floats unselfconsciously as one diver after another swims in to get a closer look, leaving the remainder to cluster around, mesmerised by the sheer size of the display.

Despite a heavy population of fish and other wildlife, however, this spectacular site is otherwise empty – a key advantage of this stretch of coast. It’s a phenomenon which would be unheard of in other dive sites of this calibre, and I later discover is a lucky, if not uncommon eventuality in Aqaba. To be free to explore such a magnificent collection of coral, fish and wreckage with only three or four other divers is one of the region’s big sells, but it’s only until you experience it for yourself that you realise just how privileged an uncrowded dive truly is.

‘Interested in more reading? For more articles about life in and on the sea, please visit www.themarineguide.com

Be Sociable, Share!

More from Issue 6 - October 2010

Norway – the sights to sea

Norway – the sights to sea

Norway is a lovely country, but there is rather a lot of it – especially if you try to see it by road. Taking a ferry or a train offers respite but this is certainly one country worth seeing by cruise ship.

Spoiled Brat

Spoiled Brat

Bratislava’s ‘Spa Island’ will have you carefree and caked in hot mud within minutes of arrival. Catherine Quinn plunges into the relaxing thermal waters.

Marina del Rey, home to LA’s chic boating crowd

Marina del Rey, home to LA’s chic boating crowd

Following the madness of LA’s busy tourist sites, spend some downtime lazing on and around the brilliant blue waters of LA’s upscale Marina del Rey.

Also in this issue:

  • Streetlife - Colaba Causeway – Mumbai
  • Home > 360 Traveller > Underwater Love in Aqaba

    Magazine sections:

    Copyright © 2010-2019 Traverati. All Rights Reserved.

    Contact Us