Appeared in DIVER November 2006

Diver Town in depth

Youve heard a lot about Dahab and youre planning your first trip out there - let Louise Trewavas do your homework for you

1 Daniela
2 Bedouin Moon & Reef 2000
3 Dive Urge
4 El Dorado
5 Blue Beach Club
6 Coral Coast & Fantasy Divers
7 Hard Rock
8 Planet Divers
9 Desert Divers
10 Sea Dancer
11 Red Sea Rangers
12 Red Sea Relax
13 Orca Divers
14 Emperor Divers
15 Sinai Divers Backpackers
16 Poseidon Divers
17 Club Red
18 Nesima
19 Bedouin Divers
20 Penguin Divers
21 Big Blue
22 Octopus Divers
23 Inmo
24 Hilton Dahab & Sinai Divers Dahab
25 Coralia & Saul Dive Club
26 Swiss Inn
27 Club Dahab
28 Diving in Dahab
29 Happy Life Village & Orca Dive Centre
Divernet

GETTING AROUND
All roads to and from Dahab lead - either north or south. The main road runs past Dahab, leading north to St Catherines Monastery, Nuweiba and Taba; or south, to Sharm el Sheikh.
The smaller, coastal road leads north to the Canyon, where it becomes drivable desert track until the Blue Hole. Beyond the Blue Hole, the only route north is to walk, or take camels to Ras Abu Gulum.
Going south, the road leads to the posh end of town - the Lagoon area by the Hilton. Beyond that, it leads to the only boat jetty, where you can catch a boat south to Gabriel Bint.
As you progress, the road quickly becomes desert track all the way down to Happy Life Village, situated right next to some of Dahabs most beautiful coral dives.
The easiest way to get around Dahab is to hail a pick-up. Quite often the taxis will actually hail you!
You can get anywhere in Dahab for 10 Egyptian pounds (about £1), no matter how many passengers there are, so dont pay the driver more unless youre going way out of town.
Taxis gather in the wide tarmacd area by the bridge.

DIVE CENTRES
There are many dive centres in Dahab, and most offer some form of technical diving, even if its just a twinset of air. Pick the centre with the kit, the attitude and approach that suits you. Weve picked out five technical dive centres:

EMPEROR DIVERS
A solid reputation has made this a favourite with western Europeans, including English, German and Swedish divers. The Tekstreme team is Emperors technical wing. The main tech instructor, Aaron, dives an Inspiration and offers rebreather and trimix courses. Its on the front, next to the Totas bar.

  • www.emperordivers.com

    FANTASEA DIVERS
    Tech instructor Tom Steiner speaks seven languages and has a huge wealth of diving experience. The centre offers open-circuit mixed-gas and Draeger rebreather training. Can supply Draegers, and any gas you require. Its situated next to the Nirvana restaurant, close to the lighthouse.
  • www.fanataseatec.com

    ORCA DIVERS
    One of the longest-established tech centres around, Orca has a reputation for pioneering many of the dives around Dahab. It offers all manner of technical training, equipment and gas. Its on the front, close to the Bridge, and also at Happy Life Village and Tropitel Dahab.
  • www.inspired-training.com/ dahaborcadiveclub.htm

    PLANET DIVERS
    This long-established centre, specialising in open-circuit mixed-gas diving, caters for all nationalities but has a strong base of eastern European divers. It provided support for Nuno Gomes during his world-record dive and is up by the lighthouse.
  • www.planetdivers.com

    REEF 2000 AT BEDOUIN MOON
    A friendlier bunch of tekkies would be hard to find. IANTD instructor Floh and top guide Tom Hodgson are fastidious with their compressor and kit. Tom is an Inspiration diver and the centre can get you Inspiration cylinders, sofnolime, helium and high-pressure 100% O2. Its slightly out of the town centre, on the road to Canyon and the Blue Hole.
  • www.reef2000.com


    HOTELS/DIVE CENTRES
    BEDOUIN MOON
    Home to the dive centre Reef 2000, this hotel backs onto the mountains and has a pool and pool bar that overlook the whole of Dahab. Very convenient for the best dive sites. Good-quality mid/economy-priced rooms.
  • hosting.menanet.net/~bedouinmoon/bedouinmoon/index.htm, www.reef2000.com

    DANIELA HOTEL
    Slightly out of town, this is a peaceful and self-contained resort with larger than normal rooms. If you like to chill, this is the place to go. A fantastic house reef at the front of the hotel means that your dive is within spitting distance of your room. The on-site dive centre has everything you need. Mid-priced/ reasonable.
  • www.daniela-hotels.com

    DIVE URGE
    This is a boutique-style hotel with chalets set around a courtyard. Everything has been carefully designed to make life as easy as possible for all divers. There is a great family atmosphere, on the beach, with the classic Eel Garden dive straight in front. Dive Urge is where the paved beachfront path ends, north of the town centre, and has the wonderful Three Stars cafÃ, nestled among palm trees, as its house restaurant. Mid-expensive accommodation.
  • www.dive-urge.com

    HAPPY LIFE VILLAGE
    A classic oasis-style hotel with rooms set around a fabulous pool area. With a selection of restaurants and bars, this resort is designed to provide for your every need - including an air-conditioned gym - on site. Happy Life is in Dahabs deep south, and it has a large number of dive sites within strolling distance. Other dive centres regularly ship groups down here by the pick-up-load, but theres plenty of room and sites for all. A small coach runs people into the town centre and back at 10pm for free. Mid-expensive price, but its all inclusive.
  • www.happylifehotel.com

    HILTON DAHAB
    At the posh southern end of town, the Hilton offers a luxurious standard of accommodation and its buffet attracts homesick dive guides from across Dahab for a taste of European-style cuisine. Its expensive by Dahab standards. There is a Sinai Divers centre on site.
  • www.hiltonworldresorts.com

    NESIMA RESORT & DIVE CENTRE
    A cute hotel with a lovely pool, right in the centre of town, Nesima has its own dive centre and a restaurant and bar that has a great reputation. The restaurant offers daily, three-course Divers Specials for about £6. Mid-priced, if slightly expensive by Dahab standards.
  • www.nesima-resort.com

    BARS
    There are two bars in Dahab that are particularly popular with divers, Totas and Blue Beach.
    Totas is on the front, near to the bridge and you cant possibly miss it: its shaped like a boat and looks well tacky. Happy hours, discos, film nights and some amazing homemade cakes make it a venue in demand, and youll often find newly qualified divemasters undergoing their snorkel test here.
    The bar at the Blue Beach Club hotel is the Furry Cup. Cheap beer and Sky Sports ensure that its always full of dive guides and instructors. The Blue Beach restaurant, Stone Ginger, is in a striking glass extension out front. Every taxi driver knows the location, and theres always a pick-up or two waiting to scrape you off the pavement and take you home.

    RESTAURANTS
    Many local restaurants dont serve alcohol, though most hotel restaurants will. There are two restaurant alleys - long lines of continuous beach-side eateries. These tend to be much of a muchness in terms of cuisine, but supply good-value food.

    AL KAFALEK
    Much-rated by dive guides, this offers great fresh food, and a beachfront location - and its very cheap! A good, fast Internet shop can be found just behind the cafÃ

    STONE GINGER (BLUE BEACH RESTAURANT)
    People go here for steaks and roast chicken. Most dive guides order from the Furry Cup bar, which has the same menu. Relatively expensive.

    EL DORADO
    Genuinely run by Italians, this place has the best pizzas, pastas and tiramisu in town. Relatively expensive.

    ILLY COFFEE BAR
    Bizarre and completely incongruous, but strangely great! Opposite this cafà and slightly down the alley are the steps to a good, fast, cheap launderette - just walk up and keep going until you meet a man with an ironing board.

    IL PESCATORI
    Italian fish restaurant with a good reputation. Relatively expensive.

    CARM INN
    The best description for this menu is world cuisine - a bit of everything from everywhere but all delicious, and there are plenty of vegetarian options. The fish kebabs are highly recommended and arrive sizzling at your table. Inexpensive.

    LAKBATITA (THE THREE FISHES)
    An eclectic restaurant with a Portuguese flavour. Amazing salad bar, great seafood and a heavenly dessert of baked cake with chocolate, smothered in melting ice cream. Seafood is quite expensive but most other dishes arent.

    NIRVANA
    Authentic Indian cuisine served on the beach. Drink lassi and masala chai, eat meat or vegetarian thalis. There is a range of curries and Indian desserts. Inexpensive.

    RED SEA RELAX
    Has to get a mention as its in the heart of town. Great dive centre with cafÃ, bar and Internet access. Theres a pool table and the people are always friendly and - relaxed! Its just by the bridge, so sooner or later whoever you are looking for will walk past (www.red-sea-relax.com)

    SEABRIDE
    The in-town - as in, not on the beachfront - fish restaurant frequented by locals and tourists alike. Very good value.

    THREE STARS
    Fabulous locally run cafà that specialises in pancakes and simple but tasty dishes. Cheap as chips.

    SHOPPING
    Ghazala is the centre of the Dahab universe,. Most business seems to be transacted through here. Whatever you want, youll find it in Ghazala. From batteries to shampoo, to fishing line to elephant-sized meat cleavers and adult incontinence pads. All of human life is here - as well as a collection of the tackiest souvenirs ever conceived. They will change money at a good rate, and theres also a handy cashpoint outside.

    LAUNDRY
    Laundry is done by weight. Just over halfway through your holiday, chuck everything youve worn in a bag and hand it over. For less than 20 Egyptian pounds (£2) youll have your clothes washed and pressed and youll arrive home with clean clothes. Magic!
    A gem of a laundry lurks in the back streets behind the Seabride restaurant. Its called the HAPPY TROUSERS!

    INTERNET
    There are stacks of places to get Internet access in Dahab, and in some places, such as Red Sea Relax, you get free access if you stay there. Access is cheap in the Internet shops, eg 50 Egyptian pounds (£5) buys you 20 hours.

    OTHER DIVE CENTRES
    Bedouin Divers - 0020 693 640317
    Big Blue Dahab - www.bigbluedahab.com
    Club Red - www.club-red.com
    Desert Divers - www.desert-divers.com
    Dive in Dahab - www.diveindahab.com
    Inmo Divers & Resort - www.inmodivers.de
    Octopus Divers - www.octopusdivers.net
    Penguin Divers - www.penguindivers.com
    Poseidon Divers - www.poseidondivers.com
    Red Sea Rangers - www.redsea-rangers.com
    Sea Dancer - www.seadancerdivecenter.com
    Sinai Divers Backpackers - www.sinaidivers.com
    South Dive Club - www.southdiveclub.com

    GETTING THERE
    Dahab is one hours drive north of Sharm el Sheikh and two hours drive south of Taba. Transfers from either airport can be arranged through your dive centre or hotel and cost around £25 per head.
    The hour that you may save by flying to Sharm will be spent being shoved and elbowed in the arrivals hallway, as the immigration officers seem incapable of processing the passengers from one flight before the next arrives. You face an equally horrific ordeal on your journey back.
    In contrast, Taba is a small peaceful airport with barely one flight per day. You will be out of the airport in 15 minutes and spend the journey admiring the views of the desert and the coast.
    The return process is slightly more fraught, with the scanning of luggage etc, but is still a lot quicker than trying to get through Sharm. Cheap flights to both Taba and Sharm are available on the Thomsonfly.com website.
    RedSeaFlights.com also offer deals to Sharm, and Crusader offers packages to Dahab that can be adapted to fly via Taba if you prefer.

  • Blue
    Blue Beach Club
    Al
    Al Kafalek Cafe
    Nesima
    Nesima
    Three
    Three Fishes
    Happy
    Happy Life Village and Orca Dive Centre
    Divernet
    Dahabs
    Dahabs promenade
    Divernet Divernet
    sizzling
    sizzling world cuisine at the Carm Inn
    happiness
    happiness is a well-pressed trouser - the Happy Trousers laundry
    Divernet