Written by Jenny Fowler
Nuweiba is on the Sinai Peninsula, about an hour up the coast from the bustle of Sharm el Sheik. Without the crowds, photographers can dive at a more leisurely pace, and use the extra minutes to get that perfect shot.
Nuweiba has wide sandy beaches and sparkling clear sea , so a trip works well for a group or family where some dive and some just want to relax. During the 2011 demonstrations in mainland Egypt, there was no disruption in Nuweiba and there is no Foreign Office advice against travelling here.
Nuweiba is good for shore diving. Dive sites are easy to access from the sandy beaches; coral reefs full of colourful life lie a few metres off shore. The dive centres also arrange longer trips to dive in the Ras Abu Galum National Park.
Nuweiba is quite a spread-out town but the larger hotels have their own beaches, pools and dive centres. All the dive centres will pick guests up from other hotels or beach camps, but it's very convenient to stay at the hotel where the dive centre is situated. Here are three good options:
Staying at the Swisscare Nuweiba Resort Hotel and diving with African Divers Nuweiba.
The hotel has large rooms with two of everything – bathroom, beds, and best of all for photographers, two big desks where computers, chargers and camera housings can be spread out to download today's shots and prepare the camera for tomorrow's. The hotel is very relaxing with friendly staff and good food. Non-divers will enjoy the pool and the beach which has thatched umbrellas and comfortable sun loungers.
African Divers Nuweiba is run by Sarah and Daniel. They are enthusiastic about giving everyone, from beginner to advanced technical diver, a great experience. Most sites are a short jeep ride away with shore entry from a sandy beach. The reefs and sea grass beds are full of photographic subjects. Their website english.africandiversnuweiba.com has a video showing some of the creatures you are likely to see.
Staying at Nuweiba Diving Camp and diving with Scuba College Nuweiba.
The camp is quite basic with small huts for sleeping. The upside is that the huts are right by the sea and the dive centre so you can save travelling and maximise dive time. The huts are inexpensive and are popular with dive club groups. The adjacent Helnan Nuweiba Bay Hotel is a reasonably priced option if the huts are too basic for a family holiday.
The diving and photography is good with a sunken jeep and a house reef easy to reach from the shore and full of photogenic creatures. More appear during night dives. Mike and Petra run the dive centre with great energy and enthusiasm. The centre has a boat, which opens up access to sites a bit further off shore for more variety. The website is scuba-college.com.
There's a bar serving post-dive meals and drinks. The Korean/Chinese restaurant in the village nearby is well worth a visit too.
Staying at the Hilton Nuweiba Coral Resort Hotel and diving with Emperor Divers.
The hotel offers all inclusive packages with a wide choice of food and drink at every meal, all excellent quality. While not the cheapest option, it is good value for money and non-diving partners will find plenty to enjoy. The dive centre is on site. It is a bit of a walk down to the beach, but staff take the heavy kit down using tricycles and are on hand to take it back after the dive.
The house reef again has plenty of interesting life. The coral forms outcrops among a sandy seabed. The wildlife tends to keep to its own bit of reef so you can revisit a subject on a series of dives for a well-planned shot. Emperor Divers website is at emperordivers.com/nuweiba-diving.php
The Dive Sites
Variety is key in Nuweiba. Coral outcrops and walls support reef dwelling creatures. Orange clouds of anthias, butterfly fish, cardinal fish, damsel fish cluster round the reef, while camouflaged hawkfish, lizardfish, frogfish and scorpionfish wait patiently for their prey and tolerate photographers' attempts to capture the perfect portrait. Beds of seagrass conceal seahorses and pipefish, eels in their burrows and sea cucumbers. Even open sandy areas have their inhabitants, sand dollars, blue spotted rays and the extraordinary sea moth. Under piers, shoals of small fish shelter and are stalked by stealthy predators like the spectacular lionfish.
There are no wrecks in easy range, but all the dive centres visit Sinkers and Pipeline, two structures just off shore which provide artificial reefs. Photographers will want to visit them several times to capture all the subjects. Depths are not too great, around 20m, so you can have a reasonably long dive time.
Visibility tends to be good at Nuweibas dive sites as there are no rivers carrying silt in, and normally conditions are calm with very little current. Obviously this depends on weather but this is generally good. Everyone running dive centres is familiar with local conditions and safety standards are high.
Getting to Nuweiba
The nearest airport for Nuweiba is Taba but it may be easier to get a flight to Sharm el Sheik from the UK. The transfer from Sharm can be expensive if you organise it separately so it is worth checking the price of a package from a travel firm like Longwood Holidays who include this, or the dive centre you are visiting may arrange it.
Photographers will be used to the problem of airline baggage restrictions. Obviously you need your own camera, computer etc but all the dive centres mentioned have modern, well maintained dive kit for hire, so it may be more economic to use this than pay extra to take all your own.
As a diver and photographer I spent several days with each of these dive groups and can recommend any of them for a really good diving and photography trip.
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