The Steve Brown family – Steve, Becky, Harris (16) and Belle (15) – have just come back from half-term in in Sharm. We’d been nervously checking the news and travel advice in the days before our departure, but in the end we decided to stick with our plans, and are so glad we did.
The news from Gaza and Israel couldn’t be more grim for Palestinians and Israelis, for the wider Middle East and for the whole world. But Steve, and Mike’s, share a lifelong love of Sharm and it is distressing to see visitor numbers dropping off so steeply again, when everything had only really just got up and running again after Covid.
Steve first went to Sharm when he was sixteen and training to be an instructor. He worked there for five years on liveaboards and has returned regularly ever since. When our kids were finally ready to complete their open water qualification last October, after Covid delays, we took them to the Camel Dive Centre. Since Steve’s earliest days in Sharm, Camel has always been one of the very best outfits in town. We had such an amazing experience with them. Their boats are immaculate, their crews super-friendly and helpful, their guides consistently outstanding. Our kids were in the best possible hands as they worked their way towards their open water, then their advanced, certificates. We’ve watched them grow in confidence with every dive. It was crucial to us that they had a great experience from the start – if one of them was put off in any way, what would become of our long-held dreams of family diving holidays?! It didn’t bear thinking about. Now, with two teens, diving is pretty much the only thing our whole family can agree on and it’s a godsend. Camel has been a huge part of making that happen!
British divers make up the biggest percentage of Camel’s business so, to support Sharm, we’ve decided to start a monthly ‘Sunshine from Sharm’ update so Mike’s customers remember what a great destination it is, and generally to hold out our fin in solidarity as they navigate yet more tricky times.
First up is our family trip report! We started off with three days of flopping by the pool at the Steigenberger – booked super-cheaply the day before departure on Trivago. Then we transferred to stay at Camel as we prefer not having to do the minibus run each morning – meaning, the teenagers prefer the extra time in bed -- and began our four days of diving.
October is the perfect time to visit Sharm. The weather has cooled but the sea hasn’t – it stayed at a perfect 28 degrees. We all still dived in 5mm wetsuits, although we did see quite a few people in 3mms and even some in shorties. x We had the standard day of local dives to get settled, then two days at Tiran and one at Ras Mohammed. Jackson was busy for the morning dive, but we stayed put while all the other boats left for the afternoon, and then had the place to ourselves. The whole family agrees there’s nowhere more beautiful on earth than Jackson. The kids were thrilled to dive the Million Hope wreck, which is only only possible in flat calm conditions – very rare in this windy part of the world. It was their first wreck and it’s gone down as a clear favourite, and one to brag about when they get back to school. Steve was also excited as he’s never dived the site before.
Whenever we’re in Sharm we are so aware of just how lucky we are to have this incredible underwater paradise so close to home, and with regular and relatively affordable flights and accommodation. Steve and Becky have dived all over the world, but the coral and fish life here really are exceptional. Steve maintains they look almost as healthy as they did when he first arrived 34 years ago, and there were only 3 dive operators and 4 hotels, which is both impressive and reassuring.
Sharm Trip Notes Travel dates: 26 October for 8 days
Stayed at: Steigenberger (recommended, if you can find a deal) then Camel in Naama Bay.
Fares Seafood, Old Sharm market: best seafood in town, make sure you go to this branch as it has the highest footfall and freshest fish. Make sure you also order their baba ganoush.
El Masrien Grill, Old Sharm: best meat in town. Try the kofta and garlic salad.
Farsha Café: one of the most Instagrammable places in the world, Bedouin café built into the cliff and beach overlooking Temple. Serves teas, cocktails, pizza and shisha.
Morning coffee: Pomodoro, they do takeaway cups so you can walk down to the boat with your cappuccino.
Starting your scuba day off right is easy with a delicious al-fresco breakfast at Pomodoro Restaurant, overlooking Naama Bay as it wakes up. You can enjoy a dose of early morning sunshine and choose from a variety of breakfast options, including full English, organic, or Egyptian cuisine - yum. Camel is also an awesome spot to hang out and unwind after a fun day of diving. Whether you're in the mood to chat it up with friends at the Camel Rooftop Bar or just want to enjoy a scrumptious meal delivered to your room, Camel has got you covered!
Dived with: Camel, on Noble Sheikh (best food in Naama Bay).
Dive guide: Mohammed Maher. Our favourite guide anywhere in the world, ever. Incredible with our kids, has made our family dive journey so far as smooth, safe and fun as it could possibly be. It’s rare to come across someone who loves their job as much.
Water temperature: 28 degrees centigrade.
Steve Head to Flippers Gear Test:
- Waterproof W8 5mm front zip wetsuit - what a suit - a bit heavier than other 5mm's due to pockets and quality of neoprene but if you are after a warm 5mm then look no further
- Scubapro Lycra Hydroskin - I don't know why everyone does not use one of these - they make getting in and out of your wetsuit a breeze!
- Scubapro Go Travel Fins - perfetc for easy diving - wouldn't be great in a Maldivian washing machine current but for this sort of thing perfect - and if you nwant to avoid any chance of blistering then see the socks below - avoids taking cumbersome boots and freeing up space and weight in the dive bag
- Waterproof S30 Socks,
- Scubapro D-mask with prescription lenses - this mask comes fully customisable - so you can even change the size of silicone skirt. Low volume and extremely comfortable
- Scubapro Hydros Pro BC Large (176cm and 200lbs) - everyones favourite and worth the outlay - I have never had a BCD that sticks to me like this
- MK25T S620ti regulator - if you want effortless breathing at any depth - look no further. This is the Titanium lightweight version which obv does not suit everyones budget but they do a normal chrome version too.
- Scubapro G3 computer - such a beautiful watch face and connection to the air trasnmitter was faultless - didn't really do any demanding dives so will wait until I have put it through some hard paces before commenting more, although I will say if your eye sight is not great the digits are on the smaller side of a watch style dive computer.
- Galileo Luna 2 AI dive computer and TX - What a dive computer - full colour screen, solid link up to the Air integration and no loss of comms. Links to the Scubapro datatrak app enabling all features to be customised from your phone. This will be coming with me on many more dive trips
- Garmin MK2i computer and TX - I have been diving with this for 3 years now so have developed a loving bond with it - this does everything for me from wake me up to monitor my heart rate and measure my steps - coupled with the Garmin connect app - I even have GS co-ordinates of entry and exit points of all my dives - simply beautiful. I actually sold it to the dive guide in response to the new MK3i coming out and realised how dependant I have been on it as I am totally lost without it - come on Garmin - send me my MK3 i quick!
- Sealife Sportdiver iPhone camera housing - this saved me so much time and hassle downlaoding my images form the Gopro - I could simply send my son and daughter the images 5 minutes after the dive and they were snapchatting them to their friends within the hour!
- Seadrops defog
- Earol - just avoiding any nasty ear infections
- Stahlsac Caicos Cargo dive bag - I have had this bag for 8 years now - that's a lot of dive trips - and still going strong
- Sudafed tablets and nose spray - just in case
Becky Head to Flippers Gear Test:
"Loved wearing the slinky, as it made it so easy and quick to get my wetsuit back on after the second dive. We all enjoyed the way the neon Lime strap of my D4i novo stood out so much underwater!"
- Scubapro Everflex 5/4 wetsuit,
- Fourth Element Hydroskin slinky,
- Scubapro Synergy Twin Mask,
- Mares Avanti Pure fins,
- Scubapro Hydros Pro BC,
- Aqualung Legend reg,
- Suunto D4i Novo computer in bright green,
- Sthalsac Caicos Cargo dive bag.
Harris (16) Mask to Flippers:
"Highlight of my dive trip was getting to wear the Shearwater Teric again - I love the tactical look of this dive computer and the customisation of it, not only the colours of the digits but also the user-friendly layouts. My BCD was the Hydros Pro which I have fallen in love with since doing my course - both these items make my diving simple and easy enabling me to spend more time looking at the fish".
- Waterproof W50 wetsuit,
- Mares Pure Avanti fins,
- Synergy Twin reflective mask,
- Hydros Pro BC,
- Shearwater Teric computer,
- Scubapro XP Duo dive bag (latest version - Scubapro Definition Duo 118 Dive Bag)
Belle (15) Mask to Flippers Gear:
"I chose the Tusa Paragon mask mainly on colour :) but have since come to love it - the silicone is sooo soft and the field of vision is phenomenal! I connect the Suunto D4i novo to the app to download all my dives saving me from having to write out my logbook every night. The large Tusa Dive bag is the perfect size for a week of diving and all my clothes".
- Waterproof W50 wetsuit,
- Scubapro Go Travel fins,
- Tusa Paragon mask,
- Suunto D4i Novo computer in white,
- Tusa large dive bag
"Are you looking for an amazing scuba diving experience? Look no further than Sharm El Sheikh! This beautiful Red Sea destination offers excellent diving and a plethora of vibrant marine life. Be sure to check in with your favourite airline for the best deals on flights to get you here. Then all you need to do is grab your scuba gear and get ready to explore the underwater paradise of Sharm El Sheikh!"