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October 7, 2002
All of these reefs aren't accessable by walking or swimming so you will have to take a boat. You can get a full tour from all the major hotels including rental for fair prices. You will pay around 80 Pounds for a two hour tour of two of the reefs, or more for all three, and less for one. If you only have about an hour to spend, head to the Near Garden. Just because it is near doesn't mean that it is any less spectacular. I found the Middle Garden to have the best marine life. There are also all day tours out to some of the farther off islands or to places like Ras Muhammad for around 250 Pounds. Whether you go for a full day, or just a one hour trip, you are guaranteed to see some beautiful coral and marine life. I have snorkeled in the Atlantic, Carribean, and Pacific, and the Red Sea really does have some of the best in the world.
From journal The Sinai in a Weeknend
March 17, 2002
We watched the underwater scenery through the glass. The reefs looked very close to the bottom of the boat. After about fifteen minutes, we had apparently reached the Near Gardens, because the captain shut off the engine and motioned us to jump off his boat. We hesitated. He spoke quickly and crossly in Arabic, wildly gesturing toward the water. David attempted to speak in Arabic, but couldn't communicate with him. Nobody else was on board.
"Guess this is it," David said to me before falling backwards into the water. "Hold onto your mask" he shouted, as I nervously jumped in feet first. The water was surprisingly cold. My face mask didn't fit very well, and already salt water was seeping into my eyes and mouth. The captain pointed in the direction north, then sped off in his boat. Hey, where are you going? We had no idea when or where he'd meet us, or what dangerous fish lurked beneath.
Adjusting the equipment, I forced myself to relax and breath deeply. Floating, I saw little fish swimming below me, and a shelf-like reef wall to my left. We swam in the direction the little man had pointed, and were careful not to touch the coral reef that the current seemed to push us toward. The reef was primarily a dull green with splotches of bright green and yellow coral.
We saw colorful fish including parrot fish, trigger fish, tangs, puffer fish, trumpet fish, angel fish, sea urchins, and schools of iridescent blue and orange fish. Brain and fan coral were tucked into small alcoves. The water was kind of murky.
At one point, I freaked out. I don't know why. Maybe because I couldn't identify the huge form that was approaching me. I had been snorkeling with dolphins before, and sea lions in the Galapagos, but for some reason panicked when I came face to face with a giant humphead wrasse. I began screaming underwater and grabbing the heck out of David's arm, not knowing if this creature was dangerous or not. The curious creature swam away, disinterested. Frazzled, I didn't think to take his picture until he was almost out of shot.
Suddenly a school of brown and white striped fish swarmed around us in a dizzying array of flurry. No wonder. The boat had returned, and our captain was churning the waters for our benefit. We got back on the boat, and headed over to the Far Gardens. The coral reef was pretty damaged and the fish less colorful and plentiful compared to the Near Gardens.
From journal Honeymoon on Sinai Coast, Egypt