Aqaba is considered to be the perfect base from which to visit the sites of Petra and Wadi Rum, but Alejandro, the general manager at Kempinski Hotel Aqaba, tells me it is also a great place for diving. He had his first dive here two years ago and since then takes every opportunity he can to explore the amazing corals and marine life. It makes me keen to give it a try. It is going to be my first dive ever and I gather the Red Sea is not a bad place to start!
Alejandro calls Nabeel, his friend and master dive instructor, and before we know it we are in the Aqaba Marina putting on our gear. Nabeel gives me a brief introduction to the key principles of diving: the main thing is to keep breathing – seems fairly straightforward!
We wade into the sea, put on our flippers and push off. Nabeel stays near the surface with me to start with, snorkelling along, while the rest of the group who are more experienced pass by underneath us. Soon we come to an area covered in beautiful corals and colourful fish. I want to go down to have a closer look so Nabeel helps me: one metre, two metres, three metres… we’re going down! It’s an amazing feeling – just keep breathing! As I skipped the diving lessons, Nabeel regulates our depth, which makes it even easier for me to enjoy the incredible fish and underwater scenery.
Alejandro, his wife Yartika and Maarten wave at us from a distance and signal that we should come closer. They are motioning to the bottom, to an army tank covered in corals. It’s so cool! Fish are swimming in and out of it and even the tank barrels are still intact! Wow, I wonder how it ended up here…
We slowly make our way up to the surface and snorkel back to the shore where towels and a large bottle of cold water await us. Shukran Nabeel! I spend the rest of the day relishing the memory of my first dive which will certainly not be my last.