Jump to content
sinetwo

1 week macro trip, 'travellable' from the UK?

Recommended Posts

Hi all, I may well have a week off coming up shortly, and I was wondering what people would recommend the following:

  • Priority: Macro photography
  • Optional: Wide angle
  • Month: February
  • Travel time/option: Direct flights or around 10-12 hrs
  • Duration: 1 week
  • Budget: £1k ish

 

Whilst I would LOVE to go back to Philippines, given travel recommendations generally to east asia I may well be limited to Egypt / Africa as the nearest and best destinations? Or Maldives for a local island trip? Alternatively it seems that certain parts of asia may be fine to travel to and perhaps I'm reading too much into news headlines and travel advice...

 

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

at this short notice you won't find a long haul ticket to manila at less than £800 and you have no money left for anything

At best you can afford a standard egypt liveaboard but then you are at the mercy of the boat

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah you're probably not wrong as flights to east asia is high on short notice.

Doesn't seem to be much there for macro in Egypt (at least not enough to warrant a 105mm lens permanently on during a dive) unless I'm wrong?

Maldives local island may well be an option at this rate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are after a macro trip, shore diving around Sharm would be a great option.

Lots of really good varied macro life. Nudibranchs, Octopus, shrimps, porcelain crabs, morays and heaps of fish portrait material. With full frame, a 105mm is great!

Try the Hyatt Regency. Their house reef is the Gardens, and offers some really good macro opportunities. 

Adam

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Adam, I'll look into it.

What are their dive operations and DMs like? Good spotters?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aqaba, Jordan would be an alternative to Egypt, mostly small stuff there but not the diversity you'd get in Philippines .  Should be direct flights available in Feb.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You will have to do your own spotting..which is a good experience in itself.

Dive operations are great and efficient, but not particularly photo friendly. Unless you have a buddy, I would plan on diving without one (get a Self Reliant Diver certification).

The advantage to this is that you get to chose when and where you dive too. 

If you don't want to do this, I am sure they will provide a DM for a fee, but don't expect them to find critters for you..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, adamhanlon said:

If you don't want to do this, I am sure they will provide a DM for a fee, but don't expect them to find critters for you..

Self reliant would be nice but given I've got a week I'm not sure I want to spend too much of my time doing that.

If they won't do spotting in areas I'm unfamiliar with then I probably won't spot as many as an experienced one! May or may not have a buddy so i'd prefer a good DM with a keen photographers eye. Perhaps I've (DEFINITELY) been spoilt in Asia.

I'll look into it regardless - would you say there's opportunities for bigger stuff like Dolphins? Dolphin reef I believe is many many miles away so that's a no go from Sharm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eilat has pretty decent macro - not like the Philippines, but there is a good variety of subjects - but accommodation and food is expensive, and you can't solo dive here; it's actually forbidden by law.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do your Self Reliant Diver qualification at home. There are a number of UK operations that offer it.

The advantage of shore diving is that you can visit the same spots multiple times and really get to know where the critters are, what times they emerge, how the light is etc. This is incredibly productive photographically. I would argue that it is much more productive than any of the normal "coach tours" that most non photo specific liveaboards or day boat operations provide. In fact, it can be more productve than this trips too...

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,
think that Red Sea is a good option.
You can get even pygmy seahorse or frogfish, lots of shrimp and so on.
Maybe think of a resort working together with a biological station, so you can get entousiastic guides ;-))
The normal ones sometimes dont know what is living there, if it is smaller than 10cm...
What we liked much was Marsa alam, great hose reefs, depending on the resort and Elphinsdome just a short boatride...
We ve been to one resort for years, could dive what we wanted, but then it changed to an egypt owned resort, and you needed a guide for a house reef dive, so we never been there again...
These guys freeze, want to leave as soon as possible and we knew all the places better than the guides, since we have been there for many years...
Mangrove bay was nice as well, but long time since the last visit...

This year maybe the Red sea will see us again, so if you find a good place, please let me know!
Good luck,
Wolfgang

Edited by trimix125

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Take a look at El Gouna, just north of Hurghada. I dive there with a local instructor / guide / keen photographer called Moustafa Housin who freelances for Orca Dive centre. 

Moustafa is obsessed with the small stuff and will hunt around you for macro subjects as you compose your shots - absolutely no rushing, and he knows the sites like the back of his hand. Long dives welcomed, plenty of patience, and he gets a real kick out of getting you the subjects you want.

If you want dolphins, you can probably persuade them to do a trip to Sha'ab el erg, aka Dolphin house, where if the stars align you can get some really close ups of the resident pod. 

I'm no expert, but here's some from the last couple of years with him

https://www.mikepoolewildlife.co.uk/elgouna2019

https://www.mikepoolewildlife.co.uk/hurghada19

https://www.mikepoolewildlife.co.uk/hurghada17

Let me know if you want more details

Mike

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been working as resident instructor in Sharm at both Naama bay beach and Sharks Bay I would not say there is great macro you may find the occasional ghost pipefish or frogfish but most likely you will have some shrimps and nudibranches. If you have low expectations you will be surprised. February is dire as season in the Red Sea and water is quite cold but more importantly it is windy

Also according to rules of the CDAW you might not be given tanks to dive solo as this is forbidden by local laws. In Egypt even diving as buddy team is something that is somehow an exception for land resorts except you are at your third beach dive and you can show them you don't get lost. Most people get lost in Naama Bay beach

For lodging you can choose between Sharks Bay, Adaba and Naama Bay and Ras Umm Sidd plus other areas where there are resorts with a fringing reef where you can jump off a platform. Overall I would recommend Naama Bay because the other places have not much to do at night and the beach offers at least 3 different dives

Once you choose your hotel there will be an affiliated dive centre check it and if not happy have a walk-around. Lots have changed since the ban and now it is hard to find western instructors but some are still around if you prefer. If you want a private guide I still have connections send me a PM and I can see if I can sort you out so you avoid a 'buddy'

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

If you want a private guide I still have connections send me a PM and I can see if I can sort you out so you avoid a 'buddy'

 

Thanks both, I will message you independently. Much appreciated all. 

 

It's either Maldives (local island) or Red Sea at this point. 

I suspect I'll need to forego macro and go for wide this time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Interceptor121

The PADI Self Reliant Diver is officially  recognized by CDWS and allows those that hold it to dive without a buddy. There is no problem getting hold of gear to dive without a buddy. I have done it on numerous occasions with multiple resorts and operations!

Here is the official guidance: http://www.cdws.travel/documents/rules-regulations/CDWS SOLO Diving Policy-V6 (2).pdf (PDF)

The "local laws" argument is propaganda put out by dive ops in order to earn income by providing guides. When I worked there, we used to tell people it was against local "law" to wear gloves, which is also incorrect. But it was a good way of deterring them from wearing them...:)

http://www.cdws.travel/documents/rules-regulations/gloves and knives.pdf

@sinetwo

Na'ama Bay itself has limited diving. I would recommend one of the hotel further North that have the "Gardens" as their house reefs. These reefs are used a "destination" for the day boats operating out of Na'ama Bay! There is really nice hard and soft corals, along with host of macro critters. I have seen both mantas and a whale shark there (but this is very rare!). Ras um Sid has a great house reef (again a destination reef for the day boats), and there are definitely macro opportunities, but it is a relatively small reef compared to the Gardens.

I would also agree that there are great options at other venues in the Red Sea. Nuweiba's house reef was great for muck diving, but it is challenging to get to as flights to Taba have not resumed yet. I dived a fair bit at Port Ghalib, and it has excellent macro, but it is all done from boats, which increases the cost and tends to limit repeat visits to the same areas of reef. In general, it takes me a few visits to figure out how to get the best of the subjects that are available.

As others have pointed out, February is a windy and relatively cold time in the Red Sea. When I lived there and in subsequent visits, I wear a drysuit! Shore diving avoids all the hassle of cold wetsuits out on boats all day and is much more pleasant! 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, adamhanlon said:

@Interceptor121
 

The "local laws" argument is propaganda put out by dive ops in order to earn income by providing guides. When I worked there, we used to tell people it was against local "law" to wear gloves, which is also incorrect. But it was a good way of deterring them from wearing them...:)

http://www.cdws.travel/documents/rules-regulations/gloves and knives.pdf

I said might if he does not know them he has zero chance of getting tanks by himself looking at the requirements you are not going to find many that fulfil them

The Technical Manager and/or at least one of the Instructors of the licensed operation must be certified as a Solo diving Instructor. They are –then- perfectly capable and responsible of making the right professional decisions - to allow divers to SOLO dive - based on their qualifications, proof of experience and how recently they dived, capabilities, the dive location, weather conditions, etc

And I disagree on the gardens except near garden that in the winter is windy like hell Middle Fiddle and Far are not worth the beach obviously opinions here. Ras Gasmila and other northern better however there is just fringing reef

Some ancient 2011 videos

At the beach live some old green turtle few huge napoleon wrasse and eagle ray are there almost every day at lunch time

Plus there are a few of other amenities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again for all the advice, plenty to think of, not much time to book!

At the moment Im considering Red Sea, Cozumel and Maldives. Ill weigh up pros and cons but at the moment this seems to be the shoot out for Feb:

* Red Sea: easy flights and transfers, coldish water in feb, few critters, pelagics are area based, not many schools of fish this time of the year

* Maldives (fulidhoo): expensive for solo traveller (1500quid min), no critters but loads of pelagics, high season, about 15 hrs flight

* Cozumel: Reasonable, probably around 1200 if on a budget, both amazing critters and possibly pelagics, plus black water dive, about 15 hrs flight

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just an extra thought, west palm beach area of Florida - shark dives available, phil foster park for macro, Blackwater diving, probably more with a bit of internet scouring

 

I used Jim Abernethy last time as a starting point.

 

Mike

 

Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, sinetwo said:

Thanks again for all the advice, plenty to think of, not much time to book!

At the moment Im considering Red Sea, Cozumel and Maldives. Ill weigh up pros and cons but at the moment this seems to be the shoot out for Feb:

* Red Sea: easy flights and transfers, coldish water in feb, few critters, pelagics are area based, not many schools of fish this time of the year

* Maldives (fulidhoo): expensive for solo traveller (1500quid min), no critters but loads of pelagics, high season, about 15 hrs flight

* Cozumel: Reasonable, probably around 1200 if on a budget, both amazing critters and possibly pelagics, plus black water dive, about 15 hrs flight

Just one thought on the Red Sea: don't underestimate the comments about it being cold and windy this time of year! It is NOTHING like going there in summer or autumn. :blink: I love the Red Sea but in Jan, Feb, Mar? No thanks! As Adam said, dry suit.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I kind of get the decision between the Maldives and the Red Sea (although as you mention, for macro, the Maldives does not present any advantages), but Cozumel is not in the same league as the other two destinations. It is a nice island and the diving is great, but it lacks the diversity of either of the other two. It is certainly no better for critters than the Red Sea.

My experience is that bar spotted eagle rays, you would have the same chances of pelagics in the Red Sea as at Cozumel. Anything can (and does) happen at Ras Mohamed! Pelagic action is pretty much guaranteed in the Maldives...

Shore diving is the Red Sea somewhat gets round the temperature issue.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, adamhanlon said:

I kind of get the decision between the Maldives and the Red Sea (although as you mention, for macro, the Maldives does not present any advantages), but Cozumel is not in the same league as the other two destinations. It is a nice island and the diving is great, but it lacks the diversity of either of the other two. It is certainly no better for critters than the Red Sea.

 

That's interesting, I've seen little in terms of critters photographed in the red sea, but plenty from Cozumel and the night dives are pretty cool (I've done two in Cozumel but not in the red sea mind you). 

So in terms of stuff to see critter wise, shore dives in the red sea may provide the same quality as Cozumel? 

At the moment I'm upping my budget and considering Cozumel vs Maldives, but Maldives is closer to 2k as I'm travelling solo (sharing accommodation costs would help tremendously) and Cozumel is around 1.4 or 1.8 if I decide to go for a photography workshop

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,
dont know how it is in february, but diving in Cozumel was very expensive as i remember...
To close to the states...
Night dives in the red sea can be great as anywhere else.
We had lots of stuff in Dahab, where i was often, but i would not recomend it now out of security reasons...
Yes if you are solo and stay away from crowded places, should be ok.
Most of the shopes have closed, Planet divers is a euopean shop, polish tek divers, last time i was staying there,
the sport divers got a guide, and i guided the tekkies...
Nightdiving at lighthouse or caves was ok.

Since this is the first year without a 2 week dive trip, which is normally the longer holiday every year,
i am looking for a one week destination as well for march...
Out of medical reasons it will be a last minute trip, if the doc gives a ok ;-))

So we think about Marsa alam, or Maledives...

Regards,
Wolfgang

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As you are on budget, don't  underestimate the cost of diving in the Maldives. I have shore dived a lot there and in my experience it is a bit of a ripoff. You would need a qualified buddy or a paid for guide to do that. If not you would have to go on a boat trip which is about $15 a shot extra and then be buddied up with somebody not of your choosing and maybe playing follow my leader with some hardly wet behind the ears, so-called dive master. Which is why I shore dive there!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll just throw Gulen in Norway into the mix. It is coldwater diving, but they have a housereef where they hold a photo competition with Lembeh every year for macro photography. I've not personally been, but you may be able to get there for a week within budget. Obviously drysuit territory and I don't know how seasonal the underwater life there is (the competition is held in the summer). It's definitely high on my own bucket list of places to dive. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...