Coraya Beach Hotel is one of four hotels situated around a
small bay called Marsa Umm Geirfat and is just 10 minutes
drive away from the Marsa Alam airport in Southern Egypt.
Llantrisant Sub Aqua club have used the Coraya Beach several
times for a last day of rest and relaxation following a hectic
week of live-aboard diving in the Red Sea. Weve always
said that it would be nice to try a week at the Hotel with
wives and partners and finally we got around to doing just
Hotel is a five star establishment with fabulous facilities
including three swimming pools, a gymnasium, tennis courts,
squash courts, an outdoor theatre and several bars all with
their own specialities. Visit their web site at: www.iberotelegypt.com
But perhaps more important to readers of this report, is the
Coraya Divers Dive Centre situated in the bay just a stones
throw away from the hotel. For more information about Coraya
Divers you can visit their web site at: www.coraya-divers.com
left Gatwick on time and five hours, 40 minutes later arrived
in Marsa Alam. The heat hit us as soon as the aircraft doors
were opened; my wife Sandra and I were glad of the air con
as we were whisked with almost indecent haste through the
arrivals hall and onto our coach.
Hotel check in was efficient, our room on the third floor
of a block had stunning views across to the desert and contained
all that was necessary for a comfy stay including as well
as the normal, air con, a telly and a mini bar.
That evening we were content to enjoy a twilight dip in the
hotel swimming pool followed by dinner, a couple of beers
and an early night.
buddy for the week was none other than club Diving Officer
and world famous underwater photographer Peter Rees and of
course his camera. We met up for breakfast the following morning
and by 10.00am Peter and I, loaded down with gear were walking
around to the bay to the dive centre.
once said that the easiest job in the world must be that of
a weather presenter in Egypt. Theres no need for fancy
instruments or charts; you just get up every morning and tell
your audience that today its going to be hot, dry and
sure was hot walking around to that dive centre. We loaded
all the gear onto my wheelie trolley and took turns but we
were still knackered by the time we got there.(as is typical,
we later discovered that there was a shuttle bus running between
our hotel and the dive centre every hour so we used that for
the rest of the week).
There is a wide variety of dive options on offer at the dive
centre. Anything from liveaboard mini safaris to day trips
by boat and shore based on the house reef. The centre also
runs courses, offers the facilities of a guide and rents equipment,
and all this in a number of languages; the atmosphere is deceptively
laid back but, believe me, underneath is an ultra smooth operation
which can cater for up to 200 divers per day during peak season.
There is a classroom for trainees, toilets, showers, lockers,
rinsing tanks and a drying room. They
also have a shop on site and serve food and drinks. The walls
of the centre are festooned with maps and charts of dive sites
and various underwater photographs taken around the area.
There is even the facility to download your own photographs
on to the dive centre computer for viewing.
One bonus is the fact that the dive centre is not a
PADI dive centre with all the usual bullshit that comes with
PADI centres. It is an SSI centre and is run on a very professional
basis. For an interesting article on PADI v SSI . . . Click
was easy as wed both been to the dive centre previously
and after Id filled in the medical sheet, you know,
the one with the small print where you tick all the nos, we
were allocated lockers for our equipment.
some shade and kitted up, taking our time to drag neoprene
suits over sweaty skin God it aint half hot 'ere.
Then carrying our fins, regs, masks and cameras, made our
way to the jetty. The air cylinders and lead weights are kept
at the end of the jetty.
need to obtain a ticket from the girls at reception who, at
this point, book you out. As a safety issue, youre supposed
to tell them when you return after your dive which seems a
bit hit and miss to me but it seems to work. At the end of
the jetty a team of workers are ready to sort you out with
a weight belt and exchange your ticket for an air cylinder.
Nitrox is available but we stayed with air throughout the
There are three options for diving: you either go in directly
from the jetty via a giant stride into four metres of water
or theres a zodiac that will take you along either the
south or the north wall or for a small charge you can ride
in a speed boat to various dive sites outside the bay.
tried all three methods
they were all fantastic. On
that first day we entered via a giant stride from the jetty.
I had a new wet-suit (thats my excuse) and needed time
to sort my weights out but soon joined Peter who was already
engrossed in taking piccys of all sorts of fishes that were
sheltering under the training platform. Viz was around 10
metres and the water temperature a stunning 26C.
made our way down the reef which bottomed out at 30 metres,
before coming back to 18 metres which is where most of the
marine life was to be found. Its not easy buddying up
with a photographer but as we both had cameras it was just
a matter of keeping sight of each other and though we both
lost each other from time to time, a tell tale stream of bubbles
or a sight of a coloured fin in the distance meant we kept
the week we did eight dives, all on the house reef and we
saw a variety of marine life, nothing big, nothing really
unusual but between us we managed some stunning photos and
enjoyed a week of really relaxed diving. You can see some
of our piccys at the bottom of this page.
came back as brown as a berry whilst Im only tanned
around the face and hands. Friends cant believe weve
been to the same place. Our Hotel was fantastic. The variety
of food available in the main restaurant was outstanding;
there is an al a carte restaurant and a couple of snack bars
but we had enough with a giant breakfast and dinner.
Service in the bars was good, nothing seemed to be too much
trouble and the cocktails which Sandra took a liking to were
well presented if a little on the expensive side.
The only downside to the holiday were the usual bad stomachs.
I had one most of the week, and Sandra picked up a bug right
at the end of our week. Even Peter suffered mild symptoms;
it seems to be inevitable on holidays to this part of the
world and may influence any decisions on a return visit. If
anyone has a remedy Id be most grateful.
too soon it was time to go home. The week had passed quite
quickly and we were soon packing our cases to leave the hotel.
Before we knew it we were being picked up from the hotel and
transferred to the airport for departure. We all managed ok
on the plane
if you know what I mean and were grateful
for a speedy exit through baggage claim and customs.
Wed previously booked into the Lawn Guesthouse in Horley
near Gatwick airport www.lawnguesthouse.co.uk
before our flight out to Egypt and again on arrival in Gatwick
before going back home (including car parking; Id recommend
it to anyone flying from Gatwick, the service is excellent)
and I was glad of the opportunity of a nights sleep
before that long drive back to South Wales.