After a light buffet lunch, it was time for our second orientation dive, for which we took a zodiac out to the corner of the north side of the bay. Dropping into the sea and descending, we immediately saw a difference in the topography of this side of the reef, with more rounded rocks and many soft corals and sea fans waving in the light current. We spotted our first Crocodile fish, lying in wait, motionless on the sand and enjoyed a fly-over from a Green turtle on the surface above us. The swim back to shore from the drop point was very relaxing, with the small but fast zodiacs making it much easier to cover a larger section of the reef in one dive.
On returning to the dive shade, we were reminded that when diving unguided, all dives were to be recorded on the big white plan board so that staff were aware of who was diving where, and for how long – a good safety procedure to ensure each buddy pair or group were being monitored from shore. DSMB’s are recommended in case a boat pick up is required.
With the sea temperature averaging 30 degrees even at depth, it was almost too warm for our 3mm full wetsuits – shorties or just a rash and swim-shorts would be enough. Visibility was better in the mornings, with afternoon currents tending to stir up more sand & sediment. On most days we could easily see fifteen to twenty metres which improved the further out of the bay we went. Current was very light and hardly noticeable in the shelter of the bay, although the wind tended to pick up as the day went on until about 4pm, when it dropped.
One of the main reasons we chose Marsa Nakari resort was the flexibility of unlimited house reef diving. I’ve recently taken up underwater photography, so I wanted to spend more time practising my buoyancy, composition and lighting skills without feeling under time pressure, which can be an issue when diving in group guided trips.
With so much potential to photograph on the house reef and with no real time limit (other than your own pre-dive plan), it was a perfect place to hone my skills. The amount of life on the reef, particularly in the first 5 metres meant there was plenty of natural light to take advantage of.
We found that diving on the north side in the mornings and the south side in the afternoons provided good light onto the reefs with the sun overhead or slightly behind. Sunset dives were also magical, despite the lower visibility as the setting sun cast deep shadows across the bay to create more atmospheric compositions.
Apart from desert and sea, there isn’t much else surrounding the resort. There are a couple of other resorts to the south and a small urbanised area servicing these, with evidence of larger hotels being constructed further along the coast.
So, imagine our surprise when late one afternoon, we were joined at the dive shade by a herd of camels! Not to dive, but to quench their thirst in the rinse tanks! This was apparently a regular event and the staff seemed happy to accommodate them for a while – even hosing out some fresh, untreated water into an empty tank for them. However, when they started to munch the border shrubs the staff got the hump and the camels were hastily shooed away.
As with many dive resorts around the world, reef conservation is a key focus and at Marsa Nakari this is no different. However, there is plastic waste present, with wind, tides and currents pushing flotsam into the bay, onto the reef and shoreline. This is being tackled by resort staff as we witnessed regular beach clean ups, but the scale of the problem means that it needs visitors to do their bit too. During dives we grabbed as much floating plastic as we could, transferring to the bins when we returned.
Bringing your own water containers is strongly encouraged by the resort to reduce reliance on plastic bottles, with plenty of free drinking water stations placed around the site.