Breaking News: Our Red Sea, Egypt, and Lebanon Retreats for 2020 have officially been rescheduled for 2021, and there are a few spots left in each. More details at the end of this post!
Here, I’m recapping my travels in 2019, including my Wander Women Red Sea trips in September.
One of the reasons I first fell in love with Dahab was the prevalence of shore diving. Just being able to walk into the sea with a tank on, and discover a whole new world? I loved the freedom, the ease, and the adventure of it all.
But those who love to dive from a vessel have something to look forward to at our Wander Women Red Sea Dive + Yoga Retreat, too: a private boat trip to Gabr El Bint, one of the area’s finest sets of dive sites.
After kicking off our day with another rooftop vinyasa session and smoothie bowl breakfast, we headed off to to South Dahab’s pier to hop on our party boat for the day!
(And by party boat I obviously mean, a boat that we entered after going through a marine police checkpoint that searched us thoroughly for alcohol and other contraband, because Egypt. But the party was in our hearts.)
After setting up our gear on the spacious deck, we headed up to enjoy the sun until we reached our remotely beautiful destination.
Part of what’s fun about diving in the bay in Dahab is the bustling scene along the beachfront. What’s special about diving in Gabr El Bint is the opposite — you’re likely to have the sea entirely to yourself.
In fact, the rarity of these trips is part of what makes us so proud to offer one as part of our retreat. No heading to Dahab and hoping to scrape a group together — we’ve got one all set for ya (and we’re all wearing matching sunglasses!)
As I learned on my initial research trip out to Gabr El Bint, there are two dive sites here — one heading in each direction along the wall from the mooring line. To the northeast lies some of the most stunning coral in Dahab. To the southwest, dramatic topography awaits.
In every direction, our amazing retreat underwater photographer Jenny Lord made magical memories for us!
On the boat ride out, I gave the first of a few little lectures I sprinkle in throughout the week on one of my favorite topics — how to pose and look cute in underwater photos! (It’s a lifelong journey, believe me.)
With everyone at ease after their day of welcome dives in the bay, we were ready to start really working the underwater camera. Just look at these underwater mermaid supermodels!
Of course, I couldn’t resist getting in on the action — working on some underwater yoga poses, ditching my mask, and then giving up on gear altogether.
We broke up our two dives with a delicious Egyptian lunch, more photo fun, a few onboard naps, and some study time.
Our week-long dive retreats always provide an option to upgrade to complete your PADI Advanced Open Water certification during the retreat. It’s a very popular course because it’s high on fun and low on classroom time — it consists of five “adventure dives,” some of which are mandatory and some of which you pick. Each one includes a chapter, a quick quiz and a few underwater skills, and once you’re certified, you can dive deeper and have access to more advanced dive sites and trips for life. Woo hoo!
We’re always incorporating the feedback of the Wander Women family, and after these two retreats we have made the Advanced Diver Upgrade more seamless than ever. We love certifying so many new advanced divers on our trips — as if we needed another reason to celebrate!
While our surface interval is full of action, the boat ride back is blissfully chilled out while everyone relaxes after a fantastic day of diving. (After the surprise birthday serenade we held one week for one of the girls, complete with smuggled-aboard cake, of course.)
Back on land, our girls had the option to log one more dive for the day! We are super thrilled to be able to offer the unique and crazy thrilling option of a UV night dive at our Dahab retreats — something that, while becoming slightly more common, is still an anomaly around the world.
You must have at least one standard night dive under your (weight) belt in order to try a UV night dive — so for those that haven’t had the opportunity yet, we offer that option, too.
I think Jenny’s photos prove it — there’s plenty to see in the Red Sea after the sun sets! These were all taken at H2O’s house reef, a true (and very convenient) gem.
Looks cool, right? Well, brace yourself for this.
Also known as ‘fluoro dives,’ UV night diving is done with special UV lights and mask filters that allow divers to observe how chemical compounds in the tissues of certain coral and fish react to UV light, causing them to fluoresce in bright pinks, purples and greens.
Underwater rave, anyone?
Normally, underwater UV diving requires extremely specialized equipment to shoot. Jenny headed out with a shrug and a vow to try her best — as I needed to hear it — and came back with this fabulousness! I love these photos, which totally capture the UV experience, so much, and show how different the same dive site can look under a different wavelength of light.
Another lesson we learned for next year? To shuffle the schedule around a bit so the night dives fall on a less busy day. Not that there were any complaints as everyone headed back to the villa for a pizza-and-pass-out-party — but we’re always on the lookout for ways to make our trips even more magical.
Though honestly, with crews this great, they do a lot of the work for us. Writing these posts make me miss these girls, many of whom still meet up and stay in touch via our retreat WhatsApp groups, so much!
Is it August 2021 yet? No? Okay, guess I’ll have to just keep living for these recaps, for now!
Stay tuned — Conservation Day is coming up next!
Intrigued by Egypt? Our 2020 retreats have been rescheduled to 2021, and there’s a few spots left in each. We’ll be holding Wander Women Lebanon: An Adventure + Yoga Retreat from August 21-28th (waitlist only!), Wander Women Egypt: An Ancient Adventure and Yoga Retreat from August 28th-September 4th (three spots left!), and Wander Women Red Sea: A Dive + Yoga Retreatfrom September 4-11th (six spots left!)