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OK Guys,

Last year, Fiona and I managed dive trips to Tobago and Maldives. The year before we managed Bahamas, Oman, South Africa/Mozambique and The Red Sea.

Now as far as I'm concerned, that's still not enough diving: alas, Fiona would now like somewhere where there is something other than diving to do in addition to getting wet.

Both being moderate history buffs, I hit up on the idea of either Jordan or Cyprus - they both have diving and shed-loads of Greco/Romano ruins, sites of historical interest and other land-based (don't you just hate that term?) activities.

OK, so what do I need from you guys?

* Jordan: has, on paper at least, a ruck of decent diving (reef and wreck - well, the 'Cedar Pride' at least) whilst having the Treasurey Building at Petra, 4x4-ing in the desert etc.

* Cyprus: has the Zenobia wreck, and well, the Zenobia wreck and, at a push, the Zenobia wreck. Oh, and some damned fine examples of the temples and stuff that might make for a cosy afternoon's wandering around.

Any help, advice (nearest dive centres to Zenobia etc.) or info, do's and don'ts would be massively appreciated.

I have received a superb article on the Zenobia from Ned Middleton (for any readers of 990 Mag and others), some of you will be au fais with his reportage in any number of diving mags and the books he has written on diving the world's wrecks. I'm just awaiting his permission to publish it here for your delectation - and well worth waiting for, I can assure you!

Cheers in advance guys.
 

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Cyprus is worth visiting JUST for the Zenobia.. try and find a company with whom you can book a sh*tload of dives and who will then take you further than the usual tourist routes in's/out's etc...

It's a 'must do' wreck dive mate..
 

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Bren,
Being based in the Middle East I dive regullarly in Cyprus and am sure that you would have a great time diving /  touring/ eating and drinking. Everyone knows about the Zenobia and virtually all the dive centres on the island will do trips to it. The main Zenobia specialists are Octopus and Dive In in Larnaca. However despite some reports to the contrary there is a lot of good diving in Western Cyprus (Pafos / Coral Bay) which is also I think a better base for tourism (I am biased - I have a house there).
I would suggest that you might consider arranging diving with one of the smaller operators, who will provide a personalised service rather than the more sterile dives offered by the bigger centres. Dive Point in Pafos is run by a couple of British guys (PADI/BSAC) and I can recommend them (Ray taught me to dive when we were both living in Riyadh!) Have a look at there web site www.divepointcyprus.co.uk.
I'll be there in April, August and am running a club trip in September so if I can give you any help please get in touch.

Andrew
 

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Thanks Andrew & Davey.

Davey I know you've dived the Zenobia and I'm looking forward to diving her myself as much as you rave about her. You lucky sod. Where did you stay whilst there? Can you remember? I don't want to be hauling my sorry arse great distances in the AM to get to her as I'm probably gonna be doing most my diving on her. Reef nice: wreck better.

If we go for a 12 day gig, we can spend 3 or 4 days 'giving it temples and cultural' and the rest going large on the Zenobia.

Andrew, thanks very much for your info and welcome to YD mate! I've checked out the URL you kindly gave me and there does look to be some good scenic diving there abouts, but I notice it's about a two hour drive over to the jetty-point for the run-out to the Zenobia. Any other suggestions nearer the jetty-point?

Also, Jordan is rapidly becoming a favourite with Fiona. I've heard a lot of good things about AquaTours. Any one used them and might comment? See here:

http://www.aquatours.com/jordan/

Any info you guys can give me on my specific points would be well appreicated.

The War's gonna begin next week, and should be over (barring a 'policing action') by June.
 

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No competition.  Jordan.  Cyprus hasn't got any tits!!
 

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Hi Bren

Consider this possibly the most unhelpful reply you will ever receive as I haven't dived either Cyprus or Jordan.

However, I did find myself in a similar situation a couple of years back, having to provide some 'land-based' activity for a non-diving girlfriend.

We went to Mexico and had a superb time. Flew into Cancun and spent a week touring the mayan ruins, which was amazing. Second week was spent at Playa Del Carmen/ Cozumel with excellent Caribbean diving.

Just a suggestion!



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<font color='#000080'>Can also vouch for the Mayan ruins,  absolutley stunning but I can't see you doing more than 3 or 4 land based tours...

Other than that,  Cozumel has some great reefs and walls.  Also there is the opportunity to dive in the freshwater caverns.

Daz

Also Cancun is mucho touristy....  I would opt for somewhere further up near Cozumel.
 

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Couldn't agree More Daz.

Re: The Tours - we hired a car and just travelled. About 4 days of ruins which are something else altogether, day in Merida which is a fantastic Mexican city plus a couple of days at freshwater caves.

Re: Diving - you are so right about Cancun. Better places are further south in the 'corredor' such as Playa del Carmen and the island of Cozumel, or Akumal. Cave diving at Akumal is fantastic and you don't need Cave quals to do intro dives there.

Anyway, veering wildly off-topic now!

Regards




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Thanks Rooster and Daz,

Gotta say that Cozumel IS on our 'to do' list - but not this year.

Any of you guys recommend any dive outfits in Cyprus or Jordan?
 

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Hi,

For what it is worth Jordon is on the F.O's don't even think about going there list. Perhaps you should consider Cyprus.

Andrew
 

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Cheers Andy,

We're figuring on June - by which stage the Iraq work-out should be long over bar any 'policing' action.

Thanks for caring though mate  
 

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Dudes,

John Gulliver hooked me up with this trip report about a dive trip to Jordan. Cheers Gully.

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Aquaba, Jordan, 1999
Author: Jem Howard

This a rather long report on our trip to Aqaba, Jordan. We stayed for the duration of the trip at the Aquamarina City Hotel in Aqaba and dived with the same operation. The dive operation was well run and professional, but it was a little expensive. Any extras in the hotel were rather expensive, with a bottle of beer running to nearly 10 dollars. However, there was another bar nearby, which had draft at a more reasonable price, so the hotel prices did not cramp our style too much. Despite the somewhat bitter tone later in the report we still had a great time and the diving was amazing. We went as part of a group organised by a local dive centre through which my girlfriend, Jo, and me did our training.

We arrived in Aqaba airport at about 10:30 on the night of September 3rd after a somewhat arduous journey from Shannon through Amman. The transfer at Amman was somewhat of a nightmare as we only had a 20-minute stop-over and we had to manually transfer our own bags from one carousel to another. As a result of this and some difficulties with our visas we were delayed for about 1.5 hours. However, as we were the only (24) people on the connection they held it for us. We arrive at the hotel at around 11:30 where they have kept dinner on late especially for us. However a slight shock greets us with a price tag of 6 dinar (around 10 USD) for a large bottle of beer.

The next morning we arrive at the dive centre at about 8:15 to arrange gear hire for those who were renting and supply certification and log books for the centre. As we have two instructors in our group, the centre had no problems accepting anybody. At 9:02 we case off an are on our way to the first dive centre with the centre's boss complaining "bitterly" about us making him 2 minutes late. For a Irish person the heat is absolutely staggering with the air temperature well over 35 degrees Celsius. After a 40 minute run we arrive at the first dive centre. The boat anchors to our surprise and we are treated to a nice shallow dive the highlight of which is a giant gorgonia fan coral. As this is my first warm water dive, I am completely amazed at the colours and variety. I manage to run an AL80 down to 50 bar after only 41 minutes with a maximum depth of 17.7 m., so we ascend with a mandatory 3 minute stop at 5 metres. The water temperature on the dive was a staggering 28 degrees Celsius. The previous dive in my logbook was 17 degrees. The second dive is somewhat similar with again another brilliant reef dive. There was a couple of puffer fish around along with a load of very cute clown fish. The highlight of this dive was a couple of boomtail wrasse. There was a little one who was bugging the hell out of a bigger one. He kept swimming up to the bigger one who would then make a jump at him. The little one would then proceed to swim rings around the bigger one. Highly amusing. Dive time was 40+3 minutes and max depth was 18.8 minutes.

On the second day I hired a Sea & Sea camera but I found on the first dive that the flash refused to work. I still went through the roll as I figured something was better than nothing. This was planned as a 30 metre wall dive with one of our instructors leading. Unfortunately we had some very inexperienced divers with us, and we ended up a lot deeper than planned. I was paying a little bit too much attention to the camera and didn't notice anything amiss until we passed 35 metres, at which stage alarm bells started ringing. The instructor was trying to get one girl to sort her buoyancy and lead the rest of the divers upwards. However, the narcs were beginning to set in on a couple of them, so I swam slightly below the deepest of them to help herd them upwards and to get a worst-case reading on my computer. I bottomed out at 44 metres with about another 10 metres of water below me. This was my deepest dive ever by a margin of 6 metres, but I must confess the exertion was less than a 25 metre dive at home. The rest of this dive was a bit of blur as we poked around the shallows degassing. Total dive time was 48 minutes with around 3 minutes spent below 30 metres. This was an experience I will not be repeating. The next dive was a major improvement with another beautiful reef dive. There was a sweeping bottom profile and the life was just amazing. We saw numerous pufferfish and parrotfish. Max depth was 20.6 metres with a time of 55 minutes + a 3 minute stop. I did a little free-diving after this dive with maximum depths around 6 to 8 metres.

On the third day our destination was a wreck. This was a 6000-ton freighter intentionally sunk by King Hussein (well paid for by) in 1982. She is lying on her side in 20 to 25 metres of water with a swim-through under the middle section. We started out by descending on the stern and then swimming up a little through the open section on the stern decks. We then descended and had a nice rummage around the cargo deck area. At the prow there were a couple of small fan corals. There were a good few soft corals growing around on the wreck, but it wasn't there long enough for anything real spectacular. However, the vis was amazing and it was possible to see the bulk of this 300+ foot ship from amidships position. The dive did not end very happily as one of our number ran low on air and had to ascend on her own as her buddy was having difficulty attracting the attention of our instructor who was leading the dive. This was because the guy had his head stuck in a hole. I was then in the position of having to manage the rest of the divers who were wandering around like lost sheep without the direction of their leader. After about 3 minutes the girl's buddy ascended after her after he finally got our glorious leader's attention. I was slightly pissed off after this dive, as this is a common occurrence with this guy. Max depth was 25 metres with a time of 45 minutes + a 3 minute stop. The second dive of the day was on a reef pretty close to the wreck. This was an outstanding dive with a fantastic variety of life. Visibility was well over 30 metres. This dive was the stuff that dreams were made of. This is all of a blur after a few days but it felt like a dream. After this dive we had lunch on the boat which was barbecued chicken and lamb, but a little disappointing for Jo, my girlfriend and buddy who is a vegetarian. Between the dives, I did a little free-diving in the 8 metre range.

On the fourth day we arranged to travel to Pharoah Island in Egypt where we were going to see some ruins as well as do some diving. We arrived at the site and anchored about 100 metres to the south of the island. The two dives were good reef dives, but the highlight of the day happened before the first dive while we were waiting on the surface when an instructor with a group of trainees spotted an eagle ray. Four of us snorkeled over to him an got of view this magnificent creature from about 8 metres over head. The grace and beauty of this fish was astounding. On the first dive we saw a few table corals with nice gardens but the eagle ray overshadowed this by a long shot. Dive details were 25.1 for 41+3 minutes and 19.6 for 50+3 minutes. I also managed a 16.5 metre free-dive after somebody dropped their dive tables overboard. However, this was the very limit of my endurance and I decided to give free-diving a miss from then on as we had been diving for four days running. I was happy with my free-diving development on this trip as I was routinely diving to 10 - 12 metres on this day. We ended the day with a trip to the old outpost on the island but this was bit disappointing, as it was obviously a reconstruction. There was a bit of an incident on an Egyptian boat near us, where somebody was looking extremely grey and was wheezing a bit. A doctor from our boat went over, and I came across the guy's weight belt on the next dive. It had 24 pounds on, which might be a tad too much for a 3 mil wetsuit. The incident was well managed and our dive operation provided them with some assistance.

Day 5 and we found ourselves split into two groups and on two smaller boats which was refreshing after being on a boat so far with 22 divers. We headed out to the shipwreck with the other group on a very deep wall. I decided against the wall after my experience earlier on the week as there were lots of people on that dive who were not really capable of dealing with problems at depth. We had an absolutely brilliant dive on the wreck, and I burned a roll of film in a borrowed point and shoot underwater camera. I managed to get about 10 reasonable shots from the roll, but there was nothing brilliant. I will post a few later in the week. This was much better than the previous dive, but we steered clear of any penetration. Max depth was 24 metres and dive time as 32+3 minutes. We arrived back to discover that the other group had hit 42 metres, with some of the divers having less than 15 dives logged. I am glad I stayed away, even though nothing happened. On the second dive of the day we switched sites, but we stayed much shallower. I can't really see the point in burning limited dive time at depth when there is so much to see in the shallows anyway. I was happy to come away with one deep one. We had a look over the drop-off, which extended beyond 150 metres, but spent the most of the dive at about 6 or 7 metres. Dive time was 55 + 3 minutes and max depth was 21 metres. However, this day was marred by an incident that should never have occurred. One of our group on the other boat had a migraine and he took somebody else's prescription painkillers after having a beer at lunch. He surfaced rather quickly and their boat had to make its way rapidly to ours to get oxygen. He was given oxygen and their boat left for port. That night we were given a rather stern lecture as it transpired that he had never told anybody about his migraine or drinking. He also refused an ambulance, doctor's exam, hospital and decompression. He had no ill-effects through dumb luck, but I think this is likely to happen again as the guy did not acknowledge he was in the wrong. For some bizarre reason he was let dive the next day.

On the last day, the dive centre quite understandably treated us like children. Most of us did not dive in the morning and went for a look at a 3 metre Gorgonia fan coral in the afternoon. This was a nice dive but I was slightly pissed off due to the events of the previous evening. Max depth was 18.4 metres and dive time as 58+4. Our last dive was a night dive. We had to sit through a stupid PADI video before this which slightly galled me as I had done a few night dives before. However, the behaviour of one individual affected us all so I suppose it was fair enough. Despite the bulls**t video, we were not organised into buddy pairs before the boat left. I was diving with Jo anyway as I always do lately, so that was us sorted, but I pity those on the boat who had never night-dived before and had no buddy arranged before leaving. Jo was feeling a bit freaked by all this, especially as she had never done a night dive before, but we forced ourselves to relax on the trip out and I even got a little sleep on the 45-minute trip. When we arrived at the site the usual messing left us in the water for about 10 minutes before we got going. The system organised immediately before the dive was that 2 buddy pairs would dive with a leader, so we got our dives done. The dive wasn't really worth the effort as our large group scared all the fish away. We slightly overstayed our maximum bottom time on our leader discretion, but that was "OK" as our group leader overstayed the maximum time he set by 20 minutes. This dive was very stressful and was not helped by the fact that we had to loudly insist that a roll call be done after the dive. The lack of desire for this even though we had done a dock-side roll call was a mystery to me. That is it with the diving. We rounded off the trip with a visit to the Nabotean city of Petra which was mind-blowing. It can't be described in words, so I won't bother trying. If you are ever in Jordan, or even in Eilat, make sure you go there. None of the problems on this trip were due to the Aquamarina dive centre, which is a good professional organisation. Their only problem is a lack of Oxygen on one of their small boats, but this was an isolated incident, and the boat was not far from ours anyway. I would have no hesitation going through this operation again.

©1999 Scubacharter.com.  All Rights Reserved
Last edited on June 29, 2002
 

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Hi Bren,
I dived in Jordan with Aquatours in 1996 I think it was and whilst Aquatours were perfectly ok, I'm not sure that I would recommend the diving. At that time all of the dives were from the shore with some pretty uncomfortable entry and exit points (lots of urchins) and I can't remember seeing anything spectacular (apart from Petra!). A lot of coral was dead/bleached out from the mineral mining/loading that goes on further south from Aqaba (potash I think).
My choice would be Cyprus, or some of the marine parks in the South of France, or maybe Corsica.
HTH
 

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Thanks Robert for your heads-up.

I am considering Aquatours at the moment and I called them and got put through to a guy who had dived the area extensively - right over to the Cedar Pride and Saudi border drop-offs. At least one of the dive-centres out there now has boats, so the shore stuff we can do if we wish or take the boat out.

Here's a report I received from a guy in Ireland who has, like you, done the trip, and yet you'll see that the two are quite contrasting.

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"Hi Bren,

I used Seastar Watersports (Alcazar Hotel) in Aqaba.
Hotel was okay, food good.

Diving was all shore based, travel by minibus twice a day, doing a range of sites. Shallow being 12m or so, Cedar Pride wreck - a fun dive, very easy and safe; deeper sites are Saudi Border 55m, Power Station 60m+

All diving is comfortable, virtually current-free. No big pelagics, but a good representation of reef fish. Bit of advice, avoid divemaster Omar - he is very inexperienced, and spoiled my last dive of the trip (on Cedar Pride) by asking me not to enter it! The wreck has clear access, exits both ends etc. On asking him how many wrecks he'd done, he answered only that one!!!! Love to have had him with me on the Brummer!

Aside from diving, my itinerary was:
first overnight in Amman, went to Jerash next day - excellent. Travelled by taxi, not expensive. Had seen the Dead Sea before, so continued down to Aqaba.

Day trip to Wadi Rhum by shared taxi with guide, organised by hotel. Enjoyed it.

Hired car through hotel for two-day trip to Petra, overnight accommodation arranged again through Alcazar Hotel. You will need two days to see this magnificent place. Take some water with you, some climbing involved. Steps can be uneven, so care is needed. Do NOT take a donkey through the canyon leading to Petra, you must experience the Siq has to be seen on foot. If you take a donkey ride at the end of your tour, then alight when you reach the Siq, as the handlers can "trip" the donkey to end your ride, rather than go all the way to the exit.

In Petra town, eat at the Movenpick, grub is excellent and clean, price worth it.

A trip across the border to Israel from Aqaba to Eilat may seem attractive, but you have a minimum stay, two days I think.

Good Chinese restaurant in Aqaba, up the hill, turn left, across the road. Ask at the Alcazar. I ate there EVERY night, good selection.

Shopping in Amman - shops of the same products, eg jewellers, seem to be localised. Gold is cheaper here, especially items made in Dubai - 23 carats!!

Your credit card may not work in the local ATMs, mine didn't (Visa); going to a bank is a Royal pain in the A%*!! Waiting time is forever.

Would I go back there? A resounding YES, and to the same hotel, same itinerary.
This opinion comes from having dived in well over twenty countries worldwide, just in case you might think it's based on a novelty factor for a beginner-diver.

June should be hot and crowded, I went in March.


Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Cheers,

Seadeuce "
 

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Hi Bren,

You cetainly started one here didnt you ..........
Anyways not having dived Jordan I cant comment. However having worked Cyprus I can definetly reccomend the Zen.

Depending on the diving that you are doing either look at Octopus in Larnaca (Dhekelia larnaca road) or Dive In (just up from the harbour.)

I know both D'C's personally and would not endorse if they were not up too scratch.

Bren you can dive on the zen all week and not be bored. Further more if you did want to go further afield these guys will accomadate.

If you want any more info pls mail me.....do expect a slight delay as I fly to Gozo to work for the season today.

Related Links below:

Hope this helps mate

Best regards

Jon

(07815 005 445)

Octopus

Dive In
 

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Hey John,

You are a star mate. Safe trip to Gozo and I'll give you a call in the next few days as it looks, now the balloon's gone up, like we'll be going for a couple of weeks in Cyprus, so at least a solid week diving on the Zenobia! Happy days  


I've been in touch with Octopus and their rates seem OK. Can the provide twins if I take my wing etc?

Cheers in advance and dive safe in Gozo.
 

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Another review of diving in Jordan just posted to me deom 'DiverD':

" Guys,

I'd agree with Scubadude! I've also dived through the Aquamarina dive centre and stayed in the Aquamarina hotel. The hotel is as pleasant as you could expect. The dive centre is a PADI resort, and quite a good one at that as far as Red Sea resorts go. The local Divemaster at the Aquamarina Centre, Yazan, is exceptional, very professional, very knowledgable, friendly, and helpful. The guy who runs the centre, Osama Roshdy, runs a good ship (so to speak).

Scubadude is quite correct about the heat and the other dive centres. They're all based way out of town, and personally the idea of kitting up in the direct heat, and being ferried to the dive sites in a local taxi doesn't strike as a whole lot of fun. The Aquamarina Centre is the only one in Aqaba with a fleet of very nice day boats, which makes the concept of a lazy fall into the water rather pleasant. On night dives they have a coastguard officer actually onboard to ensure the dives are safe and controlled. The dive sites are pretty much the same whether you boat dive or shore dive, just accessed a lot easier and more convieniently. They dive a series of sites right down to the Saudi border and across to the Egyptian Sinai (which can obviously only be done by day boat).

We travelled out to Wadi Rum, and to Petra with a tour company who are based in the Aquamarina 1 hotel (can't remember their name), also a very good operation and with an exceptional tour guide. Petra will blow you away, it's absolutely an awesome site, and a strongly recommended day out. We went there on the day before we flew back, to allow offgassing time - with the amount of diving we had done.

I booked my trip through Scubaway and Neil Plowman, although I'm not sure whether he's still in business here in the UK as I can't pick up his web site anymore (it was: www.scubaway.com).

I'd go back to Jordan any day, even though the diving isn't as good as it can be in the deep south, and the marine life isn't as wild as you'd get in other parts of the world. The people are really friendly, I was told they have a tourist police to ensure that tourists are always treated as royalty by the locals. They say you can drop your wallet on the pavement and still find it laying there a week later (although I must add that I'd didn't personally test this theory!). The diving is easy and enjoyable, the coral's in good condition, the resort is quiet (probably more so right now!), there's a tremendous lack of commercialism, it's all very interesting, and all in all it's just a great different dive destination.

Get yourself out there!

Best regards
diverD "
 

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Bren

Came in a bit late on this one....

I spent a whole week diving the Zenobia in 2001......and another week in 2002.  We liked the wreck so much, we went back again.

I'd recommend you dive with Octopus Dive Centre in Larnaca.
http://www.octopus-diving.com/
They are all Brits, a BSAC premier school (or something) and very nice people.  Give Jon or Ian a ring, they will sort you out.

We always stay at the Daniandry Hotel (see the website).  Very comfy, not five star but very friendly people etc. and v. cheap!

Hope this helps.

Bob
 

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Cheers Bob,

I've been in email contact with Ian for the last week on various topics, so am hooked-up there, thanks all the same mate.

Do you know anyone (dive centre) in Larnaca who will provide banded twins with manifold and not just independent twins?
 
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