Ras Al Khaimah Diving? Are you sure?
You’re right, Ras Al Khaimah is not the first place that springs to mind when you talk about scuba diving – not when you have the East coast of the UAE, or better still, Musandam just up the coast. But dismiss it, and you’ll miss out on some pretty awesome dive sites.
If you have the pleasure, you may also get to stay in the Ras Al Khaimah hotel, which is, if nothing else, an experience 🙂
Why am I diving in Rak Al Khaimah? Blame Ana ‘Banana’ Baptista. Actually, it’s Matts fault. He sent through a coupon deal of some sort and without hesitation, Ana bought it. It’s great that Ana wants to learn to dive, so we agreed to go up for the weekend to support her. The deal included a night in the Ras Al Khaimah hotel. I hadn’t heard of it before and the fact that it was actually in land, made me question how diving was going to be undertaken. Whilst it had a pool, what about the actual sea dives needed for the Open Water Qualification? Early Friday morning we packed into the car and set off. Ana was already worried that she would be late, mainly because, as always, we left late! Stopping for coffee on the way made her even more anxious 🙂 Her theory sessions started at 8.30am and we were there in plenty of time.
The Ras Al Khaimah Hotel
To describe this hotel in one word, it would have to be ‘desperately needs and update as it’s old and things are falling off’. Admittedly that’s not one word. From the outside, you can see that the hotel has been there a while, maybe about 35 years and it does need brightening up. Having said this, the rooms are actually very nice, considering the price. A clean, spacious area to rest your head, after all, how long do you actually spend in the room at a hotel anyway. We had arrived way before check in time and so the hotel put all our stuff in storage and we hit the pool for some sun and a snooze. Bearing in mind this was mid July, it was a bit toasty by the pool, but lovely in it. Careful when you get in the pool as well, as it seems to have this additional step along the side, specifically designed to do you damage upon entry.
The main reason for coming to the Ras Al Khaimah hotel is because Arabian Divers are based here and that’s who was going to be introducing Ana Banana to the wonderful world of Scuba. We wanted to support Ana in her foray into the unknown and they were extremely flexible to accommodate our requirements, over and above what they were doing for the students. They helped us go from 5 people diving, to 0 people diving, to 5 people including Ana diving on our own boat in the morning! Thank you David and the Arabian Diver team – even though you are a bit more expensive than most other dive centres, you earned your money that weekend 🙂
After finally coming to a decision on who was diving and the fact that Arabian Divers would accommodate us and effectively lay on our own boat, we got up Saturday morning, had breakfast and hit the road, for the 20 minute drive to the Marina to pick up our ride. We were also meant to be meeting our Omanorati friend Hussain, who was going to join us for the dive too. We can only put it down to his Bedou instinct (his BB had switched itself off, so we couldn’t get hold of him), but somehow, I missed the turning for the Marina, ended up at Al Hamra shopping centre and who should be sat in the car park waiting – Hussain!
The boat trip out to the site took an age, we did get to go past the new purpose built island that Real Madrid Resort Island which will be quite a site once it’s all done and dusted. We did eventually get to the site, which I cannot remember the name of. The dive wasn’t great in terms of it was very choppy on the surface, some strong currents and down below was much the same. The large amount of surge, meant that it was a bit of a pea souper down there. But there was a lot of wildlife down there. Loads of fish, nudi branches, couple eels, no rays that day and general wildlife going about their business. On a clear calm day, this would be a great site to dive, for beginners and photographers alike. After the first dive, there seemed little point in us pleasure divers going down again as viz was so bad. But Ana Banana needed to do another dive for her course, so this meant some surface time for the rest of us. This didn’t sit particularly well with one of our party in particular . Matt ‘Action Man, Hunter’ Wilson, turned into Matt ‘can’t stop throwing up everywhere’ Wilson. So we threw him a life ring and let him float in the water about 20ft from the boat. This stopped the sickness for a while, but also burnt him 🙂
We had hoped the trip back might be quicker but it wasn’t! A bit too long out in the sun for all of us that weekend, meant some pretty tanned/charred skin. But an entertaining trip as always and the end result being a nearly qualified Ana Banana face.