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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village
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Reviewed 8 April 2013

Sincerely enjoyed this layed back location. If you are up for relaxing close to the sea and not necesarily fancy luxory swimming pools this location is great. The staff in hotel and restaurant is lovely - and supportive. Take some time with them, at first they seem a bit distant.
Hotel is good, nothing fancy, but basic - clean and it works.

It is good for snorkling just in front of the hotel and you don't need much more for a day between the restaurant - the bedouin sitting corner and the sea. The restaurant is great - good fish and local stews.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank enjoyfriendlyspots
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2013

Great place. Very cheap. I stayed in the old beachside cabin accommodations. Very basic but clean and has everything you need. Maybe a 20 second walk to the beach! Dive centre right there with excellent staff. Food is mediocre but no worse than anywhere else in Egypt. Will be back.

  • Stayed: March 2013
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1  Thank Christy W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 March 2013

I stayed in this small hotel in Shark's Bay from 7 to 14 March 2013 to meet up and dive with 10 of my friends from the UK. I had pre-booked my week's accommodation with transfers from the airport and 5 days diving direct with the diving centre. The lady I was in contact with (Beverley in the dive centre) was extremely helpful and I had very high expectations.

There was a slight problem with the transfer from the airport. I was told to look for someone with the Umbi logo as I came our of the arrival lounge. I didn't find anyone holding this logo. I waited half an hour and there was still no sign of my transfer.

Like an idiot I had not written down the telephone number for the hotel nor had I saved it to my phone. So I had to extract my laptop from my luggage and check through the emails I'd received only to find I had to go to the web page to get the number. When I called the hotel they were very apologetic and said there would be someone with me within 10 minutes.

Less than 2 minutes later my driver arrived. When given his worksheet he had assumed that being foreign I would arrive at international arrivals. However, I live in Egypt and had arrived at the domestic arrivals lounge. A very understandable and forgiveable mistake.

The drive to the hotel was only about 10 minutes. It is literally behind the airport though you have to go first in the wrong direction, do a U turn then follow the airport perimeter along 3 sides to find the small road to the hotel. The transfer cost 8Euros each way which I thought was very expensive for the distance covered (approximately LE48) but was in line with the officially posted cost for a taxi from the airport to Shark's Bay of LE50. As I would find out during my stay this area of Egypt is a VERY expensive place to be compared to other places like El Gouna, Hurghada, Safaga, Marsa Alam etc.

On arrival the greeting was friendly and helpful and I was quickly installed in my room.

There are 3 classes of room here. You can stay in the View Huts on top of the cliff with absolutely amazing views. These rooms are VERY basic and small. They are twin-bedded with fans (no aircon). The bathroom facilities are shared and there are no real facilities in the room itself. No towels are provided.

The Beach Huts are a good option. they are bigger and have ensuite facilities. As the name implies, they are on the beach. They are also twin-bedded and have aircon and a small fridge. Towels are provided but NOT for the beach.

I had opted for a Bedouin Room. This is the top of the range here. These rooms are up a lot of steps so be warned. The room was large and I had a double bed all to myself. There was aircon and ensuite facilities. Towels AND beach towels were provided and the room also had a television, telephone, small fridge and balcony. The furniture was adequate but not specially comfortable and, in my opinion as a diver with a few electrical gadgets (laptop, rechargeable underwater torch, etc) not enough electrical sockets.

Accommodation is Bed and Breakfast. You can get a good idea of what's available on their website at www.sharksbay.com.

Throughout my stay I can say that the hotel staff and the staff at the Beach Bar (serves drinks, beer and snacks during the day) and Restaurant (serves breakfast and evening meals plus drinks, wine and beer) were exceptionally polite and helpful. I only made 1 visit to the bedouin lounge but still found the staff friendly and helpful. There were no spirits on sale at this hotel.

The food in these outlets was OK. It was not great cuisine but it was adequate and reasonably priced for what it was. However, I was disappointed by the curry. It was slightly sweet with pineapple in it and I couldn't taste any curry flavour at all. It was more like a sweet meat stew.

There are a few shops in the complex. I seem to remember a small supermarket, another unit doubles as a dive shop and an internet cafe. There was also a bazaar for souvenirs. Prices in the supermarket did not seem too high although don't expect to be able to self cater with what they sell. It's mostly drinks and snacks (crisps, chocolate, biscuits etc) and some basis toiletries, batteries etc.

All in all my experience of the hotel was very positive.

Sharks Bay is some distance from any 'life' which, at first, I didn't like until my friends and I went to Na'ama Bay for an evening and I saw what a real 'rip off' on prices that is. The taxi was LE50 for a distance that in Hurghada would have cost me just LE10. The amount of hustling going on was outrageous and just made me want to leave. The prices were, to say the least, extortionate. For example, I can get a 1/2 litre bottle of a local beer called Stella in Hurghada for anything from LE7 in a bar just off the main drag to LE15 in the better bars of the main tourist street escalating to an astonishing LE20 in an area called the New Marina. In Na'ama Bay the starting price was LE20 and, very often, that was for a 330ml can of Stella (available for LE6 in Hurghada). In one bar (not the only one charging this price) the 1/2 litre of Stella was shown on the menu for LE28 + 12/5% service charge + 10% sales tax raking in a whopping LE35!!! I had previously commented that I thought the 1/2 litre cans of Heineken at the Umbi Village for LE20 including service and tax was too much but had now changed my mind - comparatively it was very reasonable. We did have a really good meal in a restaurant called Dananeer on the main tourist street and paid an equally high price for it. However, it was our last evening so we decided we had to close our eyes to the extreme pricing in Na'ama bay and simply pay up and look good.

After my arrival at the hotel I went to the dive centre to check in and leave my equipment there. Beverley was there so it was good to meet her before she flew back to the UK that very day for a month's vacation. She introduced me to Hosna who guided me through the check in process, gave me a box for my diving things and took care of my bag.

Next day my friends and I presented at the dive centre at 8am as instructed. We were put on the boat Freedom. I was quite impressed because the boat was very clean and tidy. The toilet doors actually locked properly with locks rather than bolts and the toilets flushed - there was no filling of buckets needed. Boat staff were friendly and helpful and the lunches were very good. We were introduced to our captain who had, apparently, been working as a boat captain in this area for the last 25 years. We were also introduced to our guide, Nour, who told me had had worked full-time on safari boats during the last 5 years and clocked up more than 5000 dives during that time.

In the light of what follows it may be relevant here to say that I am a PADI MSDT currently working at a dive centre in Egypt. I have been diving for more than 26 years and have been an instructor (with BSAC) since 1992. Of my 10 friends who arrived, 4 are instructors and have been diving as long as I have; another 4 have been diving certainly between 10 or 15 years and hold BSAC qualifications of a similar level to a Divemaster (the certification held by our guide); 1 has a level almost equivalent to a Rescue Diver and the other would count as an experienced Open Water Diver. We have natural buddy pairs within the group, all with different interests. For example, my buddy is an avid photographer so we like to go very slowly to get good photos which gives me a chance to really study the reef. I asked about unguided diving and was told this is not allowed in the Red Sea - that it's a rule of the CDWS (Chamber of Diving and Water Sports) who regulate diving here that all dives have to be guided. I'm certain this was not true. I work in the industry and can categorically say that in the south, also regulated by CDWS, there is a great deal of unguided diving goes on at virtually all the dive centres. Anyway, there was insistence that we be guided for the 5 days no matter what our certification. Financially it didn't matter as the guide is included in the basic dive price.

When I first met Nour I thought he seemed like a nice guy. However, I was quickly irritated by his habit of addressing the group as "guys" when 3 of us most definitely are not guys and there are many other forms of address he could use. Still, I put it down to a non English speaker using vocabulary he knows. His English, after all was very good but is not his mother tongue.

We geared up for our first dive - a sort of check dive. The guide was helpful enough. All my friends were using Nitrox. They had expected to have around 32% but were finding the bottles contained around 36% to 38% oxygen. No problem for this dive though as it wouldn't be too deep.

We got into the water and descended. I just could not believe how quickly the guide swam. Being an awkward person I refused to expend the energy needed to keep up so went at my own gentle pace, with my buddy taking photos. Very quickly the group was totally lost to view. This means the guide could not see me or my buddy either. So much for a check dive.

After the dive, the guide started grading people according to their air consumption. Although this is a valid practice it is not a good practice to do it in front of the guests and tell them what you think of their breathing rate.

For the second dive I asked the guide to slow down. He said he was going slowly enough. OK, but not in my book. So another dive when he certainly couldn't see me for most of the dive. Well, I wanted to dive unguided anyway!!!!!!

We decided that 8 of us would use day 3 to go to Thistlegorm. This meant the Nitrox fills were too high. On day 2 we still found the Nitrox at 36% and 38% so asked the guide to make sure it was no more than 32% for the next day. His first reaction was to accuse us of not knowing how to use an analyser properly. He was then at pains to explain to us how it should be used. It was only after we persisted and he checked the tanks for himself that he agreed there may be a problem. We were promised a maximum 32% for the following day.

Now we have the highlight of our week. Eight of us are up at 3am, meet at the dive centre at 4am and board the boat for Thistlegorm. We were told to relax and put our equipment together when we stop on the way for breakfast. Breakfast was served in a quiet bay after a beautiful sunrise. It was a very good breakfast with plenty of variety. Then we put our equipment together. That's when we found the Nitrox mixes were still at 38%, therefore maximum depth 26.8m but the wreck's at 30m (can be dived with maximum 35%). After using all the spare normal air bottles and eventually finding a couple of Nitrox tanks with a lower mix we could just about manage the wreck but it was a lot of hassle sorting it out.

After breakfast, we moved on to the Thistlegorm. As we approached there was not a single boat anywhere in site and we were very excited about the prospect of having the wreck all to ourselves. We get to the place indicated by our captain and the guide jumps in to go and tie our line on to the wreck. Problem is, it's not there. Then we start to search. One of my friends has a phone with GPS but it only tells you where you are, it doesn't tell you which direction to go to get where you want and there isn't a google map for Thistlegorm. Still, we knew where we were and where we should be and we were 1 minute out (in navigation that's about 1 nautical mile). Unfortunately, not only did the boat not have GPS, they also didn't have a compass so the captain wasn't able to find the right direction to go to find the wreck. After searching for a very long time it was decided to give up and go to the Ras Mohamed national park instead. I was astounded because this is the most famous wreck in the Red Sea. The captain had, we were told, been working as a captain in this area for more than 25 years so presumably had taken countless people there. How can we not find it? Quite unbelievable. The excuse we were given is that they always find another boat on the wreck by the time they get there! Imagine, you can only dive it if you know another boat is going there - very droll.

The following day I mentioned to our guide that I hadn't had a full bottle yet during the week. I always seemed to only have 180bar. My buddy used a lot more air than me so it wasn't really an issue but it's nice sometimes to have the full 200bar. The reply was that I must have a faulty gauge. However, eventually the guide decided to put his own gauge on my bottle and, sure enough, it only read 180bar.

In short, apart from not being able to find the most famous dive site of the Red Sea I was disappointed with the attitude from the guide. Nice as he was as a person he seemed to treat us all as though we know absolutely nothing at all about diving.

After repeatedly not allowing us to dive a different wreck we had requested (the Million Hope) because the wind was wrong or it was too far or something, he decided to take us on day 4 - probably because he couldn't find the Thistlegorm the day before. Nonetheless, he did his best to put us off saying we would have to use the RIB. Why would he think that's a problem? British divers do most of their diving from RIBs. We certainly did not appreciate his very detailed instructions on how to get into the water and back on to the RIB again as we have done this so many times in the past it's second nature. He could, perhaps, have asked us first if we'd dived from RIBs before and tailored his briefing to our response.

So, in summary - the guide was a nice guy with the wrong attitude who needs to respect the certification levels and experience of the divers he's with. We are not all beginners.

The sites themselves are amazing and good for those who enjoy drift dives. We had the bonus of seeing a lot of dolphins on this trip. Several times we encountered Risso's Dolphins (they refer to them as Beluga here) and on our final day a group of well over 100 Spinners. Great memories to keep with us.

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled with friends
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4  Thank Thedizzydiver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 March 2013

I will just mention the bad issues in this spot! as i think positive points are naturally expected and not to be highlighted
At first impression I was amazed due to low rate and common facilities availability as double b&b room sea view costs only 300 ep or 45 $ ( all rooms sea view btw) , and single room costs 200 ep (30$ )
Going to the details ! i found weak points like the low variety of open buffet breakfast ( just eggs , cheese , cocomber , bread , tea and nescafe ) , you will feel simplicity as you walk in the reception which is 2 by 3 meters sq , also tv is abt 14 inches so it is not a real tv , and as a very simple compound like umbi village no pool or real bazar in.
the diving stuff attitude during the tour was soo weirdo as they were very nervous seeing ppl socializing on deck , i noticed a co-diver insulting a rasha girl i chatted with , telling me all Rashians are liars !!? And no he wasnt joking his name was abd- elhameed ( i think they felt bad , guys getting along with girls as i saw bad sights from all stuff ) and the boat named "lady ghada" so i hope you pick a better package , also poor food on deck was served like rice , greens , and sausage
Last weak point is the high climbing mountain to reach rooms as old ppl may hv heart attack on those 40 - 60 stairs
So if you like simplicity and low cost camp this is the place , but dont expect any glimpse of luxury.

Room Tip: If no prob with stairs , as high leveled room as better you see the view , and dont accept room with no balcony
  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Hassangalal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 February 2013

I have visited Egypt for the last two years and both times have dived with Sharks Bay Umbi. I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending them to anyone! From the great condition of the boats, great great, absolutely fantastic dive guides, I could not fault them in the slightest.

Alex went out of her way to get my final trip to Ras Mohammed - the nation park area - if you get the chance go!! It was my final dive of the holiday and it was superb. If i was ever back in Egypt again, I would most certainly dive here!!

  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled with family
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2  Thank ChrisSarah21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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