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I know many divers that have dove the Red Sea.
I also put a trip together last year to Sharem.
Sinai Divers is a well respected dive opereator in Sharem
El Sheikh. E mail them at http://www.sinaidivers.com
They will send you info in the snail mail if you want it, or you can set up you dives ahead via email.
Dive the Planet
I went to Sharm last March and had a fantastic time. I stayed at the Ocean Lodge which is pretty cheap but about a five minute taxi drive into town. If you are going with your mates you'd probably be better off finding somewhere in the centre where all the bars/restaurants are.
Never been to Eilat but heard a lot of people say the diving is not as good there as elsewhere in the Red Sea.
The Red Sea Diving College in Sharm El Sheik is an excellent operation. They offer regular trips to the Thistlegorm which is a MUST do dive and also the Ras Mohamed National Park has some awesome walls.
Hurghada on the other side has a reputation as a building site but good diving. As with Sharm, there are a lot of dive operations there and sites can be crowded, particularly when weather is less than optimal.
A few miles north of Hurghada is El Gouna where I dived with the DiveTribe a few times. Very good quality establishment. The town is quiet but a clean, purpose built resort. Good selection of courses offered there including the TechRec and Semi Closed Rebreathers. They dive the wrecks at Abu Nuhas which are quite cool and difficult to get to from other resorts. Given the chance, that's where I'd go.
Dahab is another option. Never been but rumoured to be pretty good, with mostly shore diving.
If you mean that prices are higher, it's becouse Eilat is located in Israel, which is a modern west world country, while siani is in egypt which is a developing third world country, and everything that comes with that.
If you look purely for diving, than the sites in siani are better than in eilat, that was overdived and quite ruined in several areas in the last decades (though there are still several quite good dives there that can fill a few days vacation).
On the other hand, if you are looking for a fun vocation that includes all sorts of entertainment that one can find in a modern city than you should consider eilat. It is way more developed than anywhere in sinai, offers a lot of parties, a good under-water observatory, lots of resturants etc. , and on top of it all, the chances of beduine picking on you (I take it you are a groupe of girls) the whole time is greatly reduced.
Another matter is that if you get to eilat you may meet me there
Anyway, as I said, dive sites are better in sinai, and hotels are also cheaper there so consider the whole issue.
Anyway, if you decide on Eilat, drop me a private message, and I'll give you some advice on which centers you should use, and where to look for deals (and who knows, maibe the use of my name may cut a-bit the costs if you say you'r my cousin).
I take it theres another Israely here on the board??
am I not the only one any more?
You're not the only one anymore, I'm an Israeli too.
I agree with all you've written about Eilat and Sinai.
I used to suffer a lot from Bedouins molesting and harrasment but beared it all for the sake of the precious diving there. Feminism and female's rights are not really prevalent is this region indeed.
And of course, there are a few good dive sites left in Eilat to fill a few days vacation. There are some creatures that even is Sinai are quite rare to see and are very common in Eilat: You have a chance of meeting some Dolphins almost everyday in Eilat. Lately there are reports of three Spotted Eagle Rays that have settled in the coral beach. Rarely it is possible to find a Turtle. Although there aren't big school of fish (compared to Sinai), fish diversity is quite big in Eilat.
I am among the lucky ones who saw the eagle-ray (I think I was among the first, it was about 2 years ago), and also turtles, the latest quite a few times. At night dives I also spotted a spanish dancer (belived to be extinct at eilat), giant squid (boy was this one a giant!), also got "kicked" by a dolphine and spoted variouse other exotic animals.
Eilat might not be great at it's "macro" sites, but people looking for the "micro" will be more than satisfied. My personal favorite in eilat is a rock a bit after the "caves" that houses regularly 3 stonefish, 2 giant morey eels and if you look at it in perspective from 2 meters back you can see actualy "layers" of different kinds of fish surounding it.
Still, Sinai has probobly some of the best "macro" sites in the world, and Eilat get's worse every year, becouse we dont know how to guard it.
What I do belive is that ailat is probobly the best place in the world to teach/learn how to scuba, as it has ideal conditions with a completly modern city to back it up.