Snorkeling in the Red Sea

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It's been a few months since we last headed out to Al Hassi beach.  The last time was just after Thanksgiving and I was still a newbie here in Yanbu.  A bunch of people went snorkeling then, but not me...I haven't gotten in any ocean/sea since a trip to St. Lucia in 2003.  (had a bad experience and I was pretty much done with snorkeling)
For this trip I thought...maybe.  Maybe I'll get in the water and give it a go.  I mean, we're talking the Red Sea here.  It is home to amazing species of fish and coral.  The water is clear and blue. (and in the summer, its a balmy 85 degrees!)  
Fun Facts:  "The sea is the habitat of over 1,000 invertebrate species, and 200 soft and hard corals. It is the world's northernmost tropical sea." (Wikipedia)

So, after standing there staring at it for a couple of hours, I got up the nerve and decided to go for it.  Asked our friends to keep on eye on the kiddos...because there was no way I was going in that water without my hubby by my side.  
Got my mask and snorkel on.  Stood in the water.  Carefully put my face in the water.  Stopped breathing.  Okay, so not a great start.  Gathered myself, started breathing again, and went under.  Gripping my hubby's hand we sent off.  My breathing was crazy and I had to force myself to calm down.  At the first sign of fish my heart started pounding so hard I could hear it in my ears.  My eyes were bugged out searching for any sign of jelly fish (they are the reason for the abject terror I experience with the ocean)   
We pressed on and I slowly got control over myself...I even let go of Matt's hand!  yea me!  (and the fact that he was having a hell of a time trying to swim with me tugging on him)  Once I calmed down, I started to notice just how beautiful my little underwater world was.  And I realized for the first time that I was having no problem whatsoever floating in the water...way to go Red Sea and your wickedly salty water!  I'm not one who can float on water...I sink.  But out there...it was so cool!  I didn't have to do anything...just hover above the coral and watch all the little fishies swimming around.  The water was so clear you could see all around you.  It was amazing.

We kept swimming and I started to get nervous again...I knew we were heading to the drop off.  (yes, just like Nemo)  And just like Nemo I knew to be scared.  Big fishies lived out there...I wasn't ready to see them...not yet.  We got close and you could see the color of the water change...it went from light blue to dark blue.  I just couldn't go any further...I had a fist full of hubby's swim trunks...it was time to turn around.  Not only that, but it was really windy out and the water was making me bob around like crazy...not good when you're prone to seasickness.  I let go and headed back to land.
On the way back I spotted a killer clam shell (empty of course).  I promised the girls I would find a shell for them.  Well, I found it, Matt had to get it.  Took him a few tries to dive down...the salt just wanted to keep him at the surface.  But here is what we brought back:
you can see the size of it compared to the brick...just needs a good cleaning.  :)

I got back to land and tried to walk onto shore.  My legs buckled.  I felt like Ariel trying to walk on legs for the first time.  I was queasy and light headed, so I just sat in the water and waited for my body to adjust from mermaid to human again.  
Will I go back??  You bet.  I'm hooked now.  Not to mention I need to get an underwater camera so I can snap some killer shots of all the gorgeous fish and coral.  I borrowed these photos from our friend that was with us and had his own camera.  And next time I'll be braver and poke my head past the drop off...if only to snap a few shots of the big fish...just don't expect me to go swimming out to touch any butt's.  (It's a Nemo joke)  I'll happily stay on the edge and view the vast sea from there.  Who knows, maybe I'll get more brave as time goes on.  For now...I'm just going to ride the high of getting out there and taking advantage of one of the very best things about living in Saudi Arabia...having the Red Sea as my playground.
click the pictures to open the whole slideshow


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