The Good: Value and diveboat
The Bad: Limited entertainment
The Ugly: Rental gear
This review combines the hotel, dive center, and the day boat operations. I stayed as part of package that included a Bedouin room and two-tank daily boat dives.
Shark’s Bay is in a quiet part of Sharm. This has distinct advantages. One can sit by the water and read or just relax. The boat dock for many of the dive tours is owned by Umbi, so you are already there. This small fact is hugely important! The other divers come in by bus and stand in long lines in the baking sun. Umbi divers breeze right through.
The hotel, and its neighbors, have some small shops for sundries and souvenirs. For anything else- and I mean anything- head into Na’ama Bay.
If you crave some fun and nightlife (as I did on a couple occasions), the reception will get you a taxi. The cab arrived within 10 minutes each time. Fare one-way was 50 LE (<9 USD at the time).
The hotel is not five-star by any stretch, but the Bedouin rooms were kept very clean and had everything one needs. The beach huts are cheaper and closer to the water, but I recommend paying the extra few dollars for the Bedouin rooms with AC, view, TV, and fridge. My room was well-cleaned daily.
The breakfast was included with the room. While not spectacular, there was enough quantity and variety to have a hearty breakfast before heading out for dives. The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner. The food is good although the selection is somewhat limited. I found the fish and meat to be a bit overcooked. The pizza was nice and can be a fast take-away option.
Beer is available at the beach bar and the restaurant. The beer is Sakara, an Egyptian 4.0% lager. No other alcohol was available.
Service was good across the board, from waitstaff to managers, with no annoying demands for tips “baksheesh.” I was happy to leave tips for a job well done.
The dive center is conveniently located next to the breakfast area and beach bar, and is a short stroll from the dock. Alex runs the shop. She is well-organized and friendly.
I was traveling light, so I had to rent gear. The gear is a mix of mid-level ScubaPro and Mares, but mostly old and in serious need of replacement. I had three minor air leak points throughout the six days of diving, and the diaphragm in the second stage fluttered and moaned with every inhale. The BC was not weight integrated. There were no safety issues- I was just annoyed and having to use crusty gear.
The dive guides were somewhat hit-and-miss. Sameh was the guide we had in the beginning and end. He was friendly, delivered a clear briefing, and matched his guiding to the group’s desires. I don't like to be guided at all, but Sameh was a pleasure. Nour was the other guide. He was more reserved and tended to keep to a set schedule underwater, which forced me to pass up some photos. This was particularly frustrating as I had come for the express purpose of U/W photos. I also had a bit of an argument with him, although this might have been partly from language barrier.
This day boat gets five stars even if the hotel didn’t. The massive boat had three levels and loads of room. Tanks were loaded by the crew and gear stayed onboard overnight. The boat was kept spotless by the crew. Unlike the other boats we saw- which were crammed with snorkelers as well- we had room to stretch out and nap, read, sunbathe, sightsee, or sip on tea while underway. Lunch is served onboard for 50 LE. It was great everyday and well worth the price.
The captain delivered perfect drops and easy pick-up everytime on drift dives. The crew was always helpful. Two dives are included and a third can be purchased for 20 Euro. One may as well pay the extra bit of coin, because the boat comes back sametime regardless.
The diving is spectacular but crowded. Sharm is easily accessible and has a large airport, so every dive site has several boats jockeying for spots. If you are a die-hard diver, consider a liveaboard, maybe even skipping Sharm and going all the way to Hurghada or Marsa Alam. Ras Mohamed Park was my favorite local dive, and we did Shark Reef to Yolanda three times. There are some breath-taking walls large coral structures, especially the Acropora in some areas. Visibility was excellent everyday and usually exceeded 40 meters. We did not see much in the way of large animals, but tuna and Napolean wrasse were pretty common.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Unique in the area, Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a friendly, relaxing place that still maintains the feel of how Sharm used to be before the arrival of large scale tourism. The Diving Village has a well-equipped dive centre, its own private jetty and a fleet of five boats. There is also a seafood restaurant, beach bar and a full range of water sports. The accommodation ranges from budget View Huts and Beach Cabins to the individually styled Bedouin Village ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village Hotel Sharm El Sheikh