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Thread: 2018 - GBR? Coral Sea?

  1. #1
    Grouper
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    2018 - GBR? Coral Sea?

    Hey folks,

    So I have some airline miles to spend, and was looking at what I could do to maximize them, get good bang for the buck.

    I was looking and I think I might have enough to get myself and the wife to Cairns and back in 2018 - feb/march/april time frame for 2 weeks, or at least a week and a half. I figure if I can get the flight for free it's only stupid expensive to go and dive, instead of insanely stupid expensive.

    So I wanted to ask the crowd of folks who have been to GBR or the Coral Sea - having been - what would you tell me?

    Was thinking about taking the 7 day liveaboard which goes towards the north (either Mike Ball or Spririt of Freedom (I think thats what its called).

    The thing about giving advice is that it's all relative to what someone's preferences and previous experiences are. In the effort of getting better advice, here's a little about the wife and I:

    The wife and I have been diving for about 10 years a few hundred dives concentrated around 1-2 trips per year - Cozumel, belize, roatan, bonaire, curacao - and we love it, but we feel like we've seen all the same stuff in various concentrations (for the record for consistency of experience Cozumel in February and March has been the winner. Other than some windy days that call off diving, we consistently see the most and largest fish there compared to the other places posted). We are hoping to see new things:

    What we like in our diving: Fish, lots of them, large (bigger than a breadbasket). Coral formations. Sponges, colors
    What we can take or leave, don't care either way - swim thrus, wrecks - they are only interesting if there are fish on/around them.
    What we don't like: Cold water. Like colder than say 76 degrees (yeah, i knew I'm a wuss.) Conditions so challenging that you spend more time working on survival than enjoying the dive. Also, dive groups so large and tightly packed that you feel like you are constantly fighting a fin in the face.

    We don't require vast amounts of luxury. We prefer the tshirt crowd to the polo crowd. Our taste in food is simple - we enjoy nice meals, but don't require them. We are not heavy drinkers.

    We do require the ability to retreat to privacy when we've had our fill of a group. We are an early to bed early to rise couple. There aren't many occasions that call for staying up past 11pm, and most call for going to bed by 10.

    Basically we like to dive, nap in the sun, read in the shade, rinse and repeat.

    We aren't anti social, but we usually run into at least one person on the dive boat that we never need to speak to again, and at least one person that we wish we could take home and share meal and drink with ever weekend.

    Something like blackbeards seems like a poor idea for us - given our desire to retreat to private sanctuary on occasion (never done them, but read the reviews, it doesn't sound like it's for everyone).

    I'm also down for other destination suggestions. My only qualifier is that I'd like to use the airline miles to subsidize part of the trip, and the chance to see things that we haven't seen in the locations above. The miles are with American Airlines, which I find to be quite restrict on use in the APAC region (seriously - can't get to Thailand, Philippines, or Indonesia no matter how many miles you have...United may kick your ass off a flight, but I found I could do more with my miles when I flew them).

    Would love to hear your thoughts/advice - yes - do GBR and Coral sea? Which boat and why? Do the 7 day, no don't do the 7 day?

    Go someplace else?

    thanks guys - appreciate any input.

    Ray
    Slowly exhale, relax, your brain will kick in...and if you can breath and think calmly, there's not too much you can't figure out, in any part of life.

  2. #2
    Barracuda
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    Never been to that part of the world to dive so I can't comment on it. What your requirements listed sound like is Dive Urge located in Dahab Egypt. My brother used miles to get to Cairo then flew to Sharm El Shiek. I use $$ to make the trip. But the diving is limited to 4 in a group max, mostly shore dives ( lots of fish Thousands upon thousands), Coral that makes Cozumel seem a desert. very private quiet rooms ( not a party place) Handicapped friendly. They have limited boat diving and a camel dive ( ride a camel with your dive gear for approx 45 minutes, get off & make 2 dives, eat, then ride back home, bucket list item)
    We are trying to go back for 4th time in feb 2018 & we always do a land tour of anceient Egypt at the same time. If you want pics and more info PM me for email address.
    Either way best of luck and good diving.

  3. #3
    Grouper
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    Now that is a suggestion that hadn't crossed my mind...the Red Sea.

    Interestingly I find you are correct - airline miles get you to cairo quite easily from the states. Where flights to cairns are few and far between on AA miles...I can get to Cairo almost every day of the week. I won't lie, I have some hesitation based on Israel telling their citizens to get out of Sharm El Shiek over concerns of ISIS terror activity.

    I'm going to look into it. Just poking around I also ran into several liveaboards on the Red Sea, very inexpensive compared to most other destinations...suspiciously less expensive. 7nights/8days for ~1K on most of them...~2K on the aggressor.

    thanks for the suggestion, much appreciated!

    Ray
    Last edited by rayaa3; 05-09-2017 at 08:28. Reason: typo
    Slowly exhale, relax, your brain will kick in...and if you can breath and think calmly, there's not too much you can't figure out, in any part of life.

  4. #4
    Barracuda
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    Most of the problems in the Sinai are in the north, Near Eliat on the western red red sea there are problems. I have not had any problems while traveling thru Sharm on the way to Dahab. On 6 trips to Egypt since 2001 I have only seen one act of violence & it was not directed at foreigners. I have toured by car from Alexdrandia to Abu Simbol. The people are friendly. However I will say that no matter where in the world you are there can be problems. Serveral years ago before retireing I was involved in the take down of the guy who murdered a pizza delivery man & a judge in Colorado plus shooting a deputy in the next county. He shot at 6 different officers in my town and was in the process of reloading when stopped.
    Just listen to the news and we aren't immune from random acts.
    No matter where you go having a good guide to tell where not to go is essential. Dive Urge picks you up at the airport & delivers to their door & back.
    There are alot of live aboard & they are hurting for bussinees right now. in 2014 my brother & I sailed on Dahibya ( sail boat) that slept 10 in luxury & we where by ourselves for the same a s a big cruise boat.

  5. #5
    Barracuda
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    Look for my videos in the video tab. I posted 2. We are not professionals, we use go pro & my brother is a computer geek.

  6. #6
    Grouper
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    Travel problems - agree, a good genuine attitude goes a long way and where ever you go in the world most people just want to live their lives respectful of others and respected by others. Then again bad people are everywhere.

    Then again a certain number of people in the world are just bad and do bad things. What can you do.

    Appreciate the videos. I got to see one, the other has been snatched up by youtube, something about copyrighted content within it...maybe background music?

    At any rate - there are a lot of others out there representative of different sites/locations/liveaboards/time of year.

    Definitely will look closer at this.

    Still might end up in Australia. I went for work last year, and came back wishing the wife could have come with me. Really would like to get her there.

    Choices - the best problem to have.
    Slowly exhale, relax, your brain will kick in...and if you can breath and think calmly, there's not too much you can't figure out, in any part of life.

  7. #7
    Barracuda
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    Agree choices are great. I enjoy the land trip portion of Egypt as it is an amazing place in history. The diving is terrific. I've dove in the Med quite a bit & a little in Cozumel plus some in quarries in Texas. Have a great time where ever you go. If you decide on the red sea PM me and I will send my info to you. if you want.

  8. #8
    Shark Zeagle Eagle's Avatar
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    I did the GBR a few years ago and it was some of the most memorable diving I have ever done. I highly recommend it. I did do a short live aboard on the Taka II and it was magnificent. It was a low budget boat; but, I don't need much besides a shower and a bed. There are too many reefs to mention; but, I really liked the dive in the Coral Sea with the Giant Grouper. I mean the size of a VW. You could pet them and feed them
    --Zeagle Eagle

  9. #9
    Grouper
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    If you want to go a little further go to Raja Ampat. In 30+ years of diving I have never seen anything like it. I posted some info my trip. The company I used was very inexpensive, simple boat, simple people amazing service and the best diving. I did Komodo and Raja on the same trip. If you can swing it do both. You'll never forget it.

  10. #10
    Grouper
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    Well, mcr0112 ended up having a pretty good influence.

    Looked into what I could do with my airline miles...

    Taking a 2 week vacation next spring.

    Spending a couple of days in the UK (round trip paid for with miles) and then a week on a liveaboard on the Red Sea out of Hurghada (Red Sea Adventurer, by Blue O two on 5/18). The miles weren't quite enough to get us all there, but I found flights from UK to HRG much cheaper than flights from say US to bonaire (a similar distance/length of flight).

    So...8 nights in Egypt, 6 nights in the UK...and the wife can't say that we ONLY take dive vacations (like there is something WRONG with that).

    Also, since the liveaboards in the Red Sea are about 1/3 the cost of, well, liveaboards anywhere else...I ended up doing this for my wife, daughter and self - instead of just wife/self. This will be a nice "welcome back from your first year of college...we missed you, so we trapped you on a 120ft boat for a week with us...gift"



    Very excited. Hear wonderful things about the Red Sea and the specific sites we are going to visit. Hoping to see some hammerheads, mantas, and other palegic critters at a few sites.
    Slowly exhale, relax, your brain will kick in...and if you can breath and think calmly, there's not too much you can't figure out, in any part of life.

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