Travel has given me a great many experiences that will forever bring a smile to my face and no other country seems to have as many places in my memory banks as Israel. One of my favourites is from my time diving with the dolphins in Eilat. This experience made even more special given I’d never been diving in my life.
The site for my 30 minutes of joy under the sea was Dolphin Reef on the shores of the Red Sea. What makes this site different to so many others is that for the most part the dolphins decide if they want to come and say hello to you or not. There is no set routine that the dolphins must adhere to, they just swim about doing their own thing as if they were swimming the open seas. For the great majority of my dive they seemed content to swim about annoying each other which made for a great show under the water.
For the first 6 years of operation the dolphins were actually free to come and go 24/7 by way of the open sea policy at Dolphin Reef. There was no learning tricks/routines to do, they just hung out if they wanted. Otherwise they would head out to see for a week or two doing what dolphins do. This was a first for a dolphin facility and personally a great idea for them to pioneer. Unfortunately over time the dolphins suffered from people nearby feeding them and other issues that came up due to the trust they had in people. As it was impossible to protect the dolphins from this in the wild the open sea policy had to end. Luckily on occasion during rough sea days they can still escape into the open waters before returning home in their own time.
As for my experience diving for the first time… well after I got over my gag reflex and relaxed my breathing I didn’t want to get out. It didn’t feel natural to breath underwater so I found myself short of breath and having to concentrate in the beginning to make sure the air was going in and then I was blowing it all out.
Putting that aside there is something so very peaceful about swimming around under the water with nothing but coral and the fishes to keep you company. I’d never had the longing to go diving before because ever since needing to wear glasses/contact lenses, water and me don’t work so well. Now knowing that I can survive underwater and not be freaked out my goggles will fill with water and I have to watch my contact lenses float away the willingness to learn is growing. I can see a stop over in *insert great diving site here* coming up this summer, perhaps Israel will have me back…
Have you been diving or got yourself certified? I’d love to hear about where you did it and why you love diving. Leave a comment below to help me decide on a place to follow in your footsteps.
Lastly I want to say thanks to the Ministry of Tourism, Stand With Us and the Once In A Lifetime 2.0 students for inviting myself and the other bloggers to see Israel with them and enjoy great activities like diving with the dolphins in Eilat.
I am assuming that these dolphins are kept in captivity?
Oh yeah, the Dolphins are totally kept in by nets for *their* protection and totally not for the profiteering tourist company.
Awww, this sounds beautiful. It’s sad they couldn’t stop people from feeding them and mistreating them but an interesting program to pioneer.
I take it you’ll be going across to Monkey Mia to hang out with the dolphins if you ever make it back to Australia then 😛
Sounds like an unforgettable experience and the perfect first dive!
Must have been so much fun. We recently took the kids swimming with the tuna, and the sea lions. It was one of our best travel experiences so far.