Posted 21 March 2016
Do you know about the Golden Hour? No, it’s not half-price drinks in the bar, it’s what you get when you’re in the right place at the right time at a flexible dive resort, says NIGEL WADE
Posted 21 March 2016
Do you know about the Golden Hour? No, it’s not half-price drinks in the bar, it’s what you get when you’re in the right place at the right time at a flexible dive resort, says NIGEL WADE
READ ANY PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK and you’re likely to see references to the “Magic or Golden Hours”. This is the time shortly after sunrise and just before sunset when the light is yellower and softer than when the sun is high in the sky at other times of day. It’s deemed to be the very best time to capture your photos. 

Under water, this sunlight produces an amazing effect. The yellow light penetrating the blue water makes it appear to be green, with the light rays dappling through the surface ripples. I call this the Twilight Zone, and it’s my favourite time to be under water buddied with my camera. I’m not big on early starts, preferring to squeeze in as much sleep in as I can (I’m told it’s an age thing). So if it’s possible to be in the water half an hour before the sun drops to the horizon, that’s where you’re likely to find me.

IT'S NOT ALWAYS FEASIBLE to dive during the Twilight Zone. Many dive centres will already have docked their boats and packed away the dive kit for the day, with the staff and guests enjoying a few beers or cocktails at a poolside bar and marvelling at the spectacle in the sky as it turns yellow, then orange and red before the sun disappears.

There are however destinations and dive operations that are made to measure for the Twilight Zone nutters among us. Ideally the location needs to have a photogenic house reef, with easy access to a shoreline and a reef slope that faces west. It also needs to be shallow enough to get the best results from the dappled light penetrating the water’s surface.

Twenty-eight miles south from the hustle and bustle of the town of Hurghada is the resort of Soma Bay, nestled on a desert peninsula formerly owned by the Egyptian military. 
Soma Bay has been developed in association with several leading hotel chains as a premier holiday and sporting destination. Activities include an 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course, wind- and kite-surfing taking advantage of a steady offshore breeze, and of course a premier dive centre located within the grounds of “lifestyle” hotel the Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge. 

My home for a week, the Breakers is set on the tip of the peninsula with Orca Diveclub, having direct access to Soma Bay’s house reef via a 420m wooden jetty that stretches out over the shallow lagoon to the reef’s drop-off. 
What’s more, the reef has all the attributes needed for successful Twilight Zone diving. Orca Diveclub also owns a fleet of dedicated hard-boats. Docked at the small private marina of Soma Bay, these run daily trips to offshore reefs and wreck-sites for dives during the day, returning mid-afternoon with plenty of time to prepare for more dives at dusk.

My guide and buddy Ahmed Ismael proudly informed me that he was the current Egyptian skiing champion. Every time I thought about his achievement it reminded me of the film Cool Runnings, setting off visions of him roller-blading with a pair of ski-poles down Egyptian sand-dunes, boiling in the hot sun as he practised for the next world championships held on a freezing piste. 

“We need to be ready to dive at 4.30,” I informed him as the sun started its descent to the horizon. Kitted up and camera in hand, we jumped on the back of one of Orca’s fleet of electric buggies to avoid the pain of a quarter-mile hike along the jetty to the reef’s entry-point.

The scene presented to me under water put an instant smile on my face. A large shoal of baitfish hung just below the surface, using the shelter of the jetty for protection from the constant threat of predation. 
Shoals of raccoon and blue-cheeked butterflyfish intermingling with hordes of banne

To Read the full article, Login here or Register for a free account

For more great articles like this get the JANUARY 2016 issue of DIVER below or subscribe and save.


5 Stars
(1  Customer Reviews)
12 Issues per year
DIVER is Britain's best-selling scuba diving magazine – regularly out-performing all its competitors combined on the open market.

Select your version

Digital Edition
SAVE 44%
Single Issue
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $1.67 per issue
SAVE 44%
6 Month Digital Subscription
Only $2.00 per issue
SAVE 33%
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only $1.99 per issue
SAVE 33%
Payment Options


Best diving mag
This is by far the best diving mag. Great features and amazing photos
5 Stars   
Reviewed 25 November 2012

More great content like this...

For more great articles like this get the JANUARY 2016 issue of DIVER below.

JANUARY 2016 | Buy for $2.99


There are currently no comments for this post
Be the first to leave your feedback

More Articles

A manta ray called Mathilde was just one big reason why SIMON MORLEY will never forget his recent trip to Socorro, San Benedicto and Roca Partida – the main Revillagigedo islands More...
The WW1 U-boats at Pendennis have been dived for many years, by many people. The site is probably the second most popular shore-dive in Cornwall. Thousands of trainees did their first open-water dives there, most seeing the remains of one or two of the U-boats. Not sure what to write into their log-books, other than 'Silver Steps’ or ‘Pendennis’, what were these subs? MARK MILBURN investigates, and believes he can now paint a clearer picture of what lies where and why More...
When she took up scuba 40 years ago, Alexandra Hildred had no idea that her life would become inextricably linked with a Tudor warship. Now the Mary Rose Trust’s Head of Research and Curator of Ordnance & Human Remains, she tells STEVE WEINMAN about the lead-up to the raising of the iconic wreck, still one of the biggest such operations ever attempted. More...
Not all ‘pro’ photo workshops are the same – on some you just pay and hope. But what’s it like learning to get the best from your camera under water from a recognised master? HENLEY SPIERS studies at the school of Mustard More...
In February IAN PEACH and his buddies went through a nightmarish boat-separation experience off Mozambique. In a DIVER exclusive he explains what happened – and how to avoid it happening to you. More...
Nautilus Lifeline Marine Rescue GPS
You don’t think you need a PLB – until you do. If there have always been reasons not to invest in one, a new product looks set to sweep them away. NIGEL WADE tests it. More...
Like a knight of yore on a sacred quest, NIGEL WADE finally faces the prospect of bringing an epic journey to a stirring conclusion – at a Balinese location he has already visited four times before! Can his quarry live up to the weight of expectation? More...
It’s a diver’s dream, and Vince Thurkettle is the underwater prospector who came across the biggest gold nugget ever found in British waters. He talks to STEVE WEINMAN More...
As when reading a book or watching a film, STEVE WEINMAN likes to avoid spoilers and arrive open-minded at an unfamiliar destination ready for what he hopes will be pleasant surprises. So how would the tourist heart of French Polynesia measure up? More...
DIVER TESTS - Ratio iDive Easy dive computer
NIGEL WADE tests a new dive-computer with everything but bells and whistles More...
Powered by
Powered by Pocketmags
Diver is owned and operated by:
Eaton Publications, Suite B, 74 Oldfield Road, Hampton, Middlesex TW12 2HR
© Copyright 2015 |