critter-hunter wrote:Need help on diving Red Sea vs. The Maldives. I've been to Maldives, but not The Red Sea. Friends have asked me to join them in Jan of 2011, but understand that is a cold time of year and not sure the UWP is as good as Maldives ???
Hey Critter Hunter,
Having been to both places, I can say that both are great for both diving and photography. The diving is in some ways very similar. There can be big currents, there are many species, viz is great. Both offer profuse fish life. If it were me, wouldn't hesitate for a second to join your friends -- you will definitely have some awesome shooting opportunities. Depending on what kind of photography you like, it could actually be better than the Maldives!
The Red Sea is probably one of the best places in the world to do wreck photography. There are hundreds of photogenic wrecks in the Red Sea that are easily accesible from resort or liveaboard. If that's not your thing, many of the sites in Southern Egypt feature great opportunities for shark encounters, including some species that are not terribly commonly seen in other popular dive sites, like Thresher sharks, Oceanic Whitetips, and guitar sharks. In general, the coral is also in better condition than in the Maldives. There are also opportunities to do some offbeat things like cave diving, diving with dolphins and dugongs (manatee relatives), or shore diving from a dive camp that consists of tents on the beach! (see Wilfried Niedermayr's writeup on the camp, Marsa Shagra, in the Dive Destination section of the site.)
That said, if macro is your thing, the Red Sea might be less appealing. Don't get me wrong, there are some good possibilites for shooting all the usual reef fish; however if you are going specifically to search out crazy small critters, the Philippines or Indonesia might be a better bet. Also, the water temp in the Red Sea in Jan will definitely be a lot more chilly than the Maldives - abuot 20C / 68F, give or take, depending on where you are in the Red Sea (the Maldives, by contrast, is about 29 degrees / 83F year-round). Would recommend a 7mm + hood (or better, a drysuit). On the upside - going at this time of year, you will avoid a lot of the European holidaymakers (and divers!) that flock to the Red Sea for most of the rest of the year.
Good luck with your decision making - let us know what you decide!