Lebanon! … Off the Beaten Waves!
Updated: Jul 28
Why Lebanon?! Well that’s even what the locals were asking me. As many of you know, I would like to travel to as much of the world that I’m able to, and well, Lebanon was on that list. Having seen that the country was been offered as a destination by my travel agency, I decided Lebanon would be my next trip!
I actually booked this trip 3 years ago for 2020, but due to COVID, I was unable to visit, till finally 2 years after! The tour lasted a week, visiting the most important highlights of the country, but I had to dive in Lebanon after the tour had ended!
Lebanon has a turbulent history, with evidence still visible on the streets of Beirut. Damaged buildings from gunshots and rocket holes as well as the recent explosion in the Harbour two years ago, but this makes it all the more interesting, this is history! I’ve visited other Middle Eastern countries before, but I was a bit surprised ti come across the huge economical crisis currently affecting Lebanon. Due to the war with Ukraine and Russia, as with fuel prices at home, they had also doubled in Lebanon. With the effect of COVID19 also affecting the country, the value of the Lebanese currency was at an all-time low. I soon learned electricity was a problem, due to the high fuel prices, and most hotels and shops had their own generators, or was paying someone with electricity. It was common to experience about 10 powercuts a day in the hotel, swopping from the local grid power supply to generators from time to time. The value of the Lebanese pound was so low, that if you were to pay a meal in US dollars, the average cost was 400$, yes that much! Anyways…
I found a Dive Centre near the Bay of Jounieh, which I had been following on facebook and Instagram for quite some time. I made contact with them, and they were happy to receive me after the tour. The Dive Centre was 30 minutes from Beirut, so I moved hotel and stayed at a much closer place, a few minutes away from the Dive Centre.
I was met with a group of friendly local divers. The group dives every weekend, so I was joining their weekend dives. All dives were done by boat.
On the first day I was taken to a very broken up shallow wreck, a few metres off the shore by the end of Jounieh Bay, and then explored a nearby reef. On the second dive that day, I was taken to deeper reef further out. I noticed the deeper we went, the better the visibility would get. Shallower, the water was greenish but deeper it was a beautiful blue. Unfortunately there seemed to be a plankton bloom at the time, as there was a lot of suspended plankton everywhere, even at deeper depths! It was interesting to note, that on the second dive, the surface water was dark brown with 0 visibility, but once you past a few metres, it cleared into perfect visibility. I don’t think I have ever experienced this phenomena before!
For my 3rd and 4th dives in Lebanon, on the second day, it was also at a shallow smashed up wreck and reef, and then a deeper reef with a small cavern further out. I have heard many people say before that the Mediterranean Sea is dead, and very little to no marine life is left in it. I have dived in many parts of the Mediterranean Sea before, and found this not to be the case, but the Lebanese seas was indeed an underwater desert! I was finding it extremely hard to find any marine life to photograph, even so, there was no growths on any of the rocks or wrecks!
On my final day of diving, it was just the instructor/owner of the dive centre and I. It was a Monday and the group of locals were probably busy at work, whilst I was still on holiday, enjoying the dives.
I changed to my wide angle lens and we visited two wrecks which were sunk due to acts of war… the Lebanese Civil war of 1975 to 1990! The first was Alice B, which is fairly intact and sitting upright. A large statue has been placed by divers in one of her cargo holds, whilst a smaller one in the wheelhouse. A crest of the Lebanese Armed Forces has also been placed on her bow.
The second wreck, was a 100 metre long tanker, she capsized whist she sunk from the explosion, near the shore, nonetheless, a nice wreck to end my dives in Lebanon.
Below is a link to a small video I put together: