The Best Snorkeling in Djibouti!

Port de Peche

Djiboutian stray dog napping at the Port

Early on a Saturday morning in March, we started out towards Sable Blanc beach.  We met at the dirt lot at the Port de Peche (“Port of Fishing”), and there was the usual random guys trying to get to be the one to “watch” your car while you leave it there for the day.  They’ll direct you to a particular area of the parking lot that is “theirs” and usually will also offer to wash your car if necessary.  In my case, since people had started writing things in the dust on my car, I decided to splurge and let my car guard wash it too.  It’s a rental, so I usually don’t really care if it’s dirty or not, but I was starting to have trouble seeing out of the back, so I figured, why not?  And since, I was the first one there, as I waited for the rest of the group by our usual boat (my coworker C has found a good guy who has a boat with two motors, which helps us get there a little faster and gives us a decent price, since he knows we come back to him regularly) I snapped a few pictures of the port, and the stray dog that was just kind of chilling there.

Sable Blanc beach

Sable Blanc (which means White Sand) is a beautiful beach, with a gorgeous reef very close to the shore.  It takes about an hour to get there by boat from Djibouti ville, or two hours by car as it is across the Gulf of Tadjoura from the city.  It is near the port of Tadjoura, which offers some good options for lunch.  There’s a restaurant right at the port, where you can get a very cheap and very tasty meal.  I ate there on my first visit to Djibouti last June, and was blown away at how well you could eat for how little money!  A good alternative is a short drive or quick boat trip away at the Golfe, where you can get really good mussels (assuming they have them in stock – my friend H was very disappointed to find out that on this trip, they didn’t have any).  Eating at the Golfe hotel is more expensive than eating at the port restaurant, but the atmosphere is nice and you can visit their little petting zoo too, if you are interested!  It’s a small, waterfront hotel, and we took a 10 minute boat-ride from Sable Blanc to head over for lunch.  They have good seafood – this time I had Grouper, in a white wine, onion & cream sauce – yum!!!

Golfe hotel

Now, lets talk a bit about the snorkeling at Sable Blanc beach.  The reef is really close to the shoreline, and you can actually walk right up to the edge of it!  And it is fairly narrow, so you can swim over it right to where it drops off.  The cool thing about that is that the bigger fish stay in the deeper waters, so if you swim to the drop-off, you can see what I can only describe as some freakishly big fish!!!!!  I’m pretty sure some of them were almost as big as I was!  They moved surprisingly quickly for their size, though, so I couldn’t get as close to them as I might have liked.  Now, the smaller fish were totally a different story……

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up!

There was a great variety of smaller fish, and they were very inquisitive.  I’m pretty sure that they were as curious about us as we were about them.  Either that or they just flocked to us because they knew we weren’t predators, and figured that if they stayed close the predator-fish would stay away – much like they do with whales…… since I don’t like to compare myself to a whale in any way shape or form, I’ll choose to think they were just curious, not trying to hide in my shadow for safety!!   Either way, all I had to do was to stay still, float and point my camera, and the fish came to me.  I felt like the Fish Whisperer – an underwater Cesar Millan!  It was really very cool!  One even tried to take a nibble off of me!  I was recording a video of a giant clam opening and closing, and was startled to feel a little nip at my leg – made me jerk and ruin my video, but, thankfully, this was no barracuda, piranha or anything, and all it did was tickle a little bit, so I quickly went back to admiring the colorful fish and coral before me.  The variety of fish and underwater life around me blew me away.  Words can’t do them justice, so instead of trying to paint a linguistic picture, I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the various fish and coral I was surrounded with.  After all, they say a picture is worth a thousand words right?  So here is another 5,000 words-worth!  Enjoy!

Giant Clam

Freakishly big fish

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