Northern Red Sea Dive Sites
Liveaboards leaving from Hurghada tend to concentrate their itineraries around the Straits of Gubal, while boats from Sharm spend more time in the Straits of Tiran and around the Southern Sinai. Most, however, will visit Ras Mohamed and the Thistlegorm.
Hurghada - Northern itinerary
The Straits of Gubal & Thistlegorm
This cruise allows you to dive the reefs in the Hurghada archipelago and then head towards the southern tip of the Sinai where most of the wrecks are found.
SHA'AB EL ERG - A large horseshoe-shaped reef attracting manta rays during the winter and spring months. SHEDWAN - On the south-eastern side of the reef, a wall drops into the depths. Here large sharks and pelagics are sighted. SHABRUR SIYUL - a long, thin and shallow reef. The most interesting dives are at each end of the reef, where large turtles and grey sharks are found. UMM USK - A large variety of fish including tuna and stone bass swim close to the reef. A pod of dolphin lives in the surrounding lagoon. GUBAL SHEGHIR: On the eastern edge of the island, the wall drops to 90m. Ravines and small caves are home to gorgonians and black corals. As well as large migrating fish, divers often see dolphins.
Hurghada - Southern itinerary - Panorama Reef & Abu Kefan
Heading south from Hurghada, your captain will target the reefs around Port Safaga, including Abu Hashish - a long, shallow reef with walls dropping away to 30m where turtles are frequently sighted. Ras Abu Soma is a coral tongue extending from the coast with walls dropping to 80m, where divers can spot large migrating fish.
Panorama Reef is a circular reef with deep vertical walls. In the first 30m you will find a profusion of corals and a wide range of species. Rose anenomes abound at the southern end of the reef, housing a thick haze of clownfish. You will also visit Abu Kefan, one of the most beautiful sites in the area, as much for its coral formations as for its pelagic life. Hammerhead sharks are frequently sighted.
Straits of Tiran & Ras Mohamed
The southern tip of the Sinai peninsula offers a wide range of quality dive sites including some of the Red Sea's most spectacular reefs, walls, and a number of stunning wrecks. The Straits of Tiran are made up of four reefs -
Jackson, Woodhouse, Thomas and Gordon - which are home to a plethora of soft corals, gorgonians, and a great diversity of fish. Nurse sharks, whitetip reef sharks and even hammerheads can be found, and in the deep ridges that separate the reefs, larger pelagic fish are often seen passing through. Moving south, you reach the marine park of Ras Mohamed. These world famous reefs are some of the most breathtaking in the Red Sea. Nutrient-rich sediment is transported to the reef system from the Gulf of Aqaba, attracting an abundance of fish species, as well as giant gorgonians and multi-coloured corals. This makes for a most spectacular diving experience.
Dive Sites – Sharm El Sheikh
The diving in
the Sharm El Sheikh area runs from Ras Mohammed at the tip of the
Sinai peninsula and runs north up the east coast to the Tiran Reefs
in the Gulf of Aqaba. This area benefits from the shelter of the
land and conditions are usually calm to moderate, unlike the western
coast of Sinai which can get rough, as the winds blow down the
length of the Gulf of Suez. Most of the diving is in the Ras
Mohammed national park so do not touch the coral or feed the fish
otherwise you may find yourselves with a ticket from the rangers.
Where ever you dive around the Sinai you are in for some excitement,
fantastic coral and great diving.
Most northerly of the reefs of Tiran and the northern limit of day
boats from Sharm El Sheikh. The wreck of the "Lara" lies at the
northern end. There is superb wall diving along its entire
perimeter, with numerous buttresses and gullies. Sightings of
sharks, turtles and other big fish are not uncommon and you will
find a huge diversity of different corals and sponges as well as
clouds of trigger fish, masked puffers and banner fish. At the point
you may be lucky and spot a Hammerhead in summer.
Between Gordon and Woodhouse reefs, smaller round reef with walls
plunging deep and fully covered with soft coral, gorgonians and
colourful fish life. It is almost possible to circumnavigate this
reef in one dive. The east wall plunges dramatically to great depths
with a mass of brightly coloured soft corals. The west wall is
darker with overhangs and caves but is a great drift dive with
sightings of Trevally and Tuna in the blue and schooling reef fish
close to the reef.
Ras Nasrani (9km north of
This site can be accessed by four wheel drive vehicle as well as
boats. The reef drops from the shallow bays to a wall down to 60m+
with many caves and overhangs. The best diving is among the big
coral heads (or ergs) in the shallow areas. A good spot for Spanish
dancers and coneshells in the sandy gullies.
The reef wall drops away to a sandy plateau at about 13m, at the
center is a gully with swim throughs at 10m and 35m. There is an eel
garden to the north. This sheltered site is home for trigger fish,
groupers and the occasional manta.
The Gardens (just north of Naama Bay)
Really three "gardens" near, middle and far. The most seaward of the
gardens (far), is a colourful fringing reef with a slope to 25m and
dotted with small "ergs" At the top of the drop off there is a few
pinnacles frequently visited by pelagics. Glass fish caves are in
the reef wall at 12m. "Near" garden is just a few minutes from Naama
Bay and is a great spot for a night dive with a sandy ledge sloping
away to 25m. Look out for flashlight fish at night and napoleons,
blue spotted stingrays and the odd grey reef shark in daylight
Northern side of Ras Umm Sidd wall, fully decorated ergs rise from a
gentle slope, home to schools of glass fish against a colourful
background of soft corals.
Ras Umm Sidd
The south side of the headland offers a superb gorgonian forest on
the drop off. The plateau is bursting with life and swarms of reef
fish. The possibility of spotting whale shark or manta exists at the
At the center of the Ras Umm Sid bay a huge coral pillar extends
skywards, the reef wall drops to 15m. There are lots of pinnacles
which are well worth exploring, this is a good spot to see octopus.
The rest of the site is featureless and it is easy to get lost so
don't forget your compass. Look out for Spanish Dancers, free
swimming Moray Eels and other incredible life on a night dive here.
At the Northern Tip of Marsa Bareika, Ras Ghazalani rates as one of
the most beautiful dive sites in the Ras Mohamed area. Having been
closed to divers for many years, this site has an extraordinary
array of beautiful table corals, glass fish covered pinnacles and an
overall stunning landscape. Keep your eyes open for the huge
Blackspotted Pufferfish, Malabar Groupers and the occasional Eagle
Ray. A very gentle drift dive, this site makes a perfect end to your
Most northern dive of Ras Mohammed National Park, it is the southern
entrance to the bay of Marsa Bareika. This is where the steep wall
of Ras Mohammed, with caves and overhangs, meets the gentle slope of
the bay of Marsa Bareika, and is scattered with colorful coral
heads. Head north along the wall amongst big overhangs and dark
gullies, the wall is swathed in sea fans, gorgonians and the odd
sprig of black coral. Just before the corner look out for the
chimney at 15m, home to malabar grouper. Look closer and find the
cleaning stations with the wrasse and shrimp in attendance. Don't
forget to check out the blue for schools of barracuda and jacks or
the odd eagle ray cruising by.
The white patch on the cliff is a good marker for this site, usually
done as a drift dive there are some interesting caves at 5m usually
full of glass fish. As you move south you find two ergs again
covered with glass fish, this is a great spot for photographers.
Further south is a coral garden and the sandy gulley, which gives
this site its name. Stingrays can be found resting in the sand as
well as white tip sharks. In late summer beware of Titan trigger
fish guarding their nests.
Really several dive sites, Ras Mohammed has earned itself a
reputation as one of the top diving areas in the world, here at the
tip of the Sinai where the vast bodies of water, the Gulf of Suez
and the Gulf of Aqaba meet has created an ecosystem like no other
and wall diving is at its very best.
The site is not aptly named as it is not noted for its shark
sightings, however, it is a fantastic dive. Beneath the towering
cliffs that continue below the surface to disappear into the deep
abyss the wall is covered with soft coral and honeycombed with
numerous gullies and canyons that are home to hoards of glass fish
and hatchet fish herded by red mouth grouper. An overhang, fringed
with sea fans at 10m, is a great place to watch the Trevallies,
Jacks and Turtles passing in the blue. At the southern end Anemone
city is worth a visit.
Shark & Yolanda Reefs
Situated right at the tip of the Sinai this site is world renowned,
the two small ergs are joined by a vertical wall dropping into the
abyss. Start your dive at Shark reef and use the prevailing current
to explore the wall abounding in multihued soft corals. At 30m large
schools of barracuda and snappers gather in often-strong currents
just off the wall. Swim through the schools to the outside as silky
sharks usually gather there, but be careful not to lose your
orientation to the wall. As you proceed toward Yolanda you will
reach a plateau at 15-25m scattered with small ergs and coral
outcrops where stone fish and scorpion fish wait for a meal.
Continuing round the reef you will come upon the scattered remains
of the wreck of the 'Yolanda' complete with its cargo of toilets and
baths. The whole of this area is big fish territory so keep an eye
on the blue for the action with tuna, bluefish, and the occasional
hammerhead. Ensure your dive guide gives you a thorough briefing as
the currents here can be strong and complicated.
|The treacherous sailing conditions and shallow reefs in the straits of Gubal have claimed many a ship crossing the Gulf of Suez. Wreck enthusiasts have access to several sunken ships, some dating back to the turn of the century, and most are richly encrusted with marine flora and fauna. Satellite imagery shows up to 180 wrecks spread all over the Red Sea. Diving World regularly organises wreck exploration Liveaboards with on board specialists and researchers.
Egyptian minesweeper sunk by friendly fire during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, lying at
the entrance of Hurghada's port at a depth of 28m. Usually dived on the way back from a northern trip.
Rosalie Moller (Sir Francis)
British 4000t steamer, property of Glascow Moller lines of Cardiff transporting coals for the war effort in North Africa (operation crusader). A German Heinkel bomber-fighter sank her, two days after the demise of the Thistlegorm (night of the 7th/8th Oct 1941) by the Luftwaffe's aerial incursions into Egypt from their base in Crete. Her bow lies at a depth of 50m, with the funnel at 18m and the deck at 30m. She rests between Gubal and Tawila.
Translated from Arabic, Nuhas means brass - a name given to the reef by local fishermen after it claimed a ship carrying a cargo of brass.
One of the best wreck dives in the Red Sea, the Giannis D sank in the early 80's and is richly decorated with soft corals. Several entry and exit points make this a favourite with wreck-diving specialists. Her stern section lays almost intact at a depth of 28m.
This P&O passenger and mail ship is shrouded in mystery. She was sunk in 1869 and only a fraction of the gold she was carrying has been recovered. The quality of light and abundance of sponge and table corals make her a favourite with underwater photographers.
Greek freighter carrying a cargo of tiles, sunk in 1981. She lies with her stern section at 30m, but due to an unstable structure penetration is not recommended, especially in bad weather. The Chrisoula rests close to
another unnamed wreck sloping down from the lighthouse beacon on Abu Nuhas reef.
Winding reefs and shallow lagoons located to the west of the Sinai, offering several dive sites and the wreck of the Dunraven, the English merchant ship that sank in 1876 on her way back from the East Indies carrying a cargo of exotic timber and spice. An abundance of marine life lives on and around this 80m hulk, and its structure is covered in soft corals and sponges. Lionfish inhabit the ship's bow, and other photogenic species live between the metal structure and the reef.
Sha'ab Ali Thistlegorm
This wreck is a favourite with divers from all over the world, although some consider her a war grave. The Thistlegorm was a World War 2 army cargo ship heading to supply the British 8th Army in North Africa. She was packed to the gills with machinery and ammunition when a German bomber sank her on 6 October 1941.
The Brothers Islands
Namibia & Aida II
A huge Freighter lies on the northern plateaux of Big Brother with the stern wedged in to the island at a depth of 80m. This wreck is adorned with spectacular soft coral dancing in strong currents. This dive is only for the experienced. The Aida II is a supply ship, that hit the reef circa 1957. The stern section only remains and lies between 30 to 70 m. its structure is heavily colonised with soft and hard coral encrustation. This makes an interesting dive not only for the wreck but also the large pelagic fish and schools of barracuda that glide around it.
The Southern Red Sea
|This itinerary covers the coastal section of the southern Red Sea, offering pristine and uncrowded diving all year round. Only a few of the sites have been described here, with many more splendid dives left for our experienced dive guides to show you.
Best dived in the quiet of the early morning when you are most likely to see hammerheads. This is a magical reef in deep blue water with countless rewards for divers and underwater photographers.
Along the southern plateau lies the most famous coral phenomenon: the Arch and face of the Pharaoh. Here large schools of surgeon fish dwell in the shadows of the arch as you drift through, while big pelagics swim in and around the deep-water corals. As you slowly ascend to your stops, observe the large silvertips along the plateau.
The northern plateau is the perfect place to see hammerheads Ð usually in only 25m of water! As you drift back along the wall, you are bound to see a turtle, or another large silvertip speeding after its prey, while the more timid creatures take refuge in the crevices of the reef itself.
Erg Wadi Gamal
This is one of the best reef dives of its kind and a personal favourite with the Dive Guides. The 18-20m site is set among flowing banks of hard coral and yellow-green soft coral separated by sandy beds. Resident species include angel and butterfly fish and white tip reef sharks. The site is seasonally visited by huge schools of unusually placid jack and tuna, allowing for great wide angle shots. A resident turtle can be found chomping its way through soft coral and sponges.
Situated on the north-east of Fury Shoal, Maksur can be dived in two ways. By zodiac, you can be dropped off to the north-east over a gentle plateau where there is a good chance of seeing hammerheads. Alternatively, descend over the drop-off and round to the left below the plateau, taking in the strange red sponges and majestic soft coral. Coming up over the plateau, you find whitetips and turtles, before coming across an unforgettable picture of soft corals and large schools of fish. Divers usually find sharks here and may find themselves accompanied by a curious dolphin. At the end of the dive you encounter an explosion of sub-aquatic life with nudibranchs, scorpion fish, morays and clouds of anthias.
Sataya (Dolphin Reef)
Situated south of Fury Shoal, this is one of the most popular dives in the area, made up of a huge lagoon surrounded by an oval-shaped reef with a resident pod of bottlenose dolphins. Seven imposing stacks of coral named Dha'ab Hassan guard the lagoon's entrance with depths ranging from 18m to 22m along the rim, lessening to 12m as you approach the lagoon.
The outer wall of Sataya offers some excellent drift diving with large pelagics and turtles. You are dropped off by zodiac and the dive begins at the north-west edge, keeping the reef to the left. Large outcrops of soft coral cover the wall and whitetips are sometimes spotted half asleep under the table coral, slowly moving away as divers approach.
St John's and The Deep South
Fourteen square miles of splendidly diverse coral atolls and reefs, located 40km north of the Sudanese border and 20km SW of Zabargad. This reef system has over 10 known dive sites and many more unexplored experiences. In view of its sheltered nature it is accessible all year round and offers great dives in winter and summer. Explore the southern most reefs in the Egyptian Red Sea, offering pristine and un-crowded diving all year round, and the opportunity to explore new and un-dived reefs.
Sha'ab Aiman is arguably one of the most beautiful reefs in the world. Situated in just 15m of water on an elongated plateau, it has the appearance of a landscape garden. In the early morning, white tip reef sharks can be spotted against a vivid display of hard and soft corals.
Sha'ab Mahrus is rated as one of the best wall dives in the world, with large caves full of life, and an abundance of corals including sea whips and gorgonia. The wall is a favourite hang-out for grey, silvertip, oceanic white tip and thresher sharks.
Red Sea Marine Parks
Translated from Arabic, El Akhawein means 'The Two Brothers'. On the same latitude to El Quoseir on the Egyptian mainland, two small islands rise from an abyss over 300m deep in the middle of the Red Sea. Exposure to strong currents has left the islands, particularly the smaller of the two, with an abundance of soft corals and giant gorgonians, which are considered by many to be some of the best in the world. The Brothers are highly exposed with no safe mooring, and therefore should only be accessed on proper liveaboards. Our trips run from May through to October, depending on weather.
This island offers some spectacular coral diving, with the most colourful soft corals and delicate gorgonian forests at around 30m. As you turn your head away from the drop-off, you are bound to see sharks gliding into the deep. The brothers attract several species of sharks, including hammer-heads, silver tips, oceanic whitetips and even tiger sharks.
A huge Freighter lies on the northern plateaux of Big Brother with the stern wedged in to the island at a depth of 80m. This wreck is adorned with spectacular soft coral dancing in strong currents. This dive is only for the experienced. The Aida II is a supply ship that hit the reef circa 1957. The stern section only remains and lies between 30 to 70 m. its structure is heavily colonised with soft and hard coral encrustation. This makes an interesting dive not only for the wreck but also the large pelagic fish and schools of barracuda that glide around it.
Heading south from the Brothers, you encounter a submerged reef table, which like Sanganeb in the Sudan, is identified by a lighthouse with a long causeway. Deadalus boasts some exceptional coral growth, and its location in the middle of the sea, surrounded by depths up to 500m, makes it home to several big pelagic species.
Now uninhabited, this island was once exploited by the ancient Egyptians and Romans for its precious green olivine mineral, and it is still an area of considerable interest for geologists. The dazzling crown of corals that surround the island lies in striking contrast to the barren expanse of land at the surface. To the east there are several coral towers and grottoes that are easily accessible to the diver, and several sites ideal for night dives.
The sea to the east of Rocky plummets to over 1000m, where large pelagic fish and sharks abound. Hammerheads lurk at around 60m, sometimes shooting for the surface to give divers a mental jolt before disappearing into the deep. Diving here is about finding a good position, then lying in wait. Oceanic whitetips are a common sight as they cruise the waters of this exposed corner along with large shoals, of barracuda, tuna and jacks. Deep canyons chiselled into the drop-offs are covered in some of the most beautiful gorgonians and soft corals seen anywhere in the Red Sea.
The Dives in Sudan
The Umbria & North - Wingate Reef
Sailing from Port Sudan, guests conduct their first dives on the wreck of the Umbria, an Italian freighter sunk on June 9, 1940, the day before Italy went to war. She was headed to East Africa carrying over 300,000 bombs and other war supplies for Italian troops. The reason for her unfortunate fate is a mystery, but some believe she was scuttled by her captain for fear that she would fall into the hands of the British. Others maintain that she was under threat from a German submarine. Today she lies on her port side in 35m to 40m of water.
The coral reef surrounding the site of the famous British-built lighthouse at Sanganeb has everything a diver could wish for. Rising from depths of 800m, the outer drop-offs boast caves and gullies, and one of the richest displays of soft coral in the Red Sea. Guests will spot an abundance of species in just 20m of water. In the depths, graceful hammerheads sweep back and forth awaiting a photo opportunity.
In 1963, Jacques Cousteau mounted an expedition to Sha'ab Rumi to study Red Sea coral life. Guests are allowed to dive the remains of the team's underwater base, the Precontinent II shelf. Marine life is scarce, but the metal remains of the equipment shed and flying saucer-like structure, which are now delicately encrusted, are well worth a visit.
Sha'ab Rumi South Point
Prone to strong currents, this dive begins at the top of a coral formation and gradually drops to 20m, where you encounter three routes all falling away to 700m. Most species endemic to the Red Sea can be found here, including large numbers of barracuda and sharks that are not afraid to pose for the camera. Night dives are held in an enclosed lagoon.
Sha'ab Su'adi (weather and time permitting)
Guests are taken to the wreck of the modern cargo vessel Blue Bell, which lies keel-side up with the prow at 15m dropping down to 70m. Diving below 35m is not recommended, and divers are advised to keep an eye out for tiger sharks. Details of the itinerary are flexible and subject to weather conditions. Guests booking two-week trips will usually visit Ma Sharif and Angarosh, famous for their majestic manta rays. Two or three dives a day are included as standard, and two night dives during the week.
The Suakin Archipelago (May, June & October)
South from Port Sudan past Suakin lies probably some of the best diving in the World. The Suakin Archipelago is made up of a group of islands offering some of the most unforgettable dives you will ever make in the Red Sea. A lot of the reefs within this constellation have not been dived, and journeys to the area are reminiscent of early exploratory diving.
The few dive sites mentioned here are resplendent of the Red Sea at its best with dazzling reefs and an underwater universe of dense soft and hard corals and unparalleled shark activity. Due to limited anchorage this itinerary is offered on a few selected departures during June and October only.
Karam Masamirit offers relatively safe overnight anchorage inside the archipelago. Located immediately south of Masamirit, your first point of call from Port Sudan, this huge reef rising from great depths probably displays some of most colourful coral life in the Red Sea. By positioning yourself on a ledge either to the north or south depending on the current, you will see some unforgettable sharks.
Dahrat Ghab is rated by the few that have dived there as the best dive site in the Red Sea, boasting the most colourful and prolific growth of coral everywhere you look. Coral simply abounds in the most awesome visual expression. Here you can also expect to find some of the largest sharks you will ever see along with an abundance of every fish specie known in the Red Sea.