There are many places in the world where you can experience a perfect scuba dive, but nowadays it’s difficult to find this kind of diversity along with a reasonable tradeoff between price and quality anywhere. Not so in Egypt: Many divers made their first dive here and they continue to come back again and again. The Red Sea, whose waters wash the Sinai Peninsula, is available to divers throughout the year. In the winter and spring the water temperature here ranges between 23-25 degrees Celsius and, in the summer and autumn, it rises to 28-30. Visibility can be up to fifty meters or more. Below is a summary that will aim to teach you about the five resort towns where most divers are stay in Egypt. There are a great multitude of dive sites in the Red Sea and adequately describing them would require a whole book rather than a small article. We will do our best to discuss the top 10 dive sites, but it’s a certainty that every seasoned diver will have his own opinion.
Let's start with the towns.
Sharm el-Sheikh is widely regarded as the most prestigious resort in Egypt. It is from here that Jacques Cousteau regularly made his dive trips. There, in the winter months, the winds are calmer than along the rest of the coast. However, in the summer it is just as hot here as elsewhere. It is in Sharm el-Sheikh that the largest numbers of established dive centers can be found. Dives mainly utilise boats and there are, therefore, many boating ‘safari’ trips. Here a large number of ‘liveabord’ boats can be found. The town is located closer than other resorts to the Ras Mohammed Reserve, Tiran Island and the famous wreck of the SS Thistlegorm.
Dahab is located one hundred kilometers from the Sharm el-Shaikh. Dives here are mainly conducted from the coast because the first dive sites can be happened upon as soon as you enter the water. Dahab is considered the best dive resort in Egypt. Here, on a reef known as "The Lighthouse" many people first learn to dive, and it is here, not far from Dahab, that the world-famous dive site "Blue Hole" is found. As for other important things to know about Dahab? Well, this is a place that’s mentioned in the Bible ☺.
Hurghada, in terms of diving prices, is perhaps the most competitive place in Egypt. There are always lots of divers, thought not only due to the prices but also the diversity of the underwater world. You’ll most likely be offered the most popular dive sites, like Abu Ramada, Carless and Fanadir.
Safaga attracts divers thanks to its ready availability of pristine underwater worlds. There are many interesting coral reefs which, like those we’ve described in other locations, are littered with several wrecks. Perhaps the most important factor here is the unobtrusive nature of the local people, which makes Safaga a favorite place for many divers.
Marsa Alam is a lesser known, but no less interesting destination for diving. Interestingly, Marsa Alam boasts a virtually untouched coral coast and excellent underwater visibility. Here your group can visit the popular dive sites, including the wonderful reef known as "Dolphin House".
And now, here are (in our opinion) ten of the most interesting dive sites in Egypt:
The SS Thistlegorm, armed with anti-aircraft guns and a heavy machine gun, carrying British railway locomotives, oil cars, tanks, motorcycles, trucks and other military equipment. It was 1941; She had rounded Africa and was very close to her destination before she was hit by a German bomber, whose ordinance struck the hold, laden with munitions, resulting in an explosion and rapid flooding of the ship. Almost torn into two parts on the ship rests at a depth of about 30 meters and is almost always full of not just underwater inhabitants but also groups of divers. Thistlegorm was first discovered in 1955 by Jacques Cousteau’s team.Their footage was utilised in the famous film "The Silent World". In 1993 the BBC broadcast a documentary about the last voyage of the SS Thistlegorm, and since then the wreck has found worldwide fame among divers.
Ras Mohammed was declared Egypt's first national park in 1989. On the reserve there can be found more than a thousand species of fish, and about one hundred and fifty species of coral. Here you can meet reef sharks or drift along the reef in the company of sea turtles. Depths vary but you’ll find the largest number of inhabitants in this wonder of the world you at a depth of 10-20 meters.
Tiran Island is located to the north-east of Sharm El-Shaikh. A military base of the United Nations is located on the island and thus tourists aren’t permitted on-land. But it does not matter, because all the beauty is under water and accessible only to divers. Four coral reefs here; Jackson, Gordon, Thomas and Woodhouse received their names in honor of British officers and are located between the island and the Sinai Peninsula. Three of the reefs, in addition to Gordon are sheer walls. These reefs are regularly crossed by ships, some of which unfortunately remain here forever.
The Blue Hole is a natural sea well, not far from Dahab, which has two exits to the open sea at seven and fifty-six meters. The crater’s diameter and depth are roughly equal; about one hundred meters, and have become a cult place for some divers. On one of the walls of the "body" is a fantastic wide coral carpet. There are more than enough animals here. Clown fish hide in anemones and parrot fish and glass fish are found here along with many more species. But the most attractive thing has to be the stunningly beautiful arch, through which you can get to the open sea if you swim about 25 meters through the tunnel. If you are not an experienced diver, the most interesting act for you will be drifting from the Bells dive site along the outer wall of the Blue Hole and accessing the "body" itself. This is perhaps the most memorable dive in Dahab.
Carnatic was an elegant steam passenger ship, carrying a contents that included gold, which sank off the Abu Nuhas reef in 1869. The iron ship lies at a depth of 15-27 meters. Her wooden superstructure and paneling have long rotted away, and this allows divers to explore several decks inside the ship and two levels of the hold, in which there are well-preserved old barrels. They obviously kept spirits, how else you can explain their good condition after nearly one and a half centuries? Through the window of the stern, you can see the huge ship’s wheel. From here you, can reach the three-bladed propeller. This ship’s residents include long-settled fish and soft corals, but it is still in very good condition and remains one of the most beautiful wrecks in the Red Sea.
The Big and Little Brothers are about halfway between Hurghada and Marsa Alam. Two columns rising above sea level and going to a depth of several hundred meters, these are the only reefs in the tens of miles around. Here, in a small space, are countless representatives of the marine world. The walls are covered with sponges, anemones and soft corals in many colors and unimaginable forms. Frequent guests at the Brothers are hammerheads, thrashers and reef sharks.
The Canyon is located a few kilometers north of Dahab. Dives begin at a scenic sandy lagoon inhabited by lots of fish. Here you can find stingrays, turtles, large Napoleons, cuttlefish, crocodile fish, parrot fish and more. There are even squid! Then we get into the beautiful ravine in the reef slope, which goes on to some depth. The canyon is a very interesting place for underwater photography. Here, the natural fractures that the seabed has created offer a unique landscape and, thanks to the play of light and high vaults, you can take some unique and exclusive photographs.
The Iolanda was a Cypriot cargo ship that sunk over the reef in 1980 whilst transporting containers and plumbing (divers here are usually photographed sitting on the toilet). But this dive site is not only interesting for those looking to fool around. In fact, it consists of two reefs; Shark and the Iolanda. At a depth of 15-20 meters the plateau begins with a city of anemones. This place lives up to its name; clown fish live in a variety of the anemones. You can then continue to dive along a vertical wall, which extends down to a depth of some 750 meters. Crossing the distance from reef to reef in the blue water, you can see flocks of hundreds of barracuda and the shadows of large fish floating somewhere in the depths. For many divers this is the dive site that becomes the most memorable of the whole trip. After the examination of Shark Reef, there follows a transition to the Iolanda, where is also a great variety of fish. And, later in the program, the notorious toilets. By the way, you won’t see the ship itself; she rests at a depth of two hundred meters!
St. John's - its reef system is located to the south of the above dive sites. Here mountains and reefs rise from the depths and almost reach the water’s surface. You dive at a huge coral pillar around which the small columns grow. If other sites can be described as gardens of corals, then here is a whole forest. In the forest, the place of birds is taken by a variety of coral fish. You can dive here and meditatively consider all their diversity dozens of times. You can also see larger marine specimens such as hammerheads, rhinoceros fish, surgeon fish and reef sharks. The walls of many reefs here are covered with soft corals, such as black corals and gorgonian. As a last dessert for your senses, you can float towards the majestic manta rays. Diving in St. John's is always promising.
Zabagrad is both an island and a marine park. Huge mountain project from the depths of the sea, surrounded by a reef on which you can see manta rays and hammerheads. In the waters of Zabagrad, exciting night dives take place. There are octopuses, squid and cuttlefish. There are also wrecks that rest not so far from the coast, which have become artificial reefs and are home to many underwater creatures. Under the bottom of the wreck, little families of stingrays rest and, below the deck, morays peer up through the cracks. The island is a good shelter and, in August, many turtles come here to leave their mark.