Thu, 19 Sep 2013 - 11:08 GMT
Thu, 19 Sep 2013 - 11:08 GMT
|The best of the best in Red Sea diving|
|By Kate Durham|
| There are at least 200 named dive sites in the Egyptian Red Sea, to say nothing of the anonymous house reefs along the hotel beaches. Every Red Sea dive has its own special allure and many accommodate all experience levels, and where you end up depends largely on weather and current conditions and will be determined by the divemaster. All things considered, there is no such things as a bad dive site, which is why Egypt is one of the world’s top destinations for scuba diving. That said, there are definitely some sites that should not be missed:
The Islands, Dahab. A resident school of barracuda, shimmering curtains of glassfish and fluted reefs that conceal giant clams, all arranged around three pools with sandy floors. The shallow site (maximum depth is 17 meters) means the colors are spectacular and the marine life is relatively close to the surface. The site is accessed from a sandy beach at the very end of the South Dahab Corniche.
Marsa Abu Dabbab, Marsa Alam. Accessible by boat, Abu Dabbab maxes at 16 meters deep with meadows of sea grass that attract sea turtles and an elusive dugong.
Abu Ramada Island and Gota Abu Ramada, Hurghada. These neighboring reefs are a popular day-boat excursion. In addition to abundant schools of fish and copious other marine life at both sites — Gota Abu Ramada is nicknamed the “Aquarium” — Abu Ramada Island has a fishing boat wreck close to the surface.
Thistlegorm, Sharm El-Sheikh. One of the most popular dives on the Sharm El-Sheikh circuit, this wreck is worth the pre-dawn start and crowded conditions. For advanced divers only, this is a two-dive excursion: one to explore outside the giant transport ship, which sits 30 meters below the surface, while the second takes you inside to see the military vehicles and equipment the Thistlegorm was carrying when it was sunk by German bombers during the Second World War.
Shark and Yolanda Reef. The Yolanda sank in a storm while transporting hotel bathroom accessories in 1980. The actual ship slipped off the reef to an inaccessible 200 meters, but its cargo of toilets, tub liners and one arm of a loading derrick can be seen scattered across the 17-meter-deep sandy bottom. The wreckage is the last stop of a drift dive that takes you past giant morays, fan corals and a field of soft coral that look like dancing snowballs.
Elphinstone, Marsa Alam. Strong currents and a depth range of 20 to 40 meters make this a boat-accessed drift dive for advanced divers only. Oceanic Whitetips, Hammerheads and the occasional Guitar Shark visit this reef’s lower plateaus. Best time for sharks is spring through late summer.
The Straits of Tiran, Sharm El-Sheikh. Late summer from July to October is the time for shark seekers to hit these reefs, with Hammerheads frequently reported at Jackson Reef and Oceanic Whitetips regularly visiting Gordon reef.
Dolphin House/Samadai Reef, Marsa Alam. A designated protected area, this reef has a resident population of Spinner Dolphins. To protect the dolphins’ habitat while still promoting tourism, authorities have zoned the reef into a snorkeling area for humans and a safe haven for dolphins. Diving is allowed in certain parts of the reef away from the safe zone, but lucky groups may find themselves being inspected by curious dolphins.
OPEN WATER DIVERS
Three Pools, Dahab. Accessible by car in Dahab’s south diving zone, this shore dive has a sandy path that leads you through shallow pools and over to a coral garden at 18 meters. The colors are amazing, and the sandy patches offer shelter to juvenile marine life — look out for itty bitty Lion Fish.
Marsa Shagra, Marsa Alam. Suitable for snorkelers and advanced divers as well, Shagra is renown for its rich marine life and easy access. Marine life includes reef sharks, turtles, rays and occasionally dolphins, while the coral gardens host nudibranches and hundreds of species of smaller reef denizens.
ADVANCED OPEN WATER DIVERS
The Canyon, Dahab. A long fissure in the coral takes you to a sandy bottom at 30 meters. Not much life down there, but once you exit and face the fringe reef, look for the garden of grass eels to your right. There are several resident octopi, especially near the saddle at the shore entrance, and some cleaner fish that will inspect your lips if you smile pretty.
Bells to Blue Hole, Dahab. Not for the faint of heart, this drift dive has no visible floor and lots and lots of open blue. Excellent buoyancy control is a must. A chimney in the reef releases you through an arch at 25 meters, from which point you follow the reef wall to a saddle at the entrance of the Blue Hole itself. Best parts: Trumpet fish playing in your bubbles, clouds of flame colored anthias and the free divers practicing in the hole.
Leave a Comment