Ras GhamilaRas Gamila ("Delightful Cape" in Arabic) separates a vast and rather shallow sandy lagoon from the sea. It is an interesting place for a fine drift dive that is not too difficult. It is perfect at 12m-15m gliding you northwards over many large colonies of Porites coral, splendid Acropora corals (table corals) and beautiful Gorgonian Sea Fans. It is an ideal place to look out for Feathertail stingrays, Barracuda and Grouper.
Ras NasraniThis 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.
Ras BobThis site was named as a tribute to an underwater cameraman Bob Johnson who worked in the area for many years. It is sheltered from the waves and wind and usually has weak currents. You can make this dive as a drift or as a mooring. There are many small bays with light coloured sandy floors in which you will see numerous small caves and gullies in shallow water (3-6m). It is a great opportunity to spot Bluespotted stingrays, Crocodile fish and there is nearly always a big Napoleon fish looking up at you. This site is perfect for snorkellers.
White KnightThe 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 GardensReally 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 hours.
TowerTower is a spectacular dive site characterised by a deep canyon whose walls descend vertically for over 120m. It is a lovely drift dive with a strikingly beautiful underwater landscape. It is rich in reef fauna with many Parrotfish, Moray Eels, marauding Trevallies and look carefully for the Cube boxfish.
SodfaThis site is immediately northeast of the much better known and more popular Tower. This is a very easy drift dive that allows you to observe many species of coral, both hard and soft and a wide range of reef fauna. From March to the end of June it is a great hangout for passing Manta and the occasional White Tip Reef Shark.
AmphorasThe name of this site derives from 17th century shipwreck of a Turkish vessel with a cargo of amphoras containing mercury. Amphoras lies southwest of Tower and is generally dived in the afternoon as a drift. The topography is quite simple, a sandy slope that begins at 12m that has many coral pinnacles to explore for small pipefish, nudibranch and scorpionfish hiding amongst the nooks and crannies. Although there are not many, the remains of the Turkish vessel cargo are always fascinating. The most interesting part lies between 18m and 25m.
ParadiseNorthern 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 SidThe 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 corner.
TempleAt 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.
- Jackson Reef - Superb wall diving around its entire perimeter. The locally named "Aquarium" is Tiran's most popular. 'Jackson Drift' is Sharm's' fastest and most exhilarating drift dive past a stunning wall bursting with prolific coral growth. In August, September and early October, divers dive off the back of Jackson hoping to glimpse the school of scalloped hammerheads which are often sighted there.
- Woodhouse - Located between Thomas reef and Jackson Reef, Woodhouse Reef is narrow and long and thus offers no shelter at all to boats. This dive is done only as a drift dive. The most interesting part of the reef is the northern half of the eastern side, with a canyon that opens at a depth of about 30m. To one side of the canyon you will find an amazing specimen of a red anemone, brightly luminescent and a photographers dream. It has great potential for Sea Turtles, Jackfish and Eagle Rays but divers do need to be careful of strong currents at the northern end and poor weather conditions upon surfacing the dive. Local scuba divers have nicknamed the area between Woodhouse Reef and Jackson Reef the 'washing machine' due to a powerful eddy caused by whirling currents and strong winds.
- Gordon Reef - Gordon Reef is known and easily identified by the wreck of the Panamanian cargo ship Loullia (3461 tonnes) which ran aground in September 1981. Best done as a drift dive you have the opportunity to observe various species of coral, small nudibranches hidden in the crevices and the soft corals, White Tip Reef Sharks and Eagle rays. Half way along the reef you will spot many metal drums which have formed into an artificial reef and homes Octopus and different types of eel such as Moray, Peppered and Gold edged morays. Divers need to be careful of strong current at the north and southern ends of this reef.
- Thomas Reef - Tiran's smallest reef with plunging walls covered with soft coral, gorgonians and colourful fish life. The west wall is darker with overhangs and caves full of glassfish and sweepers. Residents include a school of large barracuda, and in summer months, some of the largest tuna we have ever seen!
- Wreck of the Kormoran - On the north of Tiran Island, this can only be dived in extremely good sea conditions but is an absolute gem. The twisted wreckage of this large container ship is in only 6 - 8 metres of water and surrounded by prolific hard coral.
- Laguna Reef - The western side of Tiran Island itself is divided into two parts which scuba divers generally refer to as North and South Laguna. Both marked by beacons these are beautiful drift dives which can be done only when the weather conditions are exceptionally good. The area is strongly influenced by tidal currents which will determine the southerly or northerly direction of your dives which should be made preferably in the afternoon. Rich in coral and reef fauna it is possible to observe Leopard Sharks and White Tip Reef Sharks.
Ras MohamedRas Mohamed, declared a National Park in 1983, lies on the southern most tip of the Sinai and it is one of the best kept National Parks in Egypt. The sea near Sharm El Sheik is full of nutricients and therefore attracts a large amount of big fish. Steep walls covered in coral, going down to depth of 1000 meter, is the nature of diving in Ras Mohamed. It has earned itself a reputation as one of the top diving areas in the world. Sites include:
- Ras Ghozlani - One of the most beautiful dive sites in the area. Having been closed to divers for many years due to the turtle laying beach close by, this site has an extraordinary array of beautiful table corals, glassfish covered pinnacles and an overall stunning landscape.
- Ras Za'atar - Most northern dive of Ras Mohamed National Park, it is the southern entrance to the bay of Mersa Bareika. This is where the steep wall of Ras Mohamed, with caves and overhangs, meets the gentle slope of the bay of Mersa 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.
- Jackfish Alley - the largest plateau in Ras Mohamed. Running across this plateau is a secondary or satellite reef which creates the sandy 'alley' through which fast currents are funnelled. In early spring, this is the site of the seasons' first mating fish; crowds of white pointy nosed blue Spangled Emperors congregate here for only a couple of weeks, occasionally giving divers the chance to see glimpses of.black tip sharks!
- Eel Garden - Eel Garden is situated in front of a small beach south of Jackfish Alley and immediately before Sharks Observatory. Eel Garden is well sheltered from the currents but since it is exposed to prevailing winds and waves divers must pay close attention to the condition of the sea. The dive is extremely easy and the route winds through the sandy plateau slightly inclined to the east opposite the beach. On the central part of the sandy ledge there is a small cave out of which appears to flow an impressive V-shaped stream of sand. The middle section of the plateau is populated by a lovely colony of Garden eels.
- Shark Observatory - 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 & Jolanda Reefs - Situated right at the tip of the Sinai this site is world renowned. Shark Reef, covered in stunning hard and soft corals, is a vertical wall dropping to charted depths of nearly 800m. Yolanda Reef has a wide plateau with a coral garden and masses of pinnacles, each one a cleaning station teeming with fish. Between Jolanda reef and the main reef lies the cargo of the wreck of the Yolanda. A 74m long cargo ship, she was transporting bathroom supplies and a BMW to the port of Aqaba when she struck the reef in 1980. She lay on her side until 1987 when she slid into the abyss, during a heavy storm, leaving her cargo behind for divers to explore today.
Currents can be quite strong here, creating a kind of rollercoaster ride around these reefs in one direction or the other, depending on the prevailing current. Most of the year, divers enjoy looking out for scorpionfish, crocodilefish, groupers, turtles, tuna, huge morays and napoleons that frequent this dive site but in the summer, all focus changes to the water away from the reef where schools of fish collect together for mating; Twin spot (Bohar) Snapper, Red Snapper, batfish, unicornfish, barracudas and more which of course sometimes attracts the predators. Silkies, grey reefs, black tips and even tigers have been seen at this dive site.
Gubal StraitsSites include:
- The Alternatives - About 30 minutes north west of Ras Mohamed is a system of flat top ergs, with names like "lonely mushroom", "stingray station" and sometimes known as the "seven pinnacles". Best dive is around the third or fourth erg from the east where the current sweeps through feeding pristine corals with bright vivid colours, however, the visibility can be effected in rough weather.
- Stingray Station - In the north-western part of the Alternatives there is a large roughly quadrangular outcrop known as Stingray Station. It gets its name because many Blue Spotted Stingrays gather here particularly in the spring months. It can be dived both as a mooring dive and as a drift dive and is very popular with snorkellers due to the shelter the reef provides and the shallowness of the surrounding water.
- Small Crack (Small Passage) - Small split in the middle of Shaab Mahmoud’s barrier. The tide empties and fills the inner lagoon twice daily, thus creating strong currents that promote an impressive explosion of life. Brilliant soft corals and resident flashlight fish also make it a premier night dive location - weather permitting. (Small Crack can be part of a Thistlegorm overnight trip).
- Shag Rock - Being so close to its neighbour, the Thistlegorm, this large circular reef is often overlooked. It offers excellent diving on pristine coral from any location on its perimeter. The sheltered southern point is the most dived location offering the opportunity for drifts along the west or east sides. Weather permitting the northern point hosts the wreck of the Kingston ('Sarah H') just below the surface (max. depth 12m). Large schools of yellow goat fish and sweet lips abound here and the area regularly patrolled by grey reef sharks. Weather permitting. (Shag Rock can be part of a Thistlegorm overnight trip).
- Lonely Mushroom - A single large circular tower known as the Lonely Mushroom comes up from the sandy seabed and despite its relatively small size offers a great mooring dive for those that want an easy shallow dive and loves macro photography. Nudibranches and small shrimp are in their abundance hiding in amongst the numerous hard and soft corals. But be aware this site can sometimes be very difficult to find! (Lonely Mushroom can be part of a Thistlegorm overnight trip).
- Wreck of the Kingston - Shag Rock is situated about a mile south of Sha'ab Ali and 6 miles away from the wreck of the Thistlegorm. On the northern side of the reef lies a wreck which for a long time had been falsely called Sara H, an imaginary name that in reality does not apply to any ship. The wreck in fact was the British cargo vessel Kingston built in 1871 in Sunderland by Oswald Shipbuilding Co. which ran aground on the 22nd February 1881 whilst en-route to Aden, located in Southern Yemen with its cargo of coal. 78m long, 10m wide and 1449 tons this wreck lies in water of 4m down to 15m. The wreck is easily accessible and offers spectacular opportunities for photographers. There is an abundance of soft and hard corals and numerous and varied reef fauna. Divers need to be aware that this wreck should only be dived when conditions are good as strong currents are possible. (The wreck of the Kingston can be part of a Thistlegorm overnight trip).
Special Trips from Sharm El Sheikh
Wreck of the Thistlegorm
To most divers familiar to the Red Sea, this iconic wreck needs no introduction. It is a must-dive on quite a number of peoples to-do list, and whether you like wreck diving or not, the Thistlegorm is just incredible. Sunk in the same way as the 'Rosalie Moller' - just 48 hours and a few miles apart - The Thistlegorm truly is one of the best dives in the World. The Thistlegorm was carrying cargo for the War Effort in North Egypt, and every dive is a visit to an underwater museum, a place in time where the clocks stopped. Locomotives, various ammunition and Lee Enfield rifles, Bedford trucks, Triumph motorbikes and even airplane wings can still be found in The Thistlegorms cavernous holds.
Minimum qualification: PADI AOW or equivalent with 20 logged dives.
Full Day ThistlegormAn earlier start than normal but it's definitely worth it for the wreck of the Thistlegorm. After a boat journey of approximately 3 1/2 to 4 hours, divers are taken on a tour around the 126m wreck to view the stern with its magnificent anti-aircraft guns and general deck areas with their trains, tenders and winches. The second dive takes you inside the wreck to view the cargo of military equipment packed in her holds. Although divers come here to visit this World famous wreck, the abundance of fish life cannot be ignored, with resident batfish, crocodilefish, tuna, turtles, and regular visits from the bottlenose dolphins which live at a neighbouring reef.
The Wreck of the DunravenThis historic wreck was a 79m British steam sail ship which was built in Newcastle and struck the reef in 1876 en route from Bombay to Liverpool. Soon after she slid off the reef and turned upside down and is now covered in so much coral growth, it is hard to tell where the reef stops and the wreck begins. After taking a look at her rudder and propeller, divers are taken through the hull of the wreck. Swimming inside Dunraven is like swimming through a Cathedral with beams of light pouring through her portholes. Old Hessian ropes and the remains of wooden cargo boxes bring this ship alive and the sight of her enormous boilers are a reminder of the magnificent age of steam engines. A safety stop on the reef brings schools of yellow goatfish, baby barracudas and a numerous of stonefish.
This can be dived on either a full day trip, where it is combined with one dive at Ras Mohamed, or on an "Early Bird" Trip which gives divers the chance to jump in at Shark Reef before the crowds, followed by a dive on the Dunraven and a third dive at another site in Ras Mohamed.