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Diving Straits of Tiran & Nabq

Diving Straits of Tiran & Nabq

The Strait of Tiran lies at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba and is bounded by the west coast of Sinai and on the east by the island of Tiran, in the middle of this channel are four coral reefs lying in a north east, south west direction that were named after a 19th century English cartographers who drew the first nautical map of this region. Jackson Reef, Woodhouse Reef, Thomas Reef, and Gordon Reef. Tiran Island lies in the Gulf of Aqaba, right between Ras Mohamed and Saudi Arabia. Mostly, divers are attracted to this place, that offers plenty of opportunities for brilliant views and underwater safaris. However, a boat trip to this national park area is an amazing experience, providing breath-taking views.


Abu Tinun:

Abu Tinun is located between Sinafar Island and the eastern end of Tiran Island. Abu Tinun is an area that is made up of a sandy shelf, coral heads and sea grasses. The coral heads are home to many cleaning stations and you will find sweetlips, jacks and large groupers that are waiting to the cleaner wrasses to remove parasites from them. Overhangs and caves are also found on the corals heads and there are even some black coral trees. These coral trees often are the homes to longnose hawkfish that are bright red when lit by a strong light. The sea grasses are the home of many seahorses, eels, cuttlefish and stingrays. The typical depth range of the Abu Tinun is 20 to 50 feet and is best accessed by boat dive or a local guide. The expertise required for this dive site is a novice to advanced.

End of the road reef:

Onshore winds make entry very difficult and even highly experienced divers are often injured during entry and exit. Also bear in mind that a serious injury this far form civilization could be life threatening. The dive is on a submerged island about 10-15m (33-50ft) offshore, with its top in about 3m (10ft); a deep canyon extends down the southern side of the island to depths beyond 65m (213ft), while a narrow sandy channel with a bottom at 10m (33ft) separates the reef from shore. This channel broadens into a sandy plateau north of the reef, while the east side of the reef is a steep sloping wall to 50m (164ft) and beyond. Coral cover is excellent throughout, with an amazing variety of species. All the corals are dense and profuse, and in a phenomenal state of preservation - this is one of the healthiest reefs in the region. Fish life is of the same order of excellence, with all the usual reef fish in abundance. The site also boasts one of the widest ranges of wrasse species in the Sinai area.
Location: At the extreme end of the Nabeq coastal road north of Sharm El Sheikh
Access: By jeep from Sharm El Sheikh
Average Depth: 20m (65ft)
Maximum Depth: 60m+ (197ft+)
Average Visibility: 30m (100ft)

Flasher Reef:

Flasher Reef is located between Sinafar Island and Shusha Island, which is to the east. The best time to dive here is at night. As the name suggests, the flashlight fish are everywhere. All you have to do is turn off your dive lights and the fish will surround you. The sandy bottom surrounding the reef is covered with sea grasses, seahorses, stingrays and hermit crabs. Turtles, rays and Spanish dancer nudibrachs frequent the reef. The Spanish dancer is a real treat to watch dance in your dive light. It is even better to have a video camera running as well. If your dive boat has lights that shine into the water, you may find yourself surrounded by squid as you come back to your boat. The squid will change color very quickly as they move in and out of your dive lights. The typical depth range of Flasher Reef is 20 to 60 feet deep and is best accessed by a boat dive or a local guide. The expertise required for this site is a novice with an instructor, advanced to a dive master or instructor.

Gordon Reef:

Gordon reef is most famous for the wreck of the “Lovilla” which ran aground on the northern end of the reef in 1981. This dive can be done as either a drift or a mooring dive, mooring on the southern side of the reef. The dive starts with a sandy plateau which you follow out to the drop off which begins at 20 meters. The wall of the reef is sheer and is covered with many fan corals and soft corals. There are many open ocean fish that can often be seen in the blue waters around the reef. There is a current that will carry you at quite a fast pace, up to 2 knots, along the reef and will deposit you in a sandy flat area 40 feet deep that has many small coral heads and reef fish.

The dive site encompasses a wide, oval sloping patchy reef which extends to the south and east of the shallow circular reeftop, rather like the sloping brim of a baseball cap. The reef composition is quite varied, with patchy sections, sand beds and full-fledged coral gardens. In the center of the reef slope, a 'shark amphitheater' or bowl dips 20 24m (78ft). A variety of shark species can be seen sleeping on the sandy bottom. A permanent mooring point lies just offshore near the light.

Gordon Reef encompasses a wide, oval sloping patchy plateau which extends to the south and east of the shallow circular reeftop. The reef composition is quite varied, with patchy sections, sand beds, and full-fledged coral gardens. At the center of the reef slope, a shark bowl dips to 24 meters (80 feet). A variety of shark species can be seen sleeping on the sandy bottom. Descending down the drop off into turquoise blue water you could be lucky and see hammerheads or eagle rays which often frequent the blue waters here. The wall is abundant with big gorgonians and a multitude of reef fish. Leaving the drop off and heading back into the reef over the sandy plateau you will come across many metal drums filled with tar which are scattered on the plateau. You can either turn back on yourself to finish the dive or in good weather drift around the northern side of the reef.

This site boasts a very good range of corals, with lots of branching varieties. All of the corals are well preserved in densely grown patches that often show a remarkable mix of different species. The reef slope is suitable for relatively inexperienced divers while more experienced divers will enjoy the incredible experience to be had at the shark amphitheater. Fish life is not the most profuse in Tiran, but there are some notable surprises including a huge moray eel with a body as thick as a small diver's waist. Triggerfish abound while surgeons and jacks swim in moderately large schools. Angels, parrotfish, and small wrasse are all present in good numbers. Large napoleon wrasse can often be seen along the reef.
Skill level:Advanced Scuba Divers- Difficult
Access: Access by boat
Scenery: 2 stars
Fauna: 3 stars
GPS: 27°59.097 N - 34°27.250 E

Jackson Reef:

Jackson Reef is the most northern reef in the Strait of Tiran. On the northern edge of the reef, the wreck of a grounded freighter stands as a warning to shipping in the buy straits. Most of its hull has been salvaged for scrap, leaving only a skeletal hulk. A fixed mooring exits at the southern end of the reef. Dives begin from this point and proceed generally northward along the east side of the reef. Searching for hammerheads or tiger sharks on the outside of Jackson Reef in the blue. Dusk is a good time to go, but none were seen. You will get a 10 minute visit from a Longimanus (white tipped oceanic) which stayed with us until we got back (quickly!) to the reef. The steep-sided walls of Jackson Reef are among the finest in the Sinai region. The current-swept reef is densely grown with a real profusion of hard and soft corals, with special accents provided by luxuriant gorgonian fans, sea whips and black corals, and vivid growths of soft coral.

This is the northern most reef in Tiran and is well known for the Cypriot merchant ship “The Lara” which sank here in 1985, some remains of the wreckage can still be seen on the top of the reef plate. Diving here is usually on the southern side which is sheltered from the wind and waves. The reef wall descends steeply to the sandy floor at approx 50 meters. Going westwards you will see a splendid red anemone at a depth of 28 meters followed by some spectacular gorgonian fan corals. Ascending up to 15 meters on the southwest corner of Jackson you will pass over the most spectacular, colorful coral garden. It is not uncommon to see turtles feeding on this spectacular coral and the chance to see white tip, grey reef and hammerhead sharks from July to August especially if weather conditions permit diving on the northern sides of the reef.
Location: The northermost of four reefs extending down the center of the Straits of Tiran, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Access: By local or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or other ports
Description: Shark diving
Depth: 19 metres (62 feet)
Visibility: 30 metres (100 feet)
Skill level: Difficult
Scenery: 2 stars
Fauna: 3 stars
GPS: 28°00.354 N - 34°28.283 E

Pinky's wall

The main diving sites from the Sharm el Sheikh area are: Turtle Bay, Sodfa, Amphoras, Tower, Paradise, Temple, Pinky Wall/Barrier, Race to Umm Sid and Race to Kitty. The Red Sea is a place really divine. Pinky Wall is the first of a long series of diving sites between Tower and Ras Umm Sid. Strangely enough, despite the sheer beauty of this wall dive site which was named after the multitude of pink alcyonarian corals, there are very few guides who know pinky wall and take divers there. Access from shore requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get to the cliff top, then a rather strenuous scramble down a narrow wadi. You will then need to make a surf entry across the jagged reeftop. This shore entry should only be attempted by fit divers experienced in rough shore entries. Once in the water, conditions are near perfect; generally clear visibility reveals a beautiful sheer wall dropping to great depths, well grown with coral, particularly the pink soft corals for which the site is named. Coral growth, especially soft corals like Dendronephthya, is what this site is all about. Hard coral growth is not as dense as at many sites near here, but the profusion of soft species more than compensates. Glassfish hide in shimmering schools in the recesses and overhangs, while schooling fish hand off the reef face. There are also good numbers of parrotfish, rabbitfish, grouper and wrasse. This site is exceptional for several reasons: as a wall site in a region of generally sloping reefs, as one of the limited number of sites with shore access, and as one of the most concentrated growths of soft coral on this stretch of coast.
Location: On the Sinai coast, between Tower and Turtle Bay sites
Access: By shore, or by local or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh, Naama Bay or other ports
Average Depth: 20m (65ft)
Maximum Depth: 60m+ (197ft+)
Average Visibility: 20m (65ft)

Thomas Reef

Thomas Reef is the smallest reef in the strait of Tiran. it's a circle form that you may reach your start point if the conditions are suitable for that. it's a drift dive one of the best in Tiran for early morning dives when the current is strong or for a lovely calm afternoon dive. The smallest reef in the straits of Tiran. A spectacular drift dive starting on the southern corner of the reef and drifting along the eastern side. A reef wall rich in multicolored coral descending to a sandy plateau at 25 meters. Impressive gorgonian fan corals home to the long nosed hawk fish and colonies of black coral. This dive site is famous amongst the technical divers for the striking canyon which opens out at a depth of 35 meters and runs parallel to the reef plate. In good weather conditions it is possible to circumnavigate this reef in one dive. The east wall plunges dramatically to great depths with a mass of brightly colored 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.

This site is on a generally steep sloping reef, which includes some plateau sections and a very deep canyon running along the reef's southern section. It is the smallest of the four Tiran reefs, and its position in the chain leaves it exposed to some fairly vigorous currents. The reef's upper section is a riot of color, encompassing some of the finest soft coral growth in the Sinai region. Huge, densley packed fields of Dendronephthya of every imaginable hue are spread across the reef, along with antler corals, fine Stylophora, some Acropora and many other stony coral forms. Fish live is also rich, with the greatest concentration in the shallows. Lyretail cod and other groupers grow to great size, and many varieties of rabbit fish and wrasse congregate along the reef face, accompanied by box and puffer fish. The only reason to go much deeper than 20m at Thomas Reef is to explore the canyon; an option for only very experienced deep divers. You should not even consider this hazardous option without consulting your dive guide.

Good visibility it's one of the best places to visit in straits of Tiran. and off course we'll never forget to have a look on the canyon which starts at 35 meters deep down to 70+. Most of the dive is a wall down to 30 meters and then slopes out. Great for shark observation (If we are lucky enough).Very colorful corals. No Human Impacts. Fish life is also rich, with the greatest concentration in the shallows. Lyretail cod and other groupers grow to great size, and many varieties of rabbitfish and wrasse congregate along the reef face, accompanied by box and pufferfish. The only reason to go much deeper than 20m (65ft) at Thomas Reef is to explore the canyon; an option for only very experienced deep divers. You should not even consider this hazardous option without consulting your dive guide.
Location: Second from the south in the Straits of Tiran reef chain
Access: Local or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh, Naama Bay or other ports
Average Depth: 20m (65ft)
Maximum Depth: 50m+ (164ft+)
Average Visibility: 20m (65ft)
Skill level: Difficult
Scenery: 3 stars
Fauna: 3 stars
GPS: 27°59.437 N - 34°27.644 E

Woodhouse Reef

Located between Thomas and Jackson reef, Woodhouse reef is the narrowest and longest reef in Tiran. With no moorings this dive is always done as a drift. A sheer wall dropping down to a sandy ledge at 30 meters and dropping away into the abyss. The most interesting point of this dive site is the famous canyon that opens out at a depth of 30 meters and runs parallel to the main axis of the reef. A great dive for spotting black coral at a depth of around 22 meters and lots of pelagic fish cruising past in the blue.

Woodhouse is generally dived as a drift along the reef's eastern side. The current is usually moderate, but can pick up speed at certain phases of the Moon, particularly toward the northern channel between Woodhouse and Jackson. Care should be taken not to get pulled around the point here, as you could be swept off the reef into the main shipping lane. Coral cover is excellent throughout the reef, with dense growth all over; there are a few sandy patches at depths of around 20m. Coral cover is excellent throughout the reef, with dense growth all over; there ar4e a few sandy patches at depths of around 20m (65ft). Many species are present but because of the sheltered position of the reef, away from the main current, a certain amount of sedimentation has effected the corals here. Pelagic fish include big tuna and schools of trevally or jacks. Fusiliers, snapper, surgeons and unicorns also school here, along with thousands of other reef fish.
Location: Second from the north in the Straits of Tiran reef chain
Access: Local or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh, Naama Bay or other ports
Average Depth: 15m (50ft)
Maximum Depth: 40m+ (130ft+)
Average Visibility: 20m (65ft)
Skill level: Difficult
Access: Access by boat
Scenery: 2 stars
Fauna: 3 stars
GPS: 28°00.119 N - 34°27.970 E

Last Updated on Friday 14th January 2011