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Gubal and Shua'ab Ali Dive Sites

Gubal and Shua'ab Ali Dive Sites

The Strait of Gubal connects the gulf of Suez to the Red Sea and is bordered to the west by the Egyptian coast and to the east by the Sinai peninsula. The Gulf of Suez is much shallower than the Gulf of Aqaba with an average depth of 80 meters. The southeastern section of the strait is characterized by the presence of two massive half-outcropping coral formations (called sha'ab in arabic) that create a coral reef, inside which there are shallow lagoons and sandy floors: sha'ab Mahmud and Sha'ab Ali.


Bluff Point

Bluff Point at the northeast end of Gubal Seghira island, extends like a pointing finger into the Straits of Gubal. The dive is along the island's east coast, near the light which warns shipping off the sheer bluffs or cliffs. Barge at Bluff Point (Depth: 14 m) makes a good night dive. The barge is literally crammed full of fish, along with several lion fish (Pterois miles and P. Radiata). Take your camera. An enormous, toothless, moray also patrols here. Look in the coral for tiny crabs (Trapezia rufopuctata). The barge is opposite Bluff Point Lighthouse, in the Strait of Gobal.

The reef here is a steep wall, following a meandering path along the coast. It boasts some very sheer, cliff-like sections, and is peppered with caves and cavelets. Coral growth is very good, with a wide variety of hard and soft corals on the reef face. A particularly attraction is the abundant growth of antipatharian black coral bushes at depth.

A large cave lies just off the lighthouse and south of here, the reef bends inwards, eventually reaching the wreck of a barge. This is the usual pickup point for dive boats. The section of reef between cave and barge often experiences tricky currents, so stay in close to the reef. A second wreck, carrying a cargo of electrical goods, lies several hundred meters to the north of the lighthouse, well covered in corals.

Coral growth along the entire reef is good, with nice patches of dendronephthia soft corals and a wide range of stony species on display. Fish and other marine animals abound here. The site is famous for turtles, while bottlenose dolphins are also frequent visitors. The site offers the usual broad range of colorful reef species and there are lots of jacks and fusiliers.

If you find you had enough of the wreck of Ulysses and you’ve still got plenty of air and NDL time you can, with the right current reach all the way to the east end of Bluff Point. This is a nice part of the reef and it goes well with a multi level dive profile. This also makes an excellent dive of its own if the conditions don’t allow a dive at the wreck.

  • Location: About 14km (9 miles) southwest of Shag Rock, in the Straits of Gubal
  • Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada
  • Average Depth: 20m (65ft)
  • Maximum Depth: 30m+ (100ft+)
  • Average Visibility: 20m (65ft)

small crack, Gubal and Shua'ab Ali Dive Sites

Shag Rock

Shag Rock is located at the south tip of the Shaab Ali reef complex in the northern Straits of Gubal and is part of the Red Sea reef system known as Shaab Ali. It gets its name from the cormorants that sometimes perch on the reef's light beacon, and not after some lover's secret rendez vous point, as some may like to think. Its average depth is 15m, maximum depth is 25m, and average visibility is 20m.

This egg-shaped reef runs basically northwest to southeast. The reef top is marked by a light beacon as well as the wreck of a fishing boat. The wreck of the Sarah H lies in the shallows just offshore. The shallow location of the Sarah H is a bonus for snorkellers. The stern section is particularly atmospheric, with its looming bulk silhouetted against the clear light which penetrates the shallow waters. The barely submerged reef top is surrounded by a sloping reef wall, made up of a decent range of hard and soft corals.

There are plenty of branching forms and a few patches of very nice soft corals. The site hosts a wide-ranging population of fish with lots of schooling fish and pelagics. The best dive is along the reef's eastern side.

The Carina is very broken up wreckage of a 19th Century steamship that you drift past quickly. The Kingston is another 18th century steamship, but is more intact than the Carina is. The reef makes quite a good dive with lots of branching coral, butterflyfish, yellow goatfish, sweetlips and sea cucumbers.

  • Shag Rock Reef Basics: Wreck and reef
  • Depth: 5 - 25m
  • Visibility: 20 - 30m
  • Currents: Can be strong
  • Surface conditions: Can be choppy
  • Water temperature: 22 - 28°C
  • Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
  • Number of dive sites: 2
  • Diving season: All year round
  • Distance: 45 km (3½ hrs) southwest of Sharm El Sheikh, 60 km (4¼ hrs) north of Hurghada
  • Access: Daytrips and live boards

Small Crack

The Small Crack location is halfway along the Shaab Mahmud reef system, northwest of Beacon Rock and the Dunraven. Its average depth is 15m, maximum depth is 22m, and average visibility is 20m. Small Passage or Small Crack is one of the best known dive sites near Sharm el-Sheik and Ras Mohammed. It is a crack or passage in the west-facing seaward side of the Sha'ab Mahmud reef system, which acts as a line between the Sinai desert and the streets of Gubal. This passage is one of the few places where you can actually get into the inner lagoons of Sha'ab Mahmud. Many live-aboard tours dive the passage and spend the night in the sheltered lagoons for a spectacular night dive.

The deep walls of Tiran mirror the startling drop offs of Ras Mohammed. This is where the Sinai stops and the adventure begins. Cruising past Shark and Yolanda, Wrecks and Reefs takes in the Alternatives, Small Crack and Bluff Point before moving onto the wrecks. The Northern Red Sea is a wreck diver's delight. The almighty Thistlegorm is the setting for unforgettable diving, day or night. The Kingston, Dunraven, Abu Nuhas and Rosalie Moller only add to the excitement.

This site is a crack or passage in the extensive Shaab Mahmud reef, which separates the Sinai coast from the open water of the Straits of Gubal. It is one of two navigable passages into the sheltered lagoon behind the reef, and is thus a popular spot with live-aboard anchoring for the night in the lagoon's calm waters.

The main reef at the small crack runs from northwest to southeast, and is a well-formed, steeply sloping coral wall reaching from the surface to 18m (60ft), with a sand slope and scattered coral beyond. The crack bisects this reef and forms a shallow channel to the inner lagoon. This channel is a maximum of 6m (20ft) deep, and averages 2 to 3m (7-10ft), with reef walls of about 2m (7ft) on both sides.

Coral growth throughout is excellent, particularly on the outer reef wall. A mix of hard and soft types can be found, with a very wide range of stony coral species making up the reef walls, and exceptional formations of soft corals. The full range of Red Sea reef fish species can be seen at this site. Pelagics are common, particularly when there is a current running.

Given that most dives will be from a live-aboard anchored in the lagoon, the best plan is usually to take a zodiac through the passage to a point upstream from the passage's outer mouth, then drift with the current along the outer reef and through the passage toward the lagoon. This, however, assumes a rising tide. A falling tide will complicate matters, since zodiac pickup in the rougher waters outside the reef can be difficult.

Coral growth throughout is excellent, particularly on the outer reef wall. A mix of hard and soft types can be found, with a very wide range of stony coral species making up the reef walls, and exceptional formations of soft corals. The full range of Red Sea reef fish species can be seen at this site.

  • Location: Halfway along the Shaab Mahmud reef system, northwest of Beacon Rock and the Dunraven
  • Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada
  • Average Depth: 15m (50ft)
  • Maximum Depth: 22m (65ft)
  • Average Visibility: 20m (65ft)
Last Updated on Sunday 19th December 2010