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Sharm El Sheikh Dive Sites

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The clear blue waters between Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada contain some stunning reef and shipwrecks. The dive sites are found between Shaab Ali, the Straits of Gubal and Hurghada, spread across 74km (40nautical miles) of open sea between the tip of Ras Muhammad and the Egyptian mainland at Hurghada. The sites can be reached from either Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.


Dive Operators and Facilities

Both Sharm and Hurghada are packed with dive centres –over 20 in Sharm, and more than 70 in Hurghada. Most centres in both resorts are highly professional, with excellent equipment, facilities and organisation, and multilingual dive staff and instructors trained to the highest international standards.

Giftun Seghir

This spectacular wall dive lies on the eastern/southern side of the smaller of the two Giftun islands. The eastern wall drops sheer to great depths; itis very contoured, and has some interesting caves. The reef shallows along the southern coast are less challenging, with depths from 18m (60ft).

The reef is well covered with both hard and soft corals. The steep wall section boasts a massive congregation of gorgonians, as well as dense growth of sea whips and antipatharian black corals. The reef shallows are particularly rich in smaller reef fish while big impressive pelagics pass in the deep waters off the wall.
Location: Off the coast north of Hurghada, to the south of Careless Reef
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
Conditions: Strong wind, waves and currents all possible.
Average depth: 20m (65ft)
Maximum depth: 40m+ (130ft+)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Siyul Kebira

This site extends east and west around the island of Siyul Kebira. The reef has a varied profile, with an undulating reef face split by furrows, sandy valleys, hollows and depressions. The reef is composed of very dense coral patches, both hard and soft and the north side is especially thickly grown, but is subject to the full force of wind and weather, while the south side is more sheltered, offering good snorkelling possibilities on a series of reef patches.

Fish life is equally exuberant; the reef here attracts frequent pelagic visitors as well as reef species. Leopard and nurse sharks have sometimes been spotted on the sand here.
Location: Just south of Umm Usk in the southern Straits of Gubal.
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
Conditions: Some extremely strong currents.
Average depth: 1 5m (50ft)
Maximum depth: 22m (72ft)
Average visibi/ity: 20m (65ft)

Umm Usk

This site is a crescent-shaped reef lagoon; of most dives take place at the entrance, on the west side of the reef which is partially blocked by a large, elliptical patch reef. One dive covers the outer reef wall of this patch reef and its southern tip; a second dive concentrates on the north end of the reef, the nearby main reef and a smaller satellite reef to the northwest. The site’s profile throughout is varied, with steep reel wall sections, big heads, and pinnacles.

Coral growth is good, with a wide range of hard and soft species. Branching forms here are excellent, with many Acropora, antler and spreading formations. Fish life includes many parrots, wrasse, emperors and surgeons, snapper, fusiliers, angels, butterflies, and big grouper. Night dives are popular here when squid and cuttlefish can be seen. Bottlenose dolphins are frequently seen in the lagoon.
Location: Between Gubal and Shadwan islands, in the southern Straits of Gubal
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
Conditions: Wind, waves and currents can complicate dives here.
Average depth: 18m (60ft)
Maximum depth: 31m (102ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Erg Abu Ramada

This small site, on a group of coral pinnacles just offshore from Abu Ramada, is an incredibly dense collection of the best in coral growth and reef fishes. The pinnacles are carpeted in rich layers of coral, with colourful soft corals predominating, along with some gorgonians and a variety of stony species.

Fish life here is superb, with a reef fish population that seems concentrated on this small spot by the favourable conditions. Pelagics such as jacks and barracuda are common.
Location: Off southeast Abu Ramada Island, about 12km (7.5 miles) southeast of Hurghada.
Access:B By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
Conditions: Strong currents and big swells possible
Average depth: 15m (50ft)
Maximum depth: 18m (60ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Shaab Abu Ramada/The Aquarium

Dolphin About 2km (1.2 miles) south of Abu Ramada island, the site is relatively shallow and quite flat, with a collection of smaller coral heads around it. Fish Iife here is possibly the richest in the area. The smaller reef fishes are welI represented and the sand floor hosts stingrays and nurse or leopard sharks. Jacks, barracuda and small tuna can often be seen in big schools off the reef, and grey or whitetip reef sharks are often seen.
Location: 3km (2miles) south of Abu Ramada.
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
Conditions: Some current and wave action possible.
Average depth: 12m (45ft)
Maximum depth: 15m (50ft)
Average visibility: 20m (66ft)

Chrisoula K

This site lies at the northeastern corner of the reef. This position allows you to combine both the wreck and the more sheltered eastern reef face on one dive, as well as offering calmer conditions for snorkellers. The wreck itself lies with its bow section on the reeftop. are virtually unscathed. Much of the hull and superstructure area can be penetrated, but it is not too stable, so penetration is inadvisable in bad weather or very heavy current.

The sloping reef to the south is very steep with a fine array of hard and soft corals and a wide range of cracks and canyons. Fish life is wide-ranging, with reef species competing with pelagics drawn by the sheer profile and big currents. Jacks are very common here, and barracuda are also a possibility, while sharks can occasionally be seen.
Location: At the northeast corner of Shaab Abu Nuhas.
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sham El Sheikh or Hurghada.
Conditions: Strong wind, waves and seasonal weather may make access impossible.
Average depth: 18m (60ft)
Maximum depth: 25m (80ft)
Average visibility: 20m (6Sft)

Thistlegorm

This wreck dive is suitable for all but the most inexperienced divers in calm conditions, but conditions are variable so it is important to check for current, wind and wave action, and decide whether the conditions match your skill level.

The Thistlegorm lies at 30m (100ft), her largely intact forward section sitting almost upright on the sandy bottom. The Thistlegorm was an army supply ship and the wreck is like a gigantic, submerged army surplus store.
The site is fairly well colonized by fish and corals, including lots of big jacks, big schools of snapper, bannerfish and huge grouper. There is quite a bit of soft coral growth throughout.

Dives generally begin at the bow deck, where downlines will be secured. Descents and ascents should always be made along the line to avoid being svvept off by frequently tricky currents.
Location: Just northeast of Shag Rock, off Shaab Ali west of Ras Muhammad.
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada
Conditions: Current, waves, wind and swell can all be considerable.
Average depth: 24m (78ft)
Maximum depth: 30m (100ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Siyul Seghira

This is the largest reef in the immediate area at over 4km (2.5 miles) long. Divers often begin their dive on the exposed northern side of the spit, to be propelled by the current along the sloping reef, before turning the corner at the end of the spit and awaiting boat pickup on the sheltered southern side. To the south, the main body of the reef is shallow 3m (10ft), offering excellent snorkelling. Coral growth is fairly dense.

The reef spit offers a greater depth range, with good cover down to 20 or 25m (65-80ft). Corals here are luxuriant and tightly packed, with an excellent range of hard and soft varieties. Fish life is also dense and varied and the open water draws several pelagic species.
Location: Southwest of Siyul Kebira, southern Straits of Gubal
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada
Conditions: Current, wind and waves can all be strong.
Average depth: 15m (50ft)
Maximum depth: 25m (80ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Shaab Umm

The reef has a sloping wall profile, with a number of caves and crevices. Coral growth is fairly good, with a variety of species present. There is also a small wreck here, lying at around 25m (80ft), as well as a very dense population of reef and pelagic fishes.
The site is famous for it’s fish life and many are exceedingly tame and approachable due to prolonged fish-feeding. Off the reef, there is a large concentration of pelagics and schooling reef species. Sharks are also a possibility, drawn by the reef’s excessive fish population.
Location: 2km (1.2 miles) south of Umm Qamar island.
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
Conditions: Surface weather and swells can make this site impossible to dive.
Maximum depth: 35m (115ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Careless Reef

This isolated reef is famous for its large population of semi-tame moray eels.The eels vary in size, but several are at the upper Iimit of the growth range. They wilI often remain outside their airs in the presence of divers.

Weather conditions often make the exposed site difficult or impossible to dive. The reef itself centres on two pinnacleswhich reach the surface in an otherwise open sea. The valley between these pinnacles is about 16m (52ft) deep, perfect for those not interested in deep diving. East of the saddle, a steep wall drops welI beyond 40m (130ft), with a contoured profile offering many caves for the more experienced diver.

Reef composition is diverse, with most coral species, both hard and soft, making a colorful coral habitat. As well as the famous eels, there are innumerable species of reef fishes. The reef’s isolation, combined with the deep water in which it lies, make it ideal for pelagics and sharks.
Location: 5km (3miles) north of Giftun island, south of Shaab Umm Qamar
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada
Conditions: Exposed reef vulnerable to big seas and bad weather
Average depth: 20m (65ft)
Maximum depth: 40m+ (130ft+)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Giannis D

This Greek-registered freighter was wrecked here in 1983 and has become a regular dive attraction. Much of the wreck Iies in relatively shallow water making this an atmospheric and easy site. The wreck has some nice soft coral growth plus a few hard corals. Fish include grouper, angels, lions and the occasional barracuda.
Location: At the northwest corner of Shaab Abu Nuhas
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
Conditions: Very strong wave action on the reef face is common.
Average depth: 18m (60ft)
Maximum depth: 27m (89ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Carnatic

This wreck lies on its port side, more or less parallel with the reef on a sandy bottom. Its deck and masts face away from the reef; the bow lies in 18m (60ft), and the stern in 24m (78ft). The hull is broken into three sections; all of which can be penetrated.
Coral growth on the hull is profuse and much of the ship is completely blanketed in soft coral. Hard corals of many types also colonize both the wreck and the reef, offering a wide range of species. There is a dense population of resident reef fishes, including grouper and lionfish, while schooling fish often cruise by in the open water.
Location: At the centre of Abu Nuhas’ north reef face
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
Conditions: Wind, waves and heavy breakers make this site impossible in bad weather.
Average depth: 18m (60ft)
Maximum depth: 25m (80ft)
Average visibility: 20m (60ft)

Shag Rock

This egg-shaped reef runs northwest to southeast. The best dive is along the reef’s eastern side. The reeftop 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 barely submerged reeftop is surrounded by a sloping reef wall, made up of a range of hard and soft corals. There are plenty of branching forms and a few patches of soft corals. The site hosts a wide-ranging population of fish with lots of schooling fish and pelagics. The shallow location of the Sarah H makes it ideal for snorkellers.
Location: At the south tip of the Shaab All reef complex in the northern Straits of Gubal.
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
Conditions: Wind, vvaves and current can make access impossible.
Average depth: 15m (50ft)
Maximum depth: 25m (80ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

The Small Crack

This site is a 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 popular with live-aboards 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, both hard and soft, is excellent throughout, especially on the outer reef wall. 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.

Most dives will be from upstream to the passage's outer mouth, then drift with the current along the outer reef and through the passage toward the lagoon.
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.
Conditions: Tidal currents, wind and waves can all be strong.
Average depth: 15m (50ft)
Maximum depth: 20m+ (65ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

The Alternatives/Stingray Station

The Alternatives are a chain of shallow patch reefs running from Shaab Mahmud eastward toward the Ras Muhammad coast. Stingray Station is a small patch of this chain, near its western end.

The landward side of the reef patches offers maximum depths of 10 to 15m (33-50ft), while on the seavvard side reefs often drop well past 30m (100ft) The reef's isolated heads alternate with numerous sandy patches and large pinnacles and coral heads.

The coral that makes up these reefs is spectacular, especially the hard corals. The soft corals include big patches of purple and yellow Dendronephthya and Xeniids. Fish life is abundant and highly concentrated. The numerous sand patches support lots of bluesptotted and blackspotted stingrays, as well as resident leopard sharks Whitetip and grey reef sharks are also sometimes sighted here.
Location: Eastern Shaab Mahmud, just off western Ras Muhammad.
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada
Conditions: Some strong currents
Average depth: 18m (60ft)
Maximum depth: 30m+ (100ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Dunraven Wreck

This wreck lies about 20m (65ft) off the reef at Beacon Rock, with its stern in about 28m (92ft) of water and its shallowest point near the bow at 15m (50ft). The ship lies bottom-up on the sandy sea floor, its bow pointing westward at a shallow angle to the reef. The wreck is covered in coral growth, with impressive colonies of soft coral.

The interior of the ship's hull is wide-open and perfect for penetration. However, the bow section is rather narrow and twisty, and penetration is not advised for inexperienced divers.

The reef near the mooring point offers very dense and diverse coral growth and a host of reef fish species. Both hard and soft corals abound, with lots of plate corals and encrusting forms. Fish life, both on the wreck itself and on the reef, is exceptional.
Location: Just south of the light at Beacon Rock, at the southeast: end of Shaab Mahmud
Access: By day or live-aboard boat from Sham El Sheikh or Hurghada
Conditions: Some strong currents
Average depth: 20m (65ft)
Maximum depth: 28m (92ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Bluff Point

This site, at the northeast end of Gubal Seghira Island along the east coast, extends into the Straits of Gubal. The reef here is steep wall, following a meandering path along the coast. It boasts some very sheer, cliff-like sections, and contains many caves. Coral growth is very good, with a wide variety of hard and soft corals on the reef face.

A large cave lies just off the lighthouse; south of here, the reef bends inwards, eventually reaching the wreck of a barge, the usual pickup point for dive boats. A second wreck lies several hundred metres to the north of the lighthouse and is 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. Fish and other marine animals abound here and the site is famous for turtles and bottlenose dolphins.
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.
Conditions: Wind, waves and current can make access difficult
Average depth: 20m (65ft)
Maximum depth: 30m (100ft)
Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

Last Updated on Sunday 16th January 2011

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