Where: East coast of Egypt
When: Year round sun – July – August is calm but hot
Happenings: tropical reef, soft corals, turtles and sharks
Remember to bring: a snorkel set for between dives viewing
Where it’s at
The Red Sea is located along the east coast of Egypt, and among dedicated divers the sea is held up with Great Barrier Reef as one of the world’s best dive locations. Though the countries of Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea also border the almost 2000 kilometers of turquoise waters, some of the best and most accessible diving locations are found in the north, in Egypt.
The Red Sea is one of the world’s most diverse tropical reef ecosystems and the richness here contrasts sharply with the stark dry desert: a kaleidoscope of fish, soft corals, hard corals turtles and shark species are nurtured in the calm waters of a sea that is almost entirely cut off from the world’s oceans. With so little exchange of fresh seawater and the high desert temperatures (which fuels evaporation) the Red Sea waters are far saltier than other tropical seas around the world, making coral grow faster providing fish with more protection.
Where to go diving
Diving the Red Sea has taken off in popularity in the last 15 years, particularly with the construction of resort hotels all along the coast. Protection has been late in coming, but slowly the country’s government has realized the importance of protecting this unique ecosystem.
Off the southern tip of the rocky Sinai peninsula is the national park of Ras Mohammad and the Straits of Tiran. Both sites can be reached from the largest diving centres of Sharm al Sheik and Dahab, which, depending on your personality, can be heaven or hell.
Sharm al Sheik has developed into a string of five star hotels, discos and fast food restaurants, but is closer to Ras Mohammad. Dahab has more in common with a backpackers hangout with cheap guesthouses and relaxed bars and is further from Ras Mohammad, but many dive trips here are combined with desert treks.
Diving options and costs
Both dive centers offer day trips that are shore excursions instead of dive boat operations common in places like Cairns, Australia. These are better for inexperienced or beginner divers and explore shallower reefs and gulleys that have almost no currents. These day trips are cheaper, often as little as $50 for two dives.
Multi-day live-aboards are also available, these luxury boats cruise the little visited sites of the Red Sea like the Straits of Tiran. Because of currents these sites are for experienced divers, and can cost anywhere from $500 to $1000 plus for a seven day trip. Though they seem expensive, the unlimited diving offered by these live-aboards and the untouched diving sites visited make it worth it.
Red Sea VDC
For more information and details on Red Sea dive
operators, fish life wrecks and hotels
Scuba Travel’s webpages list many of the dive
operators in the Red Sea
By Dave Lowe