The Nile, the temples, pyramids, the valley of the Kings and the Queens, these are the sites that truly put Egypt on the tourist map. Ancient Greeks, Christians, Romans, pharonic nations and Arab dynasties have all played their part in building Egypt’s impressive architectural and cultural heritage and Cairo’s medieval core. The Western desert extends infinitely into the Sahara, dotted with oases feeding quiet islands. South down the Nile are Luxor and Aswan with their Temples and ancient burial grounds.
Stretching from the dive sites of the Sinai Peninsula to the reefs of St Johns and the Sudan border, Egyptian waters enclose some of the Red Sea's finest diving. An extension of the Great Rift Valley the Egyptian Red Sea is famed for its mix of deep walls, gentle coral gardens and wreck graveyards.
At the southern tip of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula stark desert landscape contrasts beautifully with the crystal waters of the Red Sea. Dahab is still a sleepy little resort with some big name dive sites like the canyon and the Blue Hole. Set against a backdrop of rugged mountain peaks is the stylish resort of Sharm El Sheikh, with Na’ama Bay at its heart. Diving the South Sinai encompasses the dive sites of the straits of Tiran, Sharm’s ‘Local Dives’ and Ras Mohammed. Day boats can access some sites in the Straits of Gubal, including the Thistlegorm, but this area is largely the preserve of the Red Sea liveaboard.
Relatively undeveloped the Southern Egyptian coastline is gradually opening up to traveling divers. The Marine Park Islands’ diving can only be accessed by Red Sea liveaboard. The Marsa Alam Marina, Port Ghalib, and the new hotels between Marsa Alam and Hamata are opening up the south to Land based divers. From here you can access many of the other Southern Egyptian Red Sea sites, including Elphinstone and Fury Shoal.
Egypt’s climate is easy to summarize: hot and dry, with the exception of the winter months of December, January and February, which can be quite cold in the north. The best time to visit Egypt depends on where you want to go. Generally speaking, winter (December to February) is the tourist high season and summer (June to August) is the low season in all parts of the country except on the coasts, and to a lesser degree in Cairo. Hotel prices reflect this.
Best Time to Visit: All Year Round
Average Temperature: 26°C to 32°C
Experience Level: Beginner to Advanced
Current Strength: Gentle to Strong
Average Visibility: 20m to >40m
Water Temperature: 22°C to 30°C
Number of Dive Sites: 200+
The Egyptian Red Sea is fantastic for diving expeditions all year round, with a warm tropical climate and a stunning range of dive sites that can be enjoyed at any time. The Northern Wrecks and Reefs make for spectacular viewing at any point in the year, as do the Southern Marine Parks and the Deep South; however, for those that enjoy the quieter seasons of the reef – it is advised to travel outside of the months April to October, as this peak time is considered the busiest and most active for The Deep South. There are many less southern Red Sea itineraries running in the winter months (November – January) because slightly rougher seas make the long journeys between dive sites a bit rockier, but they are still possible.
Egypt’s best dive sites are found all across the vast openness of the waters, and vary greatly between locations. From the photogenic wrecks littering the sea bed to the mesmeric corals of The Deep South – the diversity in dives for experienced divers is just perfect for the additional time in the water afforded by a liveaboard.
Northern Red Sea
The Northern Wrecks and Reefs are the most popular dives in the Red Sea and are perfect for the less experienced divers. With crystal clear waters and 16 major wrecks scattered across the sea bed, the dives here are close to the shore and never get old, as even the most experienced divers are happy to spend the entire holiday exploring this shipping lane ‘scrap yard’ alone.
Wrecks Include: The Agia Varvara, The Aida, The Carnatic, SS Dacca, The Chrisoula K, The Dunraven, The Giannis D, The Kimon M, The Kingston, The Maidan, The Million Hope, The Numidia, The Rosalie Moller, The Salem Express, The Thistlegorm, The Ulysses.
The Ras Mohammed is another of the best known dive sites of the Northern Red Sea, as the food transporting currents of the area that separates the Gulf of Aqaba from the Gulf of Suez are a hot spot for reef fish and many pelagic species. The steep walls and drop offs found here are also very good for tech training and for guided technical dives.
The Southern Marine Parks are ideal for the more experienced divers, as the remoteness of dive sites and the lack of crowds found with The Northern Wrecks and Reefs allow advanced divers to experience some challenging conditions way off shore. With a mandatory 50 logged dives required to dive here, these waters provide more difficult conditions, but supply more unusual marine life and more pelgaics.
Most Famous Southern Marine Park Dive Sites Include:
The Brothers are two small isolated reefs nestled around five minutes apart from one another 33 miles North East of El Quseir, and around 200km South of Ras Mohammed. The cone shaped reefs were likely formed by volcanic eruptions and are barely visible from above the sea – except for the British built lighthouse standing 32m out of the water. The diving at The Brothers is considered some of the area’s finest - and something of a delicacy amongst diving enthusiasts. Brothers Islands are sometimes included in northern itineraries, so please enquire.
- Big Brother is one of the most magical dive sites in the Red Sea, with a fascinating combination of underwater visuals and the marine life it inhabits. With a fringing reef and a sheer drop to a quite daunting depth, the challenge of diving Big Brother Island is more than worth the effort as the reward is great. Deep wrecks adorn the sea bed and throngs of tuna and barracuda swim the waters, along with great schools of scalloped hammerhead, oceanic white tip, silky and reef tip sharks.
- Little Brother is reputed one of the most scenic of dive sites found anywhere in the Red Sea. With a drop off of over 40m, the picturesque walls are covered in sponges, anemones, soft corals and black coral – with huge gorgonian fan corals stretching more than 3m in height. In the shallower part of the reef, caves, holes and overhangs make for some truly spectacular explorations, whilst the marine life occupying the surrounding waters also ensure the dive sites here are is of the highest quality. With little shelter, strong winds and very strong currents; access to Little Brother can be limited and relies heavily on the weather conditions.
Daedalus is the furthest offshore-reef dive site in the Red Sea and consists of a massive triangular reef with a vertical drop-off to rival that of the magnificent Brothers mentioned above. With giant hard coral structures adorning the walls, large schools of hammerheads are attracted in their numbers and circulate around the Northern point. The strong currents support a garden of anemones, whose damsel residents swim between tentacles in quite spectacular fashion. Unfortunately night dives are not permitted here.
Elphinstone is considered a hot spot of marine life and the ideal place to see larger pelagic fish, including some quite wonderful shark encounters. Whilst diving Elphinstone, you could expect to see white tip, hammerhead, grey reef and thresher sharks in amongst many species of fish, such as: barracuda, angel fish, zebra angel fish, emperor fish, anthias, suez fusiliers and giant morays.
The Deep South offers some fascinating diving conditions for more experienced divers, as the waters South of Marsa Alam up to the Sudan border are a challenge worth diving for. With a glorious underwater offering, the isolated remoteness of these dives are some of the most spectacular in the Red Sea – and come highly recommended with Planet Dive’s stamp of approval. Two of the best dive sites in The Deep South are:
Zabargad - the largest of Egypt’s four Southern Marine Parks lies just 7km North of Rocky Island in The Deep South. With exquisite turquoise bays, sandy beaches and a fantastic range of wall dives, shallow dives and even a wreck dive; the visually spectacular Zabargad attracts many tropical groupers – which you can get up close and personal with for some memorable photo opportunities. With dozens of coral towers amongst the awesome seascape scenery, you can expect to see octopus, crustaceans and nudibranches in the coral grottos alone, and much more in the surrounding waters.
Fury Shoal is another of the best Deep South dive spots, as the glorious range of caves, passages and canyons attract many groupers and morays – making for some memorable dives for experienced divers. The marine life readily on display at Fury Shoal includes: hammerhead sharks, silvertip sharks, white tip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, bumphead parrotfish, turtles, spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, surgeonfish, jacks, tuna, reef fish, colourful coral and sponges…to name but a few!
As one of the world’s most popular dive sites, Egypt is naturally blessed with some quite astonishing marine life in every nook & cranny of the vast and historic waters. The famous dive sites are well documented for hosting an endless amount of magnificent creatures – from the macro-life hiding away in the corals and wrecks to the large pelagics feasting on the rich currents; the submarine activities of the Red Sea comes in a more than plentiful supply.
The impressive spectrum of invertebrates found throughout all three areas, but particularly around the Southern Marine Parks and The Deep South are of particular interest to the more experienced divers, as the range of hard and soft corals play host to many spectacular submarine species. Attracting large schools of hammerhead, the corals also inhabit and support many types of crustacean, sponge and hundreds of fish species. With crystal clear waters, a littering of glorious wrecks and miles of picturesque sea bed - the marine life occupying the Egyptian Red Sea is a photographer’s dream that provides an endless range of opportunities, and comes highly recommended as one of the world’s Must See Diving Locations.
By international standards Egypt is still fairly cheap, though admission fees, guided tours and private transportation can really hike up the price. The official currency is the Egyptian pound (E£) – in Arabic, a guinay. One pound consists of 100 piastres (pt). It’s possible to travel in Egypt now relying solely on plastic as ATMs are becoming more and more widespread. Of the numerous types of ATM in Egypt, the vast majority are compatible with Visa, MasterCard and any Cirrus or Plus cards. Money can be officially changed at Amex and Thomas Cook offices, as well as commercial banks, foreign exchange (forex) bureaus and some hotels. Rates don’t tend to vary much, especially for the US dollar, but if you’re keen to squeeze out the last piastre, then the forex bureaus generally offer slightly better rates than the banks, and usually don’t charge commission. While there is no problem cashing well-known brands of travellers cheques at the major banks such as Banque Misr or the National Bank of Egypt, many forex bureaus don’t take them. Cheques issued on post office accounts (common in Europe) or cards linked to such accounts cannot be used in Egypt.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travelers, regardless of the region they are traveling in, should be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as hepatitis B.
Advise changes from time to time however so we ask that you ask your travel health expert (e.g. GP, practice nurse or travel clinic) to provide you with the most up to date information and vaccines to ensure your travels are safe and enjoyable.
It is vital to ensure that all members of your party have adequate health and travel insurance cover, which includes cover for any ‘higher risk’ activities you are likely to take part in.
UK / EU passport holders should have a full 10 year passport valid until at least 6 months after date of return. Other passport holders please check with Egyptian Embassy. You will require a full Egypt visa for entry into Egypt. The easiest way to get it is on arrival at the airport where it will cost £12. It can also be obtained in advance from the Egyptian Embassy at a cost of £15 - £20.
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