In Naama Bay and Sharm-el-Sheikh
and the surrounding hotels
you will find too many dive centres to know which one
I recommend to get as much information as possible in advance and get into contact via the
A lot of the big dive centres connected to one of the big hotels usually offer
interesting dive packages which can be booked at
your travel agent. Besides it
is possible to arrange packages on individual consultation. That's exactly what
I did. As we had already booked the hotel but no dive centre, it was not
possible any more to do it via the tour operator. So I contacted several dive
centres by writing emails and phoning them. The one offering the best prices,
satisfying my personal interests and with good reputation was the Sinai Dive
Club, connected to the Hilton Fayrouz.
The Sinai Dive Club is a very well organized dive centre located directly on
the beachside at the Hilton Fayrouz. The dive centre offers a very reliable
pick-up service that makes diver's life much easier for those who do not stay in
the Hilton. The Dive Club owns two boats and charters some more if neccessary.
The service on board is very good. Diving safety and service is excellent as
well as the food prepared on board for lunch. The dive masters and instructors
were without exception competent and really friendly.
For further information see
Diving the waters of Sharm-el-Sheikh means boat diving. The region is seperated
into 5 segments: Ras Mohammed in the south, local south, local middle, local
north and the Tiran Reefs in the north. Trips to Ras Mohammed and local south
start from the jetty at Sharm-el-Sheikh, trips to local middle, local north and
Tiran from the jetty in Naama Bay. The schedule for one boat is usually one
local divesite day followed by a long range day (Tiran, Ras Mohammed). For a fee
of 10 USD extra a local dive day can be transfered into a long range dive day.
Besides the Dive Club offers trips to the wrecks of the Thistlegorm and the
Below you will find an "as good as possible" description of the
divesites I have dived.
(*****) - Just do it!!!
(****) - Should not be missed
(***) - Not too bad, but twice might be too much
(**) - Not really recommendable
(*) - Not again!!!
Mohammed National Park:
1.: Anemone City, Shark Reef, Yolanda Reef: (*****)
Probably the most famous dive in the area of Ras Mohammed.
The dive starts as a
drift dive at Anemone City with its mass of anemones and clown fish. After a
short swim over the endless blue (be careful!!!) you will reach the stunning
wall of Shark Reef. This drop-off falls vertically down to more than 200
meters!!! The coral life is nice, but not overwhelming. The real attraction are
the large groups of pelagic fish, such as snappers, barracudas and jackfish that
"run" along this incredible wall.
Often the current is quite strong, carrying you very fast towards the Yolanda
Reef, which shows one of the best soft coral gardens I have ever seen -
especially photographers should try to spend as much time as possible here.
Passing the Yolanda Reef you end up at a small plateau you better should not
miss or else you might get lost. The last quarter of the dive covers the area
covered with the remains of the Yolanda Wreck and the so called little Yolanda
This is quite a demanding dive, so try to dive as safe as possible
and stay in contact with the walls, not to get lost in the blue. If you keep
this in mind you may have one of the greatest dives in your life!
2.: Ras Atar: (*****)
Ras Atar is not dived as frequently as the legendary Shark Reef. As a positive
result you normally won't find that many divers around. In my opinion Ras Atar
is really one of the best dive sites in the world. The abundance of corals (soft,
hard, gorgonians), sponges and fish life is incredible. Probably you won't find
that many big fish around, but the vertical wall of Ras Atar is an unforgettable
experience! The current is usually not too strong, allowing relaxed diving in a
3.: Ras Ghazlani: (*****)
This divesite has just been opened in springtime 2001 for dive boats after a
long break. Consequently the underwater environment at Ras Ghazlani is nearly
unspoiled. While the dive sites Ras Atar and Shark Reef are dominated by a steep
drop-off, Ras Ghazlani is more like a slope, slowly going
deeper. The beauty of the coral life can be described as best of the best! Huge
heterogeneous coral heads are placed like towers in a garden of eden. But of
course also fish life is great. All the small coral fish, moray eels, rays
and even shoals of tuna have been spotted.
The current is moderate to low.
1.: Ras Katy: (**)
Ras Katy is used by many dive centres as a "training ground" for new
clients, to check the divers' abilities. Thus the underwater scenery is rather
average and not competitive to other divesites in the local south area such as
Temple and Ras Umm Sid.
2.: Ras Umm Sid: (*****)
This divesite is really fantastic. Quite a steep slope is generously covered by
hard and soft corals. A real highlight are some huge gorgonian fancorals in a
depth of 20 to 25 meters. After passing the "corner" the dive ends in
a beautiful hard coral garden.
In my opinion Ras Umm Sid is the best divesite in the local south area and
really should not be missed.
A steep wall with a canyon is named Tower. The canyon is quite
impressive as you are flying over the bottom-less blue but the rest of the dive is
not too nice. The coral life is not bad but there is a lack of colour diversity. Try it and see yourself.
2.: Near Garden: (*****)
Due to the close position to the Naama Bay the Near Garden is often thought to
be boring - but don't believe it! If you dive this divesite the right way, you
will have a great dive. From the anchor line you should go into deeper water
around 20 to 30 meters. There you will find wonderful coral heads with hard,
soft and gorgonian fan corals. Head on towards middle garden (north-east) and
follow the slope staying between 20 to 30 meters. Depending on your air
consumption and/or time limits you should leave this depth after two thirds of
the dive and reach shallow waters. You can follow the very beautiful upper part
of the reef (0 to 10 meters) back to the boat and look for all the little things
divers love. Dived properly Near Garden offers a great dive that will stay
in your memories for a
3.: Middle Garden: (* - **)
Middle Garden is a divesite that is like Ras Katy used for the check-out of new
clients. There is really not a lot of marine life stupid divers could destroy, so the dive
centers' choice is quite good. There is just a few fish, some corals and
lots of sand. Try to avoid diving here, it is not worth the money and time you
4.: Far Garden: (***)
This divesite is really nice for snorklers but not that recommendable for
divers. The quality can be described as somewhere in between Middle and Near
Garden. The structure of the divesite is comparable to the one of Near Garden, a
moderate slope that unfortunately lacks the nice colours of Near Garden.
1.: Ras Nasrani: (*****)
Ras Nasrani and Ras Ghamile (see below) are the divesites situated at the
northern end of the area of Sharm-el-Sheikh. They are both located very close to
the straits of Tiran which is especially noticible at Ras Nasrani. A
fantastically grown coral garden covering a steep slope offers great diving. The
soft and gorgonian fan corals are incredible. When I dived there two hammerheads
have been spotted just some hundred meters in front of me. The dive ends in a
fantastic hard coral garden at around 5 to 8 meters.
2.: Ras Ghamile: (***)
This divesite is the immediate northerly neighbour to Ras Nasrani but offers
completely different diving. A small reef wall drops from 0 to approx. 8 meters,
followed by a flat and sandy areal. The structure of the divesite is dominated by large
sandy areas mixed with some coral heads. Hard and green soft corals are dominant
and the visibility is generally quite bad due to the sandy parts. Probably
snorklers have more fun at this spot than divers.
Straits of Tiran:
This is the area where the Sinai peninsula and the arabic mainland build a
narrow strait which connect the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea. In the middle of this
strait four reefs rise from great depths to just below the surface. Due to the
strong currents and water exchange in this area, a fantastic underwater scenery
has developped offering all from wall diving to shallow coral gardens, from
nudibranches to hammerheads.
1.: Gordon Reef: (****)
The Gordon Reef is the most southerly reef of the straits of Tiran and already
spottable from distance thanks to the wreck of the "Loulica" on top of
the reef. The anchorage is located on the south side of the reef offering
shelter from winds and waves coming from the Gulf of Aqaba. The anchorage is a
shallow sandy area with just a few coral heads. There are basically two ways how
to dive the Gordon Reef. The first one focuses on this sandy area moving west
and then returning to the anchorage.
The second possibility is to dive the outer eastern side of the reef as a drift
dive. This is exactly what we did with the Sinai Dive Club and which is probably
the more spectecular and interesting dive. The corals are nice but not as good
as for example at the Jackson or Thomas Reef. Down to 20 meters the reef is a
moderate slope that suddenly drops from 20 meters nearly vertically to great
depths. There is a lot of fish life to enjoy: jackfish, sometimes eagle rays and
even hammerheads and other pelagic fish.
Like at all other exposed divesites you should watch out for strong currents and
keep an eye on your computer. You should definetely do this dive when you have
the opportunity to do it, but in comparison to the other Tiran reefs the Gordon
Reef is inferior.
2.: Thomas Reef: (*****)
North of the Gordon Reef the smallest of the Tiran Reef, the Thomas Reef is
located. All dives there are operated as drift dives that usually start at the
south-eastern side and then take you in a northerly direction around the reef.
The reef is a steep wall that is nicely covered by soft, hard and gorgonian fan
corals. I recommend to dive around 10 to 25 meters of depth as you will find
everything you are looking for in this depth. The further you get around the
reef you will notice that the wall gets steeper (vertical) and a bit less
covered with corals. On this side, the northern and north-western, you tend to
find more big fish action like jackfish, tuna and snappers.
3.: Woodhouse Reef: (*****)
The next Reef on the way north is the Woodhouse Reef which is also operated as a
drift dive. The Reef drops from 0 meters nearly vertically to great depth and is
like all the other Tiran Reefs nicely covered with hard and soft corals. If you
dive from south to north (depending on the currents) you should spend the first
30 minutes in a depth of around 25 to 30 meters a bit off the wall and look
for sharks and other pelagic fish. Towards the end, you should get closer to the
reef and enjoy the last part of your dive in shallow coral gardens. The northern
part of the reef (on the east side) has wonderful coral life to offer.
4.: Jackson Reef: (*****)
The Jackson Reef is the most northerly and biggest of the Tiran reefs. The
anchorage is located on the south side of the reef, making it a perfect place
for the lunch break. As the Jackson Reef is in addition one of the best dive
sites of the Red Sea, your timing should be perfect to avoid too many divers
besides you under water.
Again there are two different ways to dive the Jackson Reef, which I have both
done. The first one covers the area just below the anchorage and west of it. The
reef drops nearly vertically but then develops into a moderate slope. Both, the
slope and the wall show incredible coral and fish life - a paradise for divers
and underwater photographers. After you started the dive close to the anchorage
and head westwards, you will find some huge gorgonian fan corals in around 18
meters of depth. If you go down to 26 meters of depth and head back eastwards
for some meters you will find a wonderful red fluorescent anemone and its clown
fish (on pictures the red colour turns out to be a yellow brown). Then you
should continue westwards and you'll reach one of the nicest coral gardens you have ever seen. The densitiy of healthy and huge corals surrounded by
masses of coral fish is really stunning! After enjoying yourselves in
this area you should slowly head back eastwards towards the anchorage and have a
look at the wall at a depth of around 5 to 10 meters.
The second possibility is to dive the outside of Jackson Reef. The entry area
should be (depending on the current) either a bit east of the anchorage to head
north and west or the "Lara" wreck to head east and south. This area
is completely exposed to strong currents and winds and thus can only be dived at
good weather conditions. The wall is quite steep, at some parts even vertical
and richly covered with corals. But at least for the first part of the dive the
wall and its coral life should be of minor interest. From the entry area (in my
case close to the Lara) you should get as fast as possible some meters off the
wall and to a depth of around 30 to 35 meters. Be careful not to loose eye
contact to the wall or else you might get into severe problems. Usually there is
a current and you will be hanging in an endless blue, so you must control your
computer and especially watch your depth! This area is famous for hammerhead
encounters and the morning before we went there a group had dived for one hour
with more than 40 hammerheads! We were not that lucky, but in quite a distance two
hammerheads were spotted. After some time searching for big things you should
listen to your computer and reach shallower waters and get closer to the wall
again. Continue the dive in direction towards the anchorage place and enjoy the
fantastic coral and fish life scenery. This is in my eyes one of the best but
also most difficult dives, so watch out and dive safely!