Top 5 Can’t-Miss Red Sea Diving Hotspots

Whether you are an experienced diver or someone looking to have their first underwater adventure, the Red Sea is one of the world’s most spectacular diving destinations with shipwrecks a plenty, an abundance of weird and wonderful marine life and crystal clear water, making it a good choice for all levels of experience.

Many of the most spectacular diving hotspots the Red Sea has to offer can be found close to – or within a short boat ride from – Sharm El Sheikh which is one of Egypt’s most popular holiday destinations and currently much in vogue with tourists from around the world; despite the shark attacks reported late last year (tourist beaches and popular diving hotspots have now been re-opened following an all-clear).

Red Sea © Alain Feulvarch

Average water temperature in the summer ranges between 26°C (in the North) and 30°C (in the South) and, with high levels of salt due to evaporation, the Red Sea is one of the most saline bodies of water in the world making for excellent buoyancy should you want to simply float on your back and relax.

Now for some more facts: the Red Sea has a rough surface area of 170,000 square miles and is in fact a large seawater inlet from the Indian Ocean bordered by Asia and Africa to the east and west respectively.

An ecoregion accorded conservation status by the Worldwide Wildlife Federation, the Red Sea has an abundance of marine plant and animal life including: 1,200 species of fish (including 44 different sharks), 200 soft and hard water Corals and a mammoth 1,000 different invertebrate species. All in all, a hotbed of life in all its glory and vibrancy with Coral formations that are quite literally breathtaking.

With over 1,200 miles of Coral reef around the coastline of Egypt, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking where to start your adventure, but here are 5 of the best:

#1: Ras Mohammed National Park

The barren landscape that borders this protected area is of stark contrast to the spectacular reefs and inhabitants to be found here. Located in the Gulf of Suez (a short boat ride from Sharm El Sheikh) the park contains vertical coral walls in places with coral specimens of superb quality and an Eel garden, home to a number of 20 metre long specimens. The calm water and excellent visibility make this an excellent place to start for the beginner.

#2: SS Thistlegorm Wreck

Built in 1940 by Joseph Thompson & Son in Sunderland (England), she sank on the 6th of October 1941 in the area of Sh’ab Ali in the Gulf of Suez whilst on route to Alexandria, Egypt. Her cargo of tanks, jeeps, motorbikes and a variety of rifles and ammunition can still be seen littering the wreck site.

One of the world’s most popular dive sites, rediscovered in the early 1950’s by Jacques-Yves Cousteau; a huge explosion hole can be seen in the side of the 120 metre long wreck which gives the schooling Barracuda an entrance (giant Tuna also frequent the wreck). One to be experienced sooner than later as she is rusting away fast!

#3: Steamship SS Dunraven Wreck

Built in 1873 by C.Mitchell and C.Iron Ship Builders in Newcastle upon Tyne (England), her original purpose was to ply the trade route between Britain and Bombay. After an uneventful trip to Bombay carrying timber and iron, she set sail on her return journey loaded with Spices, Cotton and Muslin. Due to a navigation error she struck the reefs in the Gulf of Suez and sank, coming to rest upside down. Archaeologists excavated her cave-like hull in the 1980’s meaning it can now be entered, allowing you to see the boilers and collapsed metal work within.

Yellow Goat fish and Giant Morays also frequent the wreck along with a wide variety of marine life outside of her hull, including schools of Bat fish and the very rare Ghost Pipe fish; all of which makes for an excellent photo opportunity for the underwater photographer.

#4: Carnatic Wreck

Built in 1862 by the Samuda Brothers on the Isle of Dogs in London (England), she was carrying wine, cotton bails and £40,000 in Royal Mint Gold (around £1,000,000 in today’s money) when she struck the Sha’ab Abu Nuhas reef. After 34 hours on the reef awaiting the P&O liner Sumatra, she sank with the loss of 31 lives.

The gold was subsequently recovered but intact bottles of wine can still be seen surrounding the wreck (giving it the nickname of “Wine Wreck”) with both the fore and aft sections of the ship still being accessible for you to explore. This is certainly one of the finest examples of a wreck of this age.

#5: Giannis D

Built in 1969 by the Kuryshima Dock Company of Imabara (Japan), she was carrying a cargo of sawn softwood when she struck a reef at Sha’ab Abu Nuhas at full speed ahead. All of her crew were able to evacuate as she listed but she later sank to a depth of only 27 metres making for an excellent dive spot. Having broken into 3 pieces as she hit the ocean floor, the vessel is easily accessible and a variety of marine life has made the wreck its home having crossed over from the nearby reef. Among the visual treats for the diver are the Crown of Thorns Starfish and an abundance of Coral specimens along with the aforementioned reef to explore.

It is important to remember that shark attacks are a rare occurrence and of the 44 different species of shark to be found in the Red Sea, few pose any threat. To give you a little more peace of mind, it is crucial that you find a comprehensive travel insurance policy which includes cover for scuba diving when you are planning your trip as this is a common exclusion on the average policy.

If you have not visited the Red Sea and its diving hotspots before or if you are an inexperienced diver, you should pay close attention to the advice given to you by your instructor to ensure you remain safe and know what to do should you come within close proximity of a shark.

The top 5 examples above are but a small snippet of what the Red Sea has to offer and, should you choose to visit them, you will find that they are perhaps the most awe-inspiring and spectacular examples of diving experiences the world has to offer.

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