Deep South – St. Johns

 

Overview of tour / diving spots

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A wonderful tour for divers who love variety: Colorful coral gardens with schools of fish, breathtaking drop offs, reefs with cave passages, some wrecks and, not to forget the spectacular night dives. A blend of the best the Red Sea has to offer.

The varied reefs of St. John’s group lie far to the south, behind Port Berenice and belong to the largest reef plateau north of Port Sudan.

The spectacular underwater life here is worth the long journey. The reef walls bursting with life: Huge fan corals and soft corals, caves and overhangs belonging to here, as well as the in the northern Red Sea occurring hump head parrot fish with up to 1.80 meters in length!

Up to eight different species of sharks as fox shark, schools of hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and even Longimani are spotted here on a regular basis. Beautiful overgrown reefs with plenty of “trinkets” provide variety to the spectacular “blue water dives”!

After arrival in Hurghada or Marsa Alam, transfer to the boat in Marsa Ghaleb, dinner and departure the next morning.

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                     Some impressions of what there is to see on this tour:


Possible dive sites on this tour

 

  

This is the largest reef to Wadi Gimal Island. The two form a channel. Spectacular is the huge coral garden. One finds there large groupers, frogfish and sedentary jellyfish and a dark, almost black Spanish dancer.

Details

With a width of 350m and a length of about 3km Dahra Wadi Gimal is an elongated reef, which expires in almost independent reefs in the north for several blocks. It is a good place to stay overnight and is a 5-minute away from Shelaniat. In the south there is a small plateau at a depth between 5 and 14m with several small coral blocks from 1 to 2m height - ideal for a night dive. The plateau has a width of 30m, before it goes through several stages in the channel direction of Wadi Gimal Island. There is one of the largest parrot species, the buffalo head parrot fish.

On the eastern side, bordered by a coral spurs, pinnacles are located from 9 to 12m height and diameters of 2 to 3m. You have at the top of purple soft corals, mixed with hard corals. A perfect area for glass and lionfish, giant sea cucumbers and soles.

On the outside of a very narrow channel runs with a constriction in the middle. Eastwards you come across a huge labyrinth of all types of coral. It has an imposing height of 10-15m and consists of table corals with partly 4m diameter, ship huge mountain corals and salad corals with 2m high leaves. Must see!

Tour 1 - East outside


With the Zodiac it goes to the outside of the reef. You should begin in the south of the small canal and north dip, then through an opening on the outer side and zigzagged through the coral garden back south. .

Tour 2 - southeast side


From the boat you should eastward dip to the blocks at a depth of 12-14m. Then head west back to the plateau, so you're going to discover in every corner something else – from rays to soles, from snails to frog fish. .

Tour 3 - night dive


The reef wall in 5 to 8m depth is beautiful. There you have often seen an almost black Spanish dancer who is resident there. But the Sargassum frogfish can be found here, shrimp, stone fish and nocturnal coral scorpion fish. With a size of 4 to 5 cm and a slightly red-white coloring, he is very well protected. With a little luck you'll see squid in hunting. .

 

  

Shaab Maksur is one of the northernmost reefs in Sataya and it lies approx. 15 to 20 minutes away from Shaab Claudia and Abu Galawa. Maksur means 'crack' or 'cleft' and that's exactly what we can see in the northern region. Shaab Maksur is more or less a steep wall reef, reminiscent of the east side of Elphinstone, and it´s here where we'll find one of the most beautiful lagoons in the Red Sea.

Details

Shaab Maksur measures 350 to 400 metres in length and it shares some similarities with Elphinstone: both reefs point in the same direction and therefore also have very similar currents. The southern plateau of Shaab Maksur resembles a rice terrace with two levels – the first is located at a depth range of 18 and 35 metres, the second runs from 35 metres to 42 metres. Both are approx. 50 to 60 metres in length and 40 metres in width.

Unusual for an outer reef, Shaab Maksur also has a plateau on the west side. The indescribably beautiful lagoon – that will make our hearts race – is located right here at the centre of the plateau. We find pieces of wreckage from a safari boat that only made it to its 14th day.

Another plateau is found in the north – the east side is a steep wall – and at the northernmost point, there are two pinnacles which are separated by an eight metre-long crack in the reef ('Maksur'). Warning: Shaab Maksur is famous for its undertows!

Hotspots

Sea anemones: A colony of sea anemones can be found on the western plateau at a depth of approx. 12 metres. Between colourful tentacles, we might just find some clownfish eggs!

Lagoon: In the lagoon, we discover moray eels, glass shrimp, cleaning stations for barracudas, torpedo rays, and if we're lucky, even a whitetip reef shark.

Facts

Current: N/W in the morning, N/E at midday
Visibility: J, F, M, A: 25–35 m; M, J, J, A: 30–60 m; S, O, N, D: 50–80 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 22–23°C; A, M, J: 26–28°C; J, A, S: 28-31°C; O, N, D: 28-25°C

Depth: 100 m

Tour 1 – the northern plateau

We depart from the Zodiac approx. 30 metres north of the reef's end and dive at a depth of between ten and 15 metres. Diving with the current from the north, we continue towards the reef, search for tuna and barracudas and maybe even run into a shark, too. Should we travel here in the morning, we shall be graced with the most beautiful light on the east side as we ascend to the surface. We enjoy the dive, put out the buoy and have ourselves collected by boat.

Tour 2 – the southern plateau

From the boat, usually located in the south, we dive to two large blocks covered in hard and soft coral and inhabited by groupers. We continue past the cleaning station and to our left we see pretty purple soft coral emerge on our dive.

Having reached the coral garden, we see a huge sea fan at a depth of 22 metres, which is surrounded by longnose hawkfish, nemo fish, Napoleon wrasse, scorpionfish and snails – should we manage to tear our eyes away from this cute little community, we will find the crack in the reef – after which Shaab Maksur is named – at a depth of approx. five to seven metres. This crack however is gradually filling up with debris. We take a pleasant dive back to the boat with the reef on our right shoulder.

Tour 3 – the western plateau

We kick off the dive at the only block – it's easy for us to recognise since it reaches to the surface of the water. Here, at a depth of twelve metres, we find a colony of sea anemones and sometimes clownfish eggs – how cool is that then!? From there, we continue to the magnificent lagoon's inner area, where a new surprise awaits us in every corner and groove: drifting moray eels, glass shrimp, cleaning stations for large barracudas and ... torpedo rays as well as whitetip reef sharks sometimes! Wow! Once we've seen enough, we dive across the coral garden in the outer area and then return to the boat.




This is one of the largest reefs in St John's. Steep walls and a plateau on the south side, two caves and a beautiful coral growth make it more an attractive diving destination. Often you can find here Mantas, grey reef sharks and sometimes even hammerhead or other pelagic sharks.

Details


St. John`s Gota Kebir is 250m long and 120m wide. The north ends in a steep wall that drops partly down to 35m and opens into a small edge, before it plunges further into the depths. The west side coincides with overhangs and deep indentations on 20 to 25m, then a slight incline to the outside and disappears there in depth. In the east, the wall drops from 20 to 30m and then goes into a surplus. The northern part falls directly into the depths. On the way there are huge gorgonian with a diameter of 3 to 4m.

The south side is covered with coral fields. The reef wall there extends vertically downwards on the second plateau at 55m depth. On the plateau you can watch Mantas, Grey Reef sharks and hammerheads passing by. Respectively on the western and eastern sides, behind the plateau at 9m, there are caves. Both are almost identical in an exciting trail with large diameter. However, please pay attention to things that can tumble down through the exhaled air.

Facts


Flow: morning N / W, noon N / O, in the afternoon S / O
Visibility: J, F, M, A 25-35m, M, J, J, A 30m, S, O, N, D 30-50m
Temperature: J, F, M 24-25 ° C, A, M, J 26-28 ° C, J, A, S 28-32 ° C, O, N, D 28-24 ° C
Difficulty: very demanding in flow
Depth: 3m to 100m

Tour 1 - The Plateau


From the boat, the start is very easy, because the plateau is just below with its colors and its fishing activity. There you will find napoleon and barracudas at the cleaning stations and at the edge grey reef sharks and hammerheads. During ascending you should have a look at the anemones and finally the caves. Then it goes in the shallow water back to the boat.

Tour 2 - The Northeast


With the Zodiac you come to the northeast and you dive into a depth of 25 to 30m. You'll find sea fans with Long nose tuft perch, one way or another moray and schools of snappers and barbel. In blue water you'll likely see grey reef sharks and hammerhead sharks and manta rays sometimes pull over here. Depending on the current you let yourself drift and emersion in the upper part with its colorful coral is a special treat!



This small round reef lies between Habili Soraya and Gota Kebir. It is a steep wall reef and has a chimney on the south side which reaches to the surface. Thanks to its location, spectacular sightings can be made here: mantas, oceanic sharks, silky sharks, etc.

Details

Gota Soraya is a steep wall reef extending far more than 100 metres into the deep and it has a chimney in the south at a pleasant water depth of only nine metres. Diving the chimney is not recommended due to falling objects.

The west side is a wall featuring deep grooves and vegetation. A block which looks as if it is growing out of the reef can also be found here – it reaches from 22 metres all the way up to nine metres. Here, grey reef sharks occasionally pass by in the deep.

In the north, St. John's Gota Soraya has a reef spur measuring approx. 15 metres, which further slopes down more than 70 metres. It is adorned all over with gorgonians and whip coral as well as with huge fields of soft coral. Grey-black snappers and reef sharks can also be frequently encountered here.

We can find shoals of snappers and goatfish in the wide depressions on the east side. We are also visited by mantas sometimes with the current hitting the reef here.

Hotspots

The Dome: The Dome is the Gota Soraya's chimney which is found in the south at nine metres. The perfect lookout point under the blue.

Facts

Current: J, F, M, A, M, J: S/W in the morning, S/E at midday, S/E in the afternoon --- J, A, S, O, N, D: N/W in the morning, N/E at midday, S/E in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 25–35 m; M, J, J, A: 30–40 m; S, O, N, D: 30–50 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24°C; A, M, J: 24–27°C; J, A, S: 27-31°C; O, N, D: 27–24°C

Depth: 100 m

Tour 1 – south-west in the morning

In the south, at a depth of around nine metres, there is an entrance to the chimney which is shielded by an overhang covered in huge black coral. The current usually comes from the south and/or west. When we continue diving with the reef on our right shoulder, we come to a huge block protruding from the reef. We continually keep watch for large fish in the water. On the way back, the reef is located on our left shoulder.

Tour 2 – north-east midday

We have the Zodiac drop us off in the north at the plateau and dive to the gorgonians at 30 metres. Depending on what we find more enjoyable, we spiral dive back to the top with the reef located either on our right or left shoulder. Resurfacing at the upper coral garden in the south-east is recommended, thanks to the few lionfish and dragonfish awaiting us there.



Habili Ali (also: Habili Kebir) is about 3 hours away from Ras Banas in a southerly direction. With its steeply sloping reef walls, it extends from a depth of 100m dominant up from a deep plateau and is therefore blessed with extraordinary wealth of fish. Whether big or small - everything can be!

Details


This reef is the most north-easterly from the central region of St.John's. It is a drop off reef, which is depending on the season between 0 and 4 meters under water. The reef is everywhere permeated with grooves, notches and overhangs. Everywhere there is to see beautiful and abundant vegetation with soft and hard corals and huge gorgonians and black corals. In addition to the large fan corals you can certainly consider the favorite of all divers - the Longnose Hawkfish.

Habili Ali has a width from north to south of around 20 to 25m in length from east to west 150 to 200m. In the south it falls from 10 to 15m and then goes into a narrow plateau. The eastern and western sides drop well over 40m in depth.

From sharks, barracudas, trevallies, puffers or buffalo head parrot fish to hammerhead sharks, manta rays and dolphins almost all the inhabitants of the Red Sea can be spotted here.

Unfortunately, the reef can not always be approached, because the roof is so nearly under water that can form pretty decent breakers even at small outer shaft.

Since Habili Ali is an outer reef, the current can be strong and come from all directions. A current check is indispensable.

Tour 1 - The Northwest


The first dive on the day you should start with the Zodiac on the northwest corner. The north side goes to 15 to 25 meters into a natural attrition edge. After the first third of the tour along the north wall, the current can turn against you. That eventually lies down again after a few meters, otherwise play with the depth / height. In blue water it is very possible to make one or two grey reef shark or hammerhead shark.

Tour 2 - The Southwest


For the second dive, we recommend the southwestern side. At a depth of 25m you should follow to the north and then ascend to 12 to 8m in hopes of sharks. Then you continue again with the reef on your left shoulder eastwards. In the upper section there are four notches, which you should not miss during your exploration.



'The reef with many colourful coral blocks' – that's the translation of Umm Aruk and that pretty much says it all: An incredibly exciting zig-zag race around the corner and around the back awaits us here as well as a colourful underwater world beyond comparison.

Details

Umm Aruk is one of the most interesting diving sites in the area of St. John's with some coral blocks and around two dozen coral towers which divers do not only circle but also countless fish contending for the best spots. The towers measure an impressive six to nine metres in height and have a diameter of two to four metres.

Whoever wants to see bannerfish and millet butterflyfish in large numbers, should definitely dive the north side. Young whitetip reef sharks can often be encountered in the ascending, lagoon-like grooves.

Additional gigantic blocks can be found on the west side. Eagle rays and sand eels live well-protected between them. The current is volatile and can come from all directions, but thanks to the turbulence created between the blocks, we can use it to our advantage.

Hotspots

Coral towers: Umm Aruk's underwater world is simply incredible – behind, around and on each of the coral towers, we find an infinite amount of life: from bannerfish and millet butterflyfish to eagle rays and sand eels plus whitetip reef sharks.

Facts

Current: S/W in the morning, N/E at midday, S/E in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 30–40 m; M, J, J, A: 25–35 m; S, O, N, D: 50–60 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24–25°C; A, M, J: 26–28°C; J, A, S: 28-32°C; O, N, D: 28-24°C

Depth: 40 m

Tour 1 – the east

The best time to visit the east is in the late morning. If we dive back and forth between the blocks, we make it to the reef's edge and then work our way back. Due to the swirling layers of water with different temperatures, the water at Umma Aruk creates a real optical phenomenon - it's an extraordinary sight! Towards the west, along the ridged edge, this dive takes us back to the boat.

Tour 2 – the north-west

We travel by Zodiac to the northern lagoon where the young sharks sleep and then afterwards to the outer area where the grown-up specimens can be found – might as well jump in with both feet! We drift past the blocks and travel west to the sand eels and eagle rays. The dive continues over the jagged reef wall towards the channel to the Napoleon wrasse and then back to the surface whilst keeping an eye on the three large blocks covered in lush vegetation.

Tour 3 – night diving

Night diving at Umm Aruk is grand – we can see almost anything here, from hunting scorpionfish to moray eels looking for food. We also find sleeping turtles next to the sea anemones and very pretty snails on the ridged edge.



Habili Jaffar, one of the smallest reefs in the group of St. John's, majestically juts out from the seafloor – like a volcano, it stands proudly in the current, abounding with fish and coral.

Details

At the top of Habili Jaffar's plateau or reef top, measuring approx. 120 square metres in surface, there's enough room for an underwater single-family home, completely made out of glass – wow, now wouldn't that be something!

There's also room for a garden and a pool house on the two reef spurs of Habili Jaffar: one is located at a depth of 15 metres and the other at 18 metres. Barracudas and snappers as well as cornetfish, bannerfish and angelfish travel these waters. Grey reef sharks, silky sharks and whitetip reef sharks can also be found in the blue.

Whitetip oceanic sharks and mantas, not domestic to these parts, also like frequenting this area. The coral vegetation ranges from acropora and soft coral in various shades of mint to fire coral and staghorn coral. Sea fans can also be found scattered around in the deep.

The underwater plot for our single-family home is the perfect place to resurface – here however we have to take the current and motion of the waves into account. Only when the weather is good Habili Jaffar can be approached by boat, since it lies just below the surface of the sea and therefore a large wave can easily be formed here. If this is the case, getting in and out of the boat can range from difficult to impossible.

Hotspots

Reef spurs: Both reef spurs of Habili Jaffar are perfect for scanning the waters for grey reef shark, silky sharks or whitetip oceanic sharks and mantas.

Facts

Current: N/W in the morning, N/E at midday, SE/S in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 40 m; M, J, J, A: 35 m; S, O, N, D: 45 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24°C; A, M, J: 24–27°C; J, A, S: 27-31°C; O, N, D: 27-24°C

Depth: 100 m

Tour 1 – around the reef

From the boat, we plunge into a challenging dive and swim behind the reef to a current-free area. Then we descend to the small reef spur on the north-east side and look out for sharks. From here, we ascend, diving around the reef in a spiral formation and also enjoying the vibrant life. The upper reef edge and the plateau are particularly beautiful. The best spot for us to take our safety stop is at the boat's anchor line.

 

  

Reefs, with the word 'Paradise' in their names, usually do this for a good reason . Paradise Reef, the northernmost reef in the area of St. John's is famous for its cave systems with dazzling displays of light as well as for its extravagant blocks and exquisite lagoons.

Details

Paradise Reef and Cave Reef are connected via multiple blocks, whereby the later constitutes the southernmost point of the reef. Drop-off edges, plunging more than 50 metres into the deep, are also found here just as much as enchanting coral gardens in the west. If we're fortunate, we encounter eagle rays and reef sharks in this area of paradise.

Close to the sea anemones in the south, an entrance to a cave with two chambers can be found. Each chamber has an opening at the top through which heavenly light shines down. In addition to the spectacular plays of light, the large number of snails is the cave's second highlight.

Both lagoons are a true paradise. Gobies and pipefish hustle and bustle in the sandy flats. Towards the east, a coral which grew top-down and stops just 30 centimetres above the ground can also be found. A colourful coral garden begins just right behind it.

Hotspots

Coral: The large coral, which grew-top down like a waterfall and stops just 30 centimetres before the ground, is an absolute highlight in the lagoon.

Cave: When we're inside both caves, then we will know why this reef is called 'Paradise'. Hallelujah!

Facts

Current: N/W in the morning, N/E at midday

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 25–35 m; M, J, J, A: 20–30 m; S, O, N, D: 40–50 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24–24°C; A, M, J: 26–28°C; J, A, S: 28-32°C; O, N, D: 28-25°C

Depth: 100 m

Tour 1 – blocks and lagoons

We dive west and soon see the first blocks situated on a precarious-looking slope. A mesh of different coloured coral with a cave measuring three to twelve metres in height attracts humphead parrotfish. When we explore sea anemones on the main reef, the entrance to the caves is also not far from here. Two large cave chambers and smaller side canals covered with sea fans wait for us.

Tour 2 – lagoons and coral gardens

The boat drops anchor in the south, exactly where the lagoons are located – we descend to the sandy flats covered with gobies, see coral with monumental overhangs and the beginning of the coral garden in the background. At a depth of around five and 25 metres, various shoals of fish as well as sharks sometimes come here.

Tour 3 – night diving

Should a captain convince you to stay overnight, we embark on an exploration of the lagoons and coral gardens under the boat. The weather conditions and current however change very quickly here. That's why it's always important to stay focussed whilst diving.



Just four miles south of Ras Banas is the island Sirnaka. Eagle breed here and have created large, impressive nests.

The southern end of Sirnaka is a safe and peaceful mooring for the night. The 5m to 20m slowly sloping sandy bottom is mostly used for night dives. Sirnaka as night dive is without current and quiet, but unfortunately mostly without major highlights.

On the south west side of the reef, a fishing trawler has sunk a few years ago. The wreck starts at 25m and ends at 52m depth. Best to let drop by the Zodiac a bit before the wreck, keep the reef on the left shoulder, usually one has a nice little current, which brings the divers to the wreck. Signposts are some fishing nets, which are on the sandy bottom of the reef.

With its swept empty deck, the towering superstructures and shoals of cerulean fusiliers, the wreck in a positive sense seems spooky. Due to its depth and the type of the wreck,  it is not enough for an entire dive. After about ten minutes you've seen everything there is to see.

Then you should continue the dive along the wall with the reef on the left shoulder. There are some small rugged reef coloumn in around 10m to 15m depth under whose overhangs large potato groupers are at home. There we see also a lot of lionfish, snails and a Napoleon.

 

  

Located ten minutes east of Abu Galawa Kebir, Shaab Claudia is a great diving spot for rookies, but everyone else will also get their money's worth thanks to the unbelievable panorama. The main attraction is definitely the diveable caves – a once-in-a-lifetime experience with an incredible incidence of light. Mooring points are available.

Details

The boats cast anchor where the biggest offer is on hand – in the south close to the entrance of the cave located at a depth of 10 metres. Almost all species of fish can be encountered here, for example, spadefish, triggerfish, bannerfish, goatfish and also snappers. Even Napoleon wrasse show their faces here from time to time.

A current coming from the north often makes diving above the coral garden on the west side difficult or completely impossible. After a bumpy ride by Zodiac to the channel and the colony of sea anemones, you will be rewarded with a lovely drift dive from the east to the west side.

Hotspots

Cave: Such images are usually only known from pictures or videos, but when you really and truly see them for yourself in this cave, that's when the pure beauty will make your emotions pulse right through you, guaranteed!

Facts

Current: N/W in the morning, N/E at midday

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 25–35 m; M, J, J, A: 30–60 m; S, O, N, D: 50–80 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 22–23°C; A, M, J: 26–28°C; J, A, S: 28-31°C; O, N, D: 28-25°C

Depth: 25 m

Tour 1 – cave and coral gardens

We find the entrance to the breathtakingly beautiful cave shortly before the only large block which is connected to the main reef. Inside the cave, the dive ascends slightly and we reach a large chamber after approx. five metres. Here, we dive straight to the end, then right through a block and finally reach an interesting side corridor which leads us to a large chamber after approx. ten metres. There are multiple exits from which we may/must/can choose – just like 'Alice in Wonderland'.

At the end of the cave towards the north, the dive continues through a large coral garden to the large channel. Should you still have 100 bar of air left, you can take a right – there's a beautiful, far-stretching panorama in the east. Sometimes you can see up to 60 metres into the blue – and maybe something large might just swim by. With the reef on the right-hand side, you'll definitely make it back to the ship.

Tour 2 – simply drift

We have the Zodiac take us to the blocks in the north-east. From here, we can embark on a lovely drift dive south along the east or west side. Make sure to discuss everything in advance with the guide and captain like a good little diver and then simply enjoy the underwater spectacle of nature!



Let's try that once in Arabic: Kebir means 'large' and Gota means it's got something to do with a circular reef in the Red Sea. In summary, it's the large, circular reef of Sataya, adjacent to the main reef. No matter if we're sun worshippers or night owls, we'll all find the adventure we're looking for here!

Details

Satay Gota Kebir is located west of the Sataya main reef and we dive to a depth of approx. five to 25 metres. The mooring is well protected by a plateau; we can easily spend both the day as well as the night here. Alone the thought of this is enough to make us spring up again and set off on the next holiday!

The plateau in the south lies five to eleven metres before it plunges between 15 and 18 metres on the outer side. Almost any insurance company would close a deal with us here that we are more or less guaranteed to see Spanish dancers. That's what the Satay Gota Kebir is known and famous for. We can come up with one or two other bets to make with our guides here. Bets can also be placed on prawns, rabbitfish, parrotfish in protective cocoon, cornetfish, gorgonocephalidae and lionfish.

In the west, we find a few larger blocks in a depth of around 22 metres, where flatworms, moray eels, snails as well as small groups of hunting fish feel at home. In the north, there's a wonderful lagoon with an incredibly beautiful coral garden, various shoals of fish, a colony of sea anemones including nemo fish and every once in a while some medium-sized predatory fish.

Hotspots

Spanish dancers: At night, we can almost certainly request the Spanish dancers to take the dance floor. Of course, this requires some patience as well as a good sense of intuition.

Lagoon: The beautiful lagoon with its coral garden and colony of sea anemones radiates in the most beautiful colours during the day.

Facts

Current: N/W in the morning, N/E at midday, N/E in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 25–30 m; M, J, J, A: 30–50 m; S, O, N, D: 40–50 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24–25°C; A, M, J: 26–28°C; J, A, S: 28-31°C; O, N, D: 30-25°C

Depth: 25 m

Tour 1 – the lagoon and the west

We have the Zodiac bring us close to the lagoon, descend to ten metres and then let the fun begin by diving through a fissure. We see beautiful corals, shoals of fish and small hunters. At the end of the lagoon, the dive continues west to the 'labyrinth' – we should remember to keep an eye on our no-decompression time whilst admiring the small and large blocks. Back at the reef, the dive continues with the current, heading south to the 'inverse maze' and then one hundred metres to the boat.

Tour 2 – north-east at midday

From the Zodiac, the dive continues south with the reef on our right shoulder. We let the current slowly and continually push us towards the boat. Whilst floating above the sandy flats, we explore rays, then also shoals of snappers and some snails. Mackerel, young tuna and barracudas openly hunt in front of us, whilst we keep an eye on the reef and dive to the small plateau, where we will find the anchor lines leading back to the safari boat.

Tour 3 – high plateau at night

It's best for us to enter the water from the stern to the high plateau and explore the outer edge in a depth of 15 metres. In the coral garden, we will find lionfish, crustaceans and sleeping parrotfish and rabbitfish. There is a sandy alleyway at the western end of the plateau where cone shells and seafeathers hunt. There's one more thing for fans of "Pet Sematary", as a snail graveyard exists here ... whoever wants to pass this one up, can dive back to the boat and look around both blocks for Spanish dancers, feather stars and gorgonocephalidae.

 

  


Sataya Gota Soraya – the name of this diving spot already sounds wonderful and so is its coral garden, too. A great playground for ardent navigators as well as for the dolphins who like coming here to show off.

Details

Soraya means 'small' and Gota stands for a circular reef. We find ourselves at the small, circular reef in the area of Sataya – the sister reef of Sataya Gota Kebir, the large circular reef. The mooring is located in a small lagoon in the south-east. Should the current suddenly change, there's also another mooring in the south-west.

A small tip: At lunchtime, there's not much going on in the waters around the south-eastern mooring, so just postpone your lunch and enjoy the coral gardens for yourself!

We usually travel north by Zodiac because of the current. From there, we then choose whether we want to dive along the east or west side. No matter which direction we choose, the dive takes a good hour.

Should we not wish to miss the small cave in the north, we can dive through it to a lagoon which is covered with gorgeous mountain coral. Sataya Gota Soraya captivates us in the first place with its large table coral, acropora and soft coral as well as gigantic mountain coral. Snappers, thresher fish, goatfish, snails, dolphins and reef sharks cast their spell over us here too.

In the north-western area behind the sand alleyway, there's another coral garden consisting of old and new coral formations and which plummets 40 metres in the north.

Hotspots

Lagoon: In the north, we travel through a small cave to the enchanting lagoon full of grandiose mountain coral.

Dolphins: No matter where we go, we should always keep an eye out for these oceanic beauties. Encountering dolphins in the wild is a very emotional experience – nothing else can compare to it!

Facts

Current: N/W in the morning, N/E at midday
Visibility: J, F, M, A: 25–30 m; M, J, J, A: 30–50 m; S, O, N, D: 40–50 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24–25°C; A, M, J: 26–28°C; J, A, S: 28-31°C; O, N, D: 30-25°C

Depth: 40 m

Tour 1 – lagoon and around the reef

We travel north by Zodiac and then we dive right over a ridged edge where we can immediately search for snails. Once we've seen enough, we dive into the mountain coral lagoon where there's many shoals of fish and fry to see. The caves on the west side of the lagoon lead us to a coral garden which is bound by four blocks. Here we can race dive and in the process say 'Hi' to the sea anemones, moray eels, young reef sharks or also turtles. After repeatedly giving our greetings, we either dive back to the boat with the reef on our right shoulder or we put out the buoy and get picked up.

Tour 2 – from the north to the south-west

From here, we also head towards the reef by Zodiac and then to the blocks in the west. We have the reef on our left shoulder, repeatedly diving over sandy flats and maybe even exploring trails left by humphead dragonfish, which lead us to their hiding place. Arriving at the single, round block, we might just find cuttlefish and crocodilefish.

Tour 3 – for ardent navigators

This dive also starts in the north and goes north-east to an elongated stretch of land with different blocks. The average depth is 22 metres and the blocks are between three and ten metres high. It's best to run through the dive in 3D beforehand and to take the current into account. Just before the boat, you can also dive around the large block instead of diving through the channel.



The time has come for us to dive a wreck once again! The Chinese tugboat Tien Hsing sunk at Abu Galawa Kebir on 26 October 1943. Measuring approx. 34 metres in length, the stern of the wreck lies at a depth of 17 metres and the tip of the bow peaks above the waves at low tide. In addition, Abu Galawa Kebir is a popular and safe mooring point for many safari boats travelling around this area.

Details

We can discover the Red Sea in all its splendour at Abu Galawa Kebir – a great diving spot with some lagoons and neighbouring reefs. In addition to the Rosalie Moller and the Numidia, the Tien Hsing counts among the most lushly covered shipwrecks in the Red Sea. The harbour tugboat only served for a short period – built in 1935 in Shanghai, sank in 1943. We will find the Tien Hsing behind the channel of the west side of the reef.

Warning: The vegetation is so dense and full on the wreck's port side that we often don't even recognise it as being a wreck! 'Oops, that's a ship!' is the first thing that goes through our minds when on the starboard side. In addition to the Tien Hsing, there's also fascinating coral gardens with mountain coral and table coral for us to find at Abu Galawa Kebir. A great location for night dives during which we can also see blue-ringed octopodes. They´re just wonderful, wonderful, wonderful creatures!

Hotspots

Blue-ringed octopodes: With a little luck, we will discover these creatures on our night dive, namely in the coral garden.

Wreck: The Tien Hsing doesn't like revealing itself, but sadly it can't really disguise itself as a 'normal reef' anymore on the starboard side.

Blue staghorn coral: During our dive, we see this coral over and over again. This coral's wonderful reflections of light are caused by larger polyps at the branch tips.

Facts

Current: N/W in the morning, N/E at midday, O in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 20–30 m; M, J, J, A: 30–40 m; S, O, N, D: 30 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 25–27°C; A, M, J: 27–29°C; J, A, S: 30–31°C; O, N, D: 31–27°C

Depth: 30 m

Tour 1 – the west

When the weather's good and it's not wavy, the best option is to dive directly to the lagoon from the boat. The hole in the wall, dear divers, is our ticket to entering the lagoon. In the back, we'll find an erg with a circular 'hat' – admittedly, this may sound a little like something from the 'Lord of the Rings', but it really isn't that scary at all. If we dive further west, we find a channel covered in beautiful vegetation at a depth of only four metres. We travel back to the boat by taking the first fork left across the lagoon and past the coral.

Tour 2 – the Tien Hsing

It's a true underwater beauty – still in good condition and yet so wonderfully covered with dense vegetation, that it's difficult for us to stop looking, seeking and staring. It's a great place to just unwind.

Tour 3 – night diving

Various snails get all dressed up for the parties at Abu Galawa Kebir, but nobody can steal the show away from the blue-ringed octopodes on the 'coral carpet'. The best spot for us paparazzi to stake out is on the south side of the northern reef.



A genial overgrown old yacht, coral blocks and canyon, many different reef fish, all in pleasant depths between seven and 21 meters. "Abu Galawa Soraya" has much to offer and the boats can moor at already set anchor lines.

Details

A sailing yacht from the US has sunken in "Abu Galawa Soraya" in 1980 and has been inhabited since this time by very many soft and hard corals. An incredible view to 17 meters deep over a length of 15 meters. But not only this great overgrown wreck is convincing here.

Garfish, Blue Spotted Stingray, Red Sea seabream, Red Sea fusiliers and free swimming giant moray we can also discover with a little luck and just marvel at this dive site. What many diver makes happy - "Abu Galawa Soraya" is also suitable for a night dive and what could be better than to visit the various inhabitants of the wreck by night !?

Equipped with light, we see inside the wreck also during daytime many glass fish, that own the yacht since a long time. Moreover, on the sandy bottom among the coral towers and blocks, there are waiting many surprises.

Hotspots

Sunken yacht: it is only small, but great overgrown, inhabited by numerous marine life and we find it in the southwest.

Tour 1 - Wreck and more

From anchorage we dive to the wreck to visit this attraction first. Continue with the reef on our right shoulder to a sand road. It leads us into the large, lagoon-like area. Here we can let off steam a bit, until we return to the southwest to the boat.

Tour 2 – The night in the sea

As already mentioned, "Abu Galawa Soraya" is also suitable for a night dive. Because the wreck is very close to the anchorage, we start from the boat, explore the reef wall and the yacht, discover all sorts of nocturnal sea creatures and dive then back to the boat to let the day end comfortably.



Sha'ab Sharm is one of the most beautiful steep wall reefs in the Red Sea. It plunges over 100 metres into the deep, but it luckily has two plateaus in a depth range of 20 to 35 metres and it is a real beauty to behold. Not only can we see reef sharks, hammerhead sharks and mantas, but there are also cleaning stations for surgeonfish, various cave-like depressions, unicorn fish and, of course, countless types of coral. Mooring points are available here. There is a cave at a depth of 45 metres as well as the wreck of the Oyster – a former safari boat – which at a depth of 75 metres is sadly too deep.

Details

Sha'ab Sharm runs from west to east in the shape of a wedge and the reef's steep faces extend deeply into the world below us, which we will probably never get to know in its entirety. The two plateaus are located at 20 and 35 metres. Caution is also advised here due to the regular strong current.

On the eastern plateau, we have the pleasure of running into longnose hawkfish, lionfish under the table coral, barracudas, reef sharks, shoaling fishes and two cleaning stations: one at the centre of the plateau for young tuna, the other located close to a large block on the south side for surgeonfish. The 'cowardly triggerfish' also lives here too – however, that's a whole other story and one that is best told by the guides on site.

The western plateau is the narrower plateau where the current coincides in Sha'ab Sharm – and it's also a spot loved by hammerhead sharks and where we might just be able to get to meet them. Reef sharks, shoals of tuna, barracudas and mackerel found here make the dive even sweeter. Wow, wouldn't it be nice to have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake to go along with this view?

Hotspots

Eastern plateau: On the plateau in the east, longnose hawkfish, Red Sea lionfish, barracudas, cleaning stations and reef shark welcome us.

Western plateau: The western plateau captivates us with various larger fish: reef sharks, tuna, barracudas and mackerel.

Tour 1 – cleaning stations

The best time to dive the eastern plateau with its cleaning stations is in the morning or at midday. Since the boats usually cast anchor at the western end of the plateau, we can drift with the current along the reef's edge to the plateau and then take our time descending from there. Important for us to remember here is that the current can change as soon as we reach the centre of the plateau. At the end of the plateau, with the reef on our right shoulder, we return back to the boat.

Tour 2 – drift

We travel north with the Zodiac. From there, it's time for us to soak in the fun by diving to the north-western corner of the reef. The dive descends to approx. 25 metres and, if the current is right, we can drift along the north side. We either put out the buoy and get picked up or we challenge ourselves, try to use little air and thereby make it back to the boat on our own.

Tour 3 – large fish

This tour at Sha'ab Sharm is just perfect for all fans of sharks and mantas. We have the Zodiac take us to the northern end of the plateau and dive to a depth of 25 to 30 metres. Here, we float, take out our cameras and wait. While waiting, we can also safely turn our eyes to the fascinating life in and around the reef from time to time. After we've got all our photos, we drift west along the steep face and then ideally resurface here.



Elphinstone was given its name from a Scottish historian who almost perished here, when his ship en route from Egypt to England almost ran aground on the reef on 18 December 1827: Mountstuart Elphinstone. The locals however call it 'Sha'ab Abu Hamra'.

Details

From Marsa Alam, the boat travels north approx. one and a half hours to the Elphinstone Reef – a great excursion! Depending on the water level, the Elphinstone's high plateau lies at a depth between one and three metres. Strong surface currents and lots of boat traffic make it impossible to snorkel here.

Divers however can plunge straight into some challenging fun! The reef is known for its extraordinary biodiversity and, of course, also for sighting large fish. In the north, we dive down a sloping plateau from 18 to 40 metres, and in the south, down the underwater terraces. The west and east wall plunge steeply into the deep. The Elphinstone Reef has a total length of approx. 725 metres and a width of 140 metres.

Hard and soft coral in a myriad of colours make us rejoice under water – if we could, we'd jump for joy. Joining us are also turtles, moray eels, Red Sea percidae, whitetip reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and honestly just about everything the Red Sea has to offer. If we don't see it here, then where?

Hotspots

South plateau: The south plateau lures us in with glorious gorgonian gardens and friendly longnose hawkfish. Techies will be truly mesmerised by the irresistible archway.

North plateau: The beautifully covered reef blows us away here and so does the sight of whitetip reef sharks or hammerhead sharks. Simply brilliant!

Facts

Current: N/W in the morning, N at midday, N/E in the afternoon, Warning: sometimes from the south!

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 35–40 m; M, J, J, A: 30–60 m; S, O, N, D: 40 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24–24°C; A, M, J: 26–28°C; J, A, S: 28-28°C; O, N, D: 28-25°C

Depth: +100 m

Tour 1 – for techies: archway in the morning

From the boat, we dive south along the edge of the plateau – with the current behind us. The archway begins at an approx. depth of 54 metres. Contrary to all rumours, the stone blocks on the seafloor fell from the top of the arch and are not hand-carved sarcophagi, although this legend does certainly have its own charm. If we dive through the arch, we reach a ravine on the left that leads back to the plateau. Behind the arch, we are usually provided protection from the current – should this not be the case, it's better to turn around and take the same way back.

Tour 2 – gorgonian garden in the morning or at midday

From the boat, we reach the east side by travelling across the south plateau and come to a glorious gorgonian garden located at an approx. depth of 25 metres. Here we will probably meet the 'Longnoses' –the longnose hawkfish! The reef edge has lots of soft and hard coral. Always pay attention to the current during the dive so that we can return in good time!

Tour 3 – the north plateau at midday

We dive north along the plateau and enjoy the wonderfully covered reef. With a little luck, we can spot whitetip reef sharks or perhaps hammerhead sharks and maybe even hit the jackpot and capture one of these rare specimens with our underwater camera as they swim by with a shoal of pilot fish. Incredibly beautiful! Warning: Occasionally, there may be undertows on the north plateau.



Sha'ab Marsa Alam – an amazing diving spot 25 minutes off the eponymous coastal city in southern Egypt. Here, we won't only find the most beautiful mountain coral gardens but also cavern systems and a shipwreck! And just because it's so nice, you can also dive at night here.

Details

Sha'ab Marsa Alam has a reef length of approx. 400 metres and a width of 50 to 80 metres. The reef also has a few blocks and a lovely shipwreck which can be found behind the largest block. Many different types of fish such as moray eels, crocodilefish or snappers bustle in and around the shipwreck and are just as excited about this playground as we are.

We should take a closer look at the large block in the north-west located next to the wreck; here it's all about exploring and diving the cavern system. We dive to a depth of between 12 and 15 metres, which is why Sha'ab Marsa Alam is the perfect location for check dives.

A gorgeous coral garden can be found in the north and in the west respectively. Both cleaning stations here are permeated with sandy areas and hide sand eels, shoals of goatfish, snappers and other reef fish. We can also see octopuses, snails and cheeky nemos. Both spots can be reached with the Zodiac; the trip back to the boat can be dived however. Or we can just be picked up by the Zodiac again. Hello! We're on holiday!

Sha'ab Marsa Alam has a very special highlight to offer to some of us: diving with dolphins!

Hotspots

Wreck: Diving to a wreck is always a very special highlight and here it is possible for every man and woman.

Caves: The caves or caverns are located close to the wreck and it's a real pleasure for us to be enchanted by the plays of light here.

Coral garden: We definitely can't pass up on the mountain coral garden – it's considered one of the most beautiful around!

Facts

Current: N in the morning, N at midday, N/E in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A 25-35m, M, J, J, A 30-60m, S, O, N, D 50-80m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 23-25°C; A, M, J: 26-28°C; J, A, S: 28-32°C; O, N, D: 28-24°C

Depth: 30 m

Tour 1 – colourful world of mountain coral

The large lagoon featuring mountain coral in all possible colours is an absolute must for everyone wanting to take their diving holiday near Marsa Alam. We have the Zodiac take us to the north-eastern reef edge and calmly dive down to five to 20 metres. We descend west together with the current as well as with the fish from the mountain coral garden. It's definitely worth it to dive around the western tip – the chance of spotting dolphins increases considerably!

Tour 2 – snails and eels

Snails, snails, snails. We are bound to find them in the coral field in the east which is situated at a depth of between 20 and 30 metres. Another funny sight is the sand eels moving around like large blades of grass in the wind – yikes, and there goes a whitetip reef shark! How can we have all these experiences at once? With the Zodiac, which drops us off at the northern end of the coral garden, we just have to let the current take care of the rest.

Tour 3 – check dive with caverns and a wreck

The most check dives are taken close to the wreck – after we practice getting back on board, we should definitely take a dive around the small reef which lies before us so that we can fully savour the pure beauty of this shipwreck which once was a former safari boat . Caverns flooded with light are also worth visiting, but we should only dive here when we are absolutely sure that there's also enough room and we won't damage the reef.

 

  

Dangerous! Dangerous! Whether the historical origins of the reef's name actually have anything to do with the word 'Dangerous'? Maybe. After all, Dangarus is well-known for its oceanic shark sightings. Luckily the statistics help ease our minds: approx. ten people are killed by shark attacks each year, with the majority being surfers. With humans killing over 100 million sharks per year, it's no wonder that sharks don't like putting in an appearance.

Details

Dangarus is the southernmost reef of St. John's and it offers us plenty of variety – whether it's the small cave systems on the main reef, the carpet anemones with their rainbow crabs, coral formations with giant moray eels and Napoleon wrasse or the sight of hammerhead sharks.

The caves are located on a small high plateau at a depth of nine metres and don't lead up any blind alleys. Towards the east, we find a very beautiful coral garden with mountain coral in all different colours. Night dives are also possible in Dangarus; under certain circumstances, however, the morning current can push us out into open water. With good guides, however, we're always on the safe side.

Hotspots

Caves: The wonderful caves of Dangarus are everything but 'dangerous' as well as lots of fun!

Sea anemones: The carpet anemones which live symbiotically and harmoniously with rainbow crabs can be found on the large plateau in the south.

Giant morays: Giant morays hide between the coral structures in the west. They aren't exactly true beauties, but somehow pretty in their own way. And who decides anyway, who is beautiful and who's not?!

Facts

Current: N/W in the morning, N/E at midday, S/E in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 25–35 m; M, J, J, A: 30–60 m; S, O, N, D: 50–80 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24–25°C; A, M, J: 26–28°C; J, A, S: 28-32°C; O, N, D: 28-24°C

Depth: 100 m

Tour 1 – southern plateau

We descend east from the boat to the large, round coral and then to the block on the exterior where lots of glassfish and prawns get together to have a good chinwag. The dive continues to the drop-off edge to the yellowtail barracudas and the hammerhead sharks. Once we've investigated and discovered everything here, we dive back to the boat across the coral garden.

Tour 2 – western coral and the caves

We dive west right into the coral garden which is populated by moray eels and bannerfish. Afterwards, we ascend to the cave and marvel at the breathtaking shining light. The walls are covered with branching coral and snails crawl along the seafloor. Leaving the cave, we cross the plateau covered with the sea anemones and dive east.

Tour 3 – night diving

The main reef is completely adequate for a night dive. The coral here burst with colour and the reef is full of life. The current can sometimes be a problem, but we're safe if we stick close to the reef. At twilight , a silky shark or oceanic whitetip shark drops by to see if everything is okay.



20 minutes west of Elphinstone Reef, we come across Abu Dabab III – a diving spot well-known because of the 'Heaven One' wreck and not least because of the dolphins which also like to frequently spend their time here. On top of this, there are small caves, wonderful coral gardens, remnants of amphorae and the possibility to experience an amazing night dive.

Details

One single block stands in the southern area of Abu Dabab III. Here we can see bright red lionfish and during a night dive even gorgonians or gorgonocephalidae which feature beguiling branched arms. Whoever wants to see dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles or sharks is well placed in this part of the reef.

The famous 'Heaven One' – a safari boat which sunk on 27 April 2003 after a fire in the engine room – lies in the north. Not far from here, we can find a colony of sea anemones and a cave system.

The west side has some blocks and coral formations as well as sleeping reef sharks that like retreating here to get a little rest. Maybe they aren't even sleeping, but rather meditating – there are supposedly even some vegetarians among the sharks. We can then look along the edge of the reef for the remnants of amphorae.

Hotspots/

Amphorae: Marvellous remnants of amphorae, transporting our thoughts to another time, can be found on the reef's edge.

Blocks: On the blocks of Abu Dabab III, we won't only find fascinating coral formations, but there are also reef sharks which can frequently be spotted taking a power nap here.

Facts

Current: N in the morning, N at midday, N in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 25–35m; M, J, J, A: 30–50m; S, O, N, D: 30–50m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24°C; A, M, J: 26°C; J, A, S: 28°C; O, N, D: 27°C

Depth: 30 m

Tour 1 – the sharks in the southwest

From the boat, we travel west. There's a reef nose at the end of the reef and right next to it there is one single hill of coral. If we want to see young reef sharks or interesting nurse sharks, here's the right spot for us to do so. On the way back, we dive along the reef and keep our eyes open: in the first large depression, there are small pieces of ancient clay drinking vessels.

Tour 2 – wreck and caves at midday

Travelling by Zodiac, we reach the 'Heaven One' wreck in only five minutes. The ship is completely burnt above the waterline, showing that not much remains. You can still clearly see the keel and the engine as well as some parts of the outer ship. From the wreck, the journey continues south, across a coral hill to the entrance of the cave – the play of lights there is indescribable! Afterwards we take a right to the two lagoons with colonies of sea anemones and then go back to the ship, travelling southeast across the coral reefs.

Tour 3 – the southeast at midday

From the ship, it's only a few metres until we reach the block in the middle. More often than not we will find moray eels and lionfish there. The dive continues further east to the next blocks with glassfish and pipefish. Turtles, dragonfish and bluespotted stingrays as well as well-camouflaged carpet flatheads also come around here. Crabs live in the small coral garden and sometimes if we're lucky we might also see dolphins.

Tour 4 – night diving

The block in the heart of the southern area has everything that a night dive should have to offer – from feather stars to gorgonocephalidae and Spanish dancers, calamari, crabs, prawns and clam-diggers on the ground (slipper lobsters). Don't use much light – it's worth it!

You will return in the afternoon (about 2 o'clock p.m.) to the harbor one day before departure, and spent the last over night either on your boat or in a hotel. The next day you will be transferred either to the airport or your hotel. You must be a certified diver with at least 50 logged dives for the under water National Parks (Brother Islands, Daedalus, Rocky Island, and Zabargad). Attention: The tour description is merely our suggestion. Which diving places on tour are dived is determined by many factors including the wind and weather.

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