Red Sea Highlights

   

Overview of tour / diving spots

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During two weeks, only the best of what Egypt has to offer for under water !!!!! Explore the most beautiful dive sites in the Red Sea. A great all-round tour for divers with a bit more experience. This liveaboard offers challenging dives, fascinating drop offs, beautiful coral reefs and many big fish.

Brother Islands, Daedalus & Elphinstone is a MUST for all “die-hard” Red Sea Divers! The route leads you from Hurghada to Brother Islands with its wrecks AIDA and NUMIDIA and the chance to find big fishes as hammerhead sharks, grey reef sharks, fox sharks, longimanus and mantas.

After the Brothers it is going during a night journey to Daedalus Reef, with its colourful overgrown drop offs and we will have an “appointment” with the school of hammer heads at the northern part of the island. Dolphins, Longimanus, fox sharks and mantas are often spotted here as well.

After another night journey we will reach Rocky Islands and the Island of Zabargad. Beautiful drop offs with the chance to see big fish and dolphins await us at Rocky Islands. Just a few minutes boat ride away is the lagoon of the Island Zabargad. Here another meeting with Mantas and Longimanus is possible.

After about 2-3 hours drive we arrive the next day the reef flat of St. John’s. Coral gardens, caves and caverns, as well as small and large reefs and drop offs are waiting for us with a fantastic plant cover. Here at St. John’s reefs half of the tour is then finish after one week and unfortunately we have to head north again.

After we pass Ras Banas we will dive during the 2nd week of the tour the Fury Shoals, Shaab Maksur with the cave in great depth (for very experienced divers reserved).

Further highlights such as the Elphinstone Reef, we will also dive.

Up to the north we come to the highlights, such as Panorama reef, Shaab Shear with the famous Salem Express and a few more dive sites.

Of course, we can also respond specific dive sites after the wishes of our guest, as long as it is practicable by the route and approved from all guest.

 

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

Possible stations on this tour



Finally! We've made it to the 'Aquarium' – that's what the locals lovingly call Gota Abu Ramada, because of its incredibly diverse flora and fauna. It's as if underwater landscape designers secretly helped out here. Starfish, turtles, moray eels, lionfish, eagle rays, leopard sharks ... with everything we see every second, there's no way we can say them all so fast.

Details

Gota Abu Ramada lies approx. 90 minutes south-east of Hurghada and it is an arch-shaped reef surrounded by a sandy bottom at twelve to 15 metres. In the west, it has two ergs and three towers in the east as well as a coral garden. And that pretty much covers all the features of the 'Aquarium' in the Red Sea.

Luckily the current isn't an issue for us here and we can therefore focus our entire attention on the countless fish swimming past our very own eyes: in the east, for example, we find many goatfish in and around the holes and grottos; in the west, there's an incredible variety of different reef fish.

Bannerfish and masked butterflyfish, yellow snappers and painted sweetlips, moray eels and mackerel, flatheads and turtles, eagle rays and leopard sharks – those are just a few of the species to be seen in Gota Abu Ramada. One of them, the titan triggerfish, which is usually very friendly throughout most of the year, turns into a real fighting machine in September when it guards its nest. Should we encounter one, it's best to duck, hide and dive away.

Hotspots

The three towers: Tolkien must have gotten his ideas somewhere! Oh, did Tolkien only have two towers? Well, we've got three here in Gota Abu Ramada – take that! They are located on the east side and bustle with a variety of reef fish. A pity to those who forget their camera here ...

The two ergs: These impressive ergs look like something right out of the second part of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings saga - The Two Towers. Did he maybe have a hand here too? That Tolkien, I say! At any rate, the two large blocks in the west beguile us with countless soft coral and sea fans and then once again with thousands of reef fish.

Tour 1 – the east

We dive from the boat and immediately find ourselves right at the heart of the action. Since the current usually isn't an issue for us here, we dive the three towers and coral garden as we like, of course taking picture upon picture and always remembering to have fun as well! After this astonishing tour in the 'Aquarium' of Hurghada, we return to the boat.

Tour 2 – the west

We dive from the mooring point towards the ergs with the reef on our right shoulder whilst revelling over our encounters with many fish, turtles, rays and possibly leopard sharks, too. We won't only be overwhelmed by the marine life swimming past us but also by the colourful soft coral and sea fans on the large blocks. Whoever has enough air left can dive back to the boat, otherwise we'll have the boat pick us up.



Welcome to Panorama Reef, the most famous reef in Safaga; a steep face in the open sea with a plateau to the north and to the south respectively. The current here is usually very strong. What does that tell us? We have a good chance of seeing large fish here! In addition to this, a turtle called Quasimodo has been living here for years - but to be honest, she cannot help the shape of her shell!

Details


In 60 to 90 minutes we will have reached Panorama Reef by boat. The east and west sides drop steeply; to the north and south, however, we find very interesting plateaus with a whole lot of life and, what else, but a spectacular panorama. We can see unicornfish, barracudas and giant trevally. The west side is where we are most likely to see whitetip reef sharks and, particularly in the afternoon, grey reef sharks, moray eels every now and then, flatheads, eagle rays, dolphins, silvertip sharks, humphead wrasses and the famous turtle with the deformed shell.

Wonderful hill-forming corals, large table corals and thousands of anthiinae are to be found on the northern plateau at Panorama Reef. The current comes from the north to 95 percent, which means it is often quite ‘stormy’ here. The south plateau is more protected; it begins at a depth of 18 metres and falls slowly to a depth of 30 metres. Giant gorgonians grow up the chimney. The large field of sea anemones is also part of it, as are the almost obligatory sightings of stonefish.

Hotspots

Sea anemone field: On the south plateau we are spoiled with a field of sea anemones, where a multitude of clownfish and Red Sea dascyllus feel at home.

Turtle: As everybody is talking about her, of course we want to see Quasimodo too on our dive at Panorama Reef. The turtle with the deformed shell has been living here for years and will hopefully continue to live a long and happy life.

Tour 1 - drift diving


We start out with the Zodiac at the northern plateau and explore this first. There are always surprises hiding under the table corals and we might even see our first shark. On we go then either to the east or west side in a southerly direction; it does not matter where. Perhaps we will just play “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” or dive along the side that feels right. There should be enough current, otherwise the route may be too long for us under certain conditions. When we have reached the southern plateau, we will search for another stonefish and visit the anemone field. We surface at the boat feeling happy and satisfied.

Tour 2 –the south


We dive from the boat and find ourselves at the southern plateau almost immediately, which is protected by the current. Here we explore the giant gorgonians on the chimney at a depth of 30 metres on the east side and will probably find some longnose hawkfish in there. The splendour of the corals will astound us; we keep glancing into the open waters in the hope of seeing larger fish and will definitely pass by the anemone field before we surface again. Marlin and Nemo are waiting there for us!



A brain coral garden, a few caves, overhangs and grottos, shoals of fish - this is Shaab Sheer, an immensely exciting reef at Safaga. Shaab Sheer is over one kilometre long and offers three different diving tours from the perfectly situated mooring point.

Details

The north side of Shaab Sheer is a little less quiet, but the south side in right there like a lagoon and is usually very well protected. We can expect a strong current on the west side, which faces the 'South Safaga Channel'. Most divers appreciate the area between three and 15 metres because the brain coral garden looks almost like the landscape of the moon; despite this we find a wide variety of reef inhabitants.

Picasso triggerfish, orange-striped and yellowmargin triggerfish, parrotfish, scrawled filefish and sling-jaw wrasse are to be found here in large numbers. In the area of the north plateau and at the steep wall we can also see bream, humpnose big-eye bream, mackerels, red and black snapper as well as shoals of tuna and barracuda.

Hotspots

Brain coral garden: A bizarre moon landscape awaits us at the brain coral garden, which is particularly popular with our divers and is definitely worth seeing.

Grottos and channels: They are found at the erg and provide shelter for the most interesting reef inhabitants.

Tour 1 – the northerly plateau

Friends of big fish should choose this route. We get in at the mooring point and work our way north. Here we can keep an eye on the open waters, and that is exactly why we are here. Along the steep drop-off we can still find some reef inhabitants and explore small grooves and crevices. At the end of our drift dive we set the buoy and are collected.

Tour 2 - the west side

This is where the current is usually strongest and, conditions permitting, this diving location is definitely worth diving. With the reef to our right shoulder, we explore the coral blocks and towers and dive through the channel. After countless encounters with diverse reef inhabitants and possibly even some large fish we set the buoy.

Tour 3 - the east side

We start out from the mooring point and dive through the channel to a depth of 12 metres, which brings us to the brain coral garden. We keep to the right and explore the caves and grottos in the erg, until we arrive back at the boat at the end of the erg.



Click here for the   Salem Express



Ladies and Gentlemen, may we ask for your attention. A diving spot belonging to the world's top ten (!) will soon be ours to discover. Located 60 kilometres east of the coastal town of El Quesir, the Brother Islands (Big Brother and Little Brother) are home to two large cargo ship wrecks and up to three metre-long large thresher sharks with long, lance-shaped tails which can almost always be found here – a true rarity!

Details

The name Brother Islands comes from the company which did the electrical work for the lighthouse on the larger island. Both islands are of volcanic origin and sit atop a mountain ridge which plunges well over 1,000 metres in depth from the west side to the east side. The volcanic history can still be seen today: namely on the basalt rock, which is significantly darker than the reef structure itself.

Big Brother is 650 metres long and 180 metres wide. With the exception of the eastern plateau, we encounter a steep-faced reef in all directions. There's usually the chance for you to stretch out your legs on the island, smoke a shisha with the lighthouse keepers and purchase small souvenirs or simply to enjoy the view from the lighthouse! Depending on the mood of the military, this can quickly change however.

At the western end of Big Brother, we usually have to take large waves and a stronger current into account. Should the conditions allow us to dive in the afternoon, we may quite possibly have the chance of seeing grey reef sharks and hammerhead sharks swimming between the wrecks.

On the eastern plateau, the thresher shark says 'Good night' to the spotted sea hare and encounters with grey reef sharks also occur here all the time. Beautiful depressions in the reef, which are covered in soft and hard coral, can be identified further down the north side. Mooring points are also located in the east area and around the boots there's a lot to see – from whitetip oceanic sharks to silky sharks.

Just as squirrels in the park learn to trust, so do Napoleon wrasse in famous diving sites – two specimens of this fish already accustomed to divers can be found west at any time of the day. Gigantic shoals of fish can be found in the south, near the jetty, which is used to supply the lighthouse. Mackerel, tuna and barracudas on the hunt usually rush past us in the water. Silky sharks or whitetip oceanic sharks as well as turtles top off this spectacular underwater picture.

Planning the Big Brother route is simple, as the current points us the way. For some, this dive – which must progress very quickly from the Zodiac due to the currents – is anything but a walk in the park. Many tour operators offer the use of SART or other similar devices. Especially at the large outer reef, it makes sense to buddy dive using such an electronic search and rescue system. Should we come across the countercurrent after exiting the Zodiac, it's best for us to resurface and then drive a bit further out and try once again. Safety first!

Hotspots

Numidia: The Numidia lies directly on the reef between a depth range of 18 and 80 metres. After making a navigational error in 1901, the general cargo vessel laden with train rails and railway engine wheels ran aground on the west side. The Numidia is one of the most beautifully covered wrecks around the world; the vegetation however suddenly stops at 40 metres.

Aida: The Aida, which is nestled against the south side of the reef at a depth range of 30 and 65 metres, has been there since 1953 when it hit the fringe reef whilst sailing in rough waters. It was meant to bring personnel to the lighthouse and supplies to the island. The wreck has been slightly damaged by storms which occurred at the beginning of 2010.

Eastern plateau: Big Brother's eastern plateau is the right place for anyone wanting to catch sight of thresher sharks and explore and dive an impressive steep wall. It's worth it to continually hone your own diving skills in order to be ready take on this challenging dive one day.

Facts

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

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

Temperatures: J, F, M: 22–24°C; A, M, J: 23–38°C; J, A, S: 28-30°C; O, N, D: 28-23°C

Depth: 100 m

Tour 1 – thresher sharks in the morning

The best spot in the morning is the eastern plateau with its hills located at a depth range of 36 and 45 metres. Here we will encounter thresher sharks. Should the diver leader allow, we should take advantage of our no-decompression limit, diving in the no current zone, all the way to the small hill on the spur of the reef in the east and then heading west with the current along the beautifully covered steep wall.

Tour 2 – Aida at midday

If the waves allow, we travel there by Zodiac. The Aida starts around a depth of 30 metres. The upper area is brimming with glassfish and the cargo bays are open to explore. Afterwards, we return by diving above the scattered cargo and along the jagged reef wall heading east.

Tour 3 – Numidia in the afternoon

If the waves and current allow, we travel by Zodiac to the Numidia. It has very gorgeous soft and hard coral growing on the north side and it is one of the most beautiful wrecks in the Red Sea. The south side looks as if only two days have passed since the sinking of the ship. Countless colourful fish additionally sweeten our view. In this area, the current varies in strength and it usually flows from the north around the bend to the west.

Tour 4 – thresher sharks in the late afternoon

We take the last dive of the day on the north-east tip again, because when the light of the day fades in the late afternoon, that's when the predatory fish come out to hunt. We can frequently see yellowfin tuna, giant trevally, barracudas as well as thresher sharks at the tip of the reef. Here, it's enough to simply seek a spot to watch; there's no need to swim around much. A feature film starring predatory fish!



The smaller of the two 'Brothers' of the famous double reef is located in visible range of Big Brother to the east. The small island measuring 360 metres is uninhabitated. Yet things look very different under the sea: there's gorgonian forests, huge overhangs and the Shark Point – a cleaning station for sharks. It's not so much the sharks we should fear here, but rather the unpredictable current.

Details

The name Little Brother sounds cute, but this dive isn't for rookies. There are mooring points on the reef's south-east side, however, most dives start off from the Zodiac. Little Brother is 360 metres in length and 160 metres in width and it runs north in the shape of a wedge. Bordered by a protective fringe reef, the reef drops steeply down. In the south-east at a depth of 10 metres, there is a small reef spur which ends with an overhang at 37 metres. A lagoon-like wall leads to a large gorgonian garden here.

Boasting massive overhangs and large depressions, the reef extends to the north-west where a small hill has been formed at a depth of 40 metres – the Shark Point. During the morning hours, we often see grey reef sharks who've come to have their teeth brushed after a successful night of hunting. From the south-east to the north, Little Brother is shaped by a steep face, which exists between a depth of 25 and 40 metres.

Hotspots

Shark Point: At a depth of 40 metres, Shark Point is the 'place to be'! Here the TV programme of the National Geographic channel is bigger, better and live!

Gorgonian garden: Little Brother's large gorgonian garden captivates with its huge coral specimens which can be found in a wide range here.

Facts

Current: N (north side) W (south side) in the morning, W & S/E (north side) N/E (south side) at midday, E (north side) E (south side) in the afternoon

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

Temperatures: J, F, M: 22–23°C; A, M, J: 23–28°C; J, A, S: 28-30°C; O, N, D: 28-24°C

Depth: 100 m

Tour 1 – the gorgonian garden

We dive from boat to boat and in the process explore the south side. Under the nose of the reef, we may potentially see grey reef sharks and especially charming thresher sharks. Afterwards, we carry on to the gorgonian garden located at a depth range of 18 and 40 metres. Then it's back to the boat by travelling around the eastern tip.

Tour 2 – Shark Point

This tour sets off with the Zodiac on the south-west side. We are dropped off at the last lagoon here and should dive down as quickly as possible due to the crashing waves on the western tip. We descend protected by the current of the reef spur and head directly to Shark Point. When the current is stronger, we won't dive to Shark Point, but rather will stay at the reef. We dive back on the north side, running into a slight countercurrent due to some turbulence, until we reach the next inlet and then basically have the current behind us. The view into the blue is usually worth it!

Tour 3 – steep face

This dive varies: we can embark with the Zodiac towards the north and explore either the reef spur or the south. Another good alternative is to dive the south steep face from the boat and, if necessary, have the Zodiac collect us here. Warning: The spirit of the hunt can be witnessed on the south side when the light gradually fades in the afternoon.



Daedalus Reef is located in the midst of the Red Sea – depending on the speed, it's a five- to eight-hour trip east of Marsa Alam. A long journey with a great reward: shoals of hammerhead sharks are frequently spotted here. You can also encounter thresher sharks on the southern plateau and the steep walls and depressions of Daedalus form an extremely diverse reef structure brimming with all kinds of life.

Details

With a length of 600 to 700 metres and a width of 100 to 300 metres (north to south), the Daedalus Reef is a very large reef. In the eastern section and in a depth range of 18 and 40 metres, we'll find a lagoon-like plateau from which, depending on the current, we can usually watch multiple groups of hammerhead sharks swimming at open sea.

There are usually 12 to 25 specimens in a group and it's definitely worth it to wait around at depths of 20 and 25 metres – this is a sight none of us want to miss out on. Almost all boats, which drop anchor at Daedalus, send their Zodiacs to the north in the early morning hours. The best spot to enter the water is namely in the northwest corner. It's best to quickly dive to a depth of four metres, so that you won't be carried too far by the surface current which could possibly occur.

Hammerhead sharks emerge mainly from the deep. When a shark dives past us at some distance and leans to one side, then it's trying to tell us that he rules the sea. Nevertheless, these animals are shy and if we get too close, they'll be gone at a rate of knots. Some lucky divers have even been able to observe groups of hammerhead sharks for up to 20 minutes.

Manta Point is also located nearby and is absolutely enthralling with its colourful reef wall. On the west side, we can see one of the largest colonies of sea anemones in the Red Sea. 200 examples of each species and each colour have firmly anchored themselves to the reef, living in close quarters on a surface measuring just 10 metres in width.

Continuing south our breath is completely taken away: the gigantic hard coral which sits here will make you feel like a hobbit among elves when you gaze eyes upon it. Just like a waterfall, it plunges from a depth of four to 19 metres. Sadly, the first signs of damage can already be seen.

Hotspots

Northern tip: With a little bit of luck, hammerhead sharks can be seen right here – on the northern tip of the Daedalus Reef. And if we are patient enough, we might not only see one shark but a whole group of them instead!

Manta Point: Whilst we keep an eye out for mantas, we can also marvel at the vast number of widely differing sea anemones, which in all sorts of colours, contend for the title of 'the fairest of them all'.

Southern plateau: A plateau with large and small blocks lies in the south of the Daedalus Reef – a good place for the thresher shark. In addition, turtles, grey reef sharks, hunting mackerel and tuna as well as stonefish and snails can be found here.

Facts

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

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 25–35 m; M, J, J, A: 30–40 m; S, O, N, D: 50–80 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24–24°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 highlight of the morning

Travelling by Zodiac, we head north in the morning – the ride can get a bit choppy depending on the waves. We must not underestimate the current and make sure to quickly dive down. The reef is our point of reference and, if we exercise patience under the water, a 'sharktacular' dive is guaranteed.

Tour 2 – the plateau

Stretching across the entire south side, there is a soft coral-covered riff edge which transitions into a really wide plateau at a depth of 18 and 20 metres. The entire south area is bordered by a drop-off edge which descends to approx. 35 to 40 metres. Again here, it's important to always pay attention to the current!

Tour 3 – sea anemone colony

Sea anemones don't actually build colonies and that's why the west side of the Daedalus Reef is also a real anomaly! To see the 200 specimens of sea anemones living in confined spaces, we have the Zodiac drop us off at the last or second-to-last lagoon and drift to the south. Where the steep face drops 70 metres, there we will find everything that lives and lingers – the field of sea anemones among others.



The island Zabargad, from Egyptian sailors also called El Gubal ("The Mountain"), is 3.5 km long and its highest elevation is 235 m. Already at Cleopatra's times the semi-precious stone olivine was mined here.

Zabargad has two shipwrecks to offer, both located in the scuba diver friendly area. To the east you will find between 1 - 24 meters depth, a 70 m long and 10 m wide wreck, about his name and story is puzzled already for a long time. It is believed that it is a Russian engine cargo ship that was seeking protection of the island after a collision or explosion on board and sank there – a sign for it could be the damage at the rear. The growth of the wreck suggests a sinking time in the 1950s to -60er years.

Located on the south side in the upper reef there are many cave passages in which we find with a little luck, nudibranchs and flatworms. On the west side of Zabargad the remains of the safari boat "Neptuna", sunken in 1981, can be visited next to beautiful hard coral gardens. On the sandy bottom in about 24 meters you can find today scattered testimonies of doom: a generator, several suitcases, a radar and a scuba tank. However, from the wreck of the ship there is no trace. Because the reef at this point is only gradually steeper, the safari boat cannot be further slipped into the deep, so it must be somewhere near. Presumably, it drove little further, when the stern was already under water, and the said objects fell overboard. The wreck of the Neptuna could not be located until today and thus remains one of those mysteries with which the Red Sea can still come up to this day.

Safari boats mostly anchor on the south side of the island protected behind a large lagoon. Around the lagoon, which is about 10-12 m deep, it goes steeply down to depths of about 50 meters. One can reach the interior of the lagoon by numerous passages through the rock, which rises to the lagoon and is lush overgrown with colorful soft corals.



Rocky Island is famous the world over thanks to the frequent shark and manta sightings. The wreck of luxury ship – the 'Maiden' – also lies here, but sadly just a little too deep.

Details

Rocky Island is a diver's paradise – with the reef lying far out at sea, we run into all conceivable types of marine life: discoveries of small reef fish and shoals of barracudas to hammerhead sharks, mantas, dolphins and even small whales have already been here made by some divers.

Rocky Island is 700 by 450 metres in size and it has a fringe reef whose south side is composed of overhangs and rock shelters which are often visited by whitetip reef sharks. Since the current comes from the north here, the shark points are located in the east and west.

In the north, Rocky Island has a deeply carved sheer wall with ledges and overhangs. The lush coral vegetation is a real treat for snails and whilst they fill their bellies, dolphins pass nearby every now and then.

The wreck of the Maiden, a luxury ship which was discovered in 2002, lies in at a depth range of 60 to 70 metres. Marine park rules apply when diving around Rocky Island and this spot is a very challenging diving destination thanks to varying currents.

Hotspots

Reef edge: The richly coloured reef edge is located at a depth of only three to eight metres and we could spend hours here making new discoveries over and over again.

Facts

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

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

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 south-east in the morning

We can dive from the boat to the reef wall and will be pushed eastward by a light current, past the overhangs and rock shelters. At the end of the wall, there is a small shelf which sharks like to linger around. We can dive back or put out the buoy and be collected here.

Tour 2 – the south-west at midday

We immediately dive deep upon exiting the Zodiac; otherwise, the current here could get in the way of our plans. At the same time, we can soon put our luck to the test and search for the first large fishes at sea. We also can't miss out on the chance to see the coloured beauty of the reef's edge and, just maybe, a manta might unexpectedly float by us too.

Tour 3 – the north in the afternoon

We have ourselves brought to the northwest corner to make sure that we actually dive the north side. We can simply drift with the current when we set out here. The overhangs cast large shadows in the afternoon – everything from glassfish to hammerhead sharks travel around here.

Cave Riff

JohnsCaveReady

Do you love underwater labyrinths as much as we do? Then you're going to jump for joy now – the Cave Reef has a whole bunch of caves and channels ready for us. It lies in the northern area of St. John's and even has its own inner lagoon covered with coral – simply brilliant!

 

Details

Meauring 400 metres in width and 1.5 kilometres in length, the Cave Reef is truly a 'huge rock' and a really exciting one at that too! The diving area on the reef stretches along a distance of 400 metres and a width of 190 metres, and as already mentioned, it is a great labyrinth. Here, at a depth of five to twelve metres, we dive through many caves and channels and see many sea fans, sponges and soft coral.

Whoever doesn't want to focus on finding the 'exit', but rather on the marine life, is better advised to dive with a guide. He or she will know exactly where we can easily fit through with our diving gear as not to damage the reef.

Once we've gone through the labyrinth, we can still explore the beautiful lagoon with its large garden of mountain coral. This area's got a very special resident – the seamoths – unbelievable creatures, although usually well-camouflaged and only approx. 10 centimetres in length.

 

Hotspots

Seamoths: We can find these funny little fellows with their wonderful 'wings' and curious-looking bodies in the lagoon of the Cave Reef.

 

Labyrinth: Either you visit with the help of a guide and avoid getting lost or you just dive in and mix it up a bit with some action, fun and excitement whilst looking for the exit. The Cave Reef's labyrinth is just grand!

 

Facts

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

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

 

Tour 1 – the caves

Before entering the cave, large Napoleon wrasse swim right past our very own eyes. Acting as a gatekeeper, there's even one magnificent and trusting triggerfish to welcome us to the many cave entrances. The treasure hidden behind the labyrinth corridors is the lagoon featuring a garden of mountain coral. It's here where we will find the 'must-see' seamoths. A word of advice: not all paths lead back to the boat, but they do all head south.

 

Tour 2 – the lagoon

The fastest way to reach the lagoon is to travel through the channel from the boat. We dive past many blocks inhabited by crustaceans and might just find some eagle rays too. We travel east to the outer blocks and then back to the boat. Spadefish and Napoleon wrasse probably already wait for us under the boat again. We give the trusting triggerfish a little peck on the cheek and then resurface. Just joking, don't touch!

 

Tour 3 – night diving

At night, we only dive the area in front of the caves and channels; otherwise, we might not find our way out of the Cave Reef's labyrinth again. Snails, crustaceans, prawns and among many others make this night dive an experience to be long told and remembered.

 

 

  


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.

 

  

Taken from the literal translation of 'Malahi', the Shaab Malahi is truly a 'playground' for all divers. The enchanting labyrinth including coral gardens in the inner lagoon has countless surprises in store for us as well as delightful treasures waiting to be discovered by us in the many small caves.

Details

In the 100-metre long and 60-metre wide 'Shaab Malahi' labyrinth, it's not uncommon for one to get lost. The guide or diver's watch equipped with compass can be used in an emergency, as there's always an exit located south! Here we can dive between 6 and 22 metres; there is only a drop-off on the eastern side. The current flows mainly from the north-west around the reef and there is no current to fear at the centre.

Breathtaking blocks measuring up to 16 to 20 metres high form the beautiful reef of Shaab Malahi. They are also covered with overhangs and home to the most colourful coral. Since the diving depths often greatly vary, all those who have mastered the art of pressure equalisation may count themselves among the fortunate to enter this diving site. The dive leads through two to eight metre-wide channels and 15 metre-wide lagoons.

Hotspots

The western part of the reef is definitely worth a visit, especially to find the block adorned with table coral on top. The 'Iron' block is located just south of this location – and we can't wait to see who discovers it! In addition, there are two blocks with table coral in the south-west as well as whole shoals of fish. When in luck, you might just witness two male bannerfish fight for dominance by butting their heads together. The picture of the century!

All those not able to take this dive will nevertheless get their money's worth: two humphead wrasse measuring over two metres in size swim around the Shaab Malahi, just as do moray eels, eagle rays, captivating whitetip reef sharks as well as a variety of snails, triggerfish and snappers. One dive alone does not suffice to explore the reef's many wonders.

Facts

Current: N/W in the mornings, 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: 3 m to approx. 25 m

Tour 1 – centre area in the morning

Whoever goes diving for the first time in Shaab Malahi is well-advised to take a guide due to the maze-like layout. Repeat visitors will, of course, take great delight in looking for exits themselves, which are usually located in the south and easier to find there. The current at the centre is minimal and for this reason no risk is presented.

Tour 2 – outer area at midday

Via boat, the tour continues south to a 'Japanese garden' made out of blocks and hills covered with table coral, acropora, alcyoniidae and brain coral. This second tour offers you the chance to take a roundabout route to the lagoon and to try to discover your way out of the labyrinth on your own. Visiting the whitetip reef sharks by swimming through the caves, briefly saying 'hello', taking a keepsake photo and then returning back to the boat from the left side around the blocks is a definite must.

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Erg Abu Diab is near Ras Banas. The cone-shaped reef extends to a depth of over 100 meters. It is surrounded by a drop off and can be circled within 30 minutes, if the very often occurring strong current permits.

This spot is typical of the biodiversity of the southern Red Sea, but also known for encounters with large sharks. Often the diver encounters groups of hammerhead sharks, the largest number, which was observed at one time, was more than 50 animals. But the encounter with grey sharks and thresher sharks is most likely and among them, with good luck, a Longimanus.

Even if the sharks fail to appear, the drop off has a magnificent vegetation and dense shoals of fishes amble along the reef wall.



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.

 

  

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. .



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.



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!



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.

 

  

There's ghost pipefish here? Have you gone mad? What do they look like then? A little like ugly seahorses (our apologies to all fans of ghost pipefish) and very, very well-disguised! They can hardly be distinguished from among the coral and make us think that they are coral branches. In addition to these haunting lads and lasses, we'll also find seagrass beds, coral gardens, sea turtles, darkspotted stingrays and ... dugongs in Shaab Shona – the second bay towards the south after Port Ghalib.

Details

Shaab Shona's lagoon originates from a wadi (a dried-out river) and is five to 45 metres deep in some places. We can still recognise the former river in the form of a channel ascending from the north to the south. A high plateau can be made out in the northern area of Shaab Shona.

From glassfish to crocodilefish, from Indian mackerel and ghost pipefish, we will find everything that a diver's heart wants to see in the Red Sea. Many different kinds of coral brimming with life can be found on the reef's edge down to a depth of around 20 metres.

A seagrass bed is located in the inner area and where there's beds of seagrass, then ... that's right ... there's probably dugongs there. With some luck, a few of these fine specimens can be seen here. An eye should be kept out for lionfish and large turtles, too.

Whoever is still not happy and wants to see a few sand eels and different kinds of rays, should make their way over to the southern edge to the sand pile at a depth range of 20 to 40 metres.

Hotspots

Seagrass bed: The dugongs are a definite must-see. There are also large green turtles as well as charming sea horses and cuttlefish to admire.

Facts

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

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

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

Depth: 45 m

Tour 1 – the south in the morning

We travel south with the bright-red rubber boat or the Zodiac and dive west across the south-eastern hills at a depth of 25 metres. Here we immediately come to a sandy surface covered with sand eels. Then it's time to go west to the seagrass bed where we will hopefully catch sight of a dugong. We dive here against a light current coming from the lagoon, but shall be rewarded with large groupers and darkspotted stingrays.

Tour 2 – the north at midday

On this dive, we play 'I spy with my little eye, something beginning with' close to the blocks and embark on a search to strike it big and spot ghost pipefish. The Zodiac drops us off 50 metres outside the bay and we dive to the plateau at a depth of 14 metres. On the way south, the current is behind us and we also dive past some cleaning stations.

Tour 3 – seagrass in the afternoon

After having looked for ghost pipefish at midday, the new objects of our desire are now the dugongs. We can discover African lionfish with extremely venomous spines in the west of the seagrass meadow. Former pathfinders will have no difficulties keeping ahead on this dive, where it's all about trying to spot the traces of food that will lead us to the dugongs!

Tour 4 – night diving

Shaab Shona is also perfect for night dives. It's best to explore the coral hill at the back area or the north edge. Octopodes, sea urchins, dragonfish, snails and Spanish dancers can be seen here at peak times.



'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.

 

  

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.



The dive site Umm Hal Hal is approximately 400 meters southeast of the Middle Reef. Two Ergs (coral blocks) stand on the edge of a plateau. They reach up to 3 m below the surface and therefore do not provide protection against wind and waves. Therefor comes the name from the fishermen: Hal Hal what means "rough seas".

On the inside (west) the plateau is 16 m deep, while on the outside it drops to 22 - 24 m. About 80 m further east begins in 30 meters a steep wall, which is interrupted by overhangs. Hal-Hal is also known as Shaab Kweiss (Beautiful reef), but you could call any reef in the Red Sea like this, when the captain doesn`t know the name.

If you are lucky enough to be able to make this dive, you will be rewarded with a colorful, living reef.

It seems as if the fish never sleep - they move continuously in the struggle between eating and being eaten. Since the dive site is quite small, you can go around the Ergs at different depths for several times.

By getting to the drop off and looking for big fish, you should be good in the air consumption and have a good sense of direction.

The reef boasts with its soft corals and sea fans and with some isolated table corals.

Concerning the fish fauna, we find here the usual reef fish - these however in masses. Leopard groupers, turtles, mullet, scrawled filefish, longnose unicorn fish and white tip reef sharks, just to name a few.

At the upper edge of the Erg red mouth grouper are hunting lyretail anthias and not as usual glass fish. A school of bannerfish is searching for protection close to the reef.

At the drop of one can see snapper schools, schools of unicorn fish and small tunas, occasionally big tuna and, dependent on the season, a huge mackerel school.

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