Depth: 4-22m Location: Around 50 mins from El Gouna. Conditions: The sail out here can be bumpy in windy weather since the reef is located in an unprotected open area. The reef offers fairly sheltered moorings.
Overview: A plateau with coral gardens, sheltering a narrow lagoon with a shallow sandy bottom. To the north, there is a shallow wall flanked by a shelf leading to a drop-off.
Dive plan: This site is ideally dived as a drift. Jump in a few hundred metres up north along the wall, and put the wall on your right shoulder. You can wander out over the plateau for a few minutes first but the shallow part is better. When you arrive at the small plateau, the reef makes a sharp right turn, eventually, 180° going north again.
This is the entry to the narrow lagoon and the depth decreases swiftly to 4m. Save this area for your safety stop and use the rest of your air to explore the coral garden on the plateau.
What to see: The flat sandy seafloor is inhabited by blue spotted rays and other bottom feeders. A rich variety of gobies and their shrimps hide in the sand. The top of the reef is regularly patrolled by surgeonfish and unicornfish. It’s possible that you’ll meet a turtle while exploring the coral garden and sometimes dolphins pass by.
SHAAB ABU GALAWA
GPS – Position 27 °18. 29′ N 33° 47. 58′ E
Depth: 0-12m Location: Around 40 mins from El Gouna. Conditions: Like Sakhwat Abu Galawa, the sail out here can be rough but the moorings are protected by the reef. This site suits all levels of diver.
Overview: The reef emerges from a shallow sandy bottom and a coral garden extends from the north side.
Dive plan: Head out from the mooring with the reef on your right shoulder.
When you arrive at the north end, take some time to explore the coral garden. There are some attractive coral blocks and table corals scattered all over the sandy bottom that is worth an inspection.
Coming back along the shallow reef, you will find the wall perforated by small cracks and holes to investigate. Here you should go as close as possible to the reef and look for small marine life such as nudibranchs, shrimps and pipefish.
What to see: The seabed flourishes with marine macro life and blue spotted rays excavate the sand for invertebrates. Clownfish play above anemones that sway in the gentle current. Unicornfish, surgeonfish and tangs cruise the top of the reef. Butterflyfish and angelfish spread out over the reef side making this dive a colourful experience.
SIYUL AL KABEIR
Depth: 0-10m on the backside of the reef, 31m on the north plateau Location: Around 110 mins from El Gouna. Conditions: There are protected moorings behind the reef but the trip out can be rough over open seas. The current can be vicious on the north side.
Overview: A sheer wall on the north gives way to a plateau to the east and south. Shallow pinnacles rise up on the south side.
Dive plan: You have two options here. One alternative is the obvious drift dive from the north side along the wall. You turn around the east corner over the plateau. Gradually move shallower, and finish the dive with a safety stop around the pinnacles to the south.
To dive from the mooring is equally satisfying. Head out and explore the pinnacles, and then let the current decide how far up around the eastern corner you go. Start to get your depth down the slope and progressively work yourself up to, and turn around at, the shallow part.
What to see: All along the bottom at the wall, blue spotted rays rest. Moray eels like yellow mouth moray, peppered moray and giant moray are a common sight. Sweetlips and goatfish hang in big schools in abundance. Stonefish, scorpionfish and lionfish stalk the side of the reef. Octopuses sometimes appear but are skilled in camouflage, hence difficult to spot. Now and then you find a zebra shark resting on the sandy bottom.
SIYUL AL SAGHIR
GPS – Position 27° 32.34′ N 33° 51.55′ E
Depth: South side 10-12m, north 15-22m Location: Around 110 mins from El Gouna. Conditions: Like Siyul Al Kabeir, the moorings are protected behind the reef but the trip out can be rough over open seas. The current can be strong on the north side.
Overview: A shelf outlines the contour of the reef with a depth of 15m sloping down to the northern drop-off at 18-22m. The east end extends into a coral garden. The south side of this site comprises a shallow flat sandy bottom at 10-12m.
Dive plan: This is another natural drift dive. Jumping in on the north side, you swim with the reef to your right and will most likely have the current with you on your way back. The shelf is interesting enough for a closer look but it’s the main reef that is the best part on this part of the dive.
Reaching the east end, a beautiful coral garden spills out in a northeast direction. Two large coral blocks sit on the flat sandy bottom around 30m from the reef and there
is a lot of action going on here? You can multilevel yourself up and finish the dive on the south side in the shallows.
What to see: You can expect to encounter schools of snappers, surgeonfish and goatfish along the wall. This reef is also the habitat for napoleon wrasse, grouper and moray eel. Turtles come by now and then. Giant pufferfish and blue spotted rays lie in the sand. You are also likely to see scorpionfish and stonefish.
Depth: Steep wall to 30m+, plunging into the depths Location: Around 110 mins from El Gouna. Conditions: Very exposed to the weather with little protection. Beware of strong currents here. Some experience required.
Overview: A boomerang-shaped reef stretching from east to west. A steep wall surrounds the reef then slopes out to great depth. On the west side, a narrow shelf sits from 20-35m.
Dive plan: As expected, this site should be dived as a drift. Jump in on the north side and drift along the wall. It’s a good idea is to make a current check first and find the split point. Both the east and the west side offer an excellent dive so take the easy way and follow the current.
The steep wall is interrupted by coral formations and sand patches. As you come around the east corner you find yourself over the shallow sandy bottom on the south side. Here you can spend the safety stop circling a couple of pretty pinnacles.
The west corner is equally beautiful, and as you turn around to the south side, two coral towers emerge from the wall at 20m. Stop here and have a look into the cavities. The south side is covered with fire coral and is at its best on the shallow part.
What to see: Small caves and cavities in the reef are populated by glassfish seeking shelter from predators like jackfish, mackerel and tuna, Silversides swarm in vast schools and fusiliers pass by in large quantities. Pufferfish and porcupinefish are common here, and the chance to encounter a free-swimming moray or a turtle is also good.
GPS – Position 27° 33.26′ N 33° 52.20′ E
Depth: 0-10m at the reef, the coral garden is 12-18m Location: Around 110 mins from El Gouna. Conditions: The reef is protected from the waves but not from the wind. Be careful here as the current can catch you out.
Overview: An oval-shaped reef on a north-south axis with the moorings on the south end. To the west, a vast sloping coral garden features a few pinnacles.
Dive plan: You can either dive this site from the mooring or as a drift dive; both options are equally beautiful. From the mooring, you begin your dive heading west into the coral garden. When you find the first pinnacle you adjust north, and the next two pinnacles lie in a straight line. As you swim further up north over the coral garden, move slightly east and soon you are back at the main reef. At this time, the best thing is to go shallow. The top of the reef is spectacular.
If you choose to drift, you just drop at the north end and start with exploring the coral
garden. Back on the sloping main reef, it is again preferable to swim on the shallow part. There is an outstanding view from this vantage point.
What to see: The hard coral growth is the main attraction here. You will be accompanied by the classic Red Sea fauna like schools of goatfish, bannerfish, snapper and sweetlips, as well as the smaller puller, damsel and anthias. Naturally, you also have crocodilefish and blue spotted rays in the sand, and scorpionfish on the reef. However, the condition of the coral is so good you are not so likely to consider the fish here