Foul Bay

foul bay

Foul Bay begins at the small town of Berenice and extends down to the Egyptian border with Sudan with a distance from north to south of over 90 km. Note that a separate section has been devoted to St. John’s reefs in the south to better distinguish the large area, which is why we have also added the reefs near Berenice to those of Foul Bay.

Berenice is the last major village before the border with Sudan. The once ancient city was named by Ptolemy II and used to be a trading port in pre-Christian times. Today, people make their living mainly through fishing-mass tourism is virtually non-existent. Though there is a military airport nearby, it is not open for commercial flights, and currently no liveaboards depart from Berenice. Ten years ago, diving safaris south of Ras Banas were a rarity, and only few boats toured the area compared to the reefs around Hurghada. However, tours to the Deep South are becoming increasingly popular.

Divers only come to a few of the reefs in Foul Bay for two reasons: first of all, the major routes from St. John’s reefs usually lead straight to the Fury Shoals without stops. Since there are only few overnight moorings in Foul Bay, they would have to reach the sheltered moorings at Sernaka Island or Sataya Reef leaving little time to dive at Foul Bay. Secondly, most reefs cannot be compared to those of St. John’s or Fury Shoals in terms of plant life and abundance of fish. Accordingly, diving here is often of no great interest. Although White Rock and Shaab Aiman are sometimes visited, during our exploration dives we found the reefs of no great interest, and decided not to include them in this guide for now.

A definite highlight of the area is undoubtedly Umm Chararim with its caverns (see p. 1-5-3), and it is also worthwhile to dive at Sernaka Island (also known as Mikauwa Island). The wreck of ll Kamash (see p. 1-5-2) lies there, and anyone interested can go for a stroll on the uninhabited island, where the petrified remains of corals lie among its sand and rocks attesting that the island was once below sea level.