Abu Basala lies at the heart of St. John’s reefs, 25 km off the mainland. The southern side of this 1050 m long reef provides a safe place to moor at overnight and is therefore highly frequented. Nevertheless, because of its size, the dive groups spread out well across the reef.
To the north, the reef wall plunges to a depth of over 100 m but is not worth seeing because of its few corals. The sheltered side to the south is more interesting: large arouks AAAA rise from the seabed from an average depth of 16 m. Their walls are covered with corals A A, and one of the features small caverns at a depth of 5 m A. Large coral gardens A hosting a variety of marine life, such as shrimps, sea slugs and octopuses, grow in the south of the main reef, a place especially recommended for night dives. In the reef wall behind them lie the entrances to a branched system of caves and caverns A. However, the caverns are long and often very narrow A and require either a lot of diving experience or at least a guide who knows the area. To the east, at the other end of the reef, stands another series of arouks A, which are also covered with corals but are less interesting than those to the west.
Except for the caverns A, diving is generally easy at the site: the currents are diverted by the reef, the visibility is mostly excellent apart from a few days in the year, and the sandy seabed is no deeper than 20 m. You may, however, find it difficult to orient yourself between the arouks. Try to memorise their positions and take the approximate compass bearing before diving to avoid unwanted underwater sightseeing tours.