Depth: 8-25m, sloping to 60m+ Location: Around 60 mins from Safaga. Conditions: Exposed to both the weather and current, it is often not possible to dive this site.
Overview:A ridge flanking the coast connected to the coastal reef by a ravine. The ridge extending on the east side has a shelf from 15-20m.
Dive plan: The shallowest part of the ravine comes up to around 8m, sloping down in the direction of the deep at both ends.
However, there is no need to follow the slant, since the prettiest part of this site is by far the shallows. Here the natural light, shining through the cracks in the top of the reef, brings out a cascade of famous Red Sea colours.
The plan should be made with the current as of the main consideration, but whichever route you choose, the ravine makes for a natural safety stop after an expedition to the shelf on the outside.
What to see: The richness of the marine life here is spectacular. The sand is packed with lizardfish, crocodile fish and gobies. The hard coral is in exceptional condition and is home to scorpionfish, stonefish and morays lurking in cavities. Snappers and other schooling fish populate the top of the reef, whilst barracuda and jackfish hang suspended in the blue.
RAS UMM HESIWA
Depth: 15-40m+ Location: Around 50 mins from Saf: Conditions: Exposed to weather current, this site requires a calm day is best for divers with some experience
Overview: A sloping plateau that later plunges into the abyss. In the direction of the open sea, the ridge extends from the north of the plat ending in a sheer drop.
Dive plan: The plateau from 15-20m is the m attraction here. If you bring a camera y to find the number of large table corals I for photography. The ridge in the nor also worth some time exploring. How it begins at 25m and can prove to demand venture, so beware of current and keep an eye on your pres gauge. For less experienced divers it r be a better idea to stay at the bea shallower depth of the main reef.
Making the safety stop in the shallow of the top reef makes for an experience that shows the Red Sea at its finest
What to see: The sandy areas underneath and around the table corals host rays, crocodile fish, and sometimes even white tip reef sharks. Bannerfish and butterflyfish hang in the calm water sheltered by bends in the reef wall. On the ridge, the current, depth and the location in open water hint that pelagic fish might pass by, and thresher sharks sightings have been reported here.
RAS ABU SOMA
GPS – Position 26° 50.35′ N 34° 00.12′ E
Depth: 0-12m, sloping to 25m and a dropoff at 35m+ Location: Around 45 mins from Safaga. Conditions: Normally protected from the wind and the current, this site suits all levels of diver and dive training.
Overview: A slanting reef side lands on a sandy slope, littered by coral blocks, eventually dropping off into great depth. Further north, the shelf narrows down to a ledge ultimately giving way to a vertical wall.
Dive plan: This is an obvious drift dive. Drop a few hundred metres up north and swim with the wall on your right. After a few minutes, the wall is broken up by a ledge at 35m, ascending into a plateau at 15m with table corals and hard corals of a spectacular kind.
The plateau slopes down to about 25m before it disappears into the deep as a dropoff. The rich marine life in the shallows guarantees an enjoyable safety stop. A dive here is often combined with the nearby site of Abu Soma Gardens.
What to see: Giant moray eels are often seen free swimming over the plateau and eagle rays sometimes pass by. On the reef slope, you might find an octopus or cuttlefish. Numerous anemones protect families of clownfish all over the plateau. Big predators have been known to visit here, but don’t count on a shark encounter.
GPS – Position 26° 50.20′ N 33° 59.40′ E
Depth:12-30m Location: Around 30 mins from Safaga, Conditions: Protected by the headland of Abu Soma, this site is always diveable and suits all levels of diver and dive training.
Overview: This site is also known as the Seven Pillars. On a flat sandy bottom, five main pinnacles lead to a slope at the south where the boats are moored.
Dive plan: Right underneath the boat, the bottom slopes from approximately 30m up to a flat sandy bottom where you find five pinnacles. Two of the five pinnacles are split at the top (which is likely to be the origin of the name Seven Pillars). Plenty of cracks and caves give shelter to marine life.
Since there is hardly any current here, and the bottom is flat, you can improvise this dive as you go along. The pinnacles are all in visual range from one another which makes navigation easy. Just make sure you get a safe profile. The topography of this site may mean involuntary yo-yo dives.
What to see: This is the ultimate dive site for photographers and videographers. Napoleon wrasse poses enthusiastically before the wide-angle, and nudibranchs are models for the macro lens. Lionfish and jackfish stalking schools of silversides, and soft coral-covered overhangs veiled by anthias and glassfish, will make you feel like a professional photographer. There is also often a turtle to be found here.
GPS – Position 26° 49.79′ N 33° 59.05′ E
Depth: 4-35m Location: Around 30 mins from Safaga. Conditions: Protected by the Abu Soma peninsula, this site is generally calm and displays little current.
Overview: An extensive sloping reef on a north-south axis, interrupted by ridges and sandy-bottomed canyons. Tobia Island is at one end, whilst Sandy Island lies at the other.
Dive plan: This is an obvious morning dive since the entire dive site faces east. The shallow part of this site is like a maze with ridges and canyons. You can easily make three to four different dives along with the reef system. The best way to dive here is to aimlessly swim around at a depth not greater than 15m.
The boat will generally moor to the north of the site and you begin the dive by descending and moving southeast to your maximum depth over the coral garden. At least two napoleon wrasse make their home in the area of the moorings and you may find yourself descending on top of them.
When you reach your maximum depth, continue to the south along with the coral garden until you reach a sandy channel. Then turn west and follow the channel as it rises to around 4m. The channel transforms into a lagoon running north-south between the main reef and the coral garden around 8m.
What to see: Turtles are a quite familiar sight here, as are napoleon wrasse and moray eels. You find the usual suspects like butterflyfish, angelfish and emperor fish around the reef, as well as stonefish and the Red Sea walkman. Jackfish and barracuda sometimes come here to hunt, and zebra sharks have been seen resting on the sandy flats.
TOBIA AL KABEIR
GPS – Position 26° 48.50′ N 33° 59.70′ E
Depth: 15-18m, and 25m further out on the plateau Location: Around 30 mins from Safaga. Conditions: Like Tobia Hamra, this site is protected from wind and waves by Abu Soma. Normally featuring gentle or no current, this site suits all levels of diver.
Overview: A large rectangular reef sitting on a flat sandy seabed; to the south annexed by two large pinnacles, and one small.
Dive plan: The east side is naturally the liveliest part of this site since it is more exposed to the current. Start your dive from the mooring on the south side and set out on the pathway between the reef and the pinnacles. The east wall is broken up at the top by small canyons. This gives the reef a more interesting profile.
If you have some time left when you reach the pinnacles in the south, scorpionfish and morays can be seen but the pinnacles themselves are not really worth exploring at length. The south end of the reef lands
on around 5m which makes this area an excellent place for your safety stop.
What to see:
The east wall of the main reef is an explosion of some of the best marine life the Red Sea has to offer and some beautiful corals. You will find groupers, tangs, surgeonfish, unicornfish and anemones teeming with clownfish. On the sandy bottom flanking the reef you find blue spotted rays and flatfish like moses sole. The pinnacles in the south have cracks and holes where glassfish hide from hungry lionfish and jackfish. Triggerfish are patrolling over the bottom and in the summer dolphins sometimes drop by.
TOBIA AL SAGHAIRA
GPS – Position 26° 48.20′ N 33° 59.70′ E
Depth: 6-15m Location: Around 30 mins from Safaga. Conditions: Not 100% protected, but this site is normally a good choice for most weather conditions.
Overview: Extending in a southerly direction from Tobia Kabeir, two lines of ergs emerge from a flat sandy seabed.
Dive plan: As the bottom is fairly flat, average 13m, and the pinnacles are located close to each other, this dive site can be a little bit tricky to navigate. One way to make it easier is to head out on the east side and come back on the west. There are plenty of gorges and channels to cross over on your return.
Another route is to concentrate on the two most southern pinnacles, especially since they are the best. There are some gorgeous photo and video opportunities here; particularly in the small tunnel in the east pinnacle. Another highlight is the small coral formations around the north end of the western pinnacles.
What to see:Big schools of bannerfish and goatfish hang effortlessly in the current. Blue-spotted rays and crocodilefish are seen everywhere on the bottom. You can find glassfish and silversides sheltering from lionfish, groupers and scorpionfish in every crack. The top of the reef is patrolled by surgeonfish and unicornfish. If your time and air allows it, you can stop by for a manicure at one of the many cleaning stations
GAMUL AL SAGHIR
GPS – Position 26° 47.77′ N 33° 59.48′ E
Depth: 5-20m Location: Around 20 mins from Safaga. Conditions: This site suits all levels of divers and it is an excellent idea when your choice is limited due to windy weather.
Overview: The boats moor at the south end of this small circular reef. There is a sandy plateau on the northwest end and a number of pinnacles spread out over a large area to the southeast
Dive plan: The pinnacles in the south are most interesting at this site. They are covered in soft corals and surrounded by an abundance of marine life. On the way to the closest and biggest pinnacle, you pass garden eels swaying over the seabed at 14m.
Navigating from one pinnacle to the next in this area is easier if you check your bearings before you jump from the boat. The pinnacles rest approximately 50-60m apart on the flat sandy bottom. Save some air for a quick route along the top of the main reef for a beautiful safety stop.
What to see: The pinnacles are draped in schools of bannerfish, goatfish and butterflyfish. On the sandy bottom, there is a surprising amount of scorpionfish. Batfish also hang around, gladly posing for photographers. Lionfish and moon grouper hunt in cracks packed full of glassfish.
GAMUL AL KABEIR
Depth:7-15m Location: Around 20 mins from Safaga. Conditions: A sheltered mooring practically guarantees a high-quality dive at this site in any conditions. Suits all levels of diver and dive training.
Overview: A round reef emerging from 15m encircles a lagoon that opens to the west. Three pinnacles line up to the north.
Dive plan: The ideal way to dive this site is as a drift. Drop on the north side of the reef and take some time to explore the three ergs. Then turn south and make your way back to the boat putting the main reef on your right-hand side. The top of the reef is beautiful and invites you for an enjoyable safety stop.
If you choose to start from the mooring you have almost half an hour swim up to the pinnacles, and on the way you can explore a few pretty areas with sea grass and eel gardens. The way back is best spent in shallow water, where the light Sparkles through cracks in the top of the reef.
What to see: A large school of barracuda normally hang around just underneath the surface. There are big-eyed emperor fish and snappers circling the pinnacles. The sharp-eyed diver examining the seagrass might encounter a sea moth. Eagle rays and white tip reef sharks are not unusual; even dugong sightings have been reported here.
GPS – Position 26° 42.23′ N 34° 06.01′ E
Depth: 0-12m, plateau 25-35m, then drop-off Location: Around 80 mins from Safaga. Conditions: Exposed to weather, but the boats normally moor up on the south side and are fairly protected. A range of divers can be accommodated here, but beware the current which can be strong.
Overview: A round reef with a coral garden in the southeast corner. The south side, broken up by canyons and caves, is flanked by pinnacles and large coral blocks. The bottom slopes to 25m where a lone erg emerges.
Dive plan: Situated on a large plateau, this reef has a huge sandy area to the south, a wide shelf on the east and west side, plus a generous plateau in the north describing the typical Red Sea offshore reef. Drift dives, with the prospect to see big predators, can be made along either side. Finishing in the coral garden makes a magnificent safety stop.
Dives from the mooring are equally rewarding. The coral garden and the maze
of ridges and canyons are worth every minute of exploration. Make sure you’ve got your bearings right though. It is easy to get carried away by the beauty and lose your sense of direction.
What to see: This is a classic Red Sea paradise. Big brain corals lie in the coral garden, soft corals and gorgonians flourish on the reef side, together with an overload of macro life. Small reef fish like anthias and butterflyfish, schooling fish such as snappers and sweetlips, and big predators like sharks and barracuda, are all represented here.
GPS – Position 26° 39.33′ N 34° 02.45′ E
Depth: 5-30m Location: Around 70 mins from Safaga. Conditions: The reef offers protection for the moorings. The current can be strong around the corners, but it is mainly gentle behind the reef.
Overview: This site is also known as Hyndman Reef. A 1km long boomerang-shaped reef running from east to west with thriving coral gardens and pinnacles that emerge from the seabed.
Dive plan: This site can be dived as a drift from the north side providing you know how to make a proper current check. It can also be dived from the moorings, at the east or the west corners. Either way, this a rewarding dive.
At the east side, you head out along the main reef turning north to explore a wonderful coral garden. Turning back, you hold to the east through a dramatic underwater landscape, and circle a few ergs that come off the bottom at 16m. Here you can swim in narrow canyons finding plenty of beautiful camera angles for your camera.
What to see: Triggerfish, wrasse, parrotfish and surgeonfish cruise along the reef. Emperorfish, bannerfish and sweetlips hang in schools posing for photos with canyons in the pinnacles as backdrops. Barracuda and jackfish are often seen, as well as tuna, and even white tip sharks.
GPS – Position 26° 37.78′ N 34° 03.57′ E
Depth:4-19m Location: Around 90 mins from Safaga. Conditions: The most southern reef in the Shaab Shehr area. Situated in the open sea, this site needs excellent weather conditions.
Overview: A cluster of five attractive ergs of different sizes rising from a flat sandy bottom at 15-19m depth.
Dive plan: You have to let the current decide the dive plan here. It’s possible to just swim around the ergs from the base, and head upwards until you reach your safety stop. Due to the exposed location, this site is less dived and the corals are in mint condition.
There are a few swim-throughs here, and plenty of soft corals and gorgonians promising superb photo opportunities. Just be careful not to break the corals; the strong current can make it hard to hover motionless whilst looking through a view-finder.
If you have enough air, you can venture further south to find a few more pinnacles.
What to see: Glassfish and silversides are under constant attack from jackfish and lionfish around the pinnacles. Keep your eyes open for scorpionfish and stonefish. You can also spot blue-spotted rays digging in the sand. Schools of unicornfish, tangs and Red Sea needlefish patrol the top of the reef making the safety stop an absolute pleasure
GPS – Position 26° 39.04′ N 34° 03.82′ E
Depth: 10-18m, drop-off 25m+ Location: Around 80 mins from Safaga. Conditions: Protected from the wind, but not the current, this dive site can be rather more demanding than it first appears.
Overview: A round reef emerges from the bottom at 10m, extended by coral gardens to the east and west, cascading down a slope. A ridge of pinnacles sticks out in a southerly direction, while the bottom descends to around 15-18m depth.
Dive plan: How you plan this dive depends on the current. It is a small reef but it has a lot to offer. You can easily go all the way around the reef in one dive. Swim slowly and stay close to the reef and you will find a lot of interesting macro life.
Head out east with the reef on your left shoulder, leading progressively shallower as you approach the end of the dive. At this point, you’re at the ridge of pinnacles where you can spend the safety stop exploring the narrow canyons and swim-throughs.
What to see: At the very south end of the ridge of pinnacles, there is an overhang with a big gorgonia. Here you will find the longnose hawkfish if you’ve got sharp eyes. Around the reef, especially at the split point, you can find schools of bannerfish and sweetlips. The coral gardens and the top of the reef are populated by colourful triggerfish, parrotfish, tangs and unicornfish.
Depth: 4-35m Location: Around 80 mins from Safaga. Conditions: Located in the open sea some 400m southeast of Middle Reef, this site requires perfect weather. The current can be brutal so some experience is required.
Overview: This site is also known as Shaab Qais. Two ergs emerge from 13m on a large plateau that drops off into the deep at 25m.
Dive plan:Start with a visit to the drop-off to cast your eyes out into the blue and look for big fish. Then base your decision on where to go next on the current. There is no hurry, this dive site is small enough to explore thoroughly on just one dive.
Take your time around the pinnacles and gradually work yourself shallower as you go along. Make sure you look into all the small cracks and cavities where you’re likely to find cleaner shrimps and other tiny crustaceans. The very top of the reef is around 4m deep and makes for the most beautiful safety stop.
What to see: This reef is a fountain of life with soft corals, large gorgonian, and impressive table corals. You can expect to see the smaller residents, as well as the larger visitors in vast quantities. On the drop-off, you may encounter tuna, Spanish mackerel, barracuda, turtles, sharks and groupers. Closer around the pinnacles you’re almost certain to see napoleon, snappers, sweetlips, unicornfish, anthias and large clouds of glassfish.