Shaab Sharm is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the coastal reefs of Marsa Alam. The exposed reef lies 12 km off the Egyptian coast and measures 700 m at its longest. Its steep walls descend in steps to a depth of over 200 m letting the currents flow freely around the reef, which leads to rich coral growth and occasionally even attracts big fish. However, night dives are not possible here because of these conditions, and the dive site is unsuitable for beginners-at least some diving experience is required. Shaab Sharm is a popular site for diving safaris to the south, and several groups of divers are often found here at the same time.
The steep walls to the north and south are densely overgrown and surrounded by shoals of snappers and jacks. Nevertheless, most dives take place at the eastern tip, where the wall is interrupted by a plateau A that stretches along the reef beginning at a depth of about 17 m and reaching depths of up to 35 m. Soft and hard corals cover the plateau offering a magnificent sight, and now and again grey reef sharks and other big fish also come by. The current is usually very strong here, so you must always stay close to the reef or risk being carried out past the end of the plateau and into the open sea A. Below the eastern plateau at a depth of 45 m, lies the entrance to a cave A that reaches far into the reef. It should however not be penetrated without proper training.
Also at Shaab Sharm’s western side lies a long and narrow plateau A, which is also richly overgrown promising great dives and is easier to dive at than at the eastern plateau because of its shallower depth of only 15 to 25 m and shelter from the current.
Route A: eastern plateau-southern side
Duration: about 40 min. Difficulty: *** Go by RIB to the northern side. Sometimes there are big waves here, so it is advisable to descend with negative buoyancy. Descend as quickly as possible to the plateau A at 30 m and drift with the current to the eastern tip, keeping the reef on your right shoulder. Be sure to stay close to the reef at the end of the plateau to avoid being swept out by the current into the open sea A. Dive around the eastern tip and continue to the boat 1. The southern side is an ideal place to make the safety stop since it is sheltered from the currents and offers calm conditions. If the mooring lies further to the west, surface and returns to the boat by RIB.
Route B: western plateau-mooring
Duration: about 60 min. Difficulty: ** Go by RIB to the western tip ® and descend to the lower edge of the western plateau at 25 m, where big fish occasionally swim about in the blue. We even once encountered dolphins here. Dive along the densely overgrown ledge with the reef on your left shoulder. Since the plateau gradually rises, you will automatically ascend if you follow its profile. Slowly finish your dive at the steep face of the southern side further to the east, and either dive back to the boat or surface and return by RIB, depending on where your boat is moored 1.
Tips / Hazards
• Explore the two plateaus to the east and west • The current on the eastern plateau can be very
strong-be sure to stay close to the reef A • Steep walls—watch your depth • Keep a lookout for big fish in the blue