Scuba Diving in Egypt — Sharm el-Sheikh
Sharm el-Sheikh is Paradise for the Scuba Diver. Two friends of mine and I were lucky to experience this paradise on a Scubatrip in February '96. The first week we stayed at the Hotel Tiran Village in Nama Bay having the dives arranged by the Red Sea Diving College. We set out with their beautiful diveboat Yasmin Serine for two dives daily (5 days).
The following is a summary of the 13 dives:
1st dive - Far GardenYo! Great! Lots of fish in beautiful colors, plenty of coral and perfect visibility (30 m). Situated just north of Nama Bay, Far Garden wasn't far at all. It has it's name from the time divers walked to the bay north of Nama Bay where you had and still have three divesites: Near, Middle and Far Garden. We had a narrow slope down to 15 m where the reef became a wall and we continued down to 27 m and had a multilevel-dive for 32 min. Main attractions were a Bluespotted Stingray, some Barracudas and many great Gorgonian Seafan Corals.
2nd dive - Middle GardenAfter 2,5 hrs rest on the sundeck of Yasmin Serine and some snorkelling, we went for a drift dive to Middle Garden. We stayed shallow with most of the 50 min divetime above 10 m. Saw stunning coral formations and most species of fish in my guidebook, but the drift was not particularly strong.
3rd dive - Ras Um SidRas is the Arabic word for cape and Ras Um Sid was located 7 km south of Nama Bay. I had a great walldive down to 25 m (36 min) and saw splendid Gorgonians, a highly poisonous Lionfish, a huge Napoleon Wrasse, the funny looking Picasso Triggerfish and lots of other species. After getting back in the boat a sea turtle appeared close by.
4th dive - SodfaGoing back towards Nama Bay we stopped at Sodfa (close to the Temple) for another great dive 20 m (46 min). Two Lionfish, a huge Napoleon and more Gorgonians were the main attractions.
5th dive - Jacson ReefBeing the northernmost reef in the Straits of Tiran, Jacson Reef was some 2 hrs boatride north-east from Nama Bay. The Straits of Tiran rank among the finest attractions of the Red Sea and is one of the few spots where it's possible to encounter sharks on virtually every dive. We were not that lucky. The weather turned quite windy which resulted in high waves and reduced visibility. The strong current and some hectic UW-photographing made me spend more air, 29 m (25 min). Both Jacson Reef and Gordon Reef in the Straits of Tiran have wrecks on top.
6th dive - White KnightOn the way back towards Nama Bay from the Straits of Tiran, we stopped at White Knight. The attraction here was a gorge which ended in a small tunnel on 30 m depth. Good fun. 30m (37 min).
7th and 8th dive - ThistlegormWreckdiving on Thislegorm was absolutely great and well worth the boatride from Sharm el-Sheikh which lasted from dawn (5:00) till dusk (18:00). The Thistlegorm was sunk by a German bomber on October 6th 1941. She lies on a sand plain at a depth of 17-30 m and has a length of 126 m.We had perfect visibility (30 m) and it was amazing to see so much of the wreck from the moment we hit water.
The first and deepest dive was concentrated on the stern part of the ship, 25 m (35 min), while the second covered the rest, 23 m (39 min). We could swim through parts of the wreck and we saw loads of material from the huge cargo: trucks, motorbikes, boots, rifles and even railway carriages.
The current was very strong. The waves increased in size and right after I had finished my last dive the rope which held the boat tied to the wreck broke with some 10 divers still down on Thistlegorm. Those hanging on to the rope had a speedy ascent, but no one was injured.
Thistlegorm must be one of the best divesites in the world.
9th dive - Shark ReefI had another great dive on Shark Reef in Ras Mohammed Nationalpark. The link gives a lot of information about the site. I was amazed to see 7 Bluespotted Stingrays on this driftdive. I also saw a huge shoal of Great Barracudas (1,5 m) standing still against the current.
One disappointment on Shark Reef was the coral which had severely suffered from the visits of too many careless divers (and the anchors of their boats). When will we ever learn?
10th dive - The TempleOn The Temple, just outside Sharm el-Sheikh, I made my longest dive. My divebuddy Kajsa and I stayed down for 78 min in shallow waters (5-15 m) and saw a lot of fish (2 Bluespotted Stingrays, 3 Great Trumpetfish etc.). The coralformations were splendid with tunnels and towers.
11th dive - Ras Um SidGreat night-dive. Saw three squids, a black and white sea-snake, sleeping fish and a Lionfish. When we closed the light we saw phosphorescence. There were much less fish active in the sea at night, but we saw a lot sleeping and hiding in the holes of the reef. Everything outside the light-beam was black. Any sharks around? 23 m (45 min).
12th dive - Ras NasraniGreat walldive with a lot of fish and great coral. 6 Great Barracudas passed above us. Experienced several cold streams coming out of the reef at 10-15 m depth (freshwater). 23 m (65 min).
13th dive - The TowerThis was the last dive in the Rea Sea on this trip and I loved it just as much as the first. A walldive with a few tower formations. Loads of fish and coral. Had a Great Barracuda on 1,5 m distance with a shoal of small fish around. I fancy the tiny Anemonefish which attacks everyone getting too close no matter size.