The Red Sea is seen as one of the most spectacular diving destinations in the world and it certainly lives up to its reputation. With year round crystal clear and warm water it has something to offer everyone. Whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned diver, an underwater world of adventure awaits you.
The Worldwide Wildlife Federation has even labelled the Red Sea as an area of conservation, according it the status of “Marine Ecoregion”. It’s easy to see why when you consider the 1,200 different species of fish, some 1,000 invertebrates and 200 hard and soft water coral species that call the sea home. The latter forming a vibrant patchwork quilt of breathtaking structural formations playing host to some of the most exotic inhabitants of the ocean.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 Red Sea dives off the coast of Egypt:
1. SS Thistlegorm wreck
This military vessel sank in October 1941 in the Gulf of Suez carrying jeeps, armoured gun carriers, trucks, rifles and sizeable cargo of Wellington boots (still to be seen). One of the world’s most popular diving sites and a spectacular underwater adventure. The ship is accessible through a huge explosion hole in the 120 metre hull giving you views of the giant tuna and schooling barracuda that now frequent the wreck. One to see before it’s too late as she is deteriorating fast.
2. Giannis D wreck
This cargo ship sank in the Straits of Gubal in April 1983 after striking a reef. Resting at a shallow 27 metres in depth this is an easily accessible wreck which is largely intact.
You can still access the engine room and accommodation which is now home to a variety of marine life including the rather prickly Crown of Thorns Starfish. Nearby a reef abundant with fish (many of which have crossed over to the wreck too) and spectacular coral makes for an interesting diversion.
3. Steamship SS Dunraven wreck
This 80 metre long Victorian sail and steam ship sank in 1876 in the Gulf of Suez, coming to rest in 28 metres of water upside down. Her cargo consisting of cotton, timber and spices from India and bound for Liverpool.
The cave like hull of the ship is still intact allowing you to enter and swim through, observing the collapsed metal work which is now home to Yellow Goat fish and Giant Morays. Outside the wreck you’ll find a large variety of marine life which includes the Bat fish and very rare Ghost pipe fish, making for a brilliant underwater photo opportunity.
4. Carnatic wreck
This P&O passenger ship sank on the Sha’ab Abu Nuhas reef in September 1869. Measuring 90 metres long the ship was also carrying a precious cargo of cotton bails, wine and over £40,000 in Royal Mint gold, although you won’t find any gold now as this was recovered immediately afterwards.
Despite the length of time this wreck has been submersed it will not disappoint and, for its age, is one of the finest examples in the world. The wreck has been colonised over time by various species of coral and has her own indigenous reef fish population including Lion fish and Grouper. The interior has also been colonised by Glass fish making this wreck a dream come true for photographers.
5. Ras Mohammed National Park
Finally, no diving experience in the Red Sea could be complete without visiting the spectacular reefs within this area of protection. The striking tapestries of colour provided by the marine life and abundant coral make a stark contrast to the barren desert which borders the park on land.
Easily accessible from Sharm El Sheikh, the park includes an Eel garden along with a large stretch of vertical coral walls (Main Beach) and a newly opened reef (Marsa Bareika) which contains superior coral specimens along with barracudas and snappers (with the odd shark or two). The calm, clear water makes this an easy diving location for the beginner.
The above represent only a few of the beautiful and awe-inspiring diving hotspots that are waiting to be experienced in the Red Sea. No visit to Egypt could be complete without a visit to what has to be one of the best diving locations in the world.
Written by Chris Rowlands from the Egypt Holidays section of travelsupermarket.com