The Red Sea is one of the most famous scuba diving destinations in the world. It got its name from the huge blooms of algae that turn the water reddish when they recede. The Red Sea is an unchanging landscape. Vast empty deserts reaching as far as the eye can see and serve as the backdrop against blue twinkling waters. Just beneath the surface lies an abundance of contrasting and colourful beds, exploding with marine life. The Red Sea is a site full of historical activity – pharaohs ruled and died, navies fought and conquistadors crossed.
Take your camera because today we travel to the ancient Red Sea!
The Red Sea
Also known as the Erythraean Sea, the Red Sea is the northernmost tropical sea in the world. Believed to be formed 30 million years ago, when Africa separated from Asia, the Red Sea is an incredible 2200 km long, yet only 330 km at its widest point. In the north it connects with the Mediterranean Sea, while the Indian Ocean is located in the south. The Red Sea is generally very deep, reaches a maximum depth of 2200 metres and features established patterns of oceanic currents that circulate fresh nutrients. The result of it is that coral reefs are very well developed and support an incredible density of marine life.
The Red sea hosts about 1200 marine species and around 200 different species of corals. The ease of spotting sharks, dolphins, rays, turtles and thousands of colourful fish often ranks the Red Sea as the favourite location for many divers. Not only this, but the Red Sea is now the final resting place for several extraordinary wrecks.
The Red sea hosts about 1200 marine species and around 200 different species of corals. It’s the northernmost tropical sea of the world. Visited by millions of divers yearly it is a world class diving destination.
The Northern Red Sea
The North Red Sea is typically where most resorts can be found. It is the most visited and therefore most crowded region. Waters are calm and temperatures warm (between 22-28°C) with crystal clear visibility. Conditions are very good for new and inexperienced divers. You’ll be surprised by beautiful walls, amazing coral formations, world famous wrecks and the incredible Dahab Blue Whole!
Sharm El Sheikh
Located at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula and close to Ras Mohammed National Park, Sharm El Sheikh offers a wide variety of diving for all levels of experience.
Sharm features deep walls full of life and stunning wrecks that make the region a true world class diving destination. Reef sharks can be found in great amounts and if you are lucky, the chances are good that you might bump into a hammerhead shark. Turtles, big jacks, trevallies, napoleon wrasses, and shoals of colourful reef fish and many more swim around healthy, breathtaking coral formations and offer some of the best experiences a diver can have.
But there is another reason why millions of divers come back again and again to this region…
The Thistlegorm Wreck
This wreck was discovered by Jacques Cousteau in the early 50’s and it is one of the most famous wreck sites visited by divers in the world. The Thistlegorm was an armoured carrier that served during World War II. When en-route to make a supply run to the allied forces, she was sunk by german bombers. Now lying at a depth of 30 metres, nature has reclaimed her, providing shelter for turtles, rays, crocodile fish, stone fish, bat fish and huge barracuda.
What makes this wreck so interesting for divers is the direct access to the Thistlegorm’s cargo holds, which were exposed by the bombs that sunk her. Trucks, armoured vehicles, planes and an incredible assortment of military equipment now lays strewn upon the bed and turns this unique site into a sort of underwater museum.
The Thistlegorm wreck is one of the most visited wrecks in the world. Her decks are very easy to access. Inside you can discover an incredible assortment of military equipment.
Hurghada, the second most visited destination in the Red Sea, offers excellent conditions for both, new and experienced divers. It was formerly a small fishing village and has slowly grown over the years to incorporate resorts and dive centres who improved the access to this magical location. Nowadays it is the main departure harbour for most of the liveaboards that venture to the South Red Sea.
Beautiful coral reefs lay in easy-to-dive waters with calm surface conditions and excellent visibility. This region is home to many sea turtles, napoleon wrasses, lionfish and many different kinds of rays as well as big barracudas. Thousands of colourful reef fish swim in shoals, especially around the wreck dive sites. Diving further south holds the chance of diving alongside dolphins in an area that has now become known as Dolphin Reef.
An encounter with a turtle is always exciting. Carey and green turtles are the most common species in the Red Sea.
Dahab is located roughly 80km northeast of Sharm El Sheikh. It offers very good shore diving. Its walls feature sheer drops to the abyss, making boat entry less practical. In fact, in some areas, it has become more practical to access the dive sites by camel!
Originally it once was a small Bedouin town but nowadays it has been transformed into one of the most treasured diving destinations in Sinai and earned its high ranking in the diving world for one big reason…
The Blue Hole
The Blue Hole is a stunning underwater sinkhole that drops down to 130 metres at its deepest. There is a shallow arch at 6 metres and a deep tunnel at 56 metres that connects the Blue Hole with the Red Sea. Diving the Blue Hole is a once in a lifetime opportunity and therefore recommended for any diver or snorkeler. Many turtles and reef sharks populate the Blue Hole and are surrounded by lots of coloured fish.
However, please note: The Blue Hole is currently the deadliest scuba diving location in the world. Roughly 30 divers die here every year. Sadly the majority of the victims are inexperienced divers that attempted to pass through the deep tunnel at 56 metres in order to reach the open sea. Several instructors have also lost their lives here.
Never try to dive the deep tunnel unless you are an experienced diver and hold the necessary certifications and equipment to safely make the dive. This can only be attempted as a technical dive and requires training, planning and equipment that are beyond the scope of recreational diving. Do not allow any guide or buddy to push you to go deeper than your level of comfort and common sense permits. Never dive beyond your limits!
Diving the Blue Hole is a unique experience, whether you venture to 20 metres or 40 metres. Be conservative and enjoy a very easy and stunning dive even at shallow depth.
No one can deny that the Red Sea offers a wide diversity of the best diving in the world. As a diver, sooner or later, one has to visit the Red Sea. Also check the Southern Red Sea!