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THE BEST DIVING IN EGYPT | Liveaboard Safari

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One of the best ways to dive the Red Sea is undoubtedly by liveaboard. The extended range of the vessels allows visitors to dive offshore island reefs such as Daedalus and the Brothers which are inaccessible to dayboats, plus dive the best of the Red Sea's wrecks on a schedule that minimises interference from the day trippers. With more time and flexibility, it's much easier to avoid the crowds, see the best of the marine life and, thanks to the use of RIBs, easier to reach those parts of the reef where the day boats are otherwise unable to pick up and drop off their divers.

There is a range of different itineraries available, from novices to more advanced and technical divers. They are broadly split into northern and southern itineraries and those that take in the best of the dive sites in between. Some are dedicated to wrecks, others to reefs, and some take in the best of both worlds. It would take at least five different vacations to explore the best of the Egyptian Red Sea from top to bottom by liveaboard, and another 50 to do it properly.

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NORTHERN ROUTES

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Northern routes typically explore the best of the diving available from both Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, but with a great deal more flexibility than can be offered by the daily boat trips from either resort. Early morning dives at sites such as Shark and Yolanda reef in Ras Mohammed can be made several hours before the day boats arrive, giving divers the opportunity to explore the reef without interruption and, perhaps, enjoy a few big fish sightings as a result. Wrecks such as the SS Thistlegorm are lengthy journies from shore and the day boats maintain tight and similar schedules, hence the wreck can be very crowded at times. Diving from a liveaboard means the schedule can be planned around times when the daily divers aren't in the water and - as an added bonus - afford visitors the opportunity to night dive on some of the wrecks, an eerie and atmospheric experience that is simply not possible on day trips. Many northern itineraries will also include a stop at the Brothers Islands, well out of reach of daily boats.

 

NORTHERN HIGHLIGHTS

RAS MOHAMED / TIRAN

northern shark reef

Make the most of the best diving in Sharm visiting Shark and Yolanda and Jackson Reef. Apart from the possibility of diving before other divers reach the sites, the RIBs used by liveaboards mean some parts of the dive sites are more accessible than to the daily boats.

SHA'AB ABU NUHAS

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Famous for having more wrecks at a single location than any other reef in the Red Sea, Sha'ab Abu Nuhas is home to popular wrecks such as the Giannis D, Chrisoula K and Carnatic. Some itineraries will explore them all before visiting the Dunraven and Thistlegorm.

SHA'AB EL ERG

bottlenose dolphins

Also known as Dolphin House, Sha'ab El Erg is a popular destination for Hurghada boats, with a good chance to encounter bottlenose dolphins underwater. As with many other locations, diving from a liveaboard means visitors have a better chance to see them before the crowds arrive

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SIMPLY THE BEST

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'Simply the Best' is a popular name for liveaboard itineraries that cover the Egyptian Red Sea between the north and south - it sounds better than 'the bits in the middle'. Daedalus, Elphinstone and the Brothers Islands are the reefs most often visited as part of these itineraries. Liveaboards which cover these reefs are most commonly a round-trip from Hurghada, less regularly from Marsa Alam, and there are a small number of operators that visit from Sharm El Sheikh. Highlights of the trip include a great opportunity to see hammerheads, thresher sharks and the famous oceanic whitetips, plus the wrecks of the Aida and Numidia

 

SIMPLY THE BEST HIGHLIGHTS

DAEDALUS

daedalus hammerheads

Daedalus is popular on both northern and southern itineraries. Steep-sided coral walls make for amazing diving, but it is what passes by in the blue that can make all the difference. Oceanic whitetips and thresher sharks are often seen passing by, but Daedalus is most famous for the chance to see scalloped hammerheads throughout the year, sometimes found schooling in numbers over the summer.

ELPHINSTONE

elphinstone reef

Steep-sided walls with lush coral gardens to the north and south make Elphinstone a must-see for all divers. Oceanic whitetips can gather here in numbers during the summer, with hammerheads and thresher sharks often putting in an appearance. Even if the bigger fish pass by, the incredible blooms of soft coral are home to an amazing array of the Red Sea's spectacular marine life. 

THE BROTHERS

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Big and Small Brother Islands are two small island reefs less than 1km apart, but almost 70km out to sea. Experience is required for a visit, as the exposed location is prone to strong currents and rough seas. The wrecks of the Aida and Numidia are popular with divers, but it is the almost daily presence of oceanic whitetip sharks for which divers often choose to visit.

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SOUTHERN ROUTES

st johns

St John's, Rocky, Fury Shoal, Zabargad, almost as far as you can get in the Egyptian Red Sea before crossing over into Sudanese waters. The southern reefs are the least visited of all the dive sites in Egypt, and home to some of the most spectacular scuba diving available without travelling to the far ends of the earth. To make the most of the deep south, liveaboards almost always embark and disembark at Port Ghalib, just to the north of Marsa Alam. Flights to Marsa Alam airport are available from across Europe, but on a much less regular schedule than Hurghada. The three-hour journey to Port Ghalib by road from Hurghada International airport is well worth the effort, however.

 

SOUTHERN HIGHLIGHTS

ST JOHN'S

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The pristine reefs of St John's are popular with liveaboards but still some of the least visited in the Red Sea. Tunnels and overhangs make for some atmospheric swim-throughs, and there's more chance of seeing a passing whale shark or manta here than at many other reefs. Currents can be quite exciting from time-to-time, and although there are more sheltered places within the national park to dive, some experience is recommended to make the most of the national park.

FURY SHOAL

fury shoal coral

Fury Shoal is a small collection of reefs which are a lot more pleasant the name implies. The name comes from the high winds that can sometimes arise, but there is such a diverse range of topography that there are always accessible reefs, even when others aren't. Shallow lagoons make for easy novice diving, with deeper walls and dropoffs more suited to the experienced diver. The small wrecks of Tugboat and The Yacht provide an interesting alternative to coral diving. Many pelagic species - including sharks - can be found here, and Sha’ab Sataya is home to a resident pod of dolphins.

ROCKY / ZABARGAD

zabargad russian wreck

Rocky and Zabargad are two small islands, both surrounded by fringing reefs which drop straight down into the depths of the Red Sea. Rocky Island is subject to some powerful currents, bringing with them most of the pelagic species that can be found in the Red Sea throughout the year, including dolphins, whale sharks and manta rays. Zabargad drift dives are a little less filled with adrenaline, and the reef is home to the 24m-deep 'Russian Wreck', probably the remains of a mysterious Russian spy ship named 'Khanka'.

 

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