Dive Site: Gota Abu Ramada
Nicknamed the Aquarium, this site makes a good first dive as a warm-up for your dive holiday near Hurghada, Egypt
Gota Abu Ramada is an oval reef, about an hour’s boat ride south of Hurghada. It’s a popular site for day boats and liveaboards. Because of its shallow depth and generally calm dive conditions, it’s often scheduled as the first dive by guides who want to check the competency of their customers. It also makes a good second dive after a deep wreck.
The dive is generally done from your dive boat, moored on the south side of the reef, where it is protected from currents and waves. You can also dive the north side of the reef if a Zodiac can drop you there, and then drift back around to the south side.
The site is also known as the Aquarium and it’s easy to see why – there’s little current and great marine life. The combination of shallow depth and white sand result in a light that is ideal for photographers. Underwater, the reef descends steeply from the surface to around 13m, where it levels out to the sandy sea bed, which is dotted with small coral bommies. It’s worth spending a bit of time investigating these – there are likely to be bluespotted stingrays in the sand, and I saw an octopus on one of the small corals.
The hard corals are particularly healthy and large. There are plenty of reef fish – parrotfish, cornetfish and yellow butterflyfish in pairs. I also encountered large schools of goatfish, yellowtail barracuda and blackspotted sweetlips. There were also Picasso and titan triggerfish, snapper, giant morays, peppered morays and nudibranchs – though there’s plenty to look at without searching for slugs. You might be lucky and spot eagle rays at this site, too.
Off the main reef to the south are two dramatic coral columns reaching up from the sea bed to 6m – these are swarming with orange anthias. Also look out for lionfish under the small overhangs. At the southwestern point of the reef is another outcrop, larger than the two columns, which is separated from the main reef by a channel – it has more soft corals, gorgonian fans and anemones than the main reef and is well worth a visit.
You can also do night dives here if you’re visiting by liveaboard. You’re likely to see nocturnal pencil and flower urchins, and you’ll be joined on your dive by lionfish, which will use your torch beam to hunt. Whether you aid and abet them in finding an easy meal is up to you.