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Dive Site | Muqabila, Taba Heights

The far north of the Red Sea offers critter diving, and a break from the crowds

Whereas many other sites in Taba Heights, such as Aquarium and Angels Net, have flat sandy bottoms dotted with coral outcrops, at Muqabila there’s a steep reef. It has more dramatic topography than the pretty coral gardens that make up most of the diving in the area.

This site is close to the shore and could be dived without a boat. However, there isn’t much of a shore diving culture in Taba Heights except for training dives. The usual dive plan at Muqabila is to swim along the reef, which is a steep slope with a maximum depth of around 28m, then you turn around and return to the boat at a shallower depth.

In places, the coral has formed tall columns, rather like the pipes of a church organ, and right underneath the boat mooring at about 20m is a huge lettuce coral more than 2m wide. The corals at this site aren’t as healthy as other sites in the area and there are patches of dead corals; but despite this it’s a nice contrast as it feels like a ‘proper’ reef after sites that are flat with sand and grass interspersed with coral heads.

The site offers plenty of the classic species seen in the Red Sea: there are clouds of anthias hanging around the corals, lionfish are on the prowl and there are plenty of the photographer’s favourite – anemonefish.

The slope flattens out nearer the shore and you can make your safety stop here. In fact, it’s quite a good place for exploring at a leisurely pace if you’ve plenty of air left in your tank towards the end of the dive. Taking your time and getting close to corals here pays off. Look out for tiny creatures, including pipefish and nudibranchs, and those that hide themselves well against the corals, such as scorpionfish and frogfish. There are occasionally octopus as well.

There’s usually very little or no current and great visibility of up to 30m. Occasionally you can drift dive, but Taba Heights doesn’t often have the fast currents experienced further south in the Red Sea. The resorts and hotels in this part of Sinai are quite isolated and it’s unlikely there’ll be another boat at your dive site. This area is perfect for pootling around without the crowds – and you’re sure to see some frogfish as well.

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