Red Sea & Indian Ocean
THE DEEP SOUTH, EGYPT
Into the Wilds
Season: Year round diving
Visibility: 10-35 metres
Water Temperature: 20-31°C
The further south one travels in The Red Sea, the more thrilling and the more breath-taking the diving becomes. The north offers some very pretty soft coral diving, great for beginners and intermediate divers, but as you pass south of El Quesir, the action really hots up. The reef systems at Deadalus, Rocky, Zabargad and St. John’s represent for many divers the best diving in the Egyptian Red Sea, with Zabargad and Rocky Islands marking the southernmost extent of Egyptian Red Sea diving.
South of Marsa Alam is Fury Shoal, an area which is famous for its coral pinnacles and swim-throughs with some healthy, large and colourful coral heads. Here you will see some classic images with colourful anthias darting over the corals and inquisitive pufferfish peeping round the corals. Within Fury Shoals is the exciting dive site of Claudi Reef with a set of caves on the south side - an excellent and popular choice for underwater photographers. With five different exits/entrances the potential for capturing varied light conditions in the caves with free swimming eels and rays is incredible.
South of Fury Shoal and north of St John’s is Sataya Reef, more often referred to as Dolphin Reef. Pods of bottlenose dolphins frequently visit around the walls of this reef, often in quite shallow areas. Great Barracuda and White-tip Reef Sharks often come and join the fun.
St John’s Reef lies about 138 nautical miles north of the Sudanese border and is collection of small reefs, coral pinnacles and drop offs where some swift drift diving offers encounters with sharks, tuna and jacks. Between them, St John’s Reef and Fury Shoal can be said to be some of the most photogenic dive sites in the world. The topography comprises cathedral like caves, caverns and swim throughs with wonderful light displays cascading off the rocks and through the numerous openings throughout the reef. Diving on the north side is protected and strong currents are unlikely so it is a perfect opportunity to take photographs in plenty of time! March to June is traditionally hammerhead season, whilst year-round St John’s remains one of the best places in the Red Sea for first rate manta encounters.
Daedalus Reef is the furthest east of all the off-shore islands. Given its remote nature, diving here is nothing short of a wonder. Characterised by sheer walls, plunging to depths of over 70 meters, Daedalus could be said to be the best place in the Red Sea to find Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks. Other sharks are known to take advantage of the deeper waters in the area including Grey Reef Sharks, Thresher Sharks (though more of these have been seen at Brothers) and even the occasional Whale Shark.
Rocky Island is also famed for its sweeping currents, ridden by larger pelagic life such as Napoleon Wrasse, jacks and barracuda. Topography here is varied with ledges and overhangs often a good place for lurking reef sharks as well as smaller macro subjects that appreciate some shelter from the currents. Zabargad Island is characterised by patch reefs and sandy slopes, where you might like to spend time admiring the bottom-dwelling life, among which you can find cuttlefish and octopi.