Egypt Southern Red Sea Dive Sites

Egypt Southern Red Sea Dive Sites

The Southern Red Sea liveaboards travel to the marine protected areas that include the amazing destinations of the Brothers, St John’s, Daedalus, Fury Shoals, Elphinstone Reef and Rocky Island.

The Egypt Southern Red Sea dive sites are remote and can be reached only by a liveaboard cruise. As such, it still offers some uncrowded dive sites in Egypt. The sea conditions this far south do mean that guests should be advanced level divers.

The southern area of the Red Sea offers divers the chance to visit the furthest reaches of Egypt and some amazing sites. Diving with sharks is common in the southern Red Sea. The rare sightings of thresher and oceanic white tips are some of the highlights.

Dive destinations and itineraries in the Egypt Southern Red Sea dive sites include The Brothers, St Johns, Zabargad Island, Rocky Island, Elphinstone Reef,  Fury Shoals and Daedalus Reef.

Take a look at the Liveaboard Cruise options below.

Egypt Southern Red Sea Dive Sites - 41 LIVEABOARDS

From $138 / day

Dolce Vita

Dolce Vita Liveaboard in Egypt is a 36m vessel that can accommodate up to 22 guests in private charters. She has 11 cabins, 8 have twin beds and 3 have double beds. Each cabin has an en suite bathroom and climate control. The main deck has the saloon and dining area which has a full entertainment system. The upper deck is a covered sun terrace with comfortable seating, and the top deck is dedicated to sunbathing or star watching.

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From $113 / day

Red Sea Master

Red Sea Master Liveaboard in Egypt is 41 metres long and was completely updated in 2016. She can comfortably accommodate 26 guests on board in twin or double cabins, all with en-suite facilities and climate control. The dining area and lounge have an entertainment system and are perfect for relaxing. There is a large sundeck with a jacuzzi and shaded area. Divers will appreciate the spacious dive deck. Nitrox is available on board. Technical and rebreather divers are very well catered to.

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From $107 / day

Odyssey

Odyssey Liveaboard in Egypt was designed and built in 2012 especially for divers. At 40 metres in length, she is very spacious and accommodates only 26 guests in her 13 cabins. A large saloon has an entertainment system with the dining area and bar. The upper deck has a shaded open-air lounge with sofas. The sundeck on the top deck has comfortable seating, sun loungers and a jacuzzi.

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The Brothers

These are dive sites only accessible via a Red Sea Liveaboard as they are very remote. Although small from the surface, underwater, The Brothers offer some fantastic dives with walls, drop-offs, reefs and plenty of shark diving. There are even two wrecks here despite there being a lighthouse to warn passing ships of the dangers.

The Brothers do not have defined dive sites, except for the two wrecks on Big Brother. They can be dived in several ways to ensure the whole area is covered. Generally, there would be several dives made in this area on your liveaboard cruise.

Big Brother

This is a small island with a Victorian British lighthouse perched on top to warn ships of the dangers underneath. Despite this, she does have two wrecks in her waters, The Numidia and the Aida.

The Numidia can also be called the Railway wreck due to the two locomotive wheels among her cargo when she sank in 1901. At 130m in length she was a large wooden cargo ship, but now broken up, the depth ranges from 8m of water down to 85m, and she is covered in corals on the remaining metal framework. The hull frame goes deep and has two masts and a life raft. She can be penetrated via holes into the shallow cabin area. In the deeper water are the bridge and masts with the propeller at the deepest point well beyond recreational dive limits.

The Aida sank in 1957 after crashing into the reef and is a 75m transport supply ship. She is at 30m in the shallowest point descending to 60m after crashing into the reef by the lighthouse delivering their personnel and supplies. She is coral encrusted and has an open engine room making penetration dives easy to view the winches and cargo hatches. The hull broke apart during her collision, and the engine sits in 7m of water at the crash site.

Big Brother as a whole is recognised for the healthy fringing reef and wall with a large fish population. Many varieties of sharks are attracted to the area, and if a dawn dive is scheduled during the  Autumn and winter months, the rare thresher shark can often be sighted.

During your liveaboard cruise dives at Big Brother are usually repeated a few times so divers can fully explore the site. Mostly the boats have divers enter the water at the Aida wreck allowing for a short exploration of the vessel before moving to the sloping reef. Reef sharks, Napoleon and barracuda are often seen here. The wall area has excellent soft coral coverage with giant sea fans, and the shallower area is pristine reef perfect for the safety stop.

An alternative would be the entry at the south tip to where a few pinnacles can be visited in the deep water, here shark sightings are common, but there are short no-deco times. Look for grey, black and white tip reef sharks; also oceanic white tips, silver tips and hammerheads can be found. Another popular route is dropping close to the Numidia where the shallow part can be explored before following the coral coated wall.

Whichever route is taken the Big Brother is perfect for photographers, but divers should always look out to the blue water for passing pelagic species that are common in the area.

Little Brother

This is a raindrop-shaped pinnacle where only a few rocks break the surface of the ocean and can be viewed from the surface. The walls are steep around the site except for the northern tip where a reef exists slowly descending to a plateau at 40m. Diving with sharks is highly likely here as silver tips and grey reef sharks are frequently seen, and occasional hammerheads pass over before descending into the abyss. It is possible also to find Tiger sharks, and oceanic whitetips here with whale sharks also known to appear.

The walls to the west and east have a massive quantity of fish life, even more than at the Big Brother companion site. They are covered with gorgonian sea fans, black coral and beautiful soft corals. This is one of the most prolific reefs for fish, and it is often said they even block out the sunlight due to the sheer numbers found here.

To the south is a ledge at 20m where barracuda, tuna and sharks are seen close up.

St John's

Habili Ali

Is one the best dive sites in St John's, with a drop off from a shallow plateau this area is known for shark encounters. Strong currents can bring in the larger pelagic life of grey reef sharks and white tips along with trevally. Oceanic white tip sharks are best seen in May and June with hammerheads and manta rays infrequently spotted. The reef could bring sightings of bottlenose dolphins at any time, as they often hunt in this area.

The oval-shaped reef has great coral coverage with large gorgonian sea fans, whip and black coral. Overhangs and crevices in the wall face offer shelter for groupers and cardinal fish. Reef fish include Napoleon wrasse and bumphead parrotfish as well as the usual life of the Red Sea.

Gota Kebira

This site covers a large area, over 800m long,  that has several drift sites within it. There are two plateaus where white tip reef sharks are found with stingrays in the northern area. To the south are tunnels and cracks that can be explored. The walls have deep slopes and great coral coverage with anemones and a large quantity of reef fish. Turtles are very often seen in the shallow area.

Gota Soghayr

Is an excellent wall dive with many cracks and overhangs that are full of glassfish and sweepers. Sharks often appear with grey reef and silvertips being common but also hammerheads. The wall is covered in gorgonian sea fans and sea whips with Napoleon and bumped parrotfish patrol the area.

Habili Gaffar

Is a small reef pinnacle descending to the deep water with a ledge circumnavigating it at 20 to 35m. Currents can be strong here bringing the reef sharks, barracuda and tuna in for feeding. Bigmouths are found at the crest of the reef covered in soft corals.

Dangerous Reef

Is not like its name and is one of the shallower sites in the area with a sandy bottom at 22m. It is often used for night dives due to the relatively calm conditions compared to the other reefs in the area. The site is a wall dive with some swim-throughs that leads to coral bommies out in the sandy substraight. Dolphins are common here, and there is a picturesque coral garden. At night, many squid, free swimming morays and Spanish dancers can be found.

Abu Basala

A sizeable shallow reef entirely different to the other sites in the southern Red Sea. Here the fringing reef with gullies, cracks and rocky outcrops is a peaceful dive, away from the intense drift dives along steep walls usually found here. Stunning landscapes and marine life are still to be enjoyed while exploring the area and its pinnacles, either by day or night.

Cave Reef

Also known as Umm Khararim is a system of tunnels that are connected to form an unusual topography with some amazing light effects resulting in a unique site. The coral coated caverns, swim-throughs and chimneys are everywhere on this site with moray eels and cardinals inhabiting the area. The eastern cave areas are large and easy to navigate with a coral garden in the centre. The western side is a little narrower and has some areas with no exits, but the whole area is shallow.

Zabargad Island 

The largest of the marine parks found in the Red Sea and is 70km from the mainland. Meaning topaz in Egyptian, the island has beautiful turquoise bays and sandy beaches. Outside of the sheltered bays are walls and drift diving where diving with oceanic white tips and grey reef sharks are common along with manta rays at the cleaning stations.

Turtle Bay

Is on the south coast with a shallow wall that slopes to 30m before dropping off into the blue. In the sloping section, there is a patch reef with small bommies surrounded by reef fish camouflaged octopus and cuttlefish are common here. The sand hides stingrays, scorpionfish and crocodile fish with both green and hawksbill turtle hatchlings common in August. The wall has dense coral and caverns that can lead to an inner lagoon.

The Khanka Wreck

On the northeast coast and was a 70m Russian transporter that now sits in 24m of water since sinking in the 1970s. The shallowest area at 10m is the main structure where the bridge is, there is the engine room and holds that can also be penetrated. There are large winches and chains at the bow, and the main mast is still intact rising to just below the surface at 2m. Although there is not a lot of coral coverage it is an impressive structure to explore.

The Neptuna

Another wreck at the west coast of the island, it was a German dive safari vessel that sank in 1981. The wreck at 15m is broken apart but night dives often take place here.

Rocky Island 

Rocky Island is a part of the marine park in the Southern Red Sea and a small barren island south of Zabargad. It can be split into three areas for diving. It is crucial to note currents before entering the water to ensure the site is not missed completely.

The North area is pretty exposed with swells and strong currents. This area should not be dived by novice divers as surfacing here means no boat pick up is possible. Underwater are sheer walls with some strong surge. The walls have the best coral coverage of the whole island with beautiful soft corals in the shallower part. Marine fish are mainly schooling with Napoleon wrasse and groupers also present. Sharks can make an appearance anywhere around the island.

To the east of the island, there are shallow coral gardens, a plateau and a wall offering a great variety with this drift dive. The plateau at 25m is a great place to find sharks hunting the many reef fish found here. There are even hammerheads found here in the season. Many schooling fish can be seen here including snappers. Coral coverage is good especially in the shallows with both hard and soft varieties.

In the south is the most sheltered area with varied fish life, the coral covered wall is broken up with ledges, cracks, overhangs and bays. Black coral is found in the deeper area where grey reef sharks are patrolling. Fish life varies from lionfish and trigger fish to Napoleon wrasse and schools of snappers, with anthias dancing around the corals.

Elphinstone Reef 

This reef is in the north of Marsa Alam and included on many Red Sea Liveaboards. Completely submerged, this is a shallow reef that drops into the abyss and is a magnet for marine life. Named after a British Admiral the reef is known for hammerhead and oceanic white tip sightings in the winter months with manta rays and tiger sharks visiting when the warmer water arrives. The dive is for advanced divers as currents can run strongly here.

Elphinstone Reef

At over 400m in length and cigar-shaped, there are two plateaus on the site one in the north and one in the southern end connected by a wall that drops down to over 70m.

The northern plateau is shallow and starts at 5 m dropping down to 20m, before reaching 40m+, here trevally and reef sharks can be found. The area is covered in soft corals with sea fans and whips both present, look into the blue here for hammerheads which are occasionally seen here.

The south plateau is deeper and only starts at 25 meters, sloping to 40m then turning into a drop-off. Oceanic white tips are the shark spotted here with pilot fish following closely. They are most commonly seen from October to December. In the deep water of the drop-off, there is an archway that then tunnels inside the wall at 60m. Under the archway is a coral encrusted object said to be that of an unknown pharaoh's sarcophagus.

The walls that join the plateaus start in the shallow water at 1m and descend to the abyss, both sides have ledges and caverns with more to the west, these provide coverage for a multitude of critters. Coral coverage is amazing with an extensive range of soft and hard corals, with the east having markedly more soft coral growth. Reef life includes Napoleon wrasse, barracuda, triggerfish, angelfish, jacks, snapper and tuna.

It is always good to watch the blue water wherever you dive here a whale shark may be passing by or other solitary pelagic life.

Fury Shoals 

Fury Shoals is a chain of reefs that covers 30km in length and is some of the best diving in the Red Sea due to their pristine condition. The area has diverse dive sites with lagoons, pinnacles, drop-offs, caves, caverns and reefs.

The marine life is also varied and Napoleon wrasse, octopus, white tip reef sharks, barracudas, giant trevally, tuna and dolphins are sighted here regularly.

Paradise Reef

Close to the St John's area, this is a long submerged reef. The southern end is of most interest underwater where the wall eroded to form rocky outcrops and towers with ledges and overhangs. The depths vary dramatically with some almost reaching the surface, tunnels and caves in the rock face are interesting to explore. Napoleon wrasse, turtles Spanish dancers and nudibranchs are common here.

Sernaka

Also called Mikauwa Island is located to the north of Foul Bay and has a wreck called the II Kamash which was a fishing boat which sits between 30 and 50m tilting to her port side. The wooden sections of the flooring have started to rot exposing the metal framework. The helm and outriggers are intact, the propeller is still present but has a net wrapped around it, and there is some debris scattered on the seabed. Schools of fish surround the structure, and there is a shallow coral reef nearby to end the dive.

Sha’ab Claudio

Is at the south of Fury Shoals and offers an easy dive with incredible colour and many swim-throughs. The south has a wide tunnel at 8m where you can swim through the reef and exit in the southeast, around the entry point are many bannerfish, surgeonfish and goatfish. The west part of the reef has coral gardens where hard coral varieties merge into blocks and batfish hover overhead. Another cave system here at 5m leads you to the north part of the reef. Here there are coral bommies and many anemones with grouper lurking in crevices and underneath overhangs.

Sha’ab Makdour

In the northeast of Fury Shoals and has vertical walls and deep water surrounding it. The southern tip is a wall dropping to 18m where a plateau of coral starts before the site descends to the abyss. Grey reef sharks are found here along with giant trevally and tuna. The north also has a plateau but it is a little more challenging, sharks, rays and turtles are the rewards for reaching this area. The shallow area is coral covered and can be explored for the remainder of the dive with the soft corals and reef fish.

Abu Galawa Kebira

Is a famous reef in the area, and home to the Tien Hsing tugboat wreck that sank in 1943. Dives start on the reef where turtles, stingrays and pufferfish can be found. The wreck lies at 18m but her bow does reach the surface. She is a pretty wreck that offers easy diving conditions.  Her propeller shaft leads to the engine room which is filled with sweepers. There are large open holds making penetration easy her and with a doorway leading to the bathroom of the vessel. Outside are the chimney and main deck all but completely encrusted with corals of both hard and soft variety and teaming with fusiliers.

The reef close by has a series of tunnels and caverns to explore with many crabs, shrimp and nudibranchs to be found.

Abu Galawa Soraya

This is a great macro site. The circular reef has a coral garden in its centre where many critters can be found. Nudibranchs, shrimp, octopus, crabs and scorpionfish are all regular sightings here. Outside the garden turtles and white tip reef sharks can be seen in the reef area.

Sha’ab Sataya

In the southern part of Fury Shoals are famous for the large pod of spinner dolphins that are regularly seen there in the lagoon.

Daedalus Reef 

Daedalus is only reachable by a liveaboard cruise in the Red Sea due to its remote nature, located 80km from Marsa Alam and housed inside a marine park. This makes Daedalus Reef one of the best dive sites in Egypt.

The reef has a steep drop off on three of the four sides and has a lighthouse on the surface to mark its position. It is a challenging dive which provides divers with a great reward, this site does have currents and is open to the sea conditions and swells.

The north part of Daedalus can have the most advanced dive conditions as currents can split here, but larger predators are almost guaranteed. Divers need to hide from the currents and wait for the schooling hammerheads to appear, they also bring silky sharks, manta rays, tuna and trevally with them in the summer months.

The south part can provide the sightings of the thresher sharks on many occasions.

The walls between the points are drift dives with dense coverage of coral from the surface to the deep of both hard and soft coral varieties. The west has a ledge at 10m where a significant amount of anemones can be found called anemone city. Look for cleaning stations, moray eels, unicorn fish and all the usual reef dwellers here.

Marine Park and Conservation in Egypt Southern Red Sea

The southern area of the Red Sea has distinct protected areas:

The Brother Islands - under protection since 1986 and were closed between 1995 to 1998 to scuba divers to allow regeneration.

Daedalus Reef - under protection since 1986, due to its remote location reefs are healthy as few liveaboards visit this area.

Zabargad Island - under protection since 1986 is also a nesting ground for green turtles.

Rocky Island - protected since 1986.

St. John’s -  is part of the Elba National Park, protected since 1985.