Among the many reasons why travellers set sail on holidays to Sharm el Sheikh, the resort’s reputation for having some of the richest snorkelling and diving in the world probably tops the list. Here’s our rundown of top dive sites to flip off to without further ado.
Four hours from the resort of Sharm lies the wreck of the British World War II ship the SS Thistlegorm, which easily ranks among the world’s best dives with many experts putting it at number one. The ship sank in October 1941 after an aerial attack while it awaited safe passage to stock up, before a tremendous explosion ripped it in two.
Most of the ship sits upright on the sea bed 30 metres below, with its highest point just 11 metres below the surface, dropping down some 30 metres below. You can dive among the holds and blast to spy rifles, ammunition, locomotives, trucks, motorbikes, tanks and more besides. Marine life you can expect to see includes barracudas and jacks.
Two hours away on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula is the Ras Mohammed (or ‘Rasmo’) Marine Park, with 10 dive sites to suit all levels. Most famous are the Yolanda and Shark Reefs, where the fierce currents in the plankton-rich waters draw huge shoals of jacks, snapper, barracuda, bat fish, unicorn fish, tuna and even some sharks in the summer months. The scenic drifts along Ras Ghozlani and Jack Fish Alley, with sheer drops and miles of soft coral.
Also in the South Sinai, among the reefs of Sha’ab Mahmud, and usually explored by more seasoned divers on a Liveaboard Safari, is the Dunhaven, an 80-metre steamship that sank in 1876 on its way back from India carrying a cargo of cotton and wool. It was discovered in 1979 and was once the subject of a BBC drama-documentary. The Dunhaven draws many divers who want to feast their eyes on the beautiful coral garden.
Deep in a canyon ten miles north of the port of Dahab is this vast underwater volcano crater. The Blue Hole often attracts technical divers, since it plummets to a depth of 110 metres, including a 22 metre long tunnel that takes you out to the open sea.
Beginners might want to try Ells Bells just a few hundred metres north, which you can get to through a crack in the reef wall. Dive down a 26 metre funnel alive with cornet and reef fish, swim over a sloping coral garden and feel your heart stop as you suddenly witness the bottom of the crater fall away from you!
Straits of Tiran
Two hours from Sharm in the Gulf of Aqaba are four coral reefs named after the pioneering British explorers who were the first to map them: Jackson Reef, Woodhouse Reef, Thomas Reef and Gordon Reef. The mighty currents here, best suited to more experienced divers, attract Barracuda, Jackfish, Tuna and Sharks, along with all shapes and sizes of fish in a spectacular array of colours.
For more inspiration, check out our collection of top Red Sea diving photographs and get excited about your holidays to Sharm El Sheikh!