Diving in Egypt
Egypt has long been a Mecca for scuba divers.
Something about the year round warm waters, diverse marine life, cheap cost of living and easy accessibility for Europeans has meant that over the years the economy has enjoyed a steady income stream from dive tourism.
The Red Sea coast of mainland Egypt and Southern Sinai are flanked by literally hundreds of dive sites (and an even greater number of dive shops).
As some of the country’s reefs have become badly damaged or cluttered with snorkellers, new dive sites are enjoying popularity further south or out to sea, including expansive reefs, sunken wrecks and coral towers.
Many of Egypt’s dive sites are accessible from a multitude of resorts, so where you stay really depends on what sort of experience you’re looking to enjoy when out of the water.
The following locations are traditional bases for scuba diving in Egypt and enjoy access to a multitude of outstanding dive sites.
Sharm El Sheikh
Perhaps the resort most readily associated with scuba diving in Egypt and actually comprised of the two twin resorts of Sharm El Maya and Naama Bay. This region has arguably the best access to the most sites and to wrecks like the Thistlegorm located further out to see.
The outstanding dive and snorkelling sites that comprise the coast of Ras Muhammed National Park are also close at hand.
Sharm itself, particularly Naama Bay, is big and loud and certainly the place to be if you want to spend your non-diving hours cutting shapes in the super clubs like Pasha. Luxury 5 star hotels abound and deals are easy to find if booking a package far enough in advance.
There’s nothing particularly Egyptian about this part of Sinai however and culture vultures may find the whole resort slightly insipid. Those seeking a more peaceful experience would do better to head further up the coast. Read the Sharm El Sheikh Guide
Dahab is Egypt’s backpacker resort although also home to an increasing number of four and five star developments. Just one hour from Sharm el Sheikh, divers based in Dahab can enjoy access to many of the same reefs plus a number located in the immediate vicinity.
If you want to try something different, Dahab is also Egypt’s Freediving capital.
Nuweiba is ‘ghost town’ quiet these days and one of the few resorts where travellers can still find bamboo hut lodgings. There are far fewer dive schools located here and not a lot happening at night.
Dahab’s dive sites are within easy reach (just 1 hour away by car) however Sharm is about the twice the journey.
Nuweiba does have a number of excellent sites of its own though. These include the reef at Ras Shetan located just a few metres from the beach and The Fjord further up the coast towards Taba.
Actually comprised of two sites the Fjord offers divers a banana shaped reef (known as Fjord Bannana) and a coral chimney not dissimilar to Dahab’s Blue Hole known as Fjord Hole.
Sitting on the border with the Israeli resort of Eilat, Taba is the furthest North of Egypt’s diving bases.
A very modern development with little in the way ‘traditional Egyptian’, Taba does boast some pristine beaches, luxury hotels and tranquil dive spot.
Pharaoh’s Island is just 250m off the coast here and aside from hosting a twelfth century crusader castle, it also has a number of dive sites off the reef around it.
Hurghada is Egypt’s major resort on the mainland Red Sea Coast and has long been synonymous with scuba diving in Egypt. Recent years however have seen Hurghada losing popularity with European divers as its popularity amongst Russian tourists (who now form the overwhelming majority of visitors) has steadily increased.
Although there are depressing examples of damaged reefs around the shores here, visitors to Hurghada can still enjoy some outstanding sites including several wrecks.
Like Sharm, Hurghada is a large development with plenty of banging nightlife and cheap, all inclusive package deals.
The nearby resorts of Port Safaga and El Ghouna can provide alternative lodgings and operators with access to many of the same sites.
Mersa Alam is Egypt’s most southerly Red Sea resort and increasingly emerging as the place to be for those most focused and most serious about their diving.
Those who make it this far south can choose from a number of resorts or dive camps scattered along the coast.
In the last twenty years the resort has grown from a tiny village, largely thanks to the divers (and their dollars) that come here to visit the Elphinstone Reef.
Considered to be one of the best diving sites in the country, the reef drops some 70m and is inhabited by an array of fantastically colourful marine life.
Close by is the Wadi Gamal National Park a protected area that includes 4000 square kilometres of sea.
The remoteness of Mersa Alam lends to its peaceful charm and allows for easy escape into the desert for other adventures.