The Egyptian Red Sea offers some of the best diving in the world.

Stunning hard coral gardens, reef walls covered in colourful softcorals, amazing biodiversity with numerous endemic species, spectacular wrecks from different eras, as well as resident and transient pelagic megafauna are among the numerous attractions.

Let us introduce some of the most famous dive sites & areas, focussing on the highlights we are visiting on our itineraries:

Central & Southern Red Sea

Brother Islands  (‘El Akhawein’)

Located about 70 km from El Quesir, these two islands offer spectacular diving. The sheer reef walls are covered with a very healthy mix of hard and soft corals, including massive sea fans and black coral bushes. They attract a variety of reef organisms, which in turn are an important food source for resident and visiting pelagics.

While Small Brother is uninhabited and more pristine, Big Brother holds a lighthouse and military station, with a minimum of 4-5 people stationed here at all times.

Despite the fully functional lighthouse, two ships crashed into this island in the 20th century, leaving two dive-able wrecks: the Numidia (sank 1901) & the Aida II (sank 1957).

The wreck of the Numidia ranges from ~18 – 85 metres, while the stern section of the Aida lies between ~30-60 metres. Other traces of these two shipwrecks are strewn across the shallows, by now overgrown with marine life.

Exposed and often windswept, the Brothers can be challenging dive sites; with potentially rough surface conditions and/or strong currents.


Besides the two wrecks and the spectacular coral walls and diversity of reef fish, a variety of pelagics can be found around these islands, either year-round, seasonally, or completely randomly.

Among them are Pelagic thresher sharks (year-round), Grey reef sharks (year-round), Oceanic whitetip sharks (seasonally, mainly Oct-Nov) and Whale sharks (randomly), to name just a few.

Daedalus Reef (‘Abu Kizan’)

Located about 90 km from Marsa Alam, this is probably the most bizarre Egyptian Marine Park. A weird-oval shaped reef, its reeftop only breaks the surface at extremely low tide. As on Big Brother, a minimum of 4-5 people are manning the lighthouse and military station on this massive reef in the middle of the Red Sea.

Currents can be strong, but the size of the reef offers a variety of dive options for different conditions.


Steep walls drop to way below recreational dive limits, covered in a very healthy mix of hard and soft corals. The sizes of some of Daedalus’ hard coral formations are incredible; to appreciate their dimensions, it is best to place a diver next to them for perspective.

Resident hammerheads can be seen here year-round; the best chances to see them schooling are usually from May to August, depending e.g. on water temperatures and thermoclines.

Elphinstone Reef (‘Abu Hamra’)

Located ~10 km off-shore about halfway between Port Ghalib and Marsa Alam, Elphinstone is the most famous reef in this area.

A long, narrow reef with extensive plateaus on the Northern and the Southern tips, and sheer walls dropping off along its East and West sides, it is teeming with life.

It is also very exposed to the elements; the prevailing northerly winds and resulting waves, plus potentially strong currents can make mooring – and diving – at this site challenging.


Soft corals of any imaginable colour, large sea fans, and black coral bushes all the way into the shallows attract a huge diversity of reef fish and other critters… and the  predators that feed on them, including barracuda, jacks, trevally and tuna.

With a bit of luck, sharks and mantas can be seen, and especially from October to November a very special pelagic predator may be encountered: the Oceanic Whitetip Shark!

St. John’s Plateau

This is the southern-most area we visit on our itineraries, with at least 8 dive sites scattered across it.

Among them are gorgeous drop-offs, stunning coral gardens and pinnacles, as well as shallow swim-throughs and caverns to be explored.

  • Habili Ali: drop-off with large sea fan communities, large schools of fish, and the chance for pelagic action, e.g. manta, grey reef, or scalloped hammerhead sharks.
  • Gota Soraya (aka Small Gota): small circular drop-off, beautifully overgrown with hard and soft corals, and the chance for similar pelagic actions as above.
  • Umm Erug (aka St. John’s Woods): maze of weirdly-shaped and beautifully overgrown coral pinnacles and needles.
  • Cave Reef: not technically on the St. John’s plateau, but a favourite of many divers because of the unique topography of caverns and swim-throughs, beautifully lit by shafts of sunlight.

Northern Red Sea

Southern Sinai – Strait of Tiran & Ras Mohamed

At the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba in the narrow Strait of Tiran lies a chain of four beautiful reefs, from the North: Jackson, Woodhouse, Thomas and Gordon.

Colourful reef-walls and healthy coral gardens teeming with life are the main attractions here, while tech divers are drawn to the canyons of Thomas Reef.

Shark lovers can hope for hammerhead action off the back of Jackson Reef.

Situated on the Southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Ras Mohamed is the first Egyptian National Park, established in 1983. It offers a variety of dive sites, the main attractions being Shark & Yolanda Reef, and Jackfish Alley.

  • The spectacular steep coral walls of Shark Reef, with stunning coral growth surrounded by schooling fish, such as bohar snappers, batfish, jacks, trevallies and barracudas.
  • The saddle between Shark and Yolanda Reef with the wreckage of the  Yolanda (sank in 1980) and its cargo of bathroom ceramics.

Wreck of the SS Thistlegorm

The SS Thistlegorm is one of the most iconic wrecks in the world. A British cargo vessel carrying war supplies for the Allied Forces in North Africa, she was sunk by German fighter planes on 6. October 1941. 9 crew members lost their lives when a bomb hit the cargo hold carrying most of the ammunition, causing a massive explosion.

Her bow section sits on an even keel on the seabed (about 30 m deep), while the deck level is in about 18 m. The stern is separated from the bow by a debris field, and has tilted to the portside.

Most of her cargo is still in place, so divers can explore a variety of trucks, jeeps, motorcycles, as well as other war-related equipment.

Large schools of fish often gather around the wreck, and amidst the coral growth on the superstructure and hull, lots of marine life can be found, such as lionfish, scorpionfish, crocodile fish, various nudibranchs and other critters.

The currents on the Thistlegorm can be very strong, so the use of shotlines is usually necessary to dive safely here.

Gubal Island – The Barge, Bluff Point & the Ulysses

Small Gubal Island has a variety of dive sites, and weather and currents will decide which one to choose.

All that is left of the Barge is some wreckage of the hull, but it attracts a huge variety of marine life: massive moray eels, scorpionfish & crocodile fish, fusiliers, cardinal & soldier fish… plus shrimps, crabs, nudibranchs, flatworms – to name just a few.

Bluff Point is a drop-off along the Eastern tip of the island, with beautiful coral formations and overhangs.

And finally on the exposed Northern side, we have the wreck of the Ulysses. Since her sinking in 1887, she has become embedded into a stunning hard coral garden, and her hull and remaining deck structures are covered in marine life.

Abu Nuhas – Carnatic, Giannis D, Chrisoula K & Kimon M

Just to the north of Shadwan Island, the reef Abu Nuhas (‘Father of Copper’) has become the final resting place for at least four ships and a premier attraction point for wreck divers.

Lined up along its northern reef wall from west to east are: the Giannis D (or ‘Wood Wreck’), the Carnatic (or ‘Wine Wreck’), the Chrisoula K (or ‘Tile Wreck’), and the Kimon M (or ‘Lentil Wreck’).

A pod of Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins can be spotted fairly regularly, and besides the wrecks and the marine life on and around them, there are some weird and wonderful critters to be found on night dives along the south of the reef.

Would you like more images from Red Sea dive sites?

Please check our facebook page, where we posted ‘a-dive-site-a-day’ from 28. March to 30. June 2020… for a grand total of 95 reefs, wrecks & islands!