SCUBA DIVING IN SHARM EL SHEIKH
Sharm el Sheikh, along with Hurghada, is where it all started. These were the first two destinations of the nearly 20-years-old diving history of the Red Sea. Diving sites in Sharm are world famous. A paradise for a perfect Red Sea diving holiday, Sharm has it all: hard and soft coral, turtles and dolphins, mantas and moray eels, napoleons and tuna, hammerheads, barracudas, reef and pelagic sharks, and much more, including the legendary World War II wreck of the Thistlegorm.
The Sharm el Sheikh marine area is protected, as many other areas in Egypt, and diving centers here operate under environmental-friendly procedures. Sharm el Sheikh’s dive sites are inside three national parks: Ras Mohammed, Tiran and Nabq. Starting from year 1983, local authorities, NGO’s and international bodies such as the European Community, have co-operated in the conservation of the underwater life of the region. Nowadays, regular checks and upgrades ensure the implementation of the parks’ regulations.
Sharm el Sheikh is also a popular starting point for extended dive trips, also called liveaboards or diving safaris. From here you can join a liveaboard to the exceptional dive sites of the Straits of Gubal with the wreck graveyard of Abu Nuhas, passing by the fabled Thistlegorm, the Red Sea’s most well known wreck, or a diving safari to the incredible sites around Tiran island .
Dive sites in Sharm el Sheikh
Diving in Sharm el Sheikh is performed either by boat or from shore: the coast is almost totally lined by fringing or barrier reefs, with very few sandy beaches; the more impressive dive sites are located though off the coast. The Sharm el Sheikh diving area compounds also the famous Ras Mohammed National Park, where access is permitted only with an entrance fee (payable directly at all diving centers).
Here are only a few of the most famous dive sites in Sharm el Sheikh:
- Island of Tiran, located at the entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba, is an integral part of the Ras Mohammed National Park. Off its coast are four of the most famous dive sites of the Red Sea: Jackson, Woodhouse, Thomas and Gordon reef: an encyclopaedia of the Red Sea.
- Ras Umm Sid, shore or boat dive with its impressive drop off covered with a Gorgonian forest. Unforgettable, both for the novice and the experienced diver.
- Ras Mohammed National Park, Egypt’s first protected area, is a world-famous area with several top diving locations. Shark and Yolanda reef in summer are “the” Red Sea dive par excellence, with its abundance of hard and soft corals and a wealth of big game, from tunas to barracudas, trevallies, jackfish and sharks. Other world-famous dive sites in Ras Mohammed are jackfish Alley, Ras Ghozlani, Ras, Za’atar, Anemone City, Shark’s Observatory.
Sharm el Sheikh Diving Services
In Sharm el Sheikh there are more than 100 dive operators, with services ranging from scuba diving beginner certification courses to professional courses and technical diving, and providing guided dives to the area’s outstanding reefs.
Most resorts in Sharm el Sheikh have reliable and well-organized diving centers, officially registered at the South Sinai Association for Diving and Marine Activities, offering all sorts of scuba diving services, from entry-level courses to professional courses, introductory dives and diving packages , with one, two or more dives per day, for those who are certified.
For the non-licensed diving enthusiasts, most centers offer free of charge pool intro’s, where visitors can experience the thrill of scuba diving on a one-to-one basis with a diving instructor in the hotel’s swimming pool. The Sharm el Sheikh diving centers also offer experience programs, where the visitor can try actual dives in the sea straight away, under the strict supervision of a diving professional.
Sharm el Sheikh, with its wealth of drop offs, coral gardens and incredible fish life, is still a big favorite among divers in the Red Sea Riviera. Learning to dive is easy too, with the numbers of professional diving schools and good logistics. Most diving centers offer the full range of beginners’ courses, and many are also career development centers for the diving professionals. Also kids from 8 years on can enrol in children-dedicated scuba diving activities, such as the popular bubble-maker course, where kids learn to be familiar with water and scuba diving and have fun swimming around in a confined water area.