The wonderful land of Egypt is home of one of the most enigmatic and fascinating ancient cultures in the world. With its pyramids and timeless temples, it has always attracted flocks of tourists for good reason. People are not only drawn to the history that resides on land, but also to the waters that wash this arid country: the waters of the Red Sea.
With over 1000 species of fish and 150 species of intricate and beautiful corals, the sea has a rich and diverse life. They are also resistant to bleaching, which makes it one of the few diving spots that has not been as significantly impacted by climate change and rising ocean temperatures.
For all scuba diving enthusiasts, low season is December to February because of the cooler water (around 66 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit) and June to August due to the extreme summer heat (waters can reach 84 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). The remaining months you can enjoy an optimal water temperature that varies from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
North Red Sea
The most popular gateway spots are the cities of Hurgada and Sharm El Sheik — notorious for its scattered ships that make it one of the best wreck scuba diving spots in the world. As a major shipping route between Africa, Europe and the East, it was a location where a number of boats sunk. With its treacherous waters, reefs and scattered little islands, boat captains had difficulty passing through it at the time, who relied solely on ancient navigational systems. Don’t let this fact scare you. The northern area offers a diverse range of diving sites suitable for the beginner to the well-seasoned diver.
South Red Sea
Re-named the “Maldives of the Red Sea” by the locals for its rainbow-colored corals and diverse marine life, Marsa Alam is the main gateway to explore this less popular and less-crowded part of the sea. It also offers more challenging dives for experienced divers. It’s a paradise for drift diving and you will most likely encounter dolphins, green sea turtles, and a rare dugong.
If you are planning a holiday in Egypt devoted specifically to scuba diving, then a liveaboard is certainly the right option for you. These usually entail being fed and cared for onboard a yacht with other fellow scuba divers, exploring multiple dives sites each day.
Liveaboards usually last for seven to ten days and prices include accommodations, transfers to and from the airport, three meals a day plus snacks, and of course the dives. You will have to pay for alcoholic drinks out of pocket, but you will see that diving all day and drinking don’t really go together. Flights and diving equipment are not included in the price. Bring as much of your own equipment as you can afford, since it will save you the hassle of having your wetsuit, fins, and mask fit on the first day. It will also spare you a significant extra cost.
There are many liveaboard travel companies that offer the possibility of completing PADI certifications and extra courses such as underwater photography while on the holiday. In order to be able to join specific itineraries (such as the southern Red Sea) you need to have a minimum amount of dives logged, since these are often more challenging dive sites.
If you are not a seasoned diver, the northern part of the Red Sea might be a better option for you. Nevertheless, is best not to have some experience if you are embarking on a liveaboard for the first time. There will always be guides who will take you through the sites, but unless you are doing a PADI certification, you will not have an instructor looking after you all the time. It is also best to be in a fairly good shape if you decide to join a liveaboard. You will be diving up to four times a day (three during the day and one night dive) and be woken up most mornings before 6 am. All of these dives will definitely take a toll on your body, so make sure to drink plenty of water, enjoy the delicious food the local crew prepares, and rest as much as you can between the dives.
Looking to explore Egypt on land? Check out our temple guide!
Header image by Jakob Owens.