When ever I am singing the praises about the spectacular scuba diving in Egypt, 90% of the time people are surprised. They always say they never associated Egypt with diving, but with only Pyramids and sand. But as someone who spent over a year exploring the dive sites in Egypt, as well as taking my PADI dive courses, I can certainly vouch that scuba diving Egypt needs to be on every dive-traveler’s to do list.
In this guide to the best scuba diving locations in Egypt, I will try to describe each of the sites that I know about, and convince you why Egypt is on the list for the Top 100 Scuba Diving Locations in the World. I will be showing you the best spots, how to get there, what to expect and more, for scuba diving Egypt.
– NOTE: The locations on this list are indeed the best in the country, but are not ranked from 1-10. The list is random, in order of when I arrived at each. Number 10 might be just as good as number 1. You decide.
ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SCUBA DIVING EGYPT
I had to make Dahab number one obviously. This is where I spent most of my time, and did my dive master course. Dahab is probably the most popular scuba destination in Egypt, but somehow is the more quiet and laid back. Living in Dahab, I noticed that us locals liked to go to the many lesser known sites around Dahab that are still amazing, instead of the more famous sites like the Blue Hole, where big groups did day trips in buses from Sharm El Sheik. The Blue Hole itself is an amazing site, but its definitely worth your time to stick around and ask your dive shop to take you to the south, or to The Canyon or lots of others. Here are the best ones to make sure you check out.
How to get to Dahab:
There is really only one way to get to Dahab, and thats driving from Sharm El Sheik. Read below how to get to Sharm. To get to Dahab either from your hotel or the airport in Sharm, the most common way is to take a taxi. Taxis are very cheap, especially if you have 2-3 people. Considering taxis are so cheap, I don’t recommend the bus from Sharm to Dahab to much, but they are relatively safe and comfortable on that short drive. The bus doesn’t leave from the airport, so best bet is to ask your hotel to get you times and tickets. A taxi should cost about $15-$20 per car, and it is 45-60 minute drive through some pretty desert hills. If you are diving in Sharm, its recommended to wait a few hours before driving to Dahab, because of elevation changes.
Dive sites in Dahab:
- Blue Hole. Ok lets get it out of the way. This dive site is world famous, and for good reason. Both famous and notorious I should say. There is literally a bunch of grave stones next to it from divers who died in it’s depths, but in my opinion the deaths were from carelessness more than dangerous location. When you go, your guide will actually walk you a little down the shore to an entry point called Bells, which is the coolest entry in Egypt: practically a hole in the rocks. From there is is a leisurely slow dive along a coral covered wall, slowly ascending until you reach about 7 meters, where a saddle or opening in the hole lets you in. Amazing dive.
- The Canyon. You will pass the Canyon entry point on the side of the road, on the way to Blue Hole, and this has always been one of my favorite dive sites in Dahab. You start off in a shallow sandy lagoon and make your way to a choke point that is the gateway to the sea. From there you bank left and follow a wall (also covered in coral and critters) until you get to the canyon itself. When guiding dives I’ve almost missed the canyon, as its just a long slit in the ground, but most of the time you will see steady streams of buddies seeping through the rocks and towards the surface, from divers below. You then descend to the bottom of the front of the canyon, which stops at 30 meters. Tech divers can go on from there, as the narrow, mostly covered canyon winds its way to open sea, and you squeeze out of a hole at 50 meters deep. The canyon experience mixed with tons of critters makes for an amazing site. TIP: If you can find a dive center that is cool with the police who run the roadblock (who normally let no one through at night), get to canyon for a night dive. I couldn’t believe how many crazy creatures came out at night there.
- Lighthouse. I have a soft spot for Lighthouse. Its the main place where all the beach side restaurants are, and people swim and hang out. Basically, the center and highlight of Dahab. Because of this, it makes Lighthouse so easy and fast to do. My hotel was really near here, 1 minute drive with the tanks, or 5 minute walk, and I would just do 2-3 dives a day here. When entering, most people like to angle left, and follow the walls with all of its rock formations and marine life. Very nice. But I liked going right, which at first seems like a flat grassy, empty field, but is awesome for macro critters. Its a small natural moon-shaped lagoon, no waves, very easy dive where you can go as deep as you want or as shallow, and still see tons of awesome stuff each dive. I did hundreds here. This is also the only site I had ever found seahorses, and if you know where to look, you might see them too. Recently some shops got together and sunk some cool statues straight out in the lagoon, around 15 meters, so they are fun to look at.
- Islands. This site is a little south of town, not to be confused with “the south”, and is probably one of the least frequented sites for some reason. “Islands” refers to the big underwater rocks dotting the area that you will weave in between, exploring the small site. You will find lots of clownfish, barracuda and bigger schools here. for scuba diving Egypt, this is the easiest, yet still great site.
- The South. I dove the south the least, not because the sites aren’t great, but just because they were the furthest away, no electricity to charge cameras etc. What it is, is a pebbley stretch of beach, about a 15 minute drive from town, lined with the iconic overhanging shelters filled with carpets to sit on, lots of cushions, and little coffee tables with a restaurant/kitchen nearby that will serve you from a menu. Its pretty nice. I won’t name all of the sites here because they are all good, and the entry points are in front of each restaurant shelter-thing, and when your shop takes you there, you’ll probably do three in a day. Caves is one of my favorite dive sites in the south.
- Abu Galum. This is one of my favorite dives in the whole world, for many reasons. The first reason is that, Abu Galum is only accessible by camel train. Basically your hotel organizes it, and they load camels with the tanks and gear and you, and take the 1 hour ride to the site down the coast. Its such a beautiful ride and unique experience. The second reason is that, because its so inaccessible, this protected and lesser visited marine reserve flourishes with amazing reef and critters.
That is about it for the main dive sites in Dahab, but it should be notes that all dive sites around Sharm El Sheikh are all doable from Dahab as a day trip. All dive shops offer Thistlegorm trips, and you don’t have to go stay in less awesome Sharm.
2. Sharm El Sheikh
Egypt is really trying to build its tourism, especially in the scuba diving industry, and now there are flights from Europe for dirt cheap, especially from UK and Turkey. This, and the fact that the diving is arguably much better than anywhere in Europe, make Sharm the most popular dive destinations in Egypt. Most people prefer the low key vibe and dive sites of Dahab, but for Thistlegorm and world class livaboards originating here, its a must to dive out of Sharm. There are some amazing day trips from Sharm we will list below.
How to get to Sharm El Sheikh:
As stated above, flights from all over Europe are very cheap, and most are even direct, no need to even stop in Cairo. From Asia or Europe you might have to stop in Cairo for a layover, and then on to Sharm from there, or even a layover in Istanbul. To get to Sharm by bus or car you are in for some long hauls, but there are a couple options. –From Cairo you are looking at about a 12 hour ride to Sharm, for around $20. Drive times will be much faster by private car or taxi, but much more expensive, even to the point of it being better to fly. Coming from Israel, or the ferry from Jordan, you can usually find a daily bus that goes south to Sharm, with about a 4 hour drive. It is much easier and faster to take a taxi, which might cost around $50.
Dive sites in Sharm El Sheikh:
- Thistlegorm Wreck. Thistlegorm, first discovered by Jaques Cousteau himself, is one of the best wreck dives in the world, and listed in the top 100 best dive sites on Earth. Sunk in World War Two by the Germans, Thisltegorm still contains army trucks, motorcycles, artillery, ammunition and even boots. What hasn’t been stolen is still there to see, and its an amazing dive. Don’t dive Egypt without seeing it. Check out more information about scuba diving Thistlegorm here.
- Ras Mohammed National Park. Ras Mohammed is an amazing dive. Expect giant morays, big groups of anemones with lots of clowns, lobsters, big schools, and the occasional dolphin. Even the Yolanda wreck is here which dumped containers of toilets and bathtubs. Most people usually combine this site with Thistlegorm, as they are close to one another. sites at Ras: Shark & Jolanda Reefs, Shark Observatory, Eel Garden, Jackfish Alley, Ras Za’atar, Ras Ghozlani.
- The Straits of Tiran. Named after Tiran Island, this area and the dive sites around it are amazing and not to miss. Be ready for tons of the sharks and other big stuff, and have those batteries ready. Wreck of the Kormoran, Gordon Reef, Jackson Reef, Woodhouse, Laguna Reef, Laguna Reef, Shark Observatory,
- Gubal Straits Area. Stingray Station, The Alternatives, Small Crack, Shag Rock, Lonely Mushroom, Kingston Wreck
- SS Dunraven Wreck. This 80m long Bristish Steamship that sank in 1876, and wasn’t discovered until 1979, and is at the deepest, at 28 meters. This is an easy wreck for beginners, and has multiple penetration points.
- Anemone City. Want to see rows and rows of colorful anemones with thousands of
Nemosclownfish? Head here.
- Rosalie Moller Wreck. This is the sister ship of Thistlegorm, and further out. You can reach the wreck from either Sharm or the main land by day trips, but is a lot more fun by livaboard so you can explore local sites nearby as well. This is a tech only site as it lays about 54 meters deep.
3. El Gouna and Hurghada
Hurghada is more established with more amenities then El Gouna, with more dive resorts and liveaboards to choose from, and a livelier nightlife. Both offer world-class scuba diving. Hurghada use to be a quiet fishing village, but is now the second most popular scuba destination after Sharm.
How to get to El Gouna or Hurghada:
You can fly straight to Hurghada International Airport with most major airlines in Europe and the Middle East, a lot of times without having to stop in Cairo. If you are in Cairo, you can also fly to Hurghada on Egypt Air Express or Nile Air, or from Sharm on Egypt Air.
The bus from Cairo, on a Good operators like Super Jet and Go Bus, takes about 7 hours. Prices range from 50 to 150LE normally for one way. El Goua is 25km north from Hurghada, and you can take a bus or taxi.
Dive sites closer to El Gouna:
- Abu Nuhas Wreck System: This place has a lot of wreck, 4 of which are ok for recreational divers. Most people come here for wreck diving. Here are the wrecks in the area. Kimon M, Chrisoula K Wreck, Seastar Wreck (tech only) Carnatic Wreck, Giannis D Wreck. If you’re here scuba diving Egypt for wrecks, this is a good option (after Thistlegorm obviously).
- Shaab El Erg Area: This is where Dolphin House is, also called Sha’ab Samadai Reef, which is the most popular site, with a lagoon where a pod of spinner dolphins live. Other sites in the area are Manta Point and Poseidon Garden
- Siyul Kebira Islands, big and small, with El Gilwa and Siyul Kebira.
- Shabroah Siyul (Blind Reef).
- Al Fanadir
- Ghayna. Because of less boat traffic, you can see some reef sharks, along with the coral formations and a large coral garden, great soft coral and more.
Dive sites closer to Hurghada
- Careless Reef
- Carnatic Wreck. This is one of the oldest wrecks in Egypt (almost), and doesn’t have a whole lot inside to see. There are still some intact bottles of wine still three however.
- Abu Galawa Area: Anchor, Marsa Abu Galawa, Shaabaha, Sacqua Abu Galawa
- Abu Nugar Area: Erg Abu Nugar, Gotta Abu Nugar North
- Shabroah Umm Gamar
- Umm Gamar
- Saqcua Abu Galawa
- Marsa Abu Galawa
4. Marsa Alam
Marsa Alam use to be just a sleepy fishing village, until 2001 when an international airport was built, and the dive industry and tourism took off. People still visit Marsa Alam for amazing diving, but to get away from the crowds in Sharm and Hurghada.
How to get to Marsa Alam:
There are a few options to get to Marsa Alam. You can fly to the small airport direct from some Europe and Middle East locations, or with a stop in Cairo. You can also fly from Luxor. If you want to take the bus from Cairo, it will take about 10 hours.
Dive sites in Marsa Alam:
- Daedalus Reef. Marked by a lighthouse 80 kilometers offshore, Daedalus is one of the less frequented site sites in Egypt, and thus one of the best. There can be heavy currents here, but these attract the big predators, like hammerhead schools.
- Abu Dabbab. The visibility isn’t the best but this place is famous for having some rare and endangered species such as frequent guitar sharks, dugongs, pigmy seahorses, and giant green turtles. Definitely worth the stop.
- Elphinestone. This is one of the most epic dives in Egypt that you won’t want to miss. Expect to see oceanic white tip sharks, manta rays, tiger sharks, dolphins and more. The reefs and small fish are abundant as well. Elphinestone is closest to Marsa, but can be visited by boat from Hurgharta and others as well.
- Brothers Islands. Brothers Islands, big and small, are techincally half way between Marsa Alam, so you could reach it from either place, or from the even closer Safaga. The Brothers are one of the best dive sites in Egypt, completely covered in corals and marine life, and one of the best places to see sharks in Egypt. Definitely a must-see
- Numidia Wreck. This ship wrecked into the north side of Big Brother Island in 1901, and its cargo is now heavily laden with coral and fish. Check it out while at Brother Islands.
Alexandria isn’t really known for diving, and the locals normally head to Sharm of Hurghada for that, but if you are into history, archeology diving is now a thing here. Most, if not all of the other scuba diving locations on this list can be reached from a liveaboard, originating out of various Red Sea locations, but this is the only location not even IN the Red Sea or connected at all. Scuba diving in Alexandria offers an alternative to the Red Sea, and you can see artifacts from WW2, ancient roam, ancient Egypt and more. NOTE: Make sure your dive shop knows the current permit laws, because they are changed frequently to protect artifacts.
Best time of the year to visit:
The Mediterranean is much colder than the Red Sea, so the best time to visit is between June and September with warmer waters averaging 81°F (27°C), compared to winter months averaging 69°F (20°C). Don’t expect great visibility here, and don’t be surprised with even 2 meter vis at times. For these reasons mainly history buffs frequent the area, as over 7000 Pharaonic, Greek and Roman artifacts can be found, as well as wrecks from Napoleonic battles, WWI and WWII, making it completely unique, but difficult diving.
How to get to Alexandria:
Alexandria is easily reached by plane, train or bus. The bus from Cairo is comfortable, and times range from 2-5 hours.
Dive sites in Alexandria:
- Cleopatra’s Underwater City. This site was built by Alexander the Great in 300BC, and sank into the sea from an earthquake. You can see big Roman pillars and sphinx statues here, making it pretty unique.
- Fort Qaitbey
- Omu Sukan. This is the best marine life dive site in the area, with occasional reef sharks, and schools of eagle rays making appearances. But most people that come to Alexandria for scuba diving are here for the history.
- Siwa Oasis. Did you know you can dive the famous oasis in the middle of the Sahara Desert? The Oasis is about 3 hours west of Alexandria, and you can still see a Roman construct in the clear waters. Put that on the bucket list! can even combine this with a camel desert safari and camping under the stars.
BEST MONTHS FOR SCUBA DIVING EGYPT
For the dive sites in the middle of the straight, or from livaboards, the water is always warm and clear, but can be choppy and no fun certain times of year. For them June to August is the best times of year. For local sites like in Dahab, diving year-round is great, but the water is a little warmer in the summer months. The coldest water occurs in January and is about 24°C. But if you are coming from Europe or most other places, even the colder water months will seem hot.
Far out sites to do from liveaboards, from multiple ports around Egypt
St. Johns Caves and Habili Ali . These amazing dive sites are Egypt’s southern most dive sites, nearly to the border with Sudan, situated in Foul Bay, near Hamata, and accessible only by liveaboard. St. Johns has tons of incredible caves, caverns, canyons, overhangs, swim throughs and more, and is rarely visited. Like a lot of Egypt, expect 30-40 meter visibility. A little east of St. Johns, Habili Ali has incredible blue coral, elkhorn coral, gorgonians and black coral forests.
For us, and many experienced globe trotting divers, Egypt has an insane amount of majestic scuba diving locations, as well as marine life. It is a favorite for many europeans as it is a short flight away, but is world renowned as well. Combing these world class diving locations, with out of water attractions such as Pyramids of Giza, Luxor Temples and much more, makes for one country that needs to be on every scuba traveler’s list. If you are scuba diving Egypt, you will never leave you disappointed.
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