The Egyptian Red Sea
Venture Forth! By Scuba Travel Ventures
Contributor | Zachary Cabading
The Egyptian Red Sea might be the perfect adventure destination for scuba divers.
Consider this: if Egypt was a four-course meal, the Great Pyramid of Giza would only be an appetizer.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is only an appetizer.
Let that sink in. I’ll wait…
Your main course is the Red Sea, where you’ll get to explore some of the world’s most dazzling reefs.
You might remember the Red Sea from Sunday school: it’s where Moses and company slipped out of Egypt on a desperate escape to the promised land. As a scuba diver, you’ll get to walk in their footsteps—so to speak.
History & Mystery
“Wow! We’re not the first civilization to worship cats.”
Visit the Red Sea if you want to know what a baby ocean looks like. The Red Sea is an ocean-in-the-making that will take at least 5 million years to form. By that time we’ll probably have dive shops on Europa.
Like any great historic destination, Egypt will make you think more about the future than the past.
After a few days prowling through sand-swept temples and pyramids, you’ll be pondering the big questions…
Is there life after death? What’s our purpose in this dark, empty universe? Will our civilization be lost in the sands of time? What’s the meaning of it all?
With any luck, you’ll leave Egypt with a healthy dose of existential dread.
[Fun Fact: If there’s somebody who knows how the Red Sea got its name, he’s probably buried in a nearby tomb. Nobody knows for sure, but several different theories are debated among historians.]
The Jumping-Off Point
The best way to dive the Red Sea is on a liveaboard. And the best liveaboards depart from Hurghada or Marsa Alam.
Although there's reputable diving at the Sinai Peninsula, a trip to that part of Egypt will take you far and away from Egypt’s grandest dive sites—which are only accessible from Hurghada or Marsa Alam.
If you want to dive the Northern Red Sea, you’d take a liveaboard from Hurghada.
The northern sea has shallow reefs and lesser currents that are better for beginning and intermediate divers (or anyone who prefers gentle dive sites).
Advanced scuba divers will have fun, too. Rumor has it there’s a bucket-list wreck called the SS Thistlegorm, a World War II vessel that’s carrying locomotives, trucks, and other curious cargo.
Marsa Alam Liveaboards
If you want to dive the Southern Red Sea, you’d take a liveaboard from Marsa Alam.
Advanced divers will appreciate the stronger currents in the south, which provide more opportunities for drift diving.
The southern sea is also home to world-class dive sites like St. John’s Island, Rocky Island, and the famous Elphinstone Reef—one of the world’s most celebrated dive sites.
There are three Egyptian liveaboards that we love:
Heaven Saphir: A locally owned and operated liveaboard. 36-meter yacht, with 6 cabins, 2 honeymoon suites, an executive suite, a lounge, a bar, and 3 sun decks. 18 total guests.
Blue O Two: A global operator that runs 4 liveaboards in the Red Sea. 22-guest, 24-guest, and 26-guest vessels.
Blue Force: A global operator that runs 2 liveaboard vessels in the Red Sea. 18 guests and 26 guests.
All three liveaboard operators offer a buffet of itineraries which include northern routes, southern routes, and “Best Of” routes that take you to Red Sea hotspots.
As usual, STV can help you find the liveaboard that’s right for your group size and diving preferences. We have awesome rates, too. Contact us!
Meet the Locals
The Red Sea has over 1,100 species of fish! Roughly 20% of them are unique to the Red Sea.
But let’s talk about the VIPs, the animals you really want to rub elbows with (figuratively speaking).
The Grey Reef Shark is the most common Red Sea shark, but most divers are looking for the Oceanic Whitetip.
Your friends might ask you why you’d want to swim with the “world’s most dangerous shark,” the species that ate all those people on the USS Indianapolis. But hey—we’re scuba divers. We’re a strange bunch.
We really need to talk about the Titan Triggerfish, one of many gargantuan fish that you’ll find in the Red Sea. The females aggressively defend their nests during reproductive season. If you stumble upon a territorial female, be sure you swim around their nest and not over it. Also take caution when you're admiring Lionfish and Scorpionfish.
The Sea Goldie is a fish that can change sex. They only change sex when a male dies; sea goldies are keen on keeping the population predominantly female (only one-fiftieth of the group are male). Evidently, they’ve discovered that things run a lot more smoothly in a woman's world.
Red Sea Clownfish have the opposite life cycle: they’re all born male and only change sex when a female dies.
Here are some other great animals you’ll find in the Red Sea:
- Hammerhead Sharks
- Spotted Eagle Rays
- Moray Eels
- Snowflake Eels
- Garden Eels
- Napoleon Wrasse
- Bumphead Parrotfish
- Batfish (very friendly with divers)
- Coral Groupers
- Angelfish (Arabian and Yellowbar)
- Bluespotted Ribbontail Rays
- Sea Turtles (Hawksbill and Green)
- Dugongs (critically endangered—can only be found near Marsa Alam)
The Camel in the Room
Yes, Egypt is safe!
The Red Sea’s western coastline is especially welcoming to scuba divers and adventure travelers. Plus, Egyptians are known to be friendly and hospitable.
Eyes of Horus
The Red Sea is mostly isolated from other bodies of water, so the visibility is astounding. The viz can reach up to 140 feet in some places!
[Fun Fact: The Red Sea is also one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. When you’re diving, you might need to use a little more weight than what you’re accustomed to.]
Scuba divers may worship the Red Sea, but the Nile River is well-worth your patronage. Along the banks of the Nile, you’ll find the colossal ruins of Ancient Egypt.
Cairo is the capital city of Egypt, and that’s where you’ll find the famous pyramids and the Sphinx—not to mention some excellent Egyptology museums.
The city is exciting, but also intimidating for first-time visitors. Be sure to read up on local customs before you go. If you come with the right preparedness, you’re bound to enjoy Cairo’s spectacular street scene.
You can find plenty of adventure downriver at the cities of Luxor and Aswan. Both cities are flanked and filled by ancient ruins. You can spend several days exploring to your heart’s content. [Just be wary of ancient curses.]
But there's nothing wrong with taking it easy. Kick back at a hookah lounge, or go sunset sailing on a felucca. Speaking of sailing, one of the best experiences on the Nile is a river cruise from Aswan to Luxor.
What Are You Waiting For?
Your pals here at Scuba Travel Ventures know a thing or two about dive travel in the Red Sea. We can help you and your dive group:
- Find the right liveaboard
- Choose the best dive itinerary
- Arrange transportation and lodging so you can explore the Nile
- Pick the right time of year to visit (very helpful if you’re trying to find a seasonal animal)
- Prepare you for the nuances of Egyptian travel
- Overcome any travel crises that may arise (lost luggage, flight cancellations, etc.)
What are you waiting for, traveler?