Red Sea Dive Sites
Foul Bay is the area directly south of Ras Banas and extends to the Egypt-Sudan border. Strictly speaking, the region includes the reefs of St. John's, though we have described these reefs separately in our Red Sea dive sites section. The main attraction here is the incredible tunnel complex at Caves, though there are some other interesting reef dives and a wreck.
Paradise Reef is the closest dive site to the St. John's reefs and is a narrow 900m long submerged reef. The long east and west coasts offer little to capture the interest; it is the wider southern end of Paradise Reef that divers visit. Here the whole wall has been heavily erorded to leave a fairly shallow seabed dotted with coral outcrops, turrets and towers in all shapes and sizes. Some are small and short whilst others reach almost to the surface with crazy overhanging ledges and coral growths.
Marine life here includes Napoleon wrasse, hawksbill turtles, Red Sea Walkmen, tangs, damsels, Spanish Dancers and other nudibranchs. The area is particularly suitable for a night dive.
At the far southwest corner, there are some interesting tunnels and caves to explore; the entrance is marked by some large anemones hosting Red Sea anemonefish at 6m deep. There are several exitways and the ceilings are clear to the surface in several places so it's a really safe and easy introduction to penetration diving.
Caves, also known as Umm Chararim, is a shallow reef with a maximum depth of 15m. The reef is split through by many huge cracks in the reef, from the surface down to about 6m. This means that the whole reef system is a maze of tunnels, lit by sunlight penetrating from above. There are so many passageways that you can easily spend a whole dive exploring them.
The eastern section of the reef has wider passageways with small sea fans, soldierfish and scorpionfish hidden on the walls. Stay away from the tunnels in the northern section as many are dead-ends and impassable. The best plan here is to just set off and see what you can find.
Just outside of the tunnels is a coral garden with large porites coral formations and some quite bizarre vase-shaped hard coral turrets extending up from the sea floor towards the surface. Napoleon wrasse and batfish can be seen here.
Sernaka, or Mikauwa, Island is the most northerly of the Foul Bay sites. The best diving here is on the southern shore of the island, close to the navigation beacon. To the west of the beacon lies an old fishing boat called the II Kamash, in 30-50m of water. The wreck lies perpendicular to the reef slope, tilting on its port side, with its bow in the deepest water.
Schools of fish swim about the booms and the wooden floorboards have rotted in several places to expose the wreck's frame. You can see the remains of the helm and outriggers, as well as other debris scattered across the bow and the sea bed. The propeller is tangled in a fishing net. Penetration is not advised due to the depth required; instead you should make your way up over the sandy seabed to the 10m shallows to end your dive where the corals and marine life are more abundant.
Foul Bay Reef Basics: Tunnels and mazes
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 15 - 30m
Currents: None but can be strong at Sernaka
Surface conditions: Usually calm
Water temperature: 23 - 30°C
Experience level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: 8
Diving season: All year round
Distance: 190 km south southeast of Marsa Alam (13 hrs)
Access: Red sea liveaboards
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