Diving in Marsa Alam
Lying some 12 km off the Egyptian coastline, Sha'ab Sharm is one of the main highlights of diving in the Marsa Alam area. This submerged reef is approximately 700m long in an east-west perspective; its steep walls drop off to the sea floor some 200m below and its exposure to strong north-to-south currents mean that the coral growth is particularly healthy here.
The eastern point is the main attraction at Sha'ab Sharm as the area holds a plateau stretching from 17-35m deep. Densely packed soft corals cover the shelf and the current is frequently strong, bringing with it the chance to see barracuda, tuna, trevally and grey reef sharks. Large gorgonian fans with longnose hawkfish mark the beginning of the plateau at 30m. Stay close to the reef at this point as the current can sweep you down the wall or out to sea.
At 45m lies a cave entrance. It stretches quite far back into the reef and lies beyond the limits of recreational diving so you'd be advised to stay away from this point without the necessary technical training. However, do take a moment to look into the blue and on the ledges as whitetip reef sharks are frequently found and great hammerhead sharks are sometimes seen here.
The western coast has a similar but smaller and shallower shelf. Here you can find some huge table corals and plenty of featherstars. Orangespine surgeonfish swim freely around the reef, bigeye bream shelter in the crevices and occasionally you might attract the curiosity of one of the huge Napoleon wrasse that live here. Due to the shallower depth of this shelf, this area can be used for a sunset or night dive.
The northern and southern edges offer wall diving with heavy coral and seafan coverage. Here you might see schooling snappers and trevally.
Sha'ab Sharm is popular with Marsa Alam daytrip diving boats as well as Red Sea liveaboard safaris travelling to and from St. John's. Divers should have a reasonable level of experience to dive here.
Sha'ab Sharm Reef Basics: Walls and shelves
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 25 - 35m
Currents: Can be very strong
Surface conditions: Can be choppy
Water temperature: 23 - 30°C
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: 2
Diving season: All year round
Distance: 50 km (3 hrs) south southeast of Marsa Alam
Access: Red Sea liveaboards
• Marsa Alam travel information
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• Southern Red Sea - Egypt
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