Scuba Diving in the Red Sea
The Kingston Wreck
Shag Rock is just 15 minutes motoring time south west of the Thistlegorm and is part of the Red Sea reef system known as Sha'ab Ali. It gets its name from the cormorants that sometimes perch on the reef's light beacon, and not after some lover's secret rendez vous point, as some may like to think.
On the northern slopes of Shag Rock lies a wreck, the Kingston, which sank here on 22 February 1881. This was an 78m long twin mast steamship that ran aground and gradually sank to a maximum depth of 15m at the stern. The ship's hull and main deck frame are fairly intact and the Kingston lies upright in a north-south aspect, perpendicular to the reef, the bow furthest up the gentle reef slope.
Due to its location near the entrance to the Straits of Gubal, currents can be strong here, so its best to drop in to the north and use the current to drift dive onto the wreck. Penetration is simple in the shallow and open inner hull. Take your time to explore here as the hull also offers protection from the prevailing currents; however surge can sometimes be present so do take care. The frame structure is overgrown with stubbly hard corals and the hull is home to Arabian angelfish, surgeonfish and groupers, with many anthias and damsels flitting around.
As you progress through the dive, you can entertain yourself by exploring all the various swimthroughs under and along the deck. You can inspect the spare propeller which sits midway along the deck, slightly more towards the stern of the 2 large cylindrical boilers. While your nose may be stuck in some of the crevices of the wreck, be sure not to miss the larger fish that are present in this area such as schools of yellow snapper, plus the occasional sweetlips and Napoleon wrasse.
When you're done with wreck exploration, just join up with the reef slope and drift with the current to the south. The reef is quite stunning with its densely packed coral fields and neat layers of Acropora table corals to the south east. Yellowtail goatfish and bluelined snappers form big schools here.
The Kingston also lies in a part of the Red Sea where dolphin sightings are reasonably common. While you have a strong chance of seeing them from the surface, to encounter them on a dive, while not unheard of, requires luck to be on your side.
The Kingston Reef Basics: Wreck and reef
Depth: 5 - 25m
Visibility: 20 - 30m
Currents: Can be strong
Surface conditions: Can be choppy
Water temperature: 22 - 28°C
Experience level: Intermediate
Number of dive sites: 2
Diving season: All year round
Distance: 45 km (3½ hrs) southwest of Sharm El Sheikh, 60 km (4¼ hrs) north of Hurghada
Access: Daytrips and liveaboards
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