Red Sea Scuba Diving
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the diving season?
The Red Sea is a great place to dive any time of year but water temperature varies quite a lot depending on the time of the year. In August the water temperature can reach a bath warm 30°C but drops as low as 22°C in February. So you need to be sure your exposure suit is appropriate for the conditions. August sees air temperatures in Egypt reach 40°C while in the winter (December to February) it can fall to 20°C.
Where is the best scuba diving in Red Sea?
The Sinai Peninsula and Hurghada areas in the northern Red Sea are great for wreck diving, with sites such as the Thistlegorm, Abu Nuhas wrecks (Giannis D, Carnatic, Kimon M, Chrisoula K) and Rosalie Moller. Plus it also holds the Ras Mohammed National Park and the Straits of Tiran.
The southern Red Sea offers breathtaking reefs at Brother Islands, Elphinstone, Rocky Island and St. John's reefs. Liveaboard itineraries tend to be either in the north or the south, although you can find those that take in some dive sites in both areas. The Sinai Peninsula tends to be where most people visit on their first diving trips to Egypt, progressing to the Southern Red Sea later, in search of more remote diving.
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Sinai Peninsula , Southern Red Sea
How many dives per day are there on Red Sea liveaboards?
The norm on Red Sea diving safaris is to make 4 dives per day, including 1 night dive. However, on the first and last diving days of the cruise, you'll make 2 or 3 dives, depending on the season - summer time has longer days and so 3 dives is normal whereas the shorter daylight hours in the winter can mean later starts and only 2 dives are possible.
Note also that night diving in marine parks is forbidden under Egyptian law. This means that a maximum of 3 dives per day is to be expected when visiting Egypt's southern marine parks of Brothers, Daedalus, Zabargad and Rocky Island.
Where is there good diving for beginners?
Dive conditions in the Red Sea can range from flat calm seas and great visibility to strong currents. There are a variety of different types of dive site, from flat shallow reefs to deep walls, so check out our Red Sea dive site descriptions to see what might, or might not suit you. Generally the Sinai area is more appropriate for beginner divers than the Southern Red Sea.
Important note: many liveaboards impose a conditional minimum number of dives, and Egyptian law requires divers to have a minimum of 50 logged dives for the 4 offshore island marine parks: The Brothers, Zabargad, Daedalus and Rocky Island.
What about diver safety, are there any recompression chambers in Egypt?
Diver safety is a serious matter in Egypt. The high numbers of dive tourists visiting the Red Sea has meant that the Egyptian government must satisfy travel industry leaders demands in terms of faciities for handling diving emergencies.
There are several re-compression chambers on the Sinai Peninsula in Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab. Then on Egypt's eastern seaboard there are chambers in El Gouna (north of Hurghada), Safaga and Marsa Alam, as well as 2 chambers in Hurghada itself - one near the new marina in the down town area, and one Hypermed chamber out by the airport.
Additionally, the Red Sea Association for Diving and Water Sports (RSDASS) has introduced a series of rules aimed at improving diver safety in the Red Sea. These include:
- All dive guides must carry ID cards that state they are professionally certified divemasters (at least);
- All dive boats must have at least 1 dive guide onboard;
- Divers with less than 25 logged dives must be accommpanied underwater by a dive guide in a ratio of no more than 6 divers per guide;
- Maximum depth for introductory dive is 8m;
- When visiting the marine parks on Red Sea diving cruises, 1 dive guide must be provided for every 8 divers;
- When diving within the marine parks, divers must show at least 50 logged dives;
- When diving outside of marine parks, 1 dive guide must be provided for every 12 divers;
- All divers must carry a surface marker buoy.
These safety regulations go way beyond the rather light standards laid down by PADI, and are welcome initiatives to ensure your safety.
There are many luxury boats in Egypt, why do they all have wooden hulls?
Sometimes when you look out across the water and lay your eyes on the luxury dream cruiser speeding past you, it can be difficult to believe that underneath those sleek lines and all that glamour, the hull is wooden, just like the most basic diving boats in the Red Sea. Steel hull boats have a much better record when it comes to safety at sea, so why is it that all the boats in the Red Sea are wooden?
The answer is very simple: there are no steel dive boat builders in Egypt. Egypt is a Muslim country with a high degree of state control and interference. Entrepreneurial spirit is often stifled and old traditions and beliefs are not readily cast aside. What was good enough for generations past is often just accepted to be good enough for the future too. We think we might have identified a great new niche business start-up opportunity here. Any takers?
I'd also like to visit Cairo and do a Nile Cruise. Can you help with tourist activities?
Yes we can. Adding a week of Cairo, the Nile River and visits to sites of cultural and historical interest in Egypt can turn a great dive trip into the holiday of a lifetime. So we have teamed up with local experts the National Travel Service (NTS) who specialise in Egypt overland tours and excursions. There are a number of different packages to choose from or if necessary, custom-built packages can be arranged.
Whether you're interest is royal mummies, the splendour of a Nile River cruise, riding a camel around the pyramids or on a desert safari overnighting at oases, NTS can make your dreams come true. For more information: Egypt overland tours.
What about passport and visa requirements?
All visitors to Egypt (except those from Malta and Arab countries) need a tourist visa, a passport that is valid for at least 6 months, an onward ticket and adequate funds for expenses.
It is recommended to organise your 30 day single entry visa in advance from your Egyptian embassy or consulate. Some citizens can obtain one at the airport upon arrival (although you can expect some delays). This applies to citizens of the EU, UK, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. However some airlines will not allow you to board an Egypt bound flight without a valid visa.
As always we advise that you check the latest visa and entry requirements with your local Egyptian embassy or consulate. As Egyptian embassies can be notoriously difficult to deal with, if you do need a visa before arrival then you should allow plenty of time for processing.
Do I need to provide any other documentation prior to my Egypt liveaboard trip?
Yes, you do. You need to submit a copy of your passport in advance on your tour. It is a requirement of the Egyptian coastguard. Your Red Sea liveaboard diving operator must receive it no later than 4 days prior to sailing or they may not be able to obtain permission to depart. You must also provide dive insurance details to your liveaboard operator prior to the trip. Failure to provide this information could result in you being prevented from joining the trip. We will, of course, send you details of who to provide these details to once you make a booking with us.
Please ensure that once on board you are able to provide the following details and documentation: last name, first name, nationality, passport number, flight number, time of arrival and departure, copy of your passport (another one) and diving insurance details. Please make sure that the passport is valid for at least 6 months.
Do people speak English there?
English is very widely spoken in the Red Sea tourist destinations and many tourists enjoy a great holiday here without knowing a word of Arabic. Many local people speak a little Italian, French, German and Russian too.
Is Egypt a dangerous country to visit?
There is a decreasing number of countries in the world where no "terrorist" activity has taken place. Egypt has had its share of problems but it recognises the enormous value of maintaining security in the tourist destinations. Therefore there are a significant number of security personnel at airports and major tourist areas. We consider the Red Sea to be a safe place for dive tourists.
Most tourists will not encounter any form of anti-Western sentiment, however it is advisable to stay vigilant and avoid political and public gatherings. Similarly, crime is not any more prevalent in Egypt than other tourist destinations but vigilance and sensible risk assessment of each situation is always advisable.
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Why do you not recommend resorts here?
We recommend liveaboard diving in the Red Sea as the best way to experience the destination. The shore line of the Red Sea is sometimes overwhelmingly built-up. Non-diving tourists as well as divers are sometimes present in huge numbers in some of the biggest destinations. Sometimes the harbours are exceptionally busy with daytrip boats all battling to get out to the dive sites.
Liveaboards are more relaxed and will be taking you to less busy dive sites. However you can expect other liveaboard boats to be with you on the more popular dive sites, especially in the north. If you really want to give yourself every chance to be on a liveaboard in a quiet part of the Red Sea then the southern section is your best bet.
Can you arrange accommodation for me in the Red Sea?
If you require hotel accommodation before or after your liveaboard cruise, our affiliated hotel reservation agents Agoda.com have a variety of accommodations throughout Egypt and the Red Sea. Browse the choices on their website, use their live chat to ask your questions, and then simply use your credit card to make your reservation.
From top-of-the range international beach resorts to cheap guesthouses, there's something to suit everyone's taste and needs. And you can be sure that whatever option you go for, it will be backed up with their 'Low Price Guarantee', so you will always get top-dollar value for money.
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