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...Highlights: hammerhead sharks, shark action, dolphins, manta rays, dugongs, schooling fish & big pelagics...
...Diving environment: healthy reefs, wreck diving, wall diving, drift diving, caverns, advanced divers, very popular...

Over recent years liveaboards to the Southern Red Sea have grown dramatically in popularity, to such an extent that new towns have sprang up down the Egyptian coastline to facilitate such activity. The popularity of such diving trips might even rival that of Northern Red Sea, and certainly most experienced scuba divers would now head straight for the south.

This change in appeal has taken place partly due to liveaboard divers' preference to avoid the hustle of busy day trip diving and resort towns such as Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada. But also because experienced visitors have come to recognise the huge attractions that Egypt's Southern Red Sea reefs have, such as frequent encounters with pelagic sharks, large schools of fish and healthy coral reef systems.

Dugongs come to feed on the seagrasses in the Red Sea's Deep South - photo courtesy of Ashraf Hassanin
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Scuba diving with oceanic whitetip sharks is a rare event the world over. This fearsome predator was once thought to be one of the most dangerous fish in the sea and prefers oceanic waters, far away from coral reefs. However, the Southern Red Sea reefs' close proximity to deep waters provides an ideal environment to bring divers close up to these and other pelagic sharks.

Other sharks that you can see here with regularity include hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks and silvertip sharks, as well as plenty of the usual reef sharks that most divers are familiar with. Not content with big shark action, the Southern Red Sea's coral reef systems are healthier and more vibrant than their northern counterparts. Volumes are good for both larger reef fish species such as snappers, unicornfish and groupers, and for pelagic fish such as trevally and tuna.

Most of the scuba diving in the south of Egypt is along deep walls, however some areas of the Deep South also offer intriguing maze-like reefs with lots of tunnels and crags for exploration, a few wrecks and some sheltered bays for night dives. Many divers are now beginning to appreciate the wonders of the Egypt's Deep South.

The area includes St. John's Reefs, as well as the marine parks of Zabargad and Rocky islands. The variety of diving environments is the main attraction here, with wrecks, tunnels, mazes and shallow bays, as well as the more usual Southern Red Sea profiles of steep walls, deep plateaus, drift dives, and big fish and sharks. From the end of December to the beginning of February you can expect to see large rays in bays all along the coast here. The area is still remote and not visited frequently by most of the liveaboards so you can enjoy all this with a greater degree of solitude then in other parts of the country.

The Egyptian section of the Red Sea south of Hurghada is exposed to some strong offshore currents, has deep sites and frequent surface swells. This means that liveaboard dive trips here are not for beginners. But for those with the necessary skills and experience, this area offers the most spectacular scuba diving Egypt has to offer.

Dive Site Descriptions


Abu Dabbab

About half way between Port Ghalib and Marsa Alam and 4 km off the Egyptian shoreline, lies Abu Dabbab, 6 different reefs lying just below the water's surface. Each of the reefs represents one of the 6 "Father's stepping stones", as the name translates into English. You will not be able to cover all 6 reefs in one dive. The most popular and more enjoyable sites are the 2 most eastern of the group of 3 reefs at Abu Dabbab North, known as Ithnain and Thalata.

The site(s) does not reach a great depth (18-20m maximum) and can therefore be enjoyed by divers of all levels. Abu Dabbab requires drift diving and the choice of jumping in to the north or south of the site is done after the direction of the current has been checked by the divemasters. Usually the current runs from south to north and can be strong on certain days. The current is not caused by the tides, but due to the thermoclines generated by hot water meeting cold water.
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How to Dive Egypt's Southern Red Sea

Due to the long distances involved and the offshore location of many of the sites, it is only possible to dive all of these sites by liveaboard. Day trips are not possible, except to Elphinstone alone which is close to Marsa Alam. For more information on your cruise options, and all the other travel information you might need to visit the Southern Red Sea of Egypt, view our Southern Egypt liveaboard section.

Liveaboard diving trips run out of Hurghada, Marsa Ghalib and Marsa Alam. Departures out of Hurghada tend to focus only on the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone areas. To reach the further Deep South sites such as Zabargad, St. John's and Rocky Island, boats will depart from further down the coast at Marsa Ghalib and Marsa Alam.

Some cruises now visit the Southern Red Sea dive sites of Egypt and even further south into Sudan. These trips are usually for 13 nights duration and attract more adventurous and advanced divers.

Note also that according to Egyptian law, it is necessary for everyone to show proof of 50 logged dives before they can dive in its marine parks.

The Diving Season

The Southern Red Sea of Egypt is slightly warmer than its northern counterpart. Temperatures peak at 28-30°C between July and September. After these months the temperatures drop a little to 27-28°C in October and November. They continue from December to February to fall from 26-23°C. After the maximum low of February, temperatures warm up again from 24-27°C between March and June. Visit the MeteoblueOpens in a new window for more information on the climate of Marsa Alam in the Southern Red Sea.

There are 2 windy seasons that can affect Red Sea liveaboard trip schedules. The summer winds can blow from May to September, and the stronger winter winds can have negative consequences from October to April. An element of chance comes into play when planning liveaboard trips in the south but usually dive cruises will be re-routed if the winds are too strong to sail on the originally planned routes.

In May and June oceanic whitetip sharks can frequently be seen in the St. John's area, and from October till the end of the year at Elphinstone and the rest of southern Egypt. Thresher shark season occurs in the Autumn and Winter months around the offshore islands and reefs of the Brothers and Daedalus. Hammerheads can be seen at Daedalus in the summer time when big congregations of females are attracted there. Manta ray and whale shark season at St. John's, Daedalus and Brothers is European Spring time - April/May.

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Where is Southern Red Sea and How Do I Get There?

Review our maps below of the southern Red Sea and its host country Egypt. Here, you will find information on how to get to there.

Map of the southern Red Sea (click to enlarge in a new window) Map of Egypt (click to enlarge in a new window)

Reef Summary

Depth: 5m - >40m
Visibility: 15m - 35m
Currents: Can be stong
Surface conditions: Can be rough
Water temperature: 23 - 30°C
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: ~125
Recommended length of stay: 1 - 2 weeks

Useful References

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