LIVEABOARD DIVING IN Egypt
One of the most rewarding liveaboard dive destinations is definitely Egypt. The country is a close distance from Europe, which makes it affordable even for budget divers, the best value for the money. Liveaboard diving in Egypt can be a good choice for divers of all levels of experience. You can be a novice with a new certification. Your first dives will definitely be memorable. Even if you’re an advanced diver, you will still find things to discover in Egypt. Even the most discerning divers will be delighted with the quality of diving, the variety of fish and coral species, the beautiful underwater scenery, the sheer walls, and the coral gardens.
Marine parks in Egypt provide a great opportunity to see big fish such as sharks and other pelagics and to see a sensational array of coral formations. Ras Mohammed, Brother Islands, Daedalus Reef, Zabargad, and Rocky Islands have been attracting divers for years. Although many of the dive sites can be visited during day-trip dives, they can be only thoroughly explored when diving from a liveaboard. The same can be said about the north of the Red Sea. This area is especially renowned for wreck diving, great ships, and their history that is still preserved. You still can see motorcycles, ammunition, and rifles on some wrecks.
For experienced divers who are interested in more difficult diving, Egypt can offer unique opportunities for technical diving. There are deep canyons, arches, and caves, many of which are not yet fully explored but are available for tech divers who have additional training and use the most modern technology
Destinations in Egypt
Diving in Egypt is exceptional, and there are destinations suited to every diver’s taste. Liveaboard diving in the Red Sea is represented by shallow coral gardens amazingly rich with corals and fish, with almost no currents or waves, as well as top-quality wreck diving. Some would say that deep north destinations such as Dahab and Sinay are the best, while others prefer northern destinations and exploring wrecks. Some people are fans of the south, with the possibility to see sun rays penetrating through the surface and the best chances to dive with dolphins. The best liveaboard diving destinations in Egypt include marine parks like Brothers-Daedalus-Elphinstone, the North of the Red Sea with its iconic wrecks Thistlegorm, Dunraven, the Abu Nuhas ship cemetery, Straights of Tiran, and St. John’s. Of course, this is not a full list of activities that await you there
When To Go Dive in Egypt
Though diving is available year-round, every season has its own advantages. Late July to early December is the high season for divers. It’s not very hot at that time, but the water is still warm and full of marine life. The only bad thing is that there are lots of people at the most popular reefs. One distinguishing feature of the Red Sea is that there is almost no thermocline (small difference in water temperature in different depths). The average water temperature is 26-28°C (79-82°F), and in August and September, it increases to 31°C (88°F). Winter in Egypt is well-known for discounts and great offers. This season offers perfect visibility and some rare species, such as thresher sharks. Starting in December the water becomes colder, about 21°C (70°F), so you should prepare for cold temperatures. In February there can be cold winds and storms. In the northern Red Sea, you’re most likely to spot whale sharks from the end of May until July. In May and June, you will have higher chances to see mantas and whale sharks, but the visibility will be a bit worse due to the plankton. From June to August, you can see big fish and big schools of pelagic fish
Departure ports in Egypt
Red Sea liveaboard cruises can start from several different towns. The starting ports for north Red Sea liveaboard trips are Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh. Deep north Red Sea trips start only from Sharm El Sheikh. The starting ports for the Brother Islands are Hurghada and Port Ghalib, while the south liveaboard trips start from Port Ghalib, Marsa Alam, and Hamata. There are three international airports: Sharm El Sheikh (SSH), Hurghada (HRG), and Marsa Alam (RMF).
Sometimes, the transfer from the airport to the port is included in the trip price and is organized by liveaboard operators. For a group transfer, a complimentary transfer with a strict schedule will be most likely. If your flight doesn’t work with the schedule, it is preferable to book a stay in a hotel for one night. Or if you want to explore the shore area and find out about the local culture, it could be more than one day. However, in this case, hotel stays and transfers will be at your expense. Be prepared to travel approximately 4-5 hours by bus from the airport of Hurghada to the southern ports of Hamata or Port Ghalib
Must see dive sites in Egypt
Egypt is blessed with hundreds of dive sites for every taste and level of experience. The Red Sea is considered to be one of the true underwater wonders, with numerous species of soft and hard coral and schools of fish. Big schools of different reef fish and areas where whitetip sharks, silvertips, gray reef sharks, thresher sharks, and hammerheads are most likely to be seen are located in the center area and in the south. Little Brother and Big Brother Islands are well known, as well as Daedalus Reef, Elphinstone, and many other dive sites. It’s also a good place to dive along the coral walls and reefs. The wrecks of Aida and Numidia are like the icing on the cake for diving here.
But if you are a true wreck diving enthusiast, head to the north of the Red Sea. Thistlegorm, a cargo ship that sank in the Suez Canal during one of the missions during WWII, was discovered many years ago by Jacques Cousteau. It is almost always included as the core of a northern trip. There is also the Abu Nuhas ship graveyard, where the shallower parts of the reef caused 4 other ships to wreck at different times: the Giannis D, Kimon K, Chrisoula K, and the oldest of all, the Carnatic, which sank in 1869. There is also a deep north Red Sea itinerary, which only starts from Sharm El-Sheikh and includes dive sites to the north of Sharm El-Sheikh and around Dahab (Bells, Blue Hole, Canyon) and some other dive sites in the Gulf of Aqaba. Close to the Sudanese border, you will find another Red Sea treasure - the St. John’s caves and caverns. The dive sites have unique underwater landscapes and offer diving with extraordinary creatures like dugongs, mantas, Spanish dancers, and bumphead parrotfish. But what attracts the most divers here are the big pods of dolphins nearby
Frequently Asked Questions
When choosing your itinerary pay attention to what you want to see and on your diver’s level.
The Egyptian part of the Red Sea is commonly separated into 3 different parts.
- North Red Sea Liveaboard Diving Trips
The easiest and most colorful part is definitely the northern part. Starting with Dahab and the famous Blue Hole and Bells, moving south to the Straits of Tiran and Ras Mohammed, which are near Sharm el-Sheikh, you will find Shark and Yolanda Reef, named as one of the best dive sites in the world by Jacques Cousteau, which guarantees excellent diving all year round. Another great dive site here is Jackson Reef in the Straits of Tiran, which is truly the aquarium of the Red Sea. Wreck lovers definitely need to see the SS Thistlegorm WWII wreck, which is considered to be one of the best wrecks dives in the world. Liveaboards often start from Hurghada and visit Abu Nuhas as well. Here, in the same spot, there are 4 diveable wrecks from different time periods to be explored. Divers often see dolphins swimming freely here. This region can be reached by day-trip boats, but experienced liveaboard captains and guides can plan the dives in a way that makes divers feel they are alone there.
- Brothers Islands and other Marine Parks
The highlights of this area are Elphinstone, the Brother Islands, and Daedalus, which are further away from the mainland. These are world-class dive sites, and experienced divers will enjoy these the most. You can see pelagic fish and sharks during the right time of year. Those who like wall diving will enjoy diving here as well. The main attractions of this itinerary are the Little Brother and Big Brother Islands, two Islands far in the sea with great walls, two wrecks, and a variety of big fish. Usually, trips include 3-4 days on the Brothers Islands and some other dive sites on the way there and back. One of the best combinations is Brothers + Daedalus + Elphinstone. Night dives are not allowed on the Brothers Islands. Diving is quite challenging there, and the minimum required experience level is to have logged 30+ or 50+ dives. Sometimes there are strong currents, and the walls go deep. There are waves and the open sea, and lots of sharks on every dive, such as reef sharks, oceanic whitetips, hammerheads, and thresher sharks.
- South Red Sea
Southernmost sites in the Red Sea have steep walls with strong currents, as well as places that are also suitable for night diving and easy diving. Starting from St. John’s, you can go to the famous Habili Ali or Gota Kebira, and moving away from the mainland in the northeast direction, you can go to Zabargad and the Rocky Islands. The Rocky Islands offer wall diving with strong currents and shark encounters. It is better to go to these sites in the spring (from May to June) or in the fall (September or November) when the seas are calmer, and the chances to encounter sharks and pelagic fish in normal recreational diving depths are much higher than in the summer. The main points of interest there are Elphinstone, Fury Shoals, St. John’s, Rocky, Zabargad, and Daedalus. The routes in the South, especially Daedalus and Elphinstone, are also famous for sharks and pelagics. Some reefs are very extraordinary, with lots of narrow passages, labyrinths, and plays of light. Abu Dabbab is home to dugongs and turtles, and you can snorkel with a big family of spinner dolphins in the lagoons of Sataya Reef and Samadai Reef
When traveling to Egypt, there are some requirements.
● Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your period of travel to this country. All visitors to Egypt need an entry visa to enter Egypt. Some nationalities can purchase it in the airport of Cairo or Hurghada. To save some time it can be also bought online. Please check this information at the local embassy to ensure that you have everything you need well in advance of your trip.
● Travel insurance is something that is always recommended. It can save you some money and will be very useful if you experience things like medical issues or trip delays.
● Diving insurance and a valid diving certificate are mandatory, and you must present them at check-in. Hyperbaric chambers are available in Hurghada, Port Ghalib, Safaga, Marsa Alam, and Sharm El Sheikh. Divebooker provides all of our divers with short-term DAN diving insurance, which is definitely needed when onboard.
● Tipping is expected. Although tips are meant to be optional in theory, they are pretty much mandatory for Egypt. Boat crews will be very grateful if you will leave gratuities at the end of your diving trip.
● If you have any food restrictions, you should notify the liveaboard crew well in advance of your trip in order to make it possible for them to prepare food that will meet your requirements
Egypt has dive sites for beginners, advanced divers, and also for tech divers. Diving in the Red Sea varies from calm seas to strong currents. Shallow reefs will be more suitable for novices, and walls and wrecks require more experience. For some routes, the minimum required level is AOWD certification and having logged 15+ or 20+ dives. For liveaboards, it will be enough to have Open Water certification with 10+ dives in a log book. From the end of December until the beginning of March, the water is 20°C (68°F) and you will need a 5-7 mm wetsuit, especially in the north. Short wetsuits are better for the summer months. Are there any activities for snorkelers/non-divers? In Egypt, liveaboards often offer onboard kayaks as well as snorkeling and swimming. But the main activity is diving. So if you are traveling with a non-diver, be prepared because onboard activities will be mainly focused on sunbathing. Some boats also provide a discount for non-divers