Red Sea Reef Guide
The area either side of the Straits of Gubal is mainly the preserve of liveaboards. Flanked in the west by the islands of Gubal and Shedwan and in the east by the reef systems of Shab Ali and Shab Mahmoud, it is normally well beyond the day boat range of either Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada. However, some boats do make the day trip from Sharm to reach the world famous wreck of the Thistlegorm, taking approximately 12-14 hours in total. Crossing the straits can be rough and sometimes downright impossible in all but the largest ships. The areas around Shedwan Island are closed to diving as this is a military area.
Shab El Erg
The most northerly site for day boats out of Hurghada. A huge horseshoe shaped reef offering many dive sites on all sides. The north point can be home to Mantas in season. The lagoon is dotted with ergs and is renowned for sightings of the resident dolphin community, divers have previously spent up to 30 minutes with dolphins here.
Gota Shab El Erg
Nearby is a little known site but well worth a visit. The whole area teems with life, unicorns, scorpion fish, groupers, morays, emperor angel fish, blue spotted rays and underneath the table corals look out for white tips resting in the sand. In the sandy channel between the main reef and the gota you will find cone shells, and flatfish.
Shab Abu Nugar
This "T" shaped reef has a shallow plateau to the west with numerous small ergs and two small sub reefs Gota Abu Nigar and Shab Iris. Some parts of this reef system are positively dull while others are stunning. If you can dive the stem of the "T" on the north side you will find three small ergs and the diving there is almost virginal. You will find broom tail wrasse here as well as parrot fish and unicorn fish.
This offshore Island is surrounded by good diving on all sides. The south end has a shallow plateau where the moorings are positioned, this location is the most used. For first timers at Umm Gamar the dive will take place from the plateau, moving eastwards to the drop off then north along the wall. After a short swim against the current you reach three pinnacles close together, chimneys reach through the pinnacles toward the surface. After exploring this area you take advantage of the light current to drift back to the corner of the plateau where three small ergs are found, covered in glass fish. Finish the dive on the plateau exploring the numerous coral heads and reef fish. The plateau is home to Napoleons, Emperor Angels and free swimming Morays. The east and west side have awesome drift dives and the northern tip or "halg" has a magnificent coral garden but is only accessible in very good weather. Big groupers and lots of sweepers live in the multiple caves found along the eastern and western walls and drop offs of this tiny island's fringing reef.
Shaab Ruhr Umm Gamar (27°11.550'N, 33°54.550'E)
Literally the reef of Umm Gamar, this reef lies 1km south of Umm Gamar and is the tip of an undersea mountain. The reef wall drops to around 15m on the west side, and is peppered with many caves and overhangs, home for sweepers and glass fish, here the sandy plateau slopes away gently to 30m with the drop off beyond. On the east side the slope is much steeper and drops quickly to the depths, the diving here is superb and can be most often done as a drift. This whole area offers superb wall diving with possibilities of encountering grey reef sharks and good-sized groupers as well as morays, big tuna, and blue spotted rays. On the south east slope lies the wreck of an Egyptian patrol boat which is well worth a visit.
Carless Reef (27°18.700'N, 33°56.200'E)
An offshore reef Careless has two large ergs rising from a shallow plateau surrounded by sheer walls rising from the deep. The area is unprotected and the reef can only be reached in good weather. The current at the surface is usually from the north but below it can come from any direction. To the north, the drop off is a forest of coral and to the south the plateau slopes gently away with small pinnacles of coral. The whole area swarms with fish of all types, there are numerous giant morays encountered here, white tip reef sharks and schooling reef fish as well as huge groupers and the occasional hammerhead in the early morning.
Torfa Fanus (East)
This narrow reef creates a huge calm lagoon, a great place to stop for lunch and catch the sun before the second dive of the day. The lagoon itself and the enclosing reef wall is relatively uninteresting and naturally lifeless but on the seaward side the area bursts with all manner of sea creatures. Swim through the gap between the first erg and the reef wall and head across the coral garden to the second erg, home to hordes of glass fish and the very occasional frog fish. Continue with the reef wall on your left to see the gorgonians on the corner of the reef where it turns west, if you have enough air continue along the north face where the corals are pristine, if not return with the reef on your right and explore the first erg before returning to the boat. Dolphins are often encountered anywhere around this reef so keep an eye out.
The other end (west) of the Fanus reef has two main ergs and several smaller pinnacles off its western end. You can follow the reef wall round and explore the reef face and coral gardens which is full of marauding jacks. Or if you feel energetic you can swim the 50m to the furthest erg which is well worth a visit, explore the remaining erg and pinnacles on the way back. Again watch out for dolphins at anytime during the dive as they can be frequent visitors.
Wreck of the El Minya (Harbour Wreck)
An Egyptian minesweeper sunk by Israeli fighters while lying at anchor in 1969, this wreck lies in 30m on a rock sea bed. The current here can be strong from the north and the visibility poor. There is a large debris field which contains a lot of 'LIVE" munitions, worth a look, but carefully. The wreck is only 70m long so there is plenty of time to explore everything including the blast hole on the starboard side, which can be penetrated. Penetration is not recommended elsewhere on this wreck. There is not much in the way of coral growth on the wreck but it does have its resident fish life. The blast hole gives shelter to shoals of glassfish and a lone anemone and resident clownfish are also in this area. Above the wreck are shoals of jacks and small barracuda.
Here the steep cliff of the north east side of Giftun Kebira island plunges into the depths and continues into the abyss, the reef wall drops to about 12m and then there is a steep, tumbling slope to the top of the drop off at about 27m. Most of the life here is above 15m as the lower slope and top of the drop off are sometimes swept by strong currents coming through the straits, stunting the growth of the coral and giving a lunar appearance. Half way down the slope you will find a lettuce leaf coral, in the blue you will find fusiliers, and triggers along with maybe sharks and turtles. At the top of the slope you will find morays, scorpion fish, barracuda and clouds of antheas. Whale sharks have been spotted at this site on occasions.
The reef here pokes out from the eastern side of Giftun Kebira island and has a coral garden extending 300-400m north of it. The best way to dive this site is on the drift, dropping 300m out and using the gentle current to make your way back to the boat mooring. This area is known for its beautiful coral landscape rather than its fish life.
Small Giftun (27°11.030'N, 33°58.530'E)
With the current carrying you, this dive is a relaxing exploration along a magnificent wall, where you can 'fly over' extensive stretches of large fan corals and if you look out into the blue it's not uncommon to see large tunas and trevallies. The dive leads to a sandy plateau dotted with numerous coral formations. Here it is common to see turtles, moray eels, crocodilefish and spotted stingrays, as well as schooling fusiliers and goatfish. Often done as a drift dive but can also be done as a normal dive where the boat is moored up. An excellent site for technical diving and courses.
Abu Ramada Island (27°09.784'N, 33°59.046'E)
Really two small islands surrounded by a single reef. Good drift dive along the steep eastern wall, with big fan corals, overhangs and swim throughs. Big groupers.
Gota Abu Ramada (27°08.340'N, 33°57.196'E)
This area is commonly known as 'the Aquarium' due to the wealth of marine life. There is an abundance of hard and soft coral and schools of butterfly fish, banner fish, snappers and goatfish are found swimming around the mountains of coral gardens. You will find that dives at Gota will make you feel like you are swimming in a marvelous natural fish tank!El Aruk Gigi
A cluster of a seven ergs laying in 10m - 15m of water. The whole area is home to sweetlips under the ledges, blue spotted sting rays in the sandy patches and glassfish and anthia fish swarm on the erg wall. One erg to note is the split erg, which has a grotto through it filled with glassfish, attendant red mouth grouper and numerous lionfish.
The fringing reef, which surrounds this cape, offers a good shallow dive on the hard coral garden found north of the lighthouse with schooling barracuda, napoleon fish and groupers. Garden eels.
A shallow erg field lays on the south side of the island where lots of blue spotted stingrays, puffer fishes and morays are found swimming through a pinnacle landscape. A dramatic drift dive can be made along the eastern wall with the chance to see big fish out in the blue.Wreck Diving in Hurghada
Hurghada offers divers the choice of over 30 sites around the numerous offshore islands, which provide shelter for the day boats.
For the wreck diving enthusiast there are trips available to the world-renowned Abu Nuhas and S/S Thistlegorm Red Sea wrecks.
If you enjoy the rush of drift diving, the beautiful Giftun drift is a mere stone's throw away.
The Thistlegorm was a 126 metre long and 17.5 metre wide merchant vessel commandeered by the navy during World War II. In the early hours of 6th October 1941 she was hit by two German bombers. Rediscovered in the early 90's, sitting upright at 30 metres, she has become one of the best wrecks in the Red Sea. Her holds are open and easily accessed showing the full range of cargo which includes ammunition, trucks, motorbikes, armoured vehicles, plane wings and engines, trains and tenders, Wellington boots and waders. The wreck is exposed to the tidal currents and prevailing winds, which can make this dive inaccessible at times. These conditions and the depth of the dive means that this is only open to experienced divers.
These reef details are from the excellet Emperor Divers website which you can find here.