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Vibrant soft coralsSinai PeninsulaThe Sinai Peninsula represents the birthplace of tourist diving in the Egyptian Red Sea, and places like Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab are spoken of in hallowed terms, as are the legendary dive sites that can be visited from these locations
Sharm el Sheikh
Before 1967, Sharm el Sheikh was nothing more than an occasional base of operations for local fishermen, but it has since become one of the country’s most-popular resorts.
Many of the hotels, bars, restaurants and shopping centres/ souks are based in the Na’ama Bay area, which is the main hive of tourist activity, but increasingly hotels have been spreading further north and south, creating additional tourist hotspots such as Shark’s Bay, Nabq, White Knight’s Bay and Hadaba, among others.
There is much more than just diving here, and visitors on non-diving days will find much to keep them busy, including a variety of surface watersports, quad, camel and jeep desert safaris, Bedouin evening feasts, and sightseeing trips to Mount Sinai and St Catherine’s Monastery.
Some 80km northeast of Sharm you find the small town of Dahab (Arabic for ‘gold’). Initially popular with the backpacking crowd, the arrival of international hotel chains and the establishment of other ancillary facilities has since made the town a popular destination with more-mainstream tourists, while retaining its laidback, chilled-out vibe, which sets it apart from other major diving resort areas.
Dahab itself can be divided into three major parts -Masbat, which includes the Bedouin village Asalah, in the north; Mashraba, which is more touristic and has considerably more hotels, in the middle; and in the southwest, Medina, which includes the Laguna area, famous for its excellent shallowwater windsurfing. However, the main reason people come to Dahab is for the excellent shore-diving (though boat diving and even camel diving are also available), and there are numerous sites of merit.
Near to the border with Israel, on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba, you find Taba, a small coastal town which has developed into a tourist resort, with a wealth of restaurants, bars and shopping areas, known as souks, as well as an array of hotels. The diving off of this area is characterised by colourful bommies smothered in soft corals and sponges, surrounded by a sandy bottom. Combine this with the fact that most of the dive sites lie in less than 18-20m and you have the perfect destination for newly qualified divers, or those wanting to complete their Open Water Diver course.
Topside, for your non-diving days, you can head off into the mountains on a quad-bike safari, partake in all manner of surface watersports, or even take a day trip over to the Lost City of Petra in Jordan. Titan triggerfishDive Hotspots The SS Thistlegorm. The SS Thistlegorm was a British supply ship that sank in October 1941 after being bombed by German aircraft. She was less than a year old when she went down, chock-full of Allied military supplies, including motorbikes, Bren gun carriers, trucks, rubber boots, rifles and munitions, and is now like an underwater museum.The Blue Hole. This infamous dive site has tempted many recreational divers to try and ‘dive the arch’, and unfortunately not all of them made it back alive. However, the Blue Hole itself is a great dive for recreational-level divers, and technical divers will love the dramatic swim down and through the archway.Angel’s Net. Home to an abundance of marine life, this site is made up of two coral gardens between 14-26m. Around the corals you will find large quantities of parrotfish, grouper, moray eels and blue triggerfish. Around the edges of the coral gardens you have a great opportunity to find turtles feeding in the sea grass.