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EGYPTShark and Yolanda ReefMany places boast as being on Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s ‘top ten dives in the world’, but Shark and Yolanda Reef, which lies right on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, certainly deserves that accolade, and on its day, can rival any dive elsewhere on our watery planet.“ The Yolanda (also called the Jolanda depending on which guide book you peruse) was a Cypriot merchant ship which ran aground in 1980, laden with sanitary fittings, bathtubs, toilets and sinks ”The jewel in the crown of the Ras Mohammed National Park, Shark and Yolanda are two round reefs which come up to just below the surface, perched on the precipice of a sheer drop-off down into the depths.
This location is what makes them such a jaw-dropping dive site, especially in the summer months, when literally thousands of fish congregate off the wall to breed. Hit Shark and Yolanda in late-June, July and early August and expect to witness massive schools of snapper, batfish, unicornfish, jacks and more. Occasionally, a large school of barracuda can put in an appearance, often preyed on by blacktip sharks.
While the vast shoals are the prime attraction, even if you dive outside of these months, Shark and Yolanda are still world-class. The walls – and the ‘saddle’ that links the two together – are absolutely smothered in vibrant soft corals and magnificent hard corals, which themselves are home to myriad reef fish, including angelfish, butterflyfish, chromis, blue-spotted rays, moray eels, crocodilefish, scorpionfish, lionfish, glassfish, triggerfish and many more reef dwellers.
You often get turtles chilling on the reef, or munching on a tasty piece of soft coral. As if this wasn’t enough for any avid diver, the dive also includes a wreck, or rather, the cargo from a shipwreck, which lent its name to one of the reefs.
The Yolanda (also called the Jolanda depending on which guide book you peruse) was a Cypriot merchant ship which ran aground in 1980, laden with sanitary fittings, bathtubs, toilets and sinks. This unusual cargo now lies scattered along the reef right to the drop-off, and the actual ship itself lies some 100m down the wall after sliding over the edge.
It is very bizarre to see piles of toilets, racks of stacked bathtubs, rolls of shower curtain, and even the twisted remains of what many say was the captain’s BMW car. This cargo is all richly covered with encrusting growth and soft corals, and provides a handy habitat for all manner of marine life.
Currents can be exceptionally strong at Shark and Yolanda, so it pays to listen to your guide and follow their instructions implicitly. Then it is just a case of saddling up and going along for the ride.
Who to dive with Elite Diving www.elite-diving.com Essential informationLocation: Ras Mohammed National Park, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt Depth: 1m-40m+ Diver level: Advanced