EL GOUNA DIVESITES
GUBAL STRAITS- Dive sites between El Gouna and Sinai
Sharm El SheikhThe diving in the Sharm El Sheikh area runs from Ras Mohammed at the tip of the Sinai peninsula all the way to to the Straits of Tiran Reefs (in the Gulf of Aqaba) on the northern east coast.
This area benefits from the shelter of the land and conditions are usually calm to moderate, unlike the western coast of Sinai which can get rough, as the winds blow down the length of the Gulf of Suez.
he entire area is under the protection of the Ras Mohammed national park therefore do not touch the coral or feed the fish otherwise you may find yourselves with a ticket from the rangers. Where ever you dive around the Sinai you are in for some excitement, fantastic coral and great diving.
GUBAL STRAITSThe area either side of the Straits of Gubal is mainly the preserve of liveaboards. Flanked in the west be the islands of Gubal and Shedwan and in the east by the reef systems of Shab Ali and Shab Mahmoud. Most of these wrecks are covered during liveaboard trips however, Colona Sharm El Sheikh runs regular day trips to the wrecks of the Dunraven and of the Thistlegorm. 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.
The AlternativesAbout 30 minutes north west of Ras Mohammed is system of flat top ergs, with names like “lonely mushroom, stingray station and sometimes known as the ‘seven pinnacles’. Best dive is around the third or fourth erg from the east where the current sweeps through feeding pristine corals with bright vivid colours, however, the visibility can be effected in rough weather. ‘Stingray Station’ lies at the western extremity of the Alternatives; this is an irregular reef and owes its name to the gathering of stingrays in March and April. The whole area is known as home to large groupers, turtles and leopard shark.
Small Crack (Small Passage)Small split in the middle of Shab Mahmoud’s barrier. The tide empties and fills the inner lagoon twice daily, thus creating strong currents that promote an impressive explosion of life. Brilliant soft corals and resident flashlight fish also make it a premier night dive location - weather permitting.
The Wreck of the DunravenAt the southern extreme of ‘Shab Mahmoud’, a series of shallow reefs and lagoons among which lies the wreck of the 72m English steamer sunk in 1876 on its from Bombay to England loaded with timber and spices. The hull lies upside down and is totally covered in corals (max. depth 29m), the prop and rudder lies at 19m. The wreck is home to a wide variety of marine life, morays, napoleon, groupers and schools of glass fish and goat fish inside the wreck.
Wreck of the ThistlegormThis World War II wreck is famous around the world. In October 1941 she was at anchor behind Shab Ali and awaiting orders to move up through the Suez canal to deliver a cargo of munitions to the British troops in north Africa when German aircraft bombed the 129m British freighter. The cargo is still virtually intact and includes railway locomotives, bren gun carriers, trucks motorcycles and a host of ammunition of all sizes. You need to do at least two dives on this wreck to even get a feel for the site. Dive the deeper stern section first and the bow for the second dive of the day. The wreck is home to bat fish, jacks, barracudas, surgeon fish, nudibranchs and rabbit fish graze the hull. The current here can be strong and the visibility reduced so ensure a full briefing from you dive guide and enjoy your visit to this part of British history.
Shag RockBeing so close to its neighbour, the Thistlegorm, this large circular reef is often overlooked. It offers excellent diving on pristine coral from any location on its perimeter. The sheltered southern point is the most dived location offering the opportunity for drifts along the west or east sides. Weather permitting the northern point hosts the wreck of the Kingston (‘Sarah H’) just below the surface (max. depth 12m). Large schools of yellow goat fish, sweet lips abound here and the area regularly patrolled by grey reef sharks.
Wreck of the Rosalie MollerThis wreck lies in the channel north of Gubal island and is a dive only for the more experienced as the visibility can be reduced and the wreck swept by strong currents on occassions. She was on her way to Alexandria with a cargo of coal when she was sunk by German aircraft on the 7th October 1941, just two days after the Thistlegorm. Originally named the Francis she was launched in 1910, she was then purchased by the Moller Line in 1931 and renamed after the grandchild of one of the company directors. The wreck is in pristine condition,and home to prolific fish life and a magnificent array of hard and soft corals, she is 108mts long and sits upright on an even keel with the bow at 39mts and the keel in 50mts. The top of the mast is at 17mts. She is rarely dived due to her position and can only be accessed in the best of weather.
Bluff PointAt the gate of the Straits of Gubal, ‘Bluff Point’ draws its name from the turbulence created by strong currents that beat the eastern most wall of the island. Huge fan corals cover an impressive drop off with caves and glass fish. Sightings of turtles and napoleon fish are not uncommon. An unknown wreck lies on the reef 300m north of the lighthouse, starting at 5m depth and sloping to 25m. Rumor has it that this is the wreck of an Egyptian patrol boat sunk in the 6 day war.
Abu NuhasAlso known as the ‘Ships Graveyard’, this reef is dangerously positioned close to the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf of Suez. This reef has claimed more ships than any other in the area. On the north side are four wrecks laying on a sandy seafloor at the bottom of a steep sloping reef layered with table corals. The wrecks are sometimes inaccessible in anything other than a RIB or inflatable due to the heavy swell driving down the length of the gulf. On the south side is a safe anchorage for liveaboards and two beautiful ergs, known as Yellow fish reef that make an excellent third dive or night dive or an alternative if the weather is extremely bad.
Giannus DThis Greek freighter hit the reef in April 1983 and over the course of two weeks slowly broke in two and sank. She is the most dived wreck here, Laying in 28m and leaning to port with a fully intact stern section and an impressive engine room packed with glass fish. Locally known as the ’wood’ wreck for the cargo it was carrying when it sank. The bow is also very interesting but is a long swim out. She is a great wreck for penetration but beware of disorientation due to the angle at which she lays. Be weary of the many lion fish and scorpion fish that call this wreck home. and watch out strong surges in and around the wreck in rough weather.
CarnaticA British P & O steamer which struck the reef in 1869. and sank the next day as the weather worsened. She was a passenger and mail ship and is sometimes known as the ‘wine’ wreck for the numerous bottles once found in the holds, sadly not many now remain to be seen. Rumor has it that she sank with forty thousand pounds sterling of gold bullion, much of which was never recovered. She lays in 29m and now the whole hull is draped in multicoloured soft corals and the inner areas are full of glass fish complete with red mouthed grouper sentinel. One davit supports a beautiful table coral. The wreck is now home to large grouper, octopus and morays and jacks and tuna cruise overhead.
Chrisoula KAnother Greek ship which sank in 1976, now laying in 30m is fully laden with stone floor tiles and sometimes called the ‘tile’ wreck for obvious reasons. Early morning divers may find a white tip reef shark sleeping under the rudder at the stern. Be weary of very limited and small entry/exit points into the engine room, however, penetration of the wreck is not recommended due to the unstable nature of the wreck.
OldenNot a lot is known about this wreck except that it struck the reef in 1981 and is locally known as the ‘lentil’ wreck for the cargo she carried. Lying in 31m and completely on its starboard side exposing its huge hull on one side and gaping cargo holds on the other. Growth on the hull is fairly sparse due to the position and current. Large morays live in the scattered remains of wreckage on the starboard side and bat fish circle the topside. Most of the fish in the vacinity of the wreck are overweight from dining on the lentils leaching from the sacks once contained in her holds.
Shab Umm UskA large horseshoe shaped reef that shelters a shallow lagoon and offers good shallow diving on coral gardens at either point. Further around the southern reef exterior provides a steep coral encrusted wall sloping to 40+m. Playful bottlenose dolphins are found inside the lagoon at times.
Blind ReefAn Isolated reef south of Siyul Island, with good diving on its north side. Soft coral, sea whips, many ergs home to glass fish and turtles can often be found here.
Siyul KebiraThis reef extends around the Island of Big Siyul and has a varied profile, in some areas sand chutes (wadis) split the reef face, in others there are overhangs and gullies to explore. The coral growth is abundant as is the fish life. Most diving here is in swift currents on the drift but the north eastern point offers a plateau which slopes gently from 10m to 30+m. Sharks and large rays are often sighted in the deeper water, with schools of sweet lips and masked butterflies in the shallows.
Siyul SeghiraDespite it Arabic name Little (seghira) Siyul is the largest reef in the area at over 4km long. It is usually dived as a drift due to the strong currents along the sloping reef. The depth range is 20-25m, the corals are lush and vibrant and the fish life is dense and varied. The best dive here is along the north side but can only be done in moderate weather due to the exposed nature of the reef.