MARSA ALAM DIVESITES
The whole area south of Marsa Alam has achieved world class diving status. The names like Fury Shoal, Elphinstone, Zabargad, Rocky and Daedalus conjure up dreams of magical pristine diving and you wont be disappointed.
TorombiThis dive site is just over one hour north of Port Ghalib by hard boat and can be reached in good weather only! As this site is less dived than other places it boasts pristine corals and a feeling of wilderness, with deep seagrass in the centre of the bay. There are several dives which can be made at this site:
• The Pinnacles: Most suitable for divers, from beginner level upwards, with a maximum depth of 25m. Interesting creatures may include barracuda, blue-spotted stingrays, scorpion fishes and hawksbill turtles.
• Marsa Torombi North: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels with a maximum depth of around 20m. Can be made as a one-way dive by zodiac or an out-and-back from the hard boat. Underwater critters may include morays, blue spotted stingrays and some unusual creatures.
• Marsa Torombi South: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels with a maximum depth of 18m. Again available as a zodiac dive or from the hard boat. Creatures include the abundant unicorn fishes, morays and triggerfishes.
Kharafi or Torfet AliLocated 15 minutes north of Port Ghalib by hard boat, this site is more a cut in the reef rather than a bay and should be dived in fairly good weather. Divers can enjoy coral garden plateaus and sometimes steeply sloping coral gardens with sandy passages running down through them. There are three main dives which can be made here:
• Kharafi North: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. Here you can choose your depth on the sloping coral garden, either using the zodiac or jumping straight in from the boat. A great place to check the blue water for the chance of something special cruising along or keep your eyes on the coral garden for the resident turtle!
• Central Passage: Suitable for divers of all levels. A sandy passage running from 4m into the depths, bordered by hard coral garden each side with a stunning pinnacle at 18m full of glass fishes, lion fishes, the occasional blue spotted stingray and crocodile fish.
• Kharafi South: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. The sloping coral garden to the south of the mooring point is just as beautiful as the north and can be accessed by zodiac or directly from the boat. Look into the blue for schooling fusiliers being hunted by jack fishes, or something bigger!
Marsa MubarakThe largest bay in the area lies 30 minutes to the south of Port Ghalib and has numerous options for diving and snorkeling. This place is well known for frequent visits by the green sea turtles and a dugong. At least five dives can be made here, including:
• North Garden: A one-way dive around ridges of coral garden and then moving close to the reef wall towards the end of the dive, suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. Schools of juvenile barracuda and goatfishes, as well as unicorn fishes and fusiliers, are the creatures to look out for here!
• North Wall: Suitable for all levels of divers and snorkelers and especially good for training dives, with a depth ranging from 1m to 18m. Unfortunately the coral here is not as beautiful as at other sites but the fish life is still abundant. Swimming along the north wall of the bay, scorpion fishes and stone fishes are common, as are puffer fishes and flute fishes. At the north corner of the bay there are several small pinnacles swarming with anthiases and damsel fishes. Just to the south are larger ridges and pinnacles, with glassfishes, schooling goatfishes and the possibility of a turtle!
• Inner Pinnacles: Suitable for divers of all levels with a maximum depth of 16m. The route to the inner pinnacles is over the seagrass bed so keep your eyes open for small nudibranchs, trigger fishes and some weird and wonderful creatures! The top of one of the pinnacles is a well known resting place for the green sea turtles …
• Simply Seagrass: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels, with a depth ranging from 1m to 14. What may at first view appear to be a little bit ‘boring’, this dive has the fairly big chance to see more than one green sea turtle munching on the seagrass as well a good chance to see a dugong! If you keep your eyes open you can also see odd critters such as trunk fishes and ghost pipefishes. If you’re lucky you will find a small rock at 8m which is full of lion fishes and in shallower waters the possibility of a feathertail ray.
• South Garden: Suitable for divers of any level, with a zodiac drop off and pick up. The southern area of the bay is relatively unexplored and has beautiful corals and schools of fishes. At the southern most tip the depth is 20m and then becomes gradually shallower moving into the bay.
Halg SalmaanA relatively undived site 40 minutes south of Port Ghalib, boasting two interesting dive routes:
• Playground: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of any level. There are plenty of cracks and swim-throughs making this dive the perfect playground! Keep your eyes peeled for stone fishes and scorpion fishes.
• Pinnacle: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. The reef wall around the lagoon is home to a Napoleon Wrasse and there is a picturesque pinnacle at the entry which is home for a wide variety of juvenile reef fishes.
Marsa Shouni KebirIs a popular dive site 50 minutes to the south of Port Ghalib and the second largest bay in the area. There is a good chance for green sea turtles and a dugong because of the seagrass in the centre of the bay. There are again numerous interesting places to dive in this bay including:
• North Corner and Plateau: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. This dive has a pretty sloping coral garden on the corner upon which you can regularly find a snoozing turtle! Moving farther to the north on the outside of the bay, the coral garden turns to a sandy slope full of table corals with the occasional blue spotted stingray or puffer fish hiding underneath them. There is a sandy plateau at between 12-14m close to the reef wall which is full of creatures including shrimps and octopus.
• North Inner Reef: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. This sloping inner reef wall is full of creatures however, in windy weather, the visibility can be poor in some sections. There is a pinnacle full of glass fishes with hunting jack fishes cruising around, as well as bat fishes, schooling goat fishes and fusiliers.
• Only Seagrass: Suitable for divers of all levels. The centre of the bay has a bed of seagrass which runs from the shallow waters of 6m down into the depths. Green sea turtles can be found taking their meal and a dugong is a frequent visitor but you should keep your eyes open for the possibility of sea horses!
• South Corner and Inner Reef: Suitable for divers of all levels with a drop off and pick up by zodiac. Starting over a coral garden plateau at 20m follow the reef wall into the bay, checking out the pinnacles along the way, keeping alert for turtles and enjoying the larger tunas cruising in the blue as well as morays, scorpion fishes and schooling goat fishes along the reef.
Abu Sayul or Ras El TorfaTo reach the absolutely stunning corals of Abu Sayul, it is about an hour’s travelling time to the south of Port Ghalib. There is a shallow lagoon suitable for training with a depth of 5m. The dive sites in this area include:
• North Garden: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels, this dive can be made from zodiac or hard boat. The cascading corals of the north garden are stunning and amongst the corals you will find scorpion fishes, morays and a vast array of smaller reef fishes. Hovering above the corals you will find red mouth trigger fishes often in large ‘swarms’.
• Kora Kebir: More suitable for advanced divers. Heading in a south east direction from the boat, down over the coral garden, you will find a ‘big ball’ (Kora Kebir) emerging out of the blue from 25m. Take a turn around this formation and on the outside you will find a steep drop to 40m+ with a chance to see something bigger cruising past! Heading back to the main reef in a south westerly direction you will pass over deep green salad corals and may find a school of juvenile barracuda, as well as schooling goat fishes.
• South Garden: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. This dive can be made from the boat or by zodiac. Again, this is all about the corals! Expect to find numerous salad corals along the garden but keep an eye out into the blue … Closer to the mooring area, there is a beautiful pinnacle full of anthiases.
Marsa Shouni SorayaJust over an hour’s journey to the south by daily boat lies this special little bay with options for two or more dives:
• North Garden: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. This dive can be made from the boat or by zodiac. On your way outside the bay check the reef walls for octopus, scorpion fishes and a host of other camouflaged creatures, as well as blue spotted stingrays on the sandy bottom. At the north corner there is a pretty pinnacle at 20m which is full of small reef fishes. In the shallows there are beautiful cascading corals with schooling goat fishes and just under the surface needle fish.
• South Garden: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. This route can be made by zodiac or from the hard boat. Heading in a southerly direction you will find a sandy plateau at 18m with an outer coral garden topped by several pinnacles filled with smaller reef fishes and glass fishes. On the inner reef wall there is a special surprise if you look carefully under a large, old table coral …
Marsa MorenaThis is the furthest inshore bay site to the south accessible by daily boat from Port Ghalib, taking about one hour and 20 minutes to reach and has several fascinating dives, including:
• North Wall and Pinnacles: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. This dive can be made from the boat or by zodiac. You can enjoy the deeper reef wall and pinnacles, with the possibility of seeing a turtle, or choose a shallower depth to check out the cracks and swim-throughs, with resident bat fishes and schooling goatfishes, as well as the pinnacle topped with the large table coral.
• South Wall and Pinnacles: Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. This dive can again be made from the boat or by zodiac. In the centre of the small bay is a patch of lush seagrass, with a chance to see juvenile green sea turtles. The reef wall to the south has some beautiful pinnacles making it a perfect place for spotting ‘small stuff’!
Marsa Abu DababThis bay is located 30 minutes by bus from Port Ghalib and is where the Colona Divers office is based. This is a great shore dive or snorkel area and is perfect for divers, snorkelers and beach-goers! The beach is spacious and relaxing and an easy shore entry on the gently sloping sands is suitable for everyone. This bay has reef walls to the north and south with a large area of seagrass in the centre and is famous for ‘Dennis’ the Dugong, who can be seen occasionally. As well as being famous for Dugong sightings, diving or snorkeling at Abu Dabab will give you a better chance to see huge green sea turtles grazing on the seagrass. These peaceful creatures are usually quite happy to pose for pictures, quite often with their ‘ride-hitchers’, the remoras, sliding around them.The seagrass is also home for ‘odd’ creatures and rather special critters like seahorses. The shallow sandy areas of the bay are host to guitar sharks and sometimes other big rays and the reefs to the north and south are full of schooling goat fishes, smaller reef fishes, lion fishes and scorpion fishes.
Abu Dabab Offshore Reef SystemThese six reefs are accessible by speed RIB in about 20 minutes or by daily boat from Port Ghalib, which is a longer journey of about two hours. They lie almost directly to the east of Marsa Abu Dabab and the depth range is between 10m to 25m, so they are suitable for all levels of divers. There is even the small wreck of the safari boat, Heaven One, which sunk after a fire about 10 years ago. There is a good chance to see some of the larger creatures the Red Sea has to offer on the eastern sides of these reefs which are generally deeper and facing the open sea, while the inshore facing western sides boast pinnacles, small caves and swim-throughs. Dolphins are regular visitors to this area.
Elphinstone or Abu HamraElphinstone is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the reefs in the area and is world famous for its beauty and marine life. This offshore reef is accessible by speed RIB in about 40 minutes or by daily boat from either Port Ghalib or Marsa Alam in about two and a half hours. This is a dive for advanced divers only because of the sometimes strong currents, which can be changeable. The reef itself is finger-shaped, pointing in a generally northerly direction. It is 250m long with plateaus to the north and south and sheer walls to the east and west. The north plateau is a stepped plateau, dropping to 40m+, and is famous for large pelagic life such as hammerhead sharks which will be cruising in the blue waiting to check out any visitors to the reef! The south plateau gently slopes off to 40m+ and is well-known for encounters with oceanic whitetip sharks in the shallow waters and a resident napoleon wrasse is usually cruising around. The walls to the each side of the reef are covered with soft corals and gorgonian sea fans, with an abundance of anthiases, schooling snappers and goat fishes, as well as scorpion fishes and more common reef fishes. However, this is definitely the place to keep ‘one eye on the blue’ for huge jack trevallies, giant barracudas, tunas and schools of fusiliers.
Sha’ab Marsa AlamA small, horseshoe shaped reef just a short boat ride from Marsa Alam harbor. This reef is suitable for snorkelers of all levels. The inner lagoon area is shallow with beautiful turquoise waters, frequented by spinner and common dolphins as a resting place during the daytime. The small pinnacles and coral gardens on the outer reef area are full of schooling goat fishes, Red Sea banner fishes, damsel fishes and anthiases and there is also the wreckage of an old dive boat, Legend 1 to take a peek at!
Wreck of the Abu Ghoson or HamadaThis 65m ship sank in 1993 very close to shore in a secluded bay in the Wadi El Gemal National Park area, south of Marsa Alam town. It is an easy walk-in from shore dive suitable for all levels, with a maximum depth of 20m. The ship lies on its starboard side in two sections and has already become an artificial reef, filled with marine life. Just a couple of minutes swim from the entry point, you will see the atmospheric wreck looming out of the blue. Almost everything was abandoned on the wreck so there is plenty to explore, including an intact propeller, and there is the possibility for those suitably qualified to take a look inside the captain’s cabin, engine room and some of the cargo holds. For a second dive, further exploration of the wreck and the creatures now making it their home is perfect but the reef of the surrounding bay is also very beautiful … too many choices to enjoy this amazing area of Egypt!