Many shipwrecks lie scattered throughout the Red Sea; however the most impressive specimens are generally found within the northern region.
Most notable is the SS Thistlegorm; not only the most famous wreck in the Red Sea but perhaps in the entire world. A 420 foot long cargo ship carrying armoured vehicles, arms and military trucks; it was sunk by Germany bombers in 1941. Now the coral encrusted wreck and it’s military cargo lie on the seabed, making for superb diving.
Northern routes in the Red Sea usually feature a couple of dives around SS Thistlegorm whilst also visiting a number of the many smaller wrecks found in this region around Ras Mohammed National Park, Abu Nuhas and also Gordon Reef in the Strait of Tiran.
In addition to wrecks, the Red Sea’s northern region also holds a great variety of coral in the form of pinnacles, walls, canyons and caves. There’s an immense variety of fish and other reef species here along with the possibility to see larger species such as pelagic fish like tuna and jackfish and maybe even hammerhead sharks during the summer months.
The very best coral reefs of the Red Sea tend to be found in the southern region where spectacular caverns, swim-throughs and pinnacles await exploration by experienced divers who don’t mind scuba diving in strong currents.
This is also the best region of the Red Sea for heaps of pelagic action; sharks, manta rays and even dolphins are more likely to be encountered in the Red Sea’s south and in higher numbers compared to the north.
At the most “northern” point of the Red Sea’s southern region for diving you have ‘The Brother’s”; two islands that not only have excellent wall dives with grey and white tip reef sharks but also a few smaller wrecks to explore including Numidia; a wooden hulled British transport ship that sunk in 1901.
Further down south; the quality of the reefs and the frequency of pelagic species around them increases; notably so with Daedalus; a stunning reef frequented by hammerhead sharks and mantas as well as Elphinstone which is famous for it’s stunningly intricate hard coral formations and countless fish species.
Finally you have St.John’s; comprised of several reefs, this area is as far south as Red Sea diving usually takes place. For many, St.John’s is regarded as the absolute most beautiful and colourful of all the Red Sea’s reefs; with thresher sharks, reef sharks and manta rays frequently sighted.
In this next section, we’ll look at all of the top Red Sea liveaboards, but rather than segregate them according to which regions they explore, we’ve included them all together in order of increasing cost. We start with the cheapest of our favourite Red Sea liveaboards (Amelie) and present the rest in order of ascending price:
|Liveaboard Name:||Great for:||Max Group Size:||Go to Booking Page:|
|Amelie||Small Groups, Flexible Trips, Underwater Photographers||12||Click Here|
|Blue Force 2||Friends, Social Areas, Small Groups||18||Click Here|
|Firebird||South Red Sea, Small Groups, Onboard Amenities||16||Click Here|
|JP Marine||South, Affordable, Hammerhead shark trips||28||Click Here|
|Blue Horizon||Shark Trips, Onboard Amenities, Luxury Cabins||26||Click Here|
|Seawolf Soul||South Red Sea, Couples, Friends||22||Click Here|
|Tillis||South, Sharks, Small Groups, Honeymoon Cabin||26||Click Here|
|Red Sea Aggressor II||Hot tub, bar, luxury, north.||22||Click Here|
|Seawolf Felo||Cheapest mid-range option, beautiful yacht.||22||Click Here|
|Seawolf Dominator||Couples, Crew, Varied Dive Trips||22||Click Here|
|Snefro Love||Free nitrox, small groups, value for money||20||Click Here|
|Aphrodite||Extra Activities, Families, Couples, Non-Divers.||23||Click Here|
|Seven Seas||Cabins w. TV’s, Advanced Divers, bbq lounge||24||Click Here|
|Blue Force 3||Open Air Bar / Entertainment Zone, Triple Cabins||26||Click Here|
|Sea Serpent Contessa||Friends, Staff, Onboard amenities||22||Click Here|
|Blue||Ocean cabin views, spacious, north, south||24||Click Here|
|Heaven Saphir||Free yoga, north, south, small groups||19||Click Here|
|Odyssey||Hot Tub, Cabins w. Baths, Couples||26||Click Here|
Map credit: http://liveaboarddiveboat.com/
Northern Red Sea (of Egypt): This is the most popular area to dive in Egypt’s Red Sea. It is the most beginner friendly in terms of overall diving conditions. Typically, the northern red sea cruise route starts from the coastal city of Sharm El Sheikh.
Egypt’s northern Red Sea is where one will find Ras Mohammed National Park and Tiran – two of Egypt’s most popular diving destinations; famous for their beautiful coral gardens. The northern Red Sea is also teaming with famous shipwrecks.
These wrecks and the incredible coral gardens of Ras Mohammed National Park and Tiran, are the defining features of northern routes. Read more about north red sea diving highlights.
Southern Red Sea: (In this context we’re referring to the red sea straddling Egypt’s lower/southern half, not the southern most half of the Red Sea itself which spans past Sudan).
Less crowded than Egypt’s northern red sea, the south red sea is prone to stronger currents and less predictable diving conditions. This makes it ideal for experienced divers looking for a challenge…and the chance to swim over some truly next level…superbly pristine coral reefs. You’re unlikely to have to share dive sites with anyone else whilst here!
Southern liveaboard routes generally start from Hurghada and make their way down to Al Ikhwan. Check out the South Red Sea Diving Highlights.
TAKE NOTE: The very best Red Sea liveaboards…those that constantly update and improve their itineraries, offer a variety of liveaboard routes. Many tour both the north and south of Egypts’ red sea, at different months or even at different times of the same month.
Furthermore, some combine lower Northern and upper Southern red sea dive sites into a more “central red sea” themed trip.
To find out more, read our reviews of the very best Red Sea liveaboards! The full list of each liveaboards’ itineraries is given when you click through to that liveaboards booking page (without needing to book!).
Diving into the Ras Mohammed National Park also means you’re swimming through a piece of history; the park was Egypt’s very first national park established in 1983.
The area on the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula is famous for impressive walls that seem to drop straight down into the ocean’s depths, along with beautifully healthy reefs and their accompanying entourage of wrasse, anthia, and jackfish that are always present.
Larger pelagic fish are also very common sights, as reef sharks, hammerheads, massive tuna, and barracuda make their way through the reefs looking for food.
The top dive site in this region is undoubtedly Shark and Yolanda reefs, where any liveaboard worth their salt will be sure to visit if they’re in the area!
Thistlegorm – The Thistlegorm is perhaps the most famous wreck dive in the world and is well worth a visit on your Egypt diving holiday! German bombs sank the WWII cargo ship in October of 1941, and its entire cargo of arms and supplies for the war effort went down with it.
Today, however, its cargo holds are a wreck diver’s dream; you can explore the trucks, armoured vehicles, weapons, and a plethora of other war supplies that are still waiting for delivery under the waves.
Shark and Yolanda Reefs – One of the most spectacular dives at Ras Mohammed National Park is undoubtedly Shark and Yolanda Reefs.
The reefs are marked by two massive peaks that rise from the ocean floor and are encrusted with a host of corals and gorgonian fans. As you drift between the two, you’ll spot large pelagic fish that inhabit the region, such as grey sharks, gigantic tuna, and hammerheads.
At Yolanda reef, you’ll be able to dive on the wreck that shares its name and features a 1970s British transport that was laden with toilets and bathtubs, which certainly make for some exciting diving photos!
This reef, just off Shadwan Island, seems to have drawn more than its fair share of ships into a final watery embrace over the years.
There are five cargo shipwrecks strewn across this reef, making it a favorite destination for Egypt liveaboard dive boats looking for a wreck intensive trip.
The ships include the Greek Seastar, the Chrisoula K (also Greek, sank in 1981), the Kimon M (German ship, sank in 1978), the Ghiannis D (Japanese ship, sank in 1983), and the famous Carnatic, a British ship which sank in 1869 with a full load of gold and wine – quickly recovered after the wreck.
Both islands provide ample opportunity to view large pelagic fish, as grey and white tip reef sharks prowl amongst the stunning coral and gorgonian fans that comprise much of the reef and nearby walls; hammerheads are also not an uncommon sight.
Big brother island is home to its fair share of wrecks, which include the Numidia and Aida, for those looking for a little intrigue. Finally, the area is awash in stunning fish schools, including dogtooth tuna, barracuda, sweepers, and anthias.
Numidia – Located at Big Brother Island, the Numidia is a wooden-hulled British transport ship that sank in 1901 while carrying supplies to India.
The highest portion of this wreck – the bow – lies in just 25ft of water, making it a very easy dive, but be careful not to let your curiosity get the better of you; many other sections of the ship lie in much deeper water that requires advanced training.
The corals that have colonized the wreck add a splash of color to the metal frame, and diving into the long-lost cabins is an exhilarating experience!
This is a lonely reef located some 50 miles offshore that is lucky enough to boast marine park status.
The reef itself is a candy store of beautiful corals, anemones, and gorgonian fans, through which Red Sea clownfish, moray eels, dottybacks, and wrasse can easily be spotted.
The prevalence of currents in the area, while making the diving a little more challenging, also creates the perfect environment to spot sizeable pelagic fish like reef sharks, hammerheads, and mantas, who flock to the area to feed.
This is yet another one of the reefs for which the Red Sea is famous; it certainly upholds the mantel of the region’s beauty very well.
This diving area is typically divided into the northern and southern plateaus; both offer stunning views of beautifully intricate corals, gorgonian fans, sea whips, and sponges – the colors of which are brilliantly complemented by the schools of anthias that dart here and there.
You’ll also find triggerfish, angelfish, and lurking barracudas, along with a few much larger visitors in the form of white tip reef sharks and the occasional hammerhead.
This diving area is about as far south as most liveaboards venture, and is often claimed to be the epitome of phenomenal Red Sea adventures!
The entire area is comprised of several different reefs that flaunt their intense coral formations and color but look closely, and you’ll find several small caverns and tunnels that are ripe for exploring!
Large pelagic fish are also prevalent; you will catch sight of thresher and reef sharks aplenty, along with barracuda, manta rays, and perhaps even a pod of bottlenose dolphins!
Habili Ali – Out of all the reefs that make up St. John’s, Habili Ali is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular.
The entirely submerged reef offers beautiful corals, sponges, and gorgonian fans on the walls and ridges that are abundant in the area.
Look closely at these walls, and you may even discover a cavern or two that will almost certainly deserve closer inspection!
The reef also attracts its fair share of more massive pelagic visitors in the form of grey reef sharks, mantas, and bottlenose dolphins.
A seawater inlet within the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea straddles Egypt’s eastern coast, travelling down past Sudan and Eritrea; all the way to the north tip of Djibouti, separating North East Africa from the Middle East.
Roughly 2250km long and 355km at it’s widest point, it has a maximum depth of 3,040 m (9970 ft), but is also noted for it’s extensive shallow shelves, which are renowned for their spectacular coral reefs.
Made up of over 200 coral species, these reefs extend along the red sea coastline for 2000km; being made up largely of stoney Acropora and Porites coral that are up to 7000 years old.
These ancient coral reefs of the red sea are known for their remarkable heat tolerance and resilience to climate change.
As a result, much of the reef here is in spectacular condition. This gives way to epic marine biodiversity.
With over 1200 species of fish…10% of which are found nowhere else; the red sea is a truly unique place to go scuba diving.
Bluespotted stingrays and crocodile fish are everywhere, whilst lionfish to, float through the water in abundance. Plus, there’s many nudibranchs, flatworms and pipefish to thrill critter seekers.
It is also home to over ten shark species, including Hammerhead Sharks, Whale Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Tiger Sharks and Leopard Sharks.
Manta Rays are frequently spotted by divers in addition to Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles as well as the rarer Leatherback Turtles and Olive-Ridley turtles.
Divers also have a good chance of spotting Dolphins, of which 8 species are regularly seen in a variety the sites described further below.
There is even a small population of Dugong in the Red Sea, of which a few individuals can be sighted off the coast off Abu Dabbab.
In addition to the deep water and coastal regions, other red sea habitats include salt pans, sea grasses, mangroves and salt marshes
There are many historical shipwrecks in Egypt’s red sea such as the SS Thistlegorm, a 128m long British transport ship that was sunk by German planes in 1941.
Voted the best wreck dive in the world, the SS Thistlegorm’s insane artefacts include 2 tanks, arm trucks, jeeps, motorcycles, boots and even stacks of rifles!
Other shipwrecks in Egypts’ red sea are even older such as Numidia, a wooden hulled British transport ship that sank in 1901 whilst carrying supplies to India…or the Ulysses which sunk in 1887!
Because the Red Sea experiences few storms, most of it’s sites are suitable for beginners. These calm water conditions also what allows the coral here to form beautifully intricate structures.
Due to the excellent visibility and easy access to excess depths, the red sea is also a popular location for technical diving and training.
The Red Sea offers the full scope of diving experiences – wall dives, drifts, wrecks, pinnacles, shore dives, deep dives and night dives are all to be had here in abundance.
Due to minimal rainfall, the red sea can be dived year round. That said different seasons offer considerably different experiences. Let’s take a closer look:
December – February: This marks the winter period in the Red Sea. During this time, the water is fairly cold at around 72 F (22 C). This is also the windy season, meaning surface conditions can become quite rough, particularly in northern Egypt. However, visibility is at it’s greatest during this time. It’s also the best time to spot an Oceanic Whitetip Shark.
March – May: These are the Red Sea’s spring months. Both air and water temperatures are fairly warm, resulting in an optimum balance. This is also the best time to see a Whale Shark, especially in the northern Red Sea. However, this is also diving high season so some dive sites, especially in the northern red sea, maybe crowded.
June – August: Diving Low Season. Air temperatures become stiflingly hot. However, these warmer temperatures do force Hammerhead sharks further north into Egyptian waters. June to September is the best time to swim with these incredibly shaped predators in the northern red sea. This is also the best time to snag discount liveaboard deals.
September – November: Autumn period in the Red Sea. Air and water temperatures balance for ideal comfort both above and below the water’s surface. This period is the best time to spot Thresher Sharks in the north red sea and manta rays in the south. This is also one of the more crowded times of year, however, less so than March – May.
And there you go squad mates! We’ve covered the very best Red Sea liveaboards, from budget to luxury; beginner to experienced; shorter to longer itineraries; and then some extras to make sure you’ll find the one liveaboard experience that best suits you.
This knowledge combined with Red Sea diving seasons, conditions, and weather makes you a force to be reckoned with for Egypt diving adventures. Those pyramids won’t know what hit them. Mostly because you’ll be too busy gawping at all the incredible reefs and shipwrecks.
Have fun and stay safe, eh?
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