Diving Marsa Alam: wrecks, sharks and the incredible dugongs

dugong
Dugongs can be found in some dives in Marsa Alam. Image by whl.travel

Although in recent years the presence of liveaboards in the southern Red Sea has grown, it is not yet as crowded as the north and experienced divers now go directly to the south, mainly to the dive sites of Marsa Alam. The trips are not as comfortable as the ones in the north, with long rides by boat or bus, but they are worth it when you come face to face with dugongs, schools of hammerhead sharks, groups of more than a hundred dolphins or extraordinary reefs laden with colorful coral life.

One of the main attractions of diving in the southern Red Sea are the encounters with oceanic whitetip sharks and this is probably the best place in the world to see them in action. This predator, often categorized as one of the most dangerous fish in the ocean, prefers open sea waters over coral reefs but Marsa Alam and its deep waters provide them an ideal environment. Other shark species that can be seen here regularly are thresher sharks and lots of reef sharks like gray and whitetip shark, and even sometimes whale sharks and manta rays.

Encounters with large predators would be sufficient reason to recommend this area for your next dive trip to the Red Sea, but there is much more. Marsa Alam is well known for its healthy reef system with beautiful residents like butterfly fish, nudibranchs, anthias, Napoleon wrasse, schools of tuna or giant parrotfish are just a little example of what you can dive with in Marsa Alam. 

oceanic whitetip shark
The oceanic whitetip sharks are one of the main attractions of diving in Southern Red Sea. Pic by bitblokes

Most of the diving in this area takes place along deep walls, however, some areas of the south also offer interesting reefs protected from currents, where diving is easier, and even some interesting wrecks. However, it should be noted that the Red Sea in southern Hurghada have strong currents and only those with enough skills and expertise should meet Marsa Alam’s underwater world.

Between May and June you can dive with oceanic whitetip sharks in St. John’s and you can find them in Elphinstone from October to the end of the year. The thresher shark season runs from fall to winter around Brother Islands and Daedalus. Hammerhead sharks can be seen in Daedalus in the summer, and spring is the season when the manta rays and whale sharks visit the southern Red Sea, especially in St. John’s, Brother Islands and Daedalus Reef.

Top dive sites in Marsa Alam

Abu Dabab

Abu Dabbab symbolizes perfectly the term coral garden. The six reefs that build this point are full of colorful coral that houses extraordinary sea life. But one of the most important aspects of this reef is the presence of residents as incredible as the dugongs, «sea cows» that spend the day grazing at the bottom, and huge green turtles with their inseparable hindrances. A diving spot highly recommended. 

Dolphin House (Sha’ab Samadai Reef)

Dolphin House, also known as Sha’ab Samadai Reef, is a coral crescent that is the home of hundreds of dolphins, with which you can swim with while snorkeling. In this area sightings occur every day, bringing between 20 and 300 dolphins, a unique show in the most famous area of Marsa Alam. 

Daedalus Reef

This isolated reef is one of the best places in the Red Sea not only to see large predators in action but to enjoy sublime coral laden walls and reef fish. If it were only for the schools of hammerhead sharks, whale sharks or oceanic whitetip sharks it will be truly worthwhile, but it has more!

Elphinstone

Elphinstone is probably one of the most famous reefs not only the southern Red Sea but in the entire Red Sea. There you have the chance to see whale sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, gray sharks and hammerhead sharks. Then its beautiful and vertiginous walls laden with brilliant coral make this reef one of the most desired by divers who adventure in the southern Red Sea.

Brother Islands

The Brothers Islands are two islands that seem like two magnets for pelagic species. This national park is excellent for shark diving, thresher and hammerhead sharks especially, but also, thanks to its strong currents, has extraordinary coral colonies hosting the typical fauna of the Red Sea. Even more, these islands keep two interesting surprises: the Numidia and Aida wrecks.

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