Diving in Hurghada

Big Gubal Island
The Big Gubal Island dive sites are usually visited by live-a boards departing from Hurghada or Sharm El Sheikh.

The northernmost site in Big Gubal is the Bluff Point, a name it owes to the unpredictable winds and currents that affect this region. The main attraction of this site is the amazing wreck of the Ulysses, a British cargo that sank in the Red Sea back in 1887. The freighter was transporting cables, and the remainder of its shipment can still be seen on deck.

The Big Gubal sites are usually dived on a drift mode, from north to south, along Gubal’s eastern wall. You’re most likely to see scorpion fish, napoleon fish, glassfish, and turtles. Some divers have even had the chance to encounter bottle-nosed dolphins. Traditionally, live-aboards stop for the night at the southwest side of the island. From there, divers are taken on a night dive to the wreck of a barge. The barge isn’t an attraction in itself, as it has broken into pieces over the past few years, but the corals underneath are amazing, and you will get the chance to see amazing marine life down there. Bring a dive torch along to see octopuses changing colours. Lionfish and giant morays are also regular visitors of the site.
Depth: 10-30 m
Visibility: 10-30

Dolphin House 
You’ll soon discover that the “Dolphin House” in El-Gouna proudly stands for its name: this diving site is in fact home to an incredible number of dolphins. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll probably get the chance to dive in the company of the whole resident pod of Bottlenose Dolphins. You might as well catch a glimpse of the other unique inhabitants of the reef, including turtles and hard coral gardens.

the site is located only about 45 minutes away from the shore. Snorkellers are usually allowed to go on these trips as well.

Giftun Kebir Erg Sabina
At only a few kilometres from Hurghada, lies the Big Giftun Island (Giftun Kebir). As you approach it by boat, you might think to yourself that it looks quite uninteresting in itself, as it only consists of sand and rocks. But the waters surrounding the island hide some of Red Sea’s most beautiful diving sites. The southern and eastern parts of the submerged island are covered with rare and well-preserved corals.

On the eastern side of the narrowest part of the island, lies Erg Sabina. The main attraction of the site is a gigantic coral pinnacle, boasting amazing fire corals. Marine life abounds around the pinnacle, you should definitely bring down your camera; nudibranches, lobsters and angelfish are regular residents of the site.

Although it can be subject to strong currents, depending on the season, the site can be dived by divers from all levels, and it’s good for snorkelers as well.
Depth: 5-25 m

Giftun Kebir Fanoos Reef
Also called “Torfa Fanoos” and “Dolphin Reef”, Fanoos Reef is one of the amazing reefs lying north of Big Giftun Island, a few kilometres from Hurghada. The lagoon-like horseshoe-shaped site can only be accessed by boat. The external parts of the lagoon are the most interesting parts to explore. On the west side, you’ll find nice pinnacles and rocky boulders. On the east side, there’s a very interesting reef wall you can drift along to observe all the amazing marine life evolving around it: octopus, glassfish, morays, triggerfish, and many different species of banner and butterfly fish are regular visitors of the reef.

As shown by its name, the location is also frequently visited by dolphins, so look out for the friendly mammals.

Giftun Soraya
Also called Small Giftun Island, the charming islet lies a few kilometres away from Hurghada, and is surrounded with beautiful coral reefs housing some of the Red Sea’s most spectacular marine and coral life. The most famous diving sites in the area are Banana Reef and Erg Somaya, also known as the Small Giftun Drift.

On the eastern side of the Small Giftun Island, lies Erg Somaya or the “Small Giftun Drift”. The site is packed full of thrilling underwater features; very colourful pinnacles, chimney-shaped caves, overhangs, and a swim-through. The site is full of glassfish, lionfish and red mouth groupers. The Small Giftun Drift is in fact the southern part of this site. As shown by its name, the site is great for drift diving; divers slide along steep walls, over coral-covered plateaus, pinnacles, and amazing gorgonians. You’re most likely to spot big pelagic species, and rare and various types of coral. You have to be an experienced diver to dive at Erg Somaya and do the Small Giftun Drift. Still, there are many beautiful sightings to behold if you’re a beginner diver, or even a snorkeler.

The Banana Reef is located north of the Small Giftun Island, a few kilometres away from Hurghada, precisely between the big and small Giftun islands. Divers usually choose to drift dive this site, from the boat mooring points. The northwest side of the banana-shaped reef is home to a gigantic pinnacle covered in beautiful soft corals; whereas the northeast side is dotted with caves where glassfish come to hide. Regular visitors of this site include eagle rays, turtles, angelfish, bannerfish, nudibranches, and unicorns.

Banana Reef
Depth: 5-15m
Erg Somaya
Depth: 5-40m
Visibility: 10-30 m

Gulf Fleet 31 Shipwreck
In September 1985, the 1978-launched ship Gulf Fleet n.31 hit the reef at Shaab Umm Qammar, about 15 km off Hurghada’s shore. The offshore supply vessel didn’t sink at once and the crew had enough time to abandon the ship. It even stayed above water for many weeks, until it got mysteriously “pushed” down the reef to reach the location it currently rests at, in an upright position against the wall. Only experienced divers can enjoy the thrill of exploring the Gulf Fleet 31 wreck; it is a highly technical dive given the position of the wreck: the foremost tip being at 85 metres, and the stern at 108 metres underwater (rudders and propellers are in a great shape!). What makes this dive even more enjoyable is the fact that the pilothouse and the accommodation quarters – two cargo containers – and are located upfront, more fodder for divers who can take their time exploring these structures. Additionally, marine life abounds around the wreck; you’ll see beautiful corals adorning the ship and when it comes to fauna; lionfish and napoleon fish are regulars in the area.

This location can be reached by boat from Hurghada; it is also included on liveaboard trails. As it is the case for all technical dives, this dive should be very well prepared.
Depth: 85-108 meters
Visibility: 10-20 meters

Birchwood 11
North of Hurghada’s port is a large bay that contains four wrecks. One of them, the Birchwood 11, is a relatively small cargo ship; lying on her starboard side looking just like she did the day she sank. The ship lies in 12 meters of water and is best dived in the early morning for the best lighting. The site is home to young barracuda and at night a host to colourful nudibranches, snowflake morays, lionfish, and rabbit fish. The wreck also comes alive after dark with anemones, sponges, as well as lovely crustaceans. Swim through from the weather deck to the holds, where you can find the cargo of polythene granules. The ship’s mast is still complete with radar array and aerials, and an undamaged crane rests nearby. You can access the forecastle (foc’sle) and peek around the winch gear which is covered in coral and sponge. Bring your torch to illuminate the lovely colours if you’re seeing it on a night dive.
Depth: 12 meters
Visibility: 25 meters

Hebat Allah Shipwreck
It might come as a surprise to you but some of the shipwrecks that rest at the bottom of the Red Sea have been intentionally sank to their current positions to reduce the diving frenzy’s impact on the most frequently explored diving sites. This is the case, among others, of the Egyptian 44-metre long cargo ship Hebat Allah. In 2004, and thanks to the joint efforts of the Red Sea Diving Association, the Egyptian Navy and the Red Sea Governor, the ship was bought from its owner after being abandoned for many years on a reef it drifted on after its moorings broke down.

Sadly, when carrying out the sinking operation, the team in charge sank the ship at a different location, which made her rest at a depth of 46 metres just outside Hurghada’s harbour instead of the planned 30. Due to this mishap, what was intended to be a recreational dive, ended up being a shallow technical one which requires potential divers to be relatively experienced.

The ship lies today in an upright position, the highest point being at 25 metres while the rear end of the rests at 46 metres. The dive is an excellent opportunity for technical divers to refresh their skills or test new equipment without taking the risk of exploring greater depths.

The Hebat Allah is already covered with corals and attracts all the standard underwater species that abound in this part of the Red Sea. Many internal parts of the ship can be explored. However, the most interesting being the pilothouse and the empty cargo hold. A typical exploration of the ship starts at the front (where the pilothouse is located); from there, the divers head to the stern, visiting the cargo hold on their way, and end the tour at the foc’sle again.
Depth: 25-46 metres
Visibility: 10 – 25 metres

Excalibur Shipwreck
Who said that wreck diving is only for the brave and valiant? The “Excalibur” proves this theory’s wrong by all means. Lying a few metres from shore, inside Hurghada’s harbour, the wreckage of the Excalibur, also referred to as the Suzanna is an easy dive for all levels of divers. She can even be accessed from shore but boat trips are also organized to reach the site. The ship is a 22-metre long twin mast motor and sail dive safari boat. She sank in 1995 for undetermined reasons, although it is 100% sure that a fire broke out in its main section a short time before it sank. Today, you’ll find her resting on the sea bed in an upright position. Divers usually explore the inside of the ship – a torch will definitely come in handy – where sinks, toilets and electric gear testify of the diving ship’s past. Moreover some lovely fish species find the Suzanna pretty hospitable; this is the case of regular glassfish and lionfish. Small barracudas also visit from time to time, so do dolphins and turtles, but really rarely!
Depth: 22 meters
Visibility: 10 – 30 meters

Careless Reef
The Careless Reef is justifiably one of the more popular dive sites in Hurghada, with its many coral forests and a dense population of fish, including the occasional hammerhead shark, jacks, tuna and barracuda. The reef is however famous for the large population of giant and other morays flourishing in its premises, thanks to all the gifts of food they get from the dive guides.

The reef itself consists of two coral towers brushing the water surface. The valley between these peaks is about 16m deep, and offers a wide range of dive possibilities for less experienced divers. A few meters east and well beyond 40m, experienced divers can find many caves to explore.

Diving in Abu-Hashish
Located a few km off Makadi Bay’s shore, and meaning “Father of Grass” in Arabic, this very shallow diving site – ideal for beginners – has been so named because of the abundance of sea grass in that particular area of the Red Sea.

The reef is a combination of a slowly sloping sandy plateau and a fast dropping wall along which drift dives are usually performed from north to south, if the currents are strong enough.

Boats are usually moored at the northwest lagoon, from where divers have to swim through a small canyon before reaching the sandy plateau. Beautiful corals are hidden under the sand; uncover their secrets delicately. Usually very small and interesting creatures are nestled inside the bouquets. Puffer fish, morays, octopus, nudibranches, crabs and sea horses are regular visitors of Abu-Hashish.

The shallower parts of the reef are perfect for snorkelers.
Depth: 5-15 m
Visibility: 10-30 m

Rosalie Moller Wreck Diving
One of the most interesting ship wrecks to explore in the Red Sea is undeniably the 108 m long Rosalie Moller coal ship which was bombed by the German air force in October 1941 as she was transporting coal to Alexandria. The wreck is surprisingly intact today, with some areas covered with hard and soft corals, lying at a depth of 39 to 50 metres. The ship’s mast can be spotted from as low as 17 metres. Only experienced divers will are allowed to make that dive: the visibility can be low, currents are very strong in that particular area, and technical diving equipment is needed

The site can be accessed by boat from Hurghada’s port, or by liveaboard safaris.

Sha’ab Abu Nugar
Located about 60 to 90 minutes from Hurghada, the reef of Abu-Nugar is mainly dived for the incredible richness of its marine life. You’ll find a T-shaped reef at its north-western side and a shallow plateau dotted with numerous ergs (pinnacles) in its eastern part. These ergs are full of different types of fish and coral, including yellow and purple gorgonians, sea fans, table corals, and brain corals. The Western side of Sha-ab Abu Nugar has two smaller sub-reefs in it, they are Gota Abu Nugar and Sha’ab Iris

The site’s name, meaning “Father of the Pools” in Arabic, refers to the numerous lagoons you’ll find in the northern side of the main T-Reef. Frequent visitors of the side include bottle-nosed dolphins, parrot fish, turtles, and of course lots of the usual reef residents in the Red Sea: octopus, glassfish, angelfish and broomtails

The site is perfect for experienced and beginner divers alike.
Depth: 12 m

Sha’ab El Erg
The Sha’ab El Erg horseshoe-shaped reef is one of the southernmost reefs off shore from Hurghada. It refers to a diving region housing some of the Red Sea’s most popular sites, including the Dolphin House, Poseidon’s Garden, and the Light House. It’s easier to arrange a trip to the area from El-Gouna, as it is one of the southernmost diving spots to be reached from Hurghada

The Dolphin House is undisputedly the most popular of all Sha’ab El Erg sites. It is located a few km west from the centre of the region, and is considered as one of the region’s main dive sites due to the often gathering of bottle nosed dolphins. Closer to the horse-shoe but still on its west side, you’ll find the Poseidon’s Garden, another shallow (5-15 m) and entertaining site where coral pinnacles abound, intercepted by charming sandy valleys. The site is home to some of the most colourful reef fish species of the Red Sea

The Lighthouse is located to the east of the main reef; it is mostly dived for the spectacular coral wall it houses: a 20 metre drop-off, perfect for honing your experienced diver skills.
Depth: 13-25 m

Sha’ab el Fanadir
Any dive is possible at the El Fanadir diving site: the spot is great for drift, deep and beginner dives alike

El Fanadir is a long and quite narrow reef north of Hurghada. It can also be reached from El-Gouna. Divers prefer to dive the east side of El Fanadir as it is protected from the weather by a slight curve in the reef. Here you’ll find a shallow hard coral wall sloping slowly to a sandy incline at 12 m. The ledge narrows gradually as you progress northwards. At 20 – 25 m, it drops off to greater depth, where experienced divers come to play. Yet again, most of them prefer to stay in the shallower parts of the reef where marine life abounds with pipefish, stonefish, scorpion fish, and silversides, usually followed by their predators: tunas and jacks. Some have even had the chance to spot frogfish, guitar sharks, mantas, and even a hammerhead at sha’ab El Fanadir.
Depth: 25-40 m

Shadwan Island
Also called “Shaker Island”, Shadwan Island is the largest atoll of the strait of Gubal. At the northeastern side of the island, you’ll find an amazing almost vertical coral wall dropping to more than 40 metres. The current is usually mild and runs from south to north. Divers go along with the current to explore the wall on a drift dive. The reef is teeming with snappers and anthias, but bigger and far more interesting species are also regular visitors of the site. Divers have often encountered the presence white-tip reef sharks and grey reef sharks, hawksbill turtles, but most of all great pods of dolphins.
Depth: 6-40 m
Visibility: 30 m

Ship graveyard of Abu Nuhas
The ship graveyard of Abu Nuhas is only an hour away by boat from El-Gouna. Diving on this site is a historically fascinating experience since this submerged reef caused the sinking of no less than 5 ships. The reef has thus been called “Sha’ab Abu Nuhas”, meaning “father-of bad luck reef” since it was considered as a sailor’s nightmare

Four of the sunken ships can be explored by divers: the Giannis D (Greek Japan-built cargo, sunk in 1983), the Carnatic (British cargo and mail ship), The Chrisoula K (Greek freighter, sunk in 1981), The Kimon M (German cargo, sunk in 1978

The oldest, the British built Carnatic, is also one of the oldest dive shipwrecks in the Red Sea. It hit the reef in 1869, laden with gold, wine and cotton on its way to India. The cargo ship initially balanced on top of the reef but after 36 hours it broke down in two pieces which sunk parallel to the reef at 24 m

Today, the 90 m long wreck lies underwater in a remarkably good condition. Its wooden flooring having rotted away, you’ll get a feeling of being inside the skeleton of some gigantic prehistoric whale. You can dive the entire length of the ship, with sweepers, glassfish, nudibranchs and a few batfish keeping you company