So you’ve finally got some ‘me-time’, you’re desperate to book a holiday abroad, and you’ve decided to turn your diving dream into a reality. Perhaps you’ve always liked the idea of an underwater adventure, or maybe you’re intrigued by the thought of discovering the secrets of the sea. But where should you go, and what should you look out for when planning your diving holiday? Look no further – the Egyptian city of Sharm el Sheikh can offer all you’re hoping for. And whether you’re a diver, a non-diver, or simply looking to learn more, it’s the place to be for all underwater enthusiasts.
Fringed by the Red Sea and located at the south of the Sinai Peninsula, the tranquil waters and beaches of Sharm el Sheikh, or the ‘City of Peace’, make it ideal for diving holidays. You can be sure of good weather all year round - from November to March, expect temperatures of 15-35 degrees celsius, and from April to October, 20-45. And the sea temperature is equally inviting – it rarely dips below 21 degrees and can reach 28. In terms of marine life, Sharm el Sheikh is home to over one thousand species of fish, and two hundred and fifty different coral reefs. You can dive at sites all the way from the northern point of the island to its southernmost tip, and all courses are approved by the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club). Prices are very competitive, with friendly, proficient instructors eager to help you achieve your desired diving standard.
Whatever you do, make sure you visit these three popular diving spots: the Straits of Tiran, Ras Mohammed, and the S.S. Thistlegorm wreck, which sank to its resting place back in 1941 some thirty metres below the sea.
To the north of Sharm el Sheikh, in the Straits of Tiran, you’ll find four reefs named after their discoverers: Gordon, Jackson, Thomas and Woodhouse. They’re famed for their depth and steep drop-offs, so it’s not generally a site for beginners. But it’s not without its shallow inlets either.
Ras Mohammed is a national park based in the south of Sharm el Sheikh and spanning both land and ocean. Several famous dive sites exist inside its boundary. The ocean here is very deep and the currents strong, so again, divers with less experience might find it a little daunting. But those that dare will be rewarded with some stunning sights – vibrant coral gardens and the marine life that populates them, including star fish, sea turtles and countless fish.
You’ll find the Thistlegorm not too far from the coast surrounding Ras Mohammed – a well-preserved shipwreck which sank in a bomb raid during World War II, and is now very accessible to divers. Once a British naval ship, the split in the hull reveals the cargo inside – motorbikes, trucks, various plane parts and even some barnacled Wellington boots.
So dig out some diving gear and put on your wetsuit – and get ready to explore Sharm el Sheikh’s superb subterranean flora and fauna.