Although the resorts of the Northern Red Sea have plenty of admirers and have become well-known for legions of divers, the Southern Red Sea remains an unknown quantity for many.
However, one only need consider the relative remoteness of the southern resorts of El Quesir, Shams Alam and Hamata with their unspoiled reefs, to make a direct comparison with the way the northern Red Sea resorts were decades ago, when the divers started to arrive.
The spectacular coastline to the south of Hurghada has opened up to reveal pristine diving, and direct flights into Marsa Alam throughout the year mean that it’s now even easier to access these impressive reef systems.
El Quesir was once one of Egypt’s most important trading hubs, but today it is a tranquil destination. The coral gardens, caves and reefs boast abundant marine life, and the advantage of less crowded sites means that the resort is perfect for those learning to dive, as well as keen underwater photographers who can take their time to find the perfect subject.
Shams Alam has access to more than thirty dive sites, as well as an excellent house reef. Sha’ab Sharm is a large reef lying atop a vast undersea mountain thought to be an ancient volcano. This site is famous for its dramatic, sheer walls swept by strong currents where you will often be accompanied by large schools of jacks and barracuda, as well as grey reef sharks, hammerheads and tuna.
Dolphin House is one of the most popular areas in the southern Red Sea. The three main dive sites offer a cave system and caverns, an eel garden, a little seagrass bed and the biodiversity of the pinnacles. The regular sightings of barracuda, mantas, sharks and dolphins, plus soft and hard coral, make this one of the most interesting and ecologically diverse sites in the Red Sea.
The small town of Hamata lends its name to the region opposite the Fury Shoal Reef system. This is the most southerly resort in the Egyptian Red Sea. The remoteness of this area – 110 miles south of Marsa Alam – makes it the ultimate in ‘get away from it all’ diving.
The house reefs in Hamata give divers the flexibility to dive to their own schedule and maximise their time in the water. There is an amazing array of hard and soft corals to be appreciated, all within a short walk of your hotel room. Night dives are also available and provide an exciting opportunity to watch Spanish dancers, lionfish and lobster.
The legendary Fury Shoal offers over 35 memorable dive sites. One of the sites – Gota Soraya – is rated as one of the best wall dives in the Red Sea, with large caves full of glass fish, sweepers and an abundance of corals. There is a good chance of enjoying encounters with dolphins and a variety of shark species, along with large shoals of mackerel in season. Turtles hatch along this coastline and sightings are common.
Ultimately, whichever Southern Red Sea resort you choose, you will leave remembering immaculate, uncrowded reefs supporting an abundance of marine life, including many species rarely found elsewhere. This far south the winter water temperature is significantly higher than that of the northern Red Sea, creating a relaxed dive environment that can be enjoyed all year round.
Divers, it’s time to turn back the clock and enjoy Red Sea diving as it used to be: visit the beautiful south.
Regaldive offer land-based trips and liveaboards in both the Southern and Northern Red Sea. Resorts include El Quesir, Shams Alam, Hamata and Marsa Alam in the south and Hurghada and El Gouna in the north. To find out more, call the Regaldive team on 01353 659999, or visit Diving in the Red Sea.