Ras Mohammed is, almost certainly, the most popular dive area for any divers who come to Sharm el Sheikh. It is located on the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsular and has been a national park since 1983, with both fishing in the sea and building on the land being stopped to prevent the once ever growing Sharm extending into this beautiful headland. It provides some of the best diving in the Red Sea with the atmospheric wreck of the Dunraven close by, wondrous reefs, caverns and a whole bunch of toilets!
As we board our pristine dive boat, Camel Tribe, we chat to the other divers on the boat about what is in store for us. The journey will take us about an hour and many of those on the boat have dived here before, but a couple are here for the first time and we cannot wait to see their reaction when they get back up onto the boat. We have done two trips to Ras Mohammed during our stay here, and could have easily done two more given enough time. First stop – Shark & Yolanda. During the summer months, huge schools of fish aggregate here, but in the winter, it is no less exciting. We started our dive on Shark Reef. A gorgeous wall dive, with purple and red soft corals and thousands of orange and purple anthias to entertain you as the current gently nudges you along the vertical. As you round the corner, the current dies off and this leaves you plenty of time to explore for huge moray eels, lionfish, stonefish and turtles. Soon you reach Yolanda, a reef system that was hit by the cargo ship Yolanda in 1980, which deposited her cargo of bathroom supplies onto the sea bed. Rows of toilets and baths are now covered in coral and marine life. We were also joined here by a huge Napoleon Wrasse who seemed more than happy to cruise by our group of divers, dwarfing us in size, and always swivelling its eye to keep you in sight. This is a dive site that we could do over and over again and it would be different every time. You can dive across the saddle, rather than around the wall, or do a mixture of both… it really is a truly world beating dive.
The Dunraven Wreck is another great dive that lies within the Ras Mohammed National Park. This wreck is much older than Yolanda, having sunk in 1876, and whilst it is broken up, you can still get inside her upturned hull and swim through to the boilers, where numerous glassfish have made their home. There is an old BBC documentary about her discovery over 40 years ago that wreck lovers may enjoy:
If you want to dive the Dunraven, you have to set off from the dive centre (in our case, Camel Dive Club) a little earlier to allow for the additional distance to travel. It is certainly worth the early start though!
Jackfish Alley offers divers an extraordinary marine landscape. Cut into the reef are two caverns that give divers a very special light show. Sunlight streams in through tiny cracks in the reefs and the beams dance on the cavern floor below. As the Sun is always shining here, you could spend your whole dive in here, especially as a photographer. But the reef has plenty to offer too, with huge table corals providing shelter for butterfly fish pairs, anemonefish dart out to “greet” you from their anemones on the sea floor and the shallow reef at the end of the dive is spectacular. Red Fire Coral reflects on the surface as you do your safety stop – it is truly breath-taking.
Whilst there are loads of other dive sites here to explore, we only had time for one more dive and this was on Ras Ghozlani. This is the most northerly dive site within the national park and its name means headland of the Gazelle. The dive is situated near the protected area where divers are not allowed, due to nesting turtles, and it is a visual treat. Once again you have beautiful fringe reef, a sandy plateau with coral covered pinnacles to explore.
Ras Mohammed should be on every diver’s wish list and it is one of the highlights of diving in Sharm el Sheikh. The area offers diverse diving at a world class standard; the coral is vibrant and healthy, the marine life covers every inch of the reef, there are great wrecks and there is always the chance of a fantastic encounter with one of several pelagics that cruise the area.
For more from Nick and Caroline visit www.frogfishphotography.com.