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Safaga: Great Dive Sites

Site: The Salem Express
Max Depth: 34 m.
Visibility: 40 m.
Dive Type: Wreck.

Notes: The Salem Express is a dramatic dive. Around 500 people perished in one of the worst marine tragedies of all times. The 100-meter ferryboat was on its way back from Mecca to Safaga after the annual Muslim pilgrimage in December 1991, when it hit the reef during a stormy night and sunk rapidly without giving the opportunity to the crew and passengers to board the lifeboats. It is now home to a thriving underwater life, including a famous resident frogfish, blue-spotted stingrays, angel and butterfly fish. The ship itself is covered in a large quantity of hard and soft corals. It was sealed after the rescue operations, so some of the sights are poignant and moving: a small baby trolley, a stereo and a suitcase. It is one of the largest wrecks in the Egyptian Red Sea - roughly the same size as the Thistlegorm. Note that although it is officially permitted to dive this wreck, many dive guides may refuse

Site: Sha’ab Sheer

Max Depth: 40
Visibility: 40 m.
Dive Type: Moored / Drift dive

Notes: Its southern lagoon is a favorite night stop for live-oards due to the shelter offered by the 2 km of barrier reef stretching from East to West. Great diving is found on these two tips, with a wealth of acroporas and fire coral with schooling jacks, snapper and tuna fish. Off the Western tip, dolphins playing in the open sea currents are a common sight. When they have babies though, they tend to rest in the southern shallow lagoon, making for unforgettable encounters with divers and snorkelers alike. The northern side of the barrier offers good drift dives with some caves and a drop off down to 40 meters.

Site: Panorama Reef
Max Depth: Plateaus at 40 m. with drop offs down to more than 200 m.
Visibility: 50 m.
Dive Type: Drift / Moored dive

Notes: Another highlight of the area, similar to Abu Qifan, but bigger! It is in fact one of the largest reefs in Safaga, featuring numerous grottos and overhangs, where gorgonians and soft corals thrive with the frequent nurturing currents. Due to the size of the barrier, there are at least three different dives to be done here: the south plateau and the east and the west drop offs. As in Abu Qifan, besides the huge coral formations with walls plummeting to 200 meters, jacks, barracudas and white tip reef sharks and occasionally hammerheads and manta rays can be found. The south plateau is somehow more protected by the current.

Site: Hal Hal

Max Depth: 80 m
Visibility: 40 m.

Dive Type:

drift / Moored dive    
Notes: Next to Middle Reef, it is a rarely chosen dive site due to its distance from the coast, which makes of it a virgin spot. The north side is a drop off going down to 80meters, and is a perfect location to spot tunas, barracudas, turtles and sharks. The southern side has colorful coral gardens along with some caves and canyons. This dive site is mostly available only from a live-aboard

Site: Middle Reef
Max Depth: Drop off over 60 m.
Visibility: 50 m.
Dive Type: Moored dive / only with good weather conditions

Notes: As per Hal Hal, this open sea reef presents frequent currents, which create a fabulous underwater habitat. It is famous for its beautiful brain coral garden on the southeast plateau. From the drop-off at northeast, you can usually see pelagics such as tunas along with grey and white tip sharks. Sometimes, you can even spot a family of hammerheads.

Site: Abu Qifan  


Max Depth: Plateaus at 30 m., drop offs down to more than 200 m.
Visibility: 40 m.
Dive Type: Barrier Reef – Drift dive

Notes: Legendary for hammerhead sightings in late spring and manta rays in wintertime, it is by far my favorite dive in Safaga. This 300-meter long and narrow reef offers a plateau in both north and south tips. We normally jump in the water on the north plateau and glide with the frequent strong current southwards along the impressive walls covered with soft and black coral, giant fans and gorgonians. Along the sheer walls the resident white tip reef sharks observe divers with aristocratic indifference. Schools of barracudas can be seen frequently spiraling out in the blue. Turtles also have chosen this opensea reef as permanent residence. 

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