Blue Realm offers diving holidays throughout the Egyptian Red Sea, which, in turn, offers countless wonderful dive sites. To attempt a description of even a few of the most famous and popular of these would be a major undertaking. Besides, much information about many of them is available from a number of excellent sources – web sites, books, guides, magazines, etc. – so we have chosen to give a general description of the more popular diving locations situated around Dahab, which, although excellent, are probably less well known than those in other areas.
Dahab does boast a couple of world famous dive sites: The Canyon and The Blue Hole, respectively about 10 and 20 minutes drive to the north of the town. Their fame is due to the unusual nature of the reef topography, which makes for shore diving of exceptional spectacle and interest.
The Blue Hole is just what it says, a large hole in the reef table, between 70 and 90m across, dropping sheer and vertical through the blue water to a depth of over 105m. At around 60m, there is a huge cathedral-like arch opening onto the outer reef face, which, in turn, plummets to over 1,800m. Roughly 280m to the north of the hole is another entry point, known as The Bells. This is a partially open tube, reminiscent of a church bell tower – hence the name – which exits at 28-30m onto the vertical face of the reef. From there, the normal dive is south along a dramatic wall, with overhangs, sheltering gorgonians and soft corals, towards a “saddle”, marking the entrance to the Blue Hole, where the corals and fish life are superb. To the south of the saddle, the reef face slopes steeply down beyond 60m. The coral growth here is very rich, diverse and healthy, and especially beautiful along the top 10-12m. Because of the stunning scenery and depths in this area, it has become a popular venue with normal recreational and technical divers alike.
Roughly half way back towards Dahab, is The Canyon. Again, the name pretty well describes the site. After a swim of about 50m north from the lagoon forming the entry point, the main opening to the canyon lies at about 17m. The canyon itself is a long split in the reef, forming a partially open tunnel that exits onto the near vertical reef face below 50m. However, the main dive is up the canyon, not down. Descending straight down from the main entrance in the “roof”, we reach the floor of the canyon at 30m. Instead of going down the tunnel, we turn and go up the slope. The bottom rises quickly to a vertical chimney leading up to a small cavern in the reef, generally known as the Fish Bowl, at about 15m. The outside of the Fish Bowl is rich in corals and clouds of fish, and is well worth exploring. From there, depending on air, we can cross a small colony of garden eels to explore the reef to the north, before returning to the lagoon. Alternatively, going straight back from the Fish Bowl, past the entry lagoon, brings us to a beautiful coral garden, a shallow area of sand with rich, healthy coral outcrops, ideal for photography and an extended, relaxing dive. For a second dive, we can swim straight out from the entry lagoon to the reef face, which slopes steeply to 60m or so. Turning south, and swimming for about 100m, rising up to the shallows, brings us to the far end of the coral garden for a wonderful stroll back to shore.
Other Local Dive Sites
In addition to these, there are about 20 popular sites a short Jeep ride from Dahab, including The Islands, The Golden Blocks, The Caves, Um Sid, Abu Helal, The Eel Garden, etc. Each has its own interesting facets; for example, the superb corals and maze-like quality of The Islands, the huge eel garden at, yes!, The Eel Garden (also with amazing corals in the shallows), the caves at…well, guess…the vast acres of corals at Abu Helal, with its Small Canyon, which starts at about 40m, for the technical explorers. There are excellent training areas at The Lighthouse and The Moray Garden for new divers, and snorkelling at any of the sites is extremely rewarding.
Gabr El Bint and Ras Abu Galloum
Beyond the range of the pickups, there is superb diving at a couple of more remote sites: Ras Abu Galoum and Gabr El Bint, both reachable by a one day boat safari. Gabr El Bint, in particular, is a phenomenal site, offering just about any kind of diving you want – in one dive! There are walls, an excellent coral garden, a gorgonian forest, rich, healthy corals, abundant fish life, and more chances of seeing some of the larger pelagic species – mantas, eagle rays, turtles, dolphins and sharks – even an occasional whale shark (although we did see one just off the shore at the Moray Garden…on a try-dive!).
That gives a good idea of the type of dive site available if you choose diving in Dahab from our home base. We think it is pretty spectacular, all the more so because it is all shore diving. Just imagine what some of the dramatic reefs and wrecks to the south are like. The reefs of Ras Mohamed and Tiran, the wrecks of SS Thistlegorm and the Dunraven – all within reach of Sharm El Sheikh, by day boat or liveaboard – not to mention the excitement of the more remote areas reached by liveaboards in the deep south, where more of the big things live and even greater adventures are waiting.
It’s amazing stuff!