The sun setting over the red sea with words "scuba diving the red sea" written over it.

The Ultimate Guide To Scuba Diving In The Red Sea (Northern and Central)

At the mention of the Red Sea, most of us will conjure up an image of Moses parting it. However, us divers want to get under the waves, not walk between them!

Picture of Moses parting the red sea.
Lucky thing no one was diving when Moses parted the Red Sea.

Other than this biblical tale, there is excellent history to be explored along and in the Red Sea from Egypt to Yemen. Beautiful healthy reefs, historical shipwrecks and abundant marine life are but some of the things awaiting scuba divers and that make Red Sea scuba diving worth a visit.

People scuba diving in the red sea.
The Red Sea is a great scuba and snorkeling destination.

The Waters Of The Red Sea

The Red Sea is unique in that it lies between two continents, Africa and Asia. It is connected to the Mediterranean Sea by the Suez Canal and to the Indian Ocean through the Gulf of Ade.

Map of the red sea.
The banks of the Red Sea are the continents of Africa to the left and Asia to the right.

As it connects Asia and Europe, the Red Sea is one of the most trafficked waterways in the world. It is also contains some of the hottest and saltiest seawater in the world. The Red Sea generally offers good visibility year round. And speaking of year round, the Red Sea can be dove just about 365 days a year.

Getting There

With six different countries bordering the Red Sea, you will not be short of choices on getting there. Some of your choices – depending on where you want to stay – include multiple airports in Egypt and Jordan

One of the many international airports.
Pick where you’re diving and choose an airport close by.

Red Sea liveaboards have become increasingly popular, where you stay on your boat and hit multiple dive sites per day. With so many sites offered by the Red Sea, this is a great way to dive as many of those sites that you can during your visit.

Liveaboard trips are truly a different kind of recreational diving experience that allow you to get to different dive sites that you normally would not get to dive when you have to return to land. Of the liveaboard diving, Egyptian liveaboards are at the top of the list, with various boats to choose from.

Liveaboard boat in the red sea.
Liveaboards like the Hurricane offer a wonderful way to explore the Red Sea. (Photo courtesy of

If doing a liveaboard diving, you might want to book your flight close to the seaport where your boat departs.

Red sea Scuba Diving

Whether liveaboard diving in the Red Sea or just chartering day trips, there is plenty to see and do. Within its stretch of about 1,200 miles you will find impressively large colorful reefs with incredible drop-offs and even a blue hole.

And all of these spots are teeming with spectacular marine life including reef fish, various shark species, manta rays, moray eels and sea turtles.

Scuba Dive sites

Both the Northern Red Sea and Central Red Sea have terrific dive sites for beginner and experienced scuba divers.

Northern red sea Dive sites

The Northern Red Sea has the majority of the liveaboard ports. It also has some amazing wrecks and reefs to explore.

Dolphin Reef

Starting far North off of the coast of Israel and into the Gulf of Aqaba is Dolphin Reef. Here scuba divers and snorkelers can swim with a school of bottle nose dolphins in a 40ft deep buoyed net enclosure.

Kids leaning over the dock to get closer to the dolphin in the red sea.
The entire family can enjoy the dolphins; not just the divers and snorkelers.

The dolphins are not captative and have access to the open sea. They often return as they are as playful and curious as their human visitors. Also within the reef is colorful reef fish and occasionally sea lions that make their way over from the enclosure next door.

When done with the water activities, you can relax on the secluded beach and get a snack or drink from the beach bar and restaurant…us divers do get thirsty and hungry!

People gathered around a bar.
Grab some food and a cold one at the beach bar and restaurant after your dive. (Photo courtesy of Dolphin Reef)
Wrecks of the Sufa and Yatush

These two wrecks are also in the Gulf of Aqaba, about a mile south of Dolphin Reef. Both of these wrecks were sunk on purpose to create an artificial reef system and both can be reached by boat and shore.

The Sufa (Satil) or “Storm” was an Israeli missile boat sunk in 1994. She is about 150ft long and lies upright in approximately 100ft of water.

The Yatush or “Mosquito” was a 49ft long gunboat sunk in 1987. She lies at an angle, with her stern in about 85ft of water and her bow at about 104ft of water.

Both of these are nice wrecks for experienced divers to visit in this part of the gulf. They are growing soft corals and attracting fish life like lionfish and parrotfish. Lucky Divers is a good place to contact if looking to dive these wrecks.

Parrotfish underwater in the red sea.
Large colorful parrotfish can be found on the Sufa and Yatush.
The Seven Sisters and Tank

Off of Jordan in the Gulf of Aqaba is the Seven Sisters. This beautifully unique and diverse dive site can also be dove and snorkeled from both boat and shore.

The Sisters is comprised of hard coral pinnacles rising up from the sandy/seagrass bottom. Teeming with marine life, divers can see various coral and sponges, reef fish and even sea turtles.

Coral underwater in the red sea.
A potpourri of marine life and color awaits on the Seven Sisters. (Photo Courtesy of

The tank is an American M42 antiaircraft tank about 19ft long. It was sunk close by the Seven Sisters in 1999 in about 20ft of water. Sitting upright, the tank looks like it is ready to defend against a wave of attack from the barracuda that can be found swimming around it.

Sunken tank near the seven sisters underwater in the red sea.
The M42 still looking like its on active duty. (Photo Courtesy of Arab Divers)

There is plenty more to see off of the Jordan coast including dive sites such as the power station, the Cedar pride wreck, King Abdullah Reef and even a C-130 Hercules Aircraft. Contact Arab Divers, Aqaba Moon Divers or Coral Garden Center to help get you to these and many more dive sites.

The Blue hole

This famous dive site is off of North Egypt in the Gulf of Aqaba. The Blue Hole is easily accessible from the shore and at a depth of over 300ft makes for one incredible dive.

Divers beware! off of the main sinkhole is a tunnel leading to a drop off over 3,000 feet deep on the seaward side. This is a site for advanced divers with good buoyancy. This site is also infamously known to have the highest diving fatalities in the world as an estimated 130 – 200 people have died here.

Aerial view of the blue hole located in the red rea.
The Blue Hole is one of the best dive sites in the Red Sea, but be careful and dive safe.

There is a reef that sloops to the hole and there are various fish to be seen like angelfish and clownfish. If done safely, the Blue Hole is Egypt diving in the Red Sea at its best and a dive you will not soon forget!

Thomas reef

Dividing the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea is the Strait of Tiran. Here you can find four incredible reefs including Gordon Reef , Jackson Reef, Woodhouse Reef and Thomas Reef.

Thomas reef is full of colorful marine life. In addition to the numerous sea fans are various reef fish and reef sharks. This is a good dive site for both beginner and advanced divers and is at the top of the list for the best diving in the Red Sea.

Thomas reef underwater in the red sea.
Thomas reef is filled with dazzling colorful marine life.

At about 114ft on Thomas Reef is Thomas Canyon. This is a spectacular dive for those tech divers.

SS Thistlegrom

Lying off of the Sinai peninsula is the wreck of the Thistlegrom. For experienced divers, this is a Red Sea’s prime dive destination and makes for incredible wreck diving.

The Thistlegrom was a 415ft long British cargo ship built in 1940. She was sunk a year later when bombed by German aircraft. She was rediscovered by Jacques Cousteau in the early 1950s and has since become one of the most dove wrecks in the world.

The wreck lies upright in 108ft of water. Of note is that divers can go inside her cargo holds and see the military cargo she was carrying including motorcycles, trucks, armored vehicles and rifles.

SS. thistlegorm underwater in the red sea.
Divers can check out the wreck’s cargo, including motorcycles. (Photo courtesy of ZuBlu).

This old wreck now attracts much marine life including Barracuda, batfish, sea turtles and occasionally crocodile fish. This is a Red Sea dive site not to be missed!

ras mohammed national park

At the Southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula is the Ras Mohammed National Park. Within the boundaries of this park are Shark and Yolanda Reef, which are consistently listed as one of the best dive sites in the world!

Both shark and Yolanda Reef are pinnacles rising up out of the water next to each other. Good buoyancy is key here as there are drop-offs to well over 2,000ft below.

These exciting drift dives are example A as to why people travel for recreational diving in the Red Sea. With the current, you can get dropped of at the Eastern Shark Reef and make your way over to the Western Yolanda Reef.

Map of shark and yolanda reef in the red sea.
Shark and Yolanda Reef are some of the best drift dives in the world. (Photo courtesy of Pro Dive)

Cruising along these healthy reefs you’ll find a ton of marine life including puffer fish, angelfish, unicorn fish, sea turtles, snappers and of course reef sharks.

Unicorn fish underwater in the red sea.
The strange looking unicorn fish can be seen on these reefs…and that ain’t no fairy tale!

Yolanda Reef is named after the freighter that ran into the reef in 1980. While the main part of the wreck has dropped down below recreational limits, there is still much debris – like the toilets it was carrying – scattered along the reef.

Sunken toilets underwater at yolanda reef.
There is always time for a bathroom break when diving Yolanda Reef.

This area can get crowded, so best to get there earlier in the day.

Elphinstone Reef

If you’re looking for oceanic whitetip sharks and hammerhead sharks, then welcome to Elphinstone Reef. This is yet another top dive site of the world!

Elphinstone Reef is rather remote, located about 18.5 miles off of Marsa Alam. The reef is a plateau about 1,148ft long and between 65ft to 130ft wide.

Aerial veiw of Elphinstone Reef in the red sea.
Elphinstone Reef rising up from the Red Sea. (Photo Courtesy of SeaHorse Diving Club)

Surrounding the plateau are drop-offs over 300ft deep. The plateau itself ranges in depth from about 65ft to 165ft. In addition to the sharks on the reef, there is plenty of small fish life and colorful coral gardens.

This is a very busy dive site and one you need to get to early to avoid the crowd. If diving on a liveaboard, you have a much better chance of being one of the first divers of the day to hit this reef.

Elphinstone Reef is truly what people come to see when scuba diving the Red Sea and what makes the underwater world such a wonder!

Daedalus Reef

Another remote dive site that makes Red sea scuba diving incredible is Daedalus Reef. This reef is located over 50 miles out from Marsa Alam. Because of its more remote location, this reef sees less traffic and is very good condition.

Lighthouse above the Daedalus reef.
The stunning Daedalus Reef with its lighthouse and pier. (Photo courtesy of Red Sea Diving)

This is another reef that shoots up from the bottom – over 1,400ft below – and has spectacular walls and drop-offs. It is approximately 3,500ft long and almost a 1,00ft wide.

Daedalus Reef attracts much marine life including sharks like hammerhead and thresher sharks.

Thresher shark underwater in the red sea.
Thresher sharks with their long sweeping tails can be seen on the reef looking for food.

Most dives on the reef will be between 65ft to 130ft. There is also a strong current on this reef for some incredible drift diving. Both Daedalus and Elphinstone Reef above are for more experienced divers.

Centeral red sea Dive sites

While the majority of the Famous dive sites of the Red Sea are in the Northern Red Sea, there are some very good dive sites in the Central part of the Red Sea as well. This diving portion of the Red Sea primarily covers the waters off of Sudan and also consists of great reefs and wrecks.


Approximately 11 miles off of Marsa Umbeila Sudan is the Elba Reef with the wreck of the Levanso. This Italian steel hulled cargo freighter sunk in 1923 when she ran aground.

Levanso wreck underwater in the red sea.
The turtled Levanso on Elba Reef. (Photo courtesy of Non Solo Maldive)

The Levanso lies upside down on an angle and she is just under 340ft long. You can hit her stern and propeller at about 72ft and continue down deeper along her hull. However, keep track of your depth as she continues well past recreational diving limits. Inattentive divers can find themselves doing a decompression dive – or worse – out of air.

Some beautiful soft corals can be found on the wreck and plenty of marine life, including large groupers.

Blue Belt

The Sha’b Su’adi Reef with the impressive wreck of the Blue Belt lies about 40 miles off of Marsa Arakiyai.

This 307ft Saudi Arabian cargo ship was carrying just under 200 Toyota vehicles when she ran aground and sank in 1977. Due to her cargo she is often referred to as “The Toyota wreck.”

Scuba divers by the blue belt wreck underwater in the red sea.
Diver checking out a Toyota truck on the Blue Belt. (Photo courtesy of

The Blue Belt lies upside down on a slope in depths between 68ft and 295ft deep, with her bow on the shallow part of the reef. This is another dive to monitor your depth so as to remain in recreational limits, if not trained otherwise.

In addition to the multiple vehicles and spare parts, divers can see such marine life as groupers, snappers and whitetip reef sharks.

White tip reef shark underwater in the red sea.
Whitetip reef sharks frequently patrol the “Toyota Wreck.”
Sanganpeb Reef

If you are looking for a location with multiple dive sites, then look no further than Sanganpeb Reef. This reef system lies approximate 20 miles Northeast of Port Sudan and boasts over 20 dive sites.

This stunning reef with its picturesque lighthouse is good for snorkeling and diving. Swim over the reef edge and you’ll be gazing into the abyss as the bottom is some 2,600ft below!

Lighthouse above Sanganpeb Reef.
The lighthouse of Sanganpeb Reef. (Photo courtesy of marine Parks of Sudan)

Sanganpeb Reef is busting with marine life that includes multitudes of reef fish, manta rays and sharks. This is a great place for a two tank or more dives as there is much to see and take in.

Manta rays above the Sanganpeb reef in the red sea.
Elegant manta rays “fly” around Sanganpeb Reef.
SS Umbria

Just Southwest of Sanganpeb Reef is the Umbria wreck. This site is premier wreck diving in not just the Red Sea, but world wide!

SS Umbria underwater in the red sea.
The stern of the Umbria lying on her port side.

This 505ft long Italian freighter was carrying munitions and scuttled by her crew on June 10, 1940 when her captain learned that Italy was entering WWII. She lies on her port side in between 16ft and 108ft of water with her large propeller rising up from the seabed.

This spectacular wreck can be enjoyed by all level of divers. She is easily penetrated offering divers a chance to see the munitions she was carrying, along with wine bottles and even three Fiats.

This wreck deserves more than one dive and do not forget to bring your camera!

Wrapping Things Up

Red Sea scuba diving is world class scuba diving. There are several sites in the Red Sea that frequently make top all time best dive site lists.

The warm water temperatures year round, generally good visibility, colorful marine life and historical wrecks assist in making the Red Sea a diving destination not to be missed!

“How boring would the world be if everywhere and everyone were the same. Safe travels and good adventures.” Scuba Jay

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