This is a long and narrow body of water separating two continents. It is pressed between giant deserts from two sides. And it leads to the Indian Ocean. This is the Red Sea, one of the warmest, saltiest, and clear-water seas on Earth. Let’s go diving in the Red Sea and explore the secrets hidden below its surface!
About the Red Sea
The Red Sea separates Asia from Africa. It is connected to the Indian Ocean by the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. The sea is about 2250 km (1398 mi) long and 200 to 300 km (150-200 mi) wide. It reaches its maximum depth of 3040 m (9,970 ft). And like a long slug, it has two “horns” in the north- the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba, both separating the Sinai Peninsula.
From ancient times, the Red Sea has been an important trade way for many kingdoms and empires. Today, it is connected to the Mediterranean Sea by the artificial Suez Canal. And it is shared between seven countries.
Its African coast, as well as the Sinai Peninsula, is shared between Egypt, North Sudan, and Eritrea. And its Asian coast belongs mainly to Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the south, as well as small Israel and Jordan which possess small sections of the Gulf of Aqaba.
All these countries occupy the coastline of the Red Sea, as well as the islands in the sea. They also share its water territory- on the surface and in the depths. But let’s focus on the Red Sea’s underwater world.
Red Sea’s underwater world
The Red Sea is known for three things:
- Salinity. It is one of the saltiest seas on the Earth, due to the high evaporation in the hot climate around it.
- Warmth. It is also one of the warmest seas on the Earth, with temperatures between 26 (79) and 30°C (86°F), sometimes reaching even 34°C (93°F).
- Visibility. It is also one of the seas with the clearest waters. In some places, the visibility can reach 200 m (656 ft)!
The Red Sea has an excellent combination of currents and winds. All of these- salinity, warmth, visibility, currents, and winds have provided an excellent environment for marine wildlife. Some of the most beautiful things you can see underwater are the coral reefs and all the marine creatures that live there.
In addition, the rich human history of the Red Sea also left a lot of traces. Many shipwrecks have gradually turned into marine life’s havens.
So, with such features, let’s see what this amazing sea can reveal and offer to explorers!
Diving in the Red Sea
As in many other diving areas on the Earth, there are two main ways to explore the underwater world in the Red Sea. The first way is by short diving boat trips. They usually start from some of the sea resorts or coastal diving cities and lead you to one or two nearby diving spots. And they are the cheaper (but more limited) option.
And the other way is by liveaboard tour. You travel for a few days on a boat, specially designed as a comfortable “hotel” and well-equipped for scuba diving purposes. The liveaboard tours lead you to the best diving spots in a particular area. Of course, the whole Red Sea is too big to be explored by one liveaboard tour, and the tour has to cross into other countries’ waters, but it can focus on a sea area that is rich in good diving spots.
Although the whole of the Red Sea is rich in amazing diving spots, not all the Red Sea countries are open and developed enough for such diving activities. The best country to go for diving still remains Egypt. So, let’s focus on Egypt and the opportunities you can find there.
Diving sites in Egypt
The Red Sea’s coastline in Egypt includes the western coast of the Gulf of Aqaba, the whole of the Gulf of Suez, and the northwestern coast of the Red Sea. And the good diving spots are everywhere, except in the Gulf of Suez, since this is a heavily trafficked corridor, connected to the Mediterranean Sea by the Suez Canal.
So, let’s “scan” the rest of the Egyptian Red Sea coastline.
Dahab and the Gulf of Aqaba
The Gulf of Aqaba is the northeastern “horn” of the Red Sea, between the Sinai Peninsula and the big Arabian Peninsula. Its crystal clear waters are shared between Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. And Dahab is the main diving center in the Egyptian portion of the gulf.
Dahab is a small town, recently turned into a sea resort. And if you choose it as your “diving base camp”, there are three great diving spots that you can explore.
- The Blue Hole. This is one of the most famous diving spots in the whole of Egypt. It is a more than 100 m deep sinkhole, featuring formations like a tunnel and an arc, where you can enter an unreal world, full of pelagic fish. However, this is the spot with the most diver fatalities in the world, so, you have to be cautious.
- The Canyon. This is an amazing underwater formation that gradually descends into the depths of the sea. It can be easily explored by diving through its canal, where you can enjoy corals and a sandy lagoon with fairy-tale sun rays through the water.
- Eel Garden. This is a sandy floor with alien-like creatures that are waving in the water following the currents.
Sharm el Sheikh, Strait of Tiran, and Ras Mohammad
Sharm el Sheikh is one of the two most famous Red Sea resorts (the other one is Hurghada, see below). It is located near the southernmost point of the Sinai Peninsula and its geographical location offers excellent diving opportunities.
In front of the city-resort is Tiran Island, and southwest of it is Ras Mohammad National Park, where the waters from the Gulf of Suez and Gulf of Aqaba mix into the main Red Sea. And these are the best diving posts around Sharm el Sheikh:
- SS Thistlegorm Wreck. There are several shipwrecks in the Red Sea, and this one is the most popular. It was a British cargo ship, sunk by the Germans in 1941. What makes it incredibly interesting is that as a cargo ship, it transported various items like motorcycles, riffles, boots, etc. that still can be seen there.
- Shark and Yolanda Reefs. These two reefs are some of the best in the world. Although they are two separate reefs, since they are too close, divers visit them as one destination. They reveal spectacular topography, and as their names suggest, you can see sharks and the remains of the Yolanda wreck.
- Jackson Reef, Strait of Tiran. This is a round-shaped reef, located in the Strait of Tiran. It is full of corals and marine wildlife and offers various levels of diving difficulty.
- The Million Hope. This is the biggest shipwreck in the Red Sea. The vessel sank near Sharm el Sheikh in 1996, and today parts of it stick up above the surface. Nevertheless, due to its size, it is still mysterious and interesting for divers.
- Thomas and Gordon Reefs. These two reefs are located in the Strait of Tiran. They also present diverse topography and marine wildlife. Again, you can find some wrecks, although not as spectacular as the wrecks described above. All of this makes them some of the best diving spots in the north of the Red Sea.
- Dunraven Wreck. This wreck is located at the reef near the Ras Mohammad. It was a steamship built in 1873 and sank here in 1876, at 30 m depth. Exploring it by scuba diving brings you to the 19th century, combined with the amazing marine wildlife everywhere around.
Let’s leave the Sinai Peninsula and follow the coastline of the African continent, south of the Gulf of Suez. The first important place here is Hurghada.
Hurghada is the second most popular Red Sea destination in Egypt, and it is also an important diving center. Today, it is a large resort, attracting a lot of tourists and divers. Although there are not as many diving spots as around Sharm el Sheikh, it is still a diving paradise. And the following spots are the best.
- Abu Ramada Island. It is a small island located east of Hurghada, surrounded by shallow coral reefs with sandy floors. There are several reefs and spots, including the South Ramada (in fact, located southwest of the island), perfect for beginners.
- Shaab el Erg (Dolphin House). This is another easy diving spot, located northeast of Hurghada, closer to the smaller El Gouna resort. Again, it is a shallow reef with a lagoon-like sandy area, where you can meet dolphins, aside from the variety of other sea creatures.
- Carless Reef. This is an isolated reef (not attached to any island) between the islands of Giftun and Shaab Umm Qamar. The most interesting highlight of the reef is the rich coral garden, full of big coral reef inhabitants like octopuses, reef sharks, and more.
- Turtle Bay. As its name suggests, here you can see and enjoy sea turtles. The site is located in front of Hurghada and beside turtles, it reveals a lot of coral marine life.
Safaga and Makadi Bay
These are two small sea resorts located further south on the seacoast. And there are many coral reefs in front of the resorts, as well as a group of small islands in front of Safaga. This area is a diver’s paradise of high class, revealing the best of the Red Sea marine wildlife.
The next starting point for divers is El Quseir- another small resort town. There are no islands directly in front of it, but the coastal coral reefs are also great to explore. However, if you want something more adventurous, you can join a trip to a diving area much deeper into the Red Sea- The Brothers.
- The Brothers. These are two small islands called Big Brother and Little Brother, located about 60 km far from the continent (about 1/4 of the distance between Egypt and Saudi Arabia). They are volcanic islands with walls covered by corals. Their isolation from the rest of the world makes them a much most exciting adventure than the coastal diving sites.
Further south is the coastal area around Marsa Alam, a small provincial city in the deep southeast of Egypt. Today, it is another well-developed resort, a bit off the beaten, compared to the popular Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. And it reveals amazing diving spots. Here are some of them.
- Elphinstone Reef. This is one of the best diving spots in the whole of the Red Sea. This is “almost” an island, but still entirely submerged underwater to only 1 m below the surface. The slopes of the reef descend to more than 40 m, and they are covered by abundant coral gardens with rich marine life.
- Abu Dabab. This is a group of shallow reefs, the same as the Elphinstone Reef, entirely under the surface, but closer to the continent. It consists of the main Abu Dabbab Reef, and several other smaller reefs, located a bit further in the sea. Again, it is a paradise area for diving.
- Shaab Samadai (Dolphin House). This is another underwater shallow reef with all the rich coral wildlife diversity, located a bit south of Marsa Alam. As its name suggests, it is also a home for a dolphin family that you can see there.
If we proceed further southward, we will reach the southernmost coastline of Egypt, called “The Deep South”. And it also reveals amazing and off-the-beaten diving spots.
The Deep South
This is the area at the Egyptian coastline south of Marsa Alam. Anyway, Marsa Alam is still its starting point, although there are several smaller resorts and towns. And there are also some incredibly beautiful diving spots.
- Hamata and The Fury Shoals. Hamata is a calm and remote resort in the Egyptian far south, and a starting point to The Fury Shoals- a large reef area, about 30 km long and 5-6 km wide. Here you can find a lot of excellent reefs featuring coral gardens, rock formations, sandy seafloors, as well as some shipwrecks.
- St. Johns Island. This is a remote island, located quite deep into the sea (more than 20 km from the coast), in the extreme South, not far from the border with Sudan. It’s off the beaten location, the stunning coral reefs and walls make it a place for fantastic adventures.
- Daedalus Reef. This is another remote reef, full of fantastic underwater beauty. Although the currents are often strong, some parts of it are great for all levels of diving experience. It is one of the favorite diving spots in Egypt.
This is the best you can find in the Egyptian portion of the Red Sea. But most of this sea is shared by other countries. Let’s see what you can find there.
For various reasons, all of the other Red Sea countries haven’t developed diving tourism like Egypt. At the same time, there are a lot of fantastic diving spots there, many of them still undiscovered, and the others- are only rarely visited. This is a perfect condition for off-the-beaten adventures.
Israel and Jordan
These two countries have well-developed tourism, but just the portion of the Red Sea they occupy is too small. In Israel, it includes only the resort city of Eilat, and in Jordan- the resort city of Aqaba. Yes, you can dive there, but only near the coast of these cities. For more, you have to go further to Egypt or Saudi Arabia.
Currently, Sudan is not a popular tourist destination and only a few tourists visit the places of interest there. It is the same with the diving spots. So, on the other side, this is great for explorers looking for remote and off-the-beaten places. And the tropical nature around Sudan’s coast offers great underwater landscapes.
These are some of the best diving spots in Sudan:
- Angarosh. This is an amazing reef system, located east of Mukawwar Island, featuring coral reef walls and a lot of pelagic fish schools- just the best of the classical coral reef type of sites.
- Cousteau’s Conshelf II in Sha’ab Rumi Reef. This is the place, where the ocean scientist Jacques-Yves Cousteau made his second project of living underwater in specially designed constructions in 1963. After the project, some of the constructions remained as a wreck, surrounded by beautiful coral gardens.
- Sanganeb Reef. It is located not far from Cousteau’s Conshelf and is another great classical coral reef, full of marine wildlife.
- Umbria Ship Wreck. This is one of the best shipwrecks in the world for divers. The ship Umbria sank near the coast of Sudan in 1940 in shallow waters, with its masts still appearing above the surface.
This is quite an off-the-beaten country, far from any tourist stream, with less freedom and a complicated visa policy. In addition, you need a permit for leaving the capital Asmara. At the same time, the country’s location suggests fantastic diving sites in the Red Sea with almost no developed tourism. This is what makes Eritrea challenging and exotic. And these are the best diving places here:
- Dahlak Archipelago. This is the largest archipelago in the Red Sea, consisting of more than 300 islands, only four of them inhabited. The waters around the islands are full of coral reefs and other underwater attractions, making you feel like “at the far ends of the Earth”. Accessible only by a local tourist company.
- Massawa. This is the main sea “resort” in Eritrea. It is more easily accessible and less attractive, but still offering a great variety of marine wildlife.
Saudi Arabia occupies the largest portion of the Red Sea- almost the whole of the sea’s eastern coast. At the same time, the country was opened for tourism only after 2000, and still remains quite off the beaten and rarely visited destination.
At the same time, you can only imagine what its 1800 km coastline and nearby waters can reveal! With little tourism, you can enjoy diving alone even in the most popular diving spots in Saudi’s Red Sea. And there are probably more than a hundred diving spots that still remain undiscovered!
Anyway, the first resorts and diving centers, and even liveaboards are already established in Saudi Arabia and this allows you to touch the Saudi’s Red Sea underwater world. These are some of the best diving areas here:
- Yanbu. This is the northernmost well-developed sea resort with diving centers in Saudi Arabian’s Red Sea. And the area around Yanbu is also well-explored with at least 34 recognized diving spots, presenting coral reefs, coral gardens, walls, other rock formations, and some shipwrecks. The most popular among them are Seven Reefs and Five Sisters.
- Jeddah. Jeddah is not only a sea resort but also one of the largest cities in Saudi Arabia. And this is the most developed diving area in the country’s Red Sea. Among the best diving sites here are Boiler Wreck, Ann Ann Wreck, Abu Faramish Reef, and many others.
- The South. This part of the Red Sea coast is less developed, but there are still some newly established resorts and diving centers. And one of the best diving areas here is Farasan Bank– an archipelago with 84 islands, located near the border with Yemen, best accessible from the city of Jazan.
Yemen occupies the extreme southeast coast of the Red Sea, and the underwater world around it is as fantastic as in the other Red Sea regions. There are plenty of diving spots to be discovered and explored. Unfortunately, due to the civil war in the country, these spots are currently almost inaccessible. We just wait for better days.
In general, this is what the Red Sea looks like and the diving areas you can visit and enjoy. There are a lot of resorts and diving centers, providing local tours to the nearby diving spots, mainly in Egypt, partially in Sudan, and recently- in Saudi Arabia, and with more complications- in Eritrea.
But a better although the more expensive option is to explore the underwater world by liveaboard.
Liveaboard tours in the Red Sea
Again, the most liveaboard tours can be found in Egypt. In other words, the liveaboards in the Red Sea explore mainly the northwestern part of the sea- its Egyptian portion. So, let’s focus on Egypt.
Liveaboards in Egypt
Currently, there are more than 70 liveaboard boats in Egypt, operating in the country’s Red Sea. They explore all of the best diving spots in this area. In other words, this is one of the most crowded liveaboards and diving areas in the world.
The Best liveaboard tours in Egypt
Needless to say, there is a mass competition, so most of the boats and the services try to be the best. Let’s see who are the “winners” according to their features and diver’s experience reviews.
This is the “winner” in the liveaboard competition in the Red Sea (although most of the rest are only a bit “lower” than her)! It is a luxurious yacht with 12 cabins for 24 guests, a social indoor saloon, a Barbeque Lounge, a sundeck, and more facilities, perfectly equipped with everything for diving and comfort.
Seven Seas operates mainly in the southern part of the Egyptian Red Sea, with Marsa Alam as its starting point. Its routes include the best diving spots in the south, including the Deep South. To the north, it reaches The Brothers and some of the spots around Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. The tours are normally 8 days/7 nights long.
Ghani is a relatively new luxurious yacht, renovated in 2019, but the user reviews about it are all excellent. Maybe the most importantly, the reason for that is the best price vs quality rate. It offers 11 cabins for 22 guests, a social area including an indoor dining area and saloon, and a comfortable outdoor deck for relaxation, partly covered.
Ghani operates along the whole western coastline of the Egyptian Red Sea, including the area around Ras Mohammad. Its tours are 8 days/7 nights, and its starting points are Hurghada, Safaga, and Marsa Alam. And the best of its routes is the “Golden Triangle” (Daedalus, Elphinstone, Fury Shoals).
King Snefro Fleet
King Snefro is a fleet of 6 boats with high-quality amenities and service, focused on the northern diving sites of the Egyptian Red Sea- from Aqaba and Sharm el Sheikh areas to The Brothers.
The boats are different in size and capacity for guests and go to different routes at the same time. The tours are of two types: “Mini Safari” (4 days/3 nights) and long tours (8 days/7 nights). Here are the boats:
- Snefro Pearl– 6 cabins/12 guests
- Snefro Spirit– 9 cabins/18 guests
- Snefro Love– 10 cabins/20 guests
- Snefro Target– 10 cabins/20 guests
- King Snefro 5– 4 cabins/8 guests
- King Snefro 6– 4 cabins/8 guests
Emperor is a big company, specialized not only on liveaboard but also in excellent PADI 5 Star Instructor Development diving centers, based on some of the best hotel chains in Egypt. The company offers PADI diving courses and day tours too and is in partnership with Snefro.
The Emperor fleet consists of 4 luxurious yachts, different in size and providing different itineraries at the same time. Their routes target the whole of the Egyptian Red Sea diving area from two starting points- Hurghada and Marsa Ghalib. Those boats that depart from Hurghada offer tours to the North, and from Marsa Ghalib- to the South. And the itineraries are 8 days/7 nights long. Here are the boats:
- Emperor Elite– 13 cabins/26 guests, from Marsa Ghalib or Hurghada
- Emperor Superior– 13 cabins/26 guests, from Hurghada only
- Emperor Asmaa– 10 cabins/20 guests, almost only from Marsa Ghalib
- Emperor Echo– 13 cabins/25 guests, from Marsa Ghalib only
Sea Serpent Fleet
Sea Serpent is another great fleet of liveaboard boats. It consists of 6 luxurious yachts, and they target almost the whole diving area of the Egyptian Red Sea- from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Deep South. They offer 11 different routes, all of them 8 days/7 nights long, and of course, they include the best diving sites.
The yachts of Sea Serpent are relatively big and spacious, like 5-star floating hotels. And the goal is to give opportunity for more guests to go on a diving tour. Here they are:
- Sea Serpent Grand– 14 cabins/28 guests (the largest one)
- Sea Serpent (yes, only “Sea Serpent”)- 11 cabins/22 guests
- Sea Serpent Excellence– 12 cabins/24 guests
- Sea Serpent Serena Dreams– 9 cabins/18 guests
- Sea Serpent Glorious Miss Nouran (or Sea Serpent Glory)– 13 cabins/26 guests
- Sea Serpent Contessa– 12 cabins/24 guests
Blue Planet Fleet
Blue Planet consists of 5 outstanding yachts, targeting the whole diving area of the Egyptian Red Sea by 9 different routes, again from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Deep South. The itineraries are again 8 days/7 nights, only Blue Planet 1 offers short “Mini Safari” tours for 3 days.
All the yachts are luxurious and spacious, with all the necessary facilities and social areas, providing a great experience during the whole liveaboard tour. Here they are:
- Blue Planet 1– 8 cabins/15 guests, traveling to the North in 3 or 8-day itineraries
- Blue Pearl– 10 cabins/20 guests, around the whole Egyptian Red Sea in 8-day itineraries
- Blue Storm– 11 cabins/22 guests, around the whole Egyptian Red Sea in 8-day itineraries
- Blue Seas– 11 cabins/22 guests, around the whole Egyptian Red Sea in 8-day itineraries
- Blue (yes, just Blue)- 12 cabins/24 guests, around the whole Egyptian Red Sea in 8-day itineraries
Red Sea Blue Force Fleet
Blue Force owns four luxurious yachts. Two of them operate in The Maldives, and the rest two are in the Egyptian Red Sea. The Red Sea Blue Force boats follow itineraries focused on the north- between Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. Although they limit only to this area, they explore it in more detail, visiting more diving sites here. All of the itineraries are again 8 days/7 nights long.
Again, the Blue Force boats are luxurious yachts with all the necessary facilities, excellently designed for divers and for a nice time on board. These are the boats:
Blue O Two Red Sea Fleet
This is another “Blue” diving specialized company. But it is much bigger, with liveaboards in many countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Micronesia, Bahamas, and more. In the Egyptian Red Sea, they are present by three luxurious yachts, two of them traveling in the north, and the third- mainly in the south.
The yachts are very well equipped with everything necessary for diving. They are comfortable, with cozy social areas, and luxurious cabins. Here they are:
- Blue Horizon– 9 cabins/18 guests, focused on the North
- Blue Adventurer– 10 cabins/20 guests, focused on the North
- Blue Melody– 13 cabins/26 guests, focused on the South
Golden Dolphin Fleet
This is another excellent liveaboard fleet. It is local (only in the Red Sea) and consists of four luxurious yachts. They operate around the whole Egyptian Red Sea, again from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Deep South. Most of their itineraries are again 8 days/7 nights, but unlike the other operators, they offer some 2 weeks (14 days/13 nights) tours.
The Golden Dolphin yachts are excellent, equipped with all that is necessary for diving. The first three of them are almost similar, and the last one is a bit larger. Here they are:
- Golden Dolphin– 10 cabins/20 guests
- Golden Dolphin II– 10 cabins/20 guests
- Golden Dolphin III– 10 cabins/20 guests
- Golden Dolphin IV– 14 cabins/28 guests
The Seawolf fleet is another excellent family of liveaboard boats operating in the Red Sea. What makes them different is that they not only target the whole diving area of the Egyptian Red Sea but even go to the diving spots of Sudan! Yes, the liveaboard tours to Sudan are not official, only optional, but Seawolf offers them.
The fleet consists of four luxurious yachts. They are different in size, but all of them are well-equipped for diving and offer cozy social areas. Here they are:
- Seawolf Felo– 11 cabins/22 guests
- Seawolf Dominator– 12 cabins/24 guests
- Seawolf Soul– 11 cabins/22 guests
- Seawolf Steel– 15 cabins/30 guests (one of the largest liveaboard boats in the Red Sea!)
Red Sea Aggressor Fleet
The big Aggressor company that offers services in all of the best diving and safari areas on the Earth is present in Egypt and the Red Sea too. Besides liveaboards, they own a resort in Hurghada and organize cruises on the Nile River. And in the Red Sea, they have three luxurious yachts. Each of the yachts focuses on a specific region, and one of them can even take you to the Sudanese diving sites.
The Aggressor yachts in the Red Sea are well-equipped for divers and offer cozy cabins and social areas. Here they are:
- Red Sea RE Aggressor– 12 cabins/24 guests. Focused on the Deepest south of Egypt and Sudan.
- Red Sea Aggressor II– 11 cabins/22 guests. Focused on the North of the Egyptian Red Sea.
- Red Sea Aggressor III– 12 cabins/24 guests. Focused on the South of the Egyptian Red Sea.
More excellent liveaboards in Egypt
Besides these popular fleets, there are many other “single” liveaboard boats exploring the Egyptian Red Sea (and even beyond). Not all of them are perfect, but some deserve mentioning.
This is a spacious and luxurious yacht with 10 cabins for 20 guests. It also features a nice outdoor sun deck, a well-equipped dive deck (with nitrox and everything necessary), a cozy lounge with entertainment, and an indoor dining area.
Aldebaran explores mainly the southern part of the Egyptian Red Sea, from Hurghada to the Deep South. All of the tours are 8 days/7 nights long, and some are charter only. On the yacht’s routes, you can enjoy the best diving sites in the area like Elphinstone, St. John’s Reef, Daedalus, the Brothers, and more.
This is a luxurious yacht with 13 cabins but is limited only to 20 guests. The purpose is more space and comfort. In addition, it also features a nice sun deck, an outdoor terrace, a decorated dining area, and a well-equipped diving deck.
Sea Friend explores mostly the southern part of the Egyptian Red Sea, starting from Hamata, and heading to the best diving sites in the Deep South. But there are also occasional northern tours, starting from Hurghada and focusing on Ras Mohammad and Tiran Strait. As usual, all the tours are 8 days/7 nights long.
This is a cozy yacht with 12 cabins for 24 guests. It has luxurious social areas that include a dining salon, a lounge, and a bar. In addition, there is a nice sun deck. The yacht is again perfectly equipped with everything necessary for divers.
Dolce Vita explores both the north and south areas of the Egyptian Red Sea. Most of its tours start from Hurghada, including the tours to the south. Only the tours to the Deep South start from Port Ghalib. Again, all the tours are 8 days/7 nights long.
Besides these, I would mention also some other great boats, all with almost similar features:
- Amelie– 6 cabins/12 guests, focused mainly on the North.
- MY Odyssey– 13 cabins/26 guests, focused mainly on the South.
- Freedom III– 9 cabins/20 guests, focused on the Sinai Peninsula area, by 3-6 nights tours.
- Aphrodite– 11 cabins/23 guests, tours to various diving areas around the Egyptian Red Sea.
- Jessica– 15 cabins/30 guests, focused on the South.
As you can see, Egypt is one of the liveaboard world “capitals”. But let’s see what liveaboards you can find in the other Red Sea countries.
The best liveaboard tours in the other countries
The other Red Sea countries are far from Egypt’s “liveaboard level”. There is almost no tourism in Eritrea. Sudan is quite off the beaten, and only a few liveaboards, coming from Egypt reach Sudan’s waters.
And there is only Saudi Arabia (Israel and Jordan’s Red Sea area is too small). It could be even greater than Egypt in liveaboards, but since the country was opened for tourism just recently, it is still in its “childhood” here, including the liveaboards.
From the very few liveaboards in Saudi Arabia, one deserves special attention- this is Saudi Explorer.
Actually, its original name is Typhoon, a part of Tornado Marine Fleet– another fleet of yachts exploring the Egyptian Red Sea. The fleet consists of Cyclone, Hurricane, Mistral, Tempest, Whirlwind, and Typhoon. The last one is the newest boat of the fleet, and until 2021 it traveled around the Egyptian diving areas.
But from December 2021, it moved to Saudi Arabia and started traveling between Yanbu and Jeddah. Also, the yacht got a new name- Saudi Explorer, and now it is the best liveaboard in the country.
Saudi Explorer offers 10 cabins for 20 guests, with outstandingly arranged social areas. The service, food, and the whole atmosphere have adopted the Saudi cultural and culinary style. The main routes of Saudi Explorer are focused on the best diving sites between Yanbu and Jeddah (like Seven Reefs, Five Sisters, and more), and most of them are 8 days/7 nights long.
Red Sea diving and exploring tips
All of the above sounds great, but how to prepare and what to expect if you want to go diving in the Red Sea?
The Red Sea is located between two great desert lands, and it is too narrow to be a factor for a local humid climate area. So, the climate here is very dry, and the rains are very rare. The weather is also calm almost the whole year.
So, there are only two seasons- the cool season (winter) and the warm season (summer). The only difference between these seasons is the temperature of the water and the air- from almost 20°C in winter to almost 30°C in summer. The marine wildlife and the transparency of the water remain almost the same during the whole year.
As a result, there are only two “a bit lower” seasons- the winter, because the water is too cool, and the summer, because the air is too hot. But if it is no problem for you, during that time you can enjoy much fewer crowds at the sea coast and the diving sites.
Diving skill requirements
With all the great variety of diving spots, every diver can find opportunities for diving in every level of difficulty- from easy dives for beginners to difficult dives with currents and even dangerous, but of course, again full of fantastic beauty.
So, if you are a beginner, you can join a liveaboard tour, but probably would not be able to dive in every diving spot on the route. However, you can join a PADI scuba diving course in advance and it can be a part of your preparation. Fortunately, there are a lot of PADI courses in Egypt (and recently, even in Saudi Arabia and Sudan) that you can join.
By joining a PADI course, you will receive a PADI certificate. Of course, only a course can be not enough for every diving site- some sites require also a longer diving experience and the liveaboard crews may require proof of your experience before allowing you to dive in the most difficult sites.
How to reach and explore the Red Sea
It depends on the Red Sea country you choose. Needless to say, Egypt is the easiest country to visit, with the most developed tourism.
Egypt has a light visa policy and citizens from most of the countries in the world can easily get a visa on arrival. Citizens of some countries (like Saudi Arabia and a few more) are exempt from visas (in most cases). Only citizens from certain countries (mainly African and South Asian) are required to obtain a visa in advance.
The transport to Egypt is also well-developed, according to the tourism requirements. There are international airports in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada, and Marsa Alam. And they are well-connected to all the seaside cities, resorts, and diving centers along the Red Sea coast.
You can also enter Egypt from Israel on land by bus, and go straight to the resorts of the Sinai Peninsula. Another option is to reach these resorts from Aqaba in Jordan directly by ferry. Once you reach a resort, you can proceed by joining a liveaboard tour (in advance) or just by a short local boat trip to the nearby diving spots.
Saudi Arabia is young in tourism- the first tourist visas were issued in 2013. Since then, the country started rapidly developing its tourism, and the visa policy is quite easy for the citizens of most of the countries in the world- like e-visa or visa on arrival. Other countries (mainly in Africa and South Asia) still require a visa in advance. Only Israelis still can’t get a tourist visa, but with the signs of the normalization of the relations between SA and Israel, it is going to change soon.
The main international airports for the Saudi Red Sea are Riyadh, Dammam, Madinah, and Jeddah. The last two are the most convenient entry points for the Saudi Red Sea coast. Once you arrive there, you can travel by bus or by rental car to the resort you want to reach.
Visiting Saudi Arabia is easy, but don’t forget about the various local restrictions concerning the dress code, food (and alcohol), as well as all other Islamic-sensitive issues. For more information see this guide.
Sudan is quite an off-the-beaten country and is currently still not popular for tourists. Anyway, some more adventurous tourists still visit the country, mainly the capital Khartoum, as well as the Red Sea coast, including divers. With a few exceptions, the citizens of almost all other countries have to obtain a visa in advance at the nearest diplomatic consulates.
For scuba diving in the Sudanese Red Sea, your goal is Port Sudan, the largest seaside city in Sudan. It has an international airport, but it is connected only to Dubai and Cairo, as well as the capital Khartoum. So, another way is to fly to Khartoum and then by plane, by train, or by bus to reach Port Sudan. Once you reach it, you can travel along the sea coast by local transport only.
Eritrea is another far-from-tourist-crowds, unpopular country, only for adventure travelers. To reach it, you have to obtain a visa in advance from the nearest diplomatic missions (unless you are a citizen of Sudan, Kenia, Uganda, or Ethiopia).
Once you get the visa, you can arrive in the capital Asmara by plane, or on land by a pickup taxi from Kassala (Sudan) to the border of Eritrea. Once you enter the country, you have to reach the sea coast. Your goal is Massawa, the starting point of your diving trips. But before you go there, you have to obtain a permit for traveling outside Asmara (yes, sounds absurd, but currently it is the reality, at least obtaining a permit is easy and quick).
And the only way to go scuba diving, you have to contact a travel company in Asmara, and they will arrange a diving tour for you. Yes, it is somehow complicated and inconvenient, but as I said, Eritrea is far from a (normal) tourist place.
So, this is the Red Sea in short- a sea, sandwiched by deserts and exotic cultures. There is no other sea on the Earth like this- so warm, with clear waters, so full of colors underwater. Although there are some human-caused differences among various countries, borders, and policies at the seacoast, the underwater world is free from it and is amazingly great everywhere, waiting to be explored.
Take a look at this video for more impressions from the Red Sea:
Check some travel books about the Red Sea and Egypt:
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Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.