- Zabargad-Rocky Island-St. Johns
- After arrival in Hurghada or Marsa Alam, transfer to the boat to Port Ghalib, dinner and departure the next morning.
- Already in the afternoon it goes to the reefs of Zabargad and Rocky Island, the most southern islands in the Egyptian Red Sea. Countless soft and hard corals await the divers here in the Deep South.
- Now it goes on to St. John’s, a mixture of the best what the Red Sea offers. Colorful coral gardens with schools of fishes, breathtaking drop offs, reefs with caves, some wrecks and not to forget the spectacular night dives.
From Marsa Alam, the boat travels north approx. one and a half hours to the Elphinstone Reef – a great excursion! Depending on the water level, the Elphinstone's high plateau lies at a depth between one and three metres. Strong surface currents and lots of boat traffic make it impossible to snorkel here.
Divers however can plunge straight into some challenging fun! The reef is known for its extraordinary biodiversity and, of course, also for sighting large fish. In the north, we dive down a sloping plateau from 18 to 40 metres, and in the south, down the underwater terraces . The west and east wall plunge steeply into the deep. The Elphinstone Reef has a total length of approx. 725 metres and a width of 140 metres.
Hard and soft coral in a myriad of colours make us rejoice under water – if we could, we'd jump for joy. Joining us are also turtles, moray eels, Red Sea percidae, whitetip reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and honestly just about everything the Red Sea has to offer. If we don't see it here, then where?
Shaab Shona's lagoon originates from a wadi (a dried-out river) and is five to 45 metres deep in some places. We can still recognise the former river in the form of a channel ascending from the north to the south. A high plateau can be made out in the northern area of Shaab Shona.
From glassfish to crocodilefish, from Indian mackerel and ghost pipefish, we will find everything that a diver's heart wants to see in the Red Sea. Many different kinds of coral brimming with life can be found on the reef's edge down to a depth of around 20 metres.
A seagrass bed is located in the inner area and where there's beds of seagrass, then ... that's right ... there's probably dugongs there. With some luck, a few of these fine specimens can be seen here. An eye should be kept out for lionfish and large turtles, too.
Whoever is still not happy and wants to see a few sand eels and different kinds of rays, should make their way over to the southern edge to the sand pile at a depth range of 20 to 40 metres.
Dangarus is the southernmost reef of St. John's and it offers us plenty of variety – whether it's the small cave systems on the main reef, the carpet anemones with their rainbow crabs, coral formations with giant moray eels and Napoleon wrasse or the sight of hammerhead sharks.
The caves are located on a small high plateau at a depth of nine metres and don't lead up any blind alleys. Towards the east, we find a very beautiful coral garden with mountain coral in all different colours. Night dives are also possible in Dangarus; under certain circumstances, however, the morning current can push us out into open water. With good guides, however, we're always on the safe side.
Shaab Marsa Alam
Sha'ab Marsa Alam has a reef length of approx. 400 metres and a width of 50 to 80 metres. The reef also has a few blocks and a lovely shipwreck which can be found behind the largest block. Many different types of fish such as moray eels, crocodile fish or snappers bustle in and around the shipwreck and are just as excited about this playground as we are.
We should take a closer look at the large block in the north-west located next to the wreck; here it's all about exploring and diving the cavern system. We dive to a depth of between 12 and 15 metres, which is why Sha'ab Marsa Alam is the perfect location for check dives.
A gorgeous coral garden can be found in the north and in the west respectively. Both cleaning stations here are permeated with sandy areas and hide sand eels, shoals of goat fish, snappers and other reef fish. We can also see octopuses, snails and cheeky nemos. Both spots can be reached with the Zodiac; the trip back to the boat can be dived however. Or we can just be picked up by the Zodiac again. Hello! We're on holiday!
Shaab Sharm/Gota Sharm
Gota Sharm runs from west to east in the shape of a wedge and the reef's steep faces extend deeply into the world below us, which we will probably never get to know in its entirety. The two plateaus are located at 20 and 35 metres. Caution is also advised here due to the regular strong current.
On the eastern plateau, we have the pleasure of running into longnose hawkfish, lionfish under the table coral, barracudas, reef sharks, shoaling fishes and two cleaning stations: one at the centre of the plateau for young tuna, the other located close to a large block on the south side for surgeonfish. The 'cowardly triggerfish' also lives here too – however, that's a whole other story and one that is best told by the guides on site.
The western plateau is the narrower plateau where the current coincides in Gota Sharm – and it's also a spot loved by hammerhead sharks and where we might just be able to get to meet them. Reef sharks, shoals of tuna, barracudas and mackerel found here make the dive even sweeter. Wow, wouldn't it be nice to have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake to go along with this view?
Sataya Gota Soraya
Soraya means 'small' and Gota stands for a circular reef. We find ourselves at the small, circular reef in the area of Sataya – the sister reef of Sataya Gota Kebir, the large circular reef. The mooring is located in a small lagoon in the south-east. Should the current suddenly change, there's also another mooring in the south-west.
A small tip: At lunchtime, there's not much going on in the waters around the south-eastern mooring, so just postpone your lunch and enjoy the coral gardens for yourself!
We usually travel north by Zodiac because of the current. From there, we then choose whether we want to dive along the east or west side. No matter which direction we choose, the dive takes a good hour.
Should we not wish to miss the small cave in the north, we can dive through it to a lagoon which is covered with gorgeous mountain coral. Sataya Gota Soraya captivates us in the first place with its large table coral, acropora and soft coral as well as gigantic mountain coral. Snappers, thresher fish, goatfish, snails, dolphins and reef sharks cast their spell over us here too.
In the north-western area behind the sand alleyway, there's another coral garden consisting of old and new coral formations and which plummets 40 metres in the north.
The boats cast anchor where the biggest offer is on hand – in the south close to the entrance of the cave located at a depth of 10 metres. Almost all species of fish can be encountered here, for example, spadefish, triggerfish, bannerfish, goatfish and also snappers. Even Napoleon wrasse show their faces here from time to time.
A current coming from the north often makes diving above the coral garden on the west side difficult or completely impossible. After a bumpy ride by Zodiac to the channel and the colony of sea anemones, you will be rewarded with a lovely drift dive from the east to the west side.
Paradise Reef and Cave Reef are connected via multiple blocks, whereby the later constitutes the southernmost point of the reef. Drop-off edges, plunging more than 50 metres into the deep, are also found here just as much as enchanting coral gardens in the west. If we're fortunate, we encounter eagle rays and reef sharks in this area of paradise.
Close to the sea anemones in the south, an entrance to a cave with two chambers can be found. Each chamber has an opening at the top through which heavenly light shines down. In addition to the spectacular plays of light, the large number of snails is the cave's second highlight.
Both lagoons are a true paradise. Gobies and pipefish hustle and bustle in the sandy flats. Towards the east, a coral which grew top-down and stops just 30 centimetres above the ground can also be found. A colourful coral garden begins just right behind it.
At the top of Habili Jaffar's plateau or reef top, measuring approx. 120 square metres in surface, there's enough room for an underwater single-family home, completely made out of glass – wow, now wouldn't that be something!
There's also room for a garden and a pool house on the two reef spurs of Habili Jaffar: one is located at a depth of 15 metres and the other at 18 metres. Barracudas and snappers as well as cornetfish, bannerfish and angelfish travel these waters. Grey reef sharks, silky sharks and whitetip reef sharks can also be found in the blue.
Whitetip oceanic sharks and mantas, not domestic to these parts, also like frequenting this area. The coral vegetation ranges from acropora and soft coral in various shades of mint to fire coral and staghorn coral. Sea fans can also be found scattered around in the deep.
The underwater plot for our single-family home is the perfect place to resurface – here however we have to take the current and motion of the waves into account. Only when the weather is good Habili Jaffar can be approached by boat, since it lies just below the surface of the sea and therefore a large wave can easily be formed here. If this is the case, getting in and out of the boat can range from difficult to impossible.
Umm Aruk is one of the most interesting diving sites in the area of St. John's with some coral blocks and around two dozen coral towers which divers do not only circle but also countless fish contending for the best spots. The towers measure an impressive six to nine metres in height and have a diameter of two to four metres.
Whoever wants to see bannerfish and millet butterflyfish in large numbers, should definitely dive the north side. Young whitetip reef sharks can often be encountered in the ascending, lagoon-like grooves.
Additional gigantic blocks can be found on the west side. Eagle rays and sand eels live well-protected between them. The current is volatile and can come from all directions, but thanks to the turbulence created between the blocks, we can use it to our advantage.
This reef is the most north-easterly from the central region of St.John's. It is a drop off reef, which is depending on the season between 0 and 4 meters under water. The reef is everywhere permeated with grooves, notches and overhangs. Everywhere there is to see beautiful and abundant vegetation with soft and hard corals and huge gorgonians and black corals. In addition to the large fan corals you can certainly consider the favorite of all divers - the Longnose Hawkfish.
Habili Ali has a width from north to south of around 20 to 25m in length from east to west 150 to 200m. In the south it falls from 10 to 15m and then goes into a narrow plateau. The eastern and western sides drop well over 40m in depth.
Unfortunately, the reef can not always be approached, because the roof is so nearly under water that can form pretty decent breakers even at small outer shaft.
Since Habili Ali is an outer reef, the current can be strong and come from all directions. A current check is indispensable.
St.Johns Gota Soraya
Gota Soraya is a steep wall reef extending far more than 100 metres into the deep and it has a chimney in the south at a pleasant water depth of only nine metres. Diving the chimney is not recommended due to falling objects.
The west side is a wall featuring deep grooves and vegetation. A block which looks as if it is growing out of the reef can also be found here – it reaches from 22 metres all the way up to nine metres. Here, grey reef sharks occasionally pass by in the deep.
In the north, St. John's Gota Soraya has a reef spur measuring approx. 15 metres, which further slopes down more than 70 metres. It is adorned all over with gorgonians and whip coral as well as with huge fields of soft coral. Grey-black snappers and reef sharks can also be frequently encountered here.
We can find shoals of snappers and goatfish in the wide depressions on the east side. We are also visited by mantas sometimes with the current hitting the reef here.
St. Johns Gota Kebir
St. John`s Gota Kebir is 250m long and 120m wide. The north ends in a steep wall that drops partly down to 35m and opens into a small edge, before it plunges further into the depths. The west side coincides with overhangs and deep indentations on 20 to 25m, then a slight incline to the outside and disappears there in depth. In the east, the wall drops from 20 to 30m and then goes into a surplus. The northern part falls directly into the depths. On the way there are huge gorgonian with a diameter of 3 to 4m.
The south side is covered with coral fields. The reef wall there extends vertically downwards on the second plateau at 55m depth. On the plateau you can watch Mantas, Grey Reef sharks and hammerheads passing by. Respectively on the western and eastern sides, behind the plateau at 9m, there are caves. Both are almost identical in an exciting trail with large diameter. However, please pay attention to things that can tumble down through the exhaled air.
Shaab Maksur measures 350 to 400 metres in length and it shares some similarities with Elphinstone: both reefs point in the same direction and therefore also have very similar currents. The southern plateau of Shaab Maksur resembles a rice terrace with two levels – the first is located at a depth range of 18 and 35 metres, the second runs from 35 metres to 42 metres. Both are approx. 50 to 60 metres in length and 40 metres in width.
Unusual for an outer reef, Shaab Maksur also has a plateau on the west side. The indescribably beautiful lagoon – that will make our hearts race – is located right here at the centre of the plateau. We find pieces of wreckage from a safari boat that only made it to its 14th day.
Another plateau is found in the north – the east side is a steep wall – and at the northernmost point, there are two pinnacles which are separated by an eight metre-long crack in the reef ('Maksur'). Warning: Shaab Maksur is famous for its undertows!
Dahra Wadi Gimal
With a width of 350m and a length of about 3km Dahra Wadi Gimal is an elongated reef, which expires in almost independent reefs in the north for several blocks. It is a good place to stay overnight and is a 5-minute away from Shelaniat. In the south there is a small plateau at a depth between 5 and 14m with several small coral blocks from 1 to 2m height - ideal for a night dive. The plateau has a width of 30m, before it goes through several stages in the channel direction of Wadi Gimal Island. There is one of the largest parrot species, the buffalo head parrot fish.
On the eastern side, bordered by a coral spurs, pinnacles are located from 9 to 12m height and diameters of 2 to 3m. You have at the top of purple soft corals, mixed with hard corals. A perfect area for glass and lionfish, giant sea cucumbers and soles.
On the outside of a very narrow channel runs with a constriction in the middle. Eastwards you come across a huge labyrinth of all types of coral. It has an imposing height of 10-15m and consists of table corals with partly 4m diameter, ship huge mountain corals and salad corals with 2m high leaves. Must see!
In the 100-metre long and 60-metre wide 'Shaab Malahi' labyrinth, it's not uncommon for one to get lost. The guide or diver's watch equipped with compass can be used in an emergency, as there's always an exit located south! Here we can dive between 6 and 22 metres; there is only a drop-off on the eastern side. The current flows mainly from the north-west around the reef and there is no current to fear at the centre.
Breathtaking blocks measuring up to 16 to 20 metres high form the beautiful reef of Shaab Malahi. They are also covered with overhangs and home to the most colourful coral. Since the diving depths often greatly vary, all those who have mastered the art of pressure equalisation may count themselves among the fortunate to enter this diving site. The dive leads through two to eight metre-wide channels and 15 metre-wide lagoons.
Zabargad has two shipwrecks to offer, both located in the scuba diver friendly area. To the east you will find between 1 - 24 meters depth, a 70 m long and 10 m wide wreck, about his name and story is puzzled already for a long time. It is believed that it is a Russian engine cargo ship that was seeking protection of the island after a collision or explosion on board and sank there – a sign for it could be the damage at the rear. The growth of the wreck suggests a sinking time in the 1950s to -60er years.
Located on the south side in the upper reef there are many cave passages in which we find with a little luck, nudibranchs and flatworms. On the west side of Zabargad the remains of the safari boat "Neptuna", sunken in 1981, can be visited next to beautiful hard coral gardens. On the sandy bottom in about 24 meters you can find today scattered testimonies of doom: a generator, several suitcases, a radar and a scuba tank. However, from the wreck of the ship there is no trace. Because the reef at this point is only gradually steeper, the safari boat cannot be further slipped into the deep, so it must be somewhere near. Presumably, it drove little further, when the stern was already under water, and the said objects fell overboard. The wreck of the Neptuna could not be located until today and thus remains one of those mysteries with which the Red Sea can still come up to this day.
Safari boats mostly anchor on the south side of the island protected behind a large lagoon. Around the lagoon, which is about 10-12 m deep, it goes steeply down to depths of about 50 meters. One can reach the interior of the lagoon by numerous passages through the rock, which rises to the lagoon and is lush overgrown with colorful soft corals.
Rocky Island is a diver's paradise – with the reef lying far out at sea, we run into all conceivable types of marine life: discoveries of small reef fish and shoals of barracudas to hammerhead sharks, mantas, dolphins and even small whales have already been here made by some divers.
Rocky Island is 700 by 450 metres in size and it has a fringe reef whose south side is composed of overhangs and rock shelters which are often visited by whitetip reef sharks. Since the current comes from the north here, the shark points are located in the east and west.
In the north, Rocky Island has a deeply carved sheer wall with ledges and overhangs. The lush coral vegetation is a real treat for snails and whilst they fill their bellies, dolphins pass nearby every now and then.
The wreck of the Maiden, a luxury ship which was discovered in 2002, lies in at a depth range of 60 to 70 metres. Marine park rules apply when diving around Rocky Island and this spot is a very challenging diving destination thanks to varying currents.
ATTENTION: The tour description is merely our suggestion. Which diving places on tour are dived is determined by many factors including the wind and weather.
After arrival in Hurghada or Marsa Alam, transfer to the boat in Port Ghalib,
Check in, dinner and spending the first night onboard in the marina.
Departure in the morning.
Instruction on the boat,
Diving, safety and equipment briefing.
Dive at Abu Dabab and Gota Marsa Alam
Dives at Rocky Island and Zabargad
Night dive at Umm Aruk.
Gota Soraya St. Johns
St. Johns Caves
Night dive at Sataya south
Abu Galawa Soraya
Night dive at Sheleniat
Dive at Elphinstone reef and Marsa Shona
Head to Port.
At least 20 hour safety rest before flying would be given to all participants.
Handing trip educational material/ videos.
Breakfast and check out latest at 10 am.
Transfer to the airport or hotel.