Egypt

Big Brother Island Red Sea Egypt Aida Karamesic

Egypt is one of the most-popular diving destinations in the world, and for good reason. The location provides a comfortable year-round climate, excellent diving conditions, convenient logistics, and much more! Although Egypt has a long Mediterranean coastline in its north, most of the best scuba diving in Egypt is enjoyed on the country’s east coast, in The Red Sea. This narrow strip of water between Egypt and neighbouring Saudi Arabia is extremely popular for scuba diving day trips and diving liveaboards. The high-quality diving conditions result in lots of divers and dive operators, and that means the competition in business keeps the rates & service in favour of the customers. Without doubt, the best way to enjoy scuba diving in The Red Sea from Egypt is by liveaboard diving cruise. On this page you can find a wide selection of the best Egypt diving liveaboards, each with its own character and individual reasons to choose. Also on this page you can read about the typical and varied trip itineraries, prices, the best & most-popular diving areas, marine life, fees & regulations, logistics, charter bookings & more.

Red Sea Scuba Liveaboards


Emperor Asmaa Red Sea liveaboard Egypt
Emperor Elite liveaboard Red Sea Egypt
MY Amelia Discovery Red Sea liveaboard dive platform

 

Egypt Red Sea diving liveaboards come in slightly different shapes & sizes, but the majority of them follow a similar theme. This theme is also much like the diving liveaboards of The Maldives. Most of the boats are 28-40 metres in length and purpose built for scuba diving with wooden hulls, & air-conditioned guest cabins with twin or double beds. Unlike the Maldives boats which use support vessels for the diving, the Red Sea liveaboards have a dive deck at the rear of the boat. This reduces the usable area for relaxing on board, but all of the boats still have plenty of space. This space includes an indoor air-conditioned lounge saloon for mealtimes & dive briefings. There’s also sunbathing areas on the roof and usually the front of the middle deck. And of course most of the non-diving time is spent by guests sitting on outdoor sofas in shaded areas, either at the outdoor bar area or up on the top deck. Almost all of the boats are motor yachts, running two inboard engines which are hidden down below and run quietly & smoothly. The crew & dive staff is mainly locals with some foreigners. The number of Divemaster guides depends on how many diving guests are on each cruise. All of the liveaboards use at least one motorised tender dinghy for picking up divers who surface too near the reef. Also, if there’s the opportunity to visit a beach during the cruise, these dinghies are used to transfer guests. On all the liveaboards guests’ tanks are filled by the quiet compressors between dives, and the equipment remains set up throughout the trip. Normally each diver gets his or her own ‘station/slot’ where the gear is kept and tanks refilled. Nitrox is common on most boats, and available for free on many. Any large luggage items not required during the trip can be stored securely below deck. A typical Egypt Red Sea diving liveaboard boat can accommodate 20-24 diving guests, but some are limited to 12-15 and a few can take more than 25.

Red Sea Liveaboard Trip Lengths/Itineraries


Again like diving in the Maldives, the trip itineraries are designed for guests to arrive by plane, go straight to the boat, dive for six days, and then return to the airport a week after arriving. These itineraries are planned so that you don’t need to book a hotel if your diving vacation is one week long. Don’t worry about a bit of jet-lag or the 24-hour no-fly time. This is all taken into account. If you land in the morning or middle of departure day you can be collected at the airport (usually for free) and taken to the boat that is moored in the marina. On board you can adjust to the new time zone and wind down, enjoying dinner on board and maybe a drink or two. Even if you arrive later in the day, the boats often don’t leave until very late or sometimes the following morning. Diving starts on your second day on board, after a good night’s sleep. Depending on sailing times and dive locations, a normal day on a Red Sea liveaboard gives you three or sometimes four dives. If four dives, the fourth and final dive is usually a night dive, but could also be a sunset dive. On the final full day of your trip there will be two dives in the morning, then in the afternoon you have time for your diving equipment to dry before you pack it away, and of course time to off gas before flying. The afternoon and evening can be spent exchanging contact details with other guests, sharing photos or videos, clearing your on-board bill, and of course enjoying the final sunset with dinner and some drinks. Disembarkation is in the morning, after breakfast, and free transfers are offered to return you to the local airport or maybe a hotel if your holiday in Egypt continues.

MY Tillis liveaboard Red Sea
Samira Discovery Sea Whisper

Because the boats are often in the harbour for the first and final nights of each trip, sometimes guests are taken to a local 4-star hotel on one of these nights. Ideally, everyone stays on board, but at times it’s better for guests to relax in a hotel if the boat is being restocked between trips, or is arriving late or leaving early. Staying in a nice hotel for the first or final night of your Red Sea liveaboard cruise doesn’t affect the diving itinerary, so don’t worry.

Red Sea Liveaboard Prices


Egypt Red Sea diving liveaboards are very reasonably priced, especially when compared to similar trips in other countries. The main reasons for the great-value prices include competition among the different operators, and the use of local staff more than foreigners. Also, one of the biggest costs of running a boat is fuel, and although Red Sea liveaboards sail for a week to some remote and exciting dive sites, the actual distances that they cover during the trip is not as far as, for example, a Maldives or Indonesia liveaboard diving cruise.
Of course, the price you pay depends on which boat & which cabin you choose, plus the time of year that you book and travel. Some boats are more expensive than others, and the better cabins (usually on a higher deck) have an extra cost over the more-basic cabins. During the high season the rates are higher than during the regular or low season months. And finally, if you book far in advance you have more choice, but if you book within one month of the departure date it’s common for the boats to offer 10-20% last-minute discount on any remaining spaces.
In summary, the rates for a 7D/7N Red Sea liveaboard cruise average around €800-1000 per diver. Some trips are more than €1,200 but not many. Likewise, it’s possible to find some trips available for €700-750. So, for €120-150/day you get full-board accommodation and scuba diving at some of the best diving locations in the world. The cabins are not huge, but they’re always comfortable. They have air-conditioning, private bathrooms, storage space, reading lights and electrical sockets for charging devices. Red Sea liveaboards from Egypt are excellent value, especially taking into account the length of the trips, the level of luxury and the great diving to expect.

Diving in the Red Sea


The Red Sea has something for everyone! There are lots of reefs, islands, submerged pinnacles, and more than enough wrecks for even the most-enthusiastic wreck diver! There are easy dive sites that are suitable for new and inexperienced divers, which have lots of colour, gentle or no currents, and are not deep. Plus there are dozens of more-exciting dive sites for advanced, experienced and thrill-seeking & technical divers. These include deep wrecks, diving with sharks and diving in strong currents. Any & every scuba diver can enjoy diving in the Red Sea, and on a liveaboard cruise is the perfect way.

Big Brother & Little Brother are probably the best & most-well-known diving locations for liveaboards in the area. They are two uninhabited islands that barely break the surface and are located in the middle of The Red Sea. Big Brother has a lighthouse, making it easier to find. They are approximately 1km apart from each other, with Big Brother north of its smaller sibling. In total there are at least 12 dive sites around these two islands, including two wrecks. Due to them being pinnacles located in open sea, marine life is plentiful, but expect currents. They are too far away for day trip boats to reach, meaning that a Red Sea liveaboard cruise is the only way to visit them. This also reduces the number and increases the quality of divers who visit The Brothers.
 
This is probably The Red Sea’s most-famous single dive site. It’s famous for the huge amount and great diversity of marine life that divers can encounter there. The reef is made up of several plateaus that drop down towards the north and south to 60 metres or more. On the east & west sides of the dive site there are vertical walls (drop offs) that are covered in hard & soft corals and teeming with marine life. This is the main and best place in The Red Sea to dive with several species of sharks, including the Oceanic Whitetip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus). You might think that to encounter pelagics like this and such an unspoilt reef that the dive site is in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it’s located just 12km. from the coast, and it’s even reachable by some daytrip diving boats from Marsa Alam area.
 
The Red Sea is famous for the number of great-quality wrecks that divers can enjoy. The most-famous diving wreck in The Red Sea is without doubt SS Thistlegorm. This was a British transport ship used in World War II and on its way to the Suez Canal when it was attacked and sunk by a German air strike in 1941. The wreck is nearly 130 metres long, but lies at a depths of only 20-40 metres. This means that it’s restricted to Advanced Divers and you need to spend time at depth, before a safety stop in the blue.
 
Daedalus Reef is 80km east of Marsa Alam, and in a marine park. Therefore, the reef is in great condition because inexperienced and day trip divers are unable to visit. It can only be dived by liveaboard cruise and divers need to be at least Advanced Open Water and able to dive in a current. The reef sits alone surrounded by deep water. There is plenty to see in the shallows around the reef, but your dive will most likely be dictated by the currents and either drifting along or hiding in wait for something large & special. In the centre of the reef are an artificial island and a lighthouse that you can visit between dives. Deep down there is a wreck, but this is only really accessible by technical divers. The open-sea location and depth mean that the nutrient-rich currents attract lots of resident marine life, both large and small. This in turn attracts predatory pelagics, in particular several species of sharks. Daedalus Reef offers probably the best opportunity in to dive with Hammerhead Sharks in The Red Sea.
 

Other Wrecks & Areas

The choice of wrecks in Egypt’s Red Sea is too large to explain in detail on one page. We have discussed the most-popular and exciting, but the list really could be more than twice as long. We hope to expand this page with more details in the future, especially for the following wrecks.

Wreck Name Location
Rosalie Moeller Straits of Gubal
Ghiannis D Straits of Gubal
Carnatic Straits of Gubal
Chrisoula K Straits of Gubal
Kimon M Straits of Gubal
The Ulysses Straits of Gubal
Salem Express Safaga
Dunraven Straits of Gubal
Kingston Straits of Gubal

In the deep south of Egypt’s Red Sea there are some very exciting dive sites near to the border of Sudan. These included St. John’s, Zabargad and Rocky Island. We plan to update this page with more information on these diving areas in the near future.

Red Sea Marine Life


Blue Spotted Red Sea Egypt marine life
dolphin and snorkeller
Hammerhead Shark

The marine life in Egypt’s Red Sea is what most divers come to see. Yes, there are more diving wrecks in the area than anywhere else in the world, but the marine life brings colour, and something unexpected or not guaranteed. Although the openings at its southern and northern ends are narrow, the Red Sea is huge and the marine life is healthy, diverse and plentiful. The sea is healthy and the visibility excellent in most diving areas.

jellyfish
marine life fish
Red Sea Egypt marine life

Most divers come in the hope of seeing some special shark species, such as Hammerheads or Oceanic Whitetips. And there are several other species, including Silvertip Sharks, Mako Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, Bull Sharks, Silky Sharks, and even the occasional Whale Shark. But it’s not all about sharks, because there is an endless list of other species that divers enjoy seeing and photographing. These include invertebrates, bony fish, reptiles and hard & soft corals.

Regulations & Fees


Like most national marine parks around the world, the local authorities control the number and quality of visitors. They do this to protect the environment from human impact by policing the area against illegal fishing, damage to the reefs by anchors or unqualified divers, and anything else that could affect the fragile ecosystem. Limiting the numbers and controlling the visitors to a national marine park helps to protect the area and assures better diving conditions for those who visit. To scuba dive in the Red Sea on a liveaboard, each diving guest needs to pay a fee, have a minimum amount of logged dives before arrival, and provide a copy of the main page of their passport.


Fees: Red Sea port and marine park fees depend on the areas to visit and the harbour(s) used by the boat. The port fees are usually €25/person, and the marine park fees vary from €70 to more than €150. This money is used by the local authorities to pay the salaries and other costs for the park rangers to guard the area by boat.


Minimum Dives: Egyptian law states that in some areas a minimum number of logged dives is required for each diver, and every diving guest on board of course has to be a certified autonomous scuba diver. Some boats strictly enforce this rule and even increase this number for some cruises. Day trip diving in some areas and diving from some liveaboards doesn’t require the minimum number of logged dives. In addition, it’s common for Red Sea liveaboard divers to be certified to 30 metres (99 feet) and be comfortable with drift dives in a mild-medium current. In any case, most diving guests who are prepared to commit to one week diving from a liveaboard in the Red Sea are already experienced divers who already meet the required experience levels.


Passport: In order to process the necessary documents before your arrival, every guest needs to provide a good clear scan of the main page of their passport at least two weeks before departure. This enables the operator to give a list of passengers for each trip to the local authorities. This is common practice in many countries’ national marine parks.


National Marine Parks: A general guide for the national marine parks in the Egyptian Red Sea is as follows.

 

Marine Park Dive Site(s)
Al Akhawein Brothers
Abu Kizan Daedalus Reef
Zabargad Island Kanka Wreck
Rocky Island Maiden Wreck
Ras Mohammed Shrak Ref, Yolanda Reef, Jackfish Alley, Anemone City
Giftun Islands, Hurghada Turtle Bay, El Aruk

Logistics


Liveaboard diving cruises go to locations further out at sea than day trip diving boats. And most of them depart from medium & large harbours, ports and marinas that are often not near tourist hotspots, lots of hotels or the nearest airport. If you go day trip or shore diving in Egypt, the quality of diving isn’t as good as on a liveaboard cruise, but the travel times before and after are often much shorter. It’s an unavoidable fact that joining a scuba liveaboard cruise requires planning and some travel on land before boarding the boat. Also, due to the cost of boat fuel, transporting guests & supplies by land is more economical than by boat. Therefore, the boats are often moored at locations as near as possible to the diving areas, but this is often not near hotels or airports. For Red Sea diving liveaboards this is no different. Not only is it important to check the departure and return location of any liveaboard cruise you’re interested in, it’s vital to check when you book it, and even expect that to change from time to time.

logistics
  • Sharm El-Sheikh: Red Sea liveaboards in Egypt sail from and return to several different ports & harbours. While Egypt’s most-popular diving destination is Shark El-Sheikh, this is not a popular Red Sea liveaboard departure port. It’s is a tourist hot spot and you can go diving there, but more for day trip diving than for liveaboards. A few Red Sea diving liveaboards sail from Sharm El-Sheikh, but only a few.
  • Most-Common Ports: Without doubt, the two most-common harbours used for Red Sea diving liveaboard cruises are Hurghada and Marsa Alam. Actually, most trips to or from Marsa Alam actually use Port Ghalib, which is a huge man-made complex that covers 18km. of desert coastline. There is an international air at both Hurghada and at Port Ghalib, meaning that arriving to board your liveaboard in Egypt doesn’t require landing in Cairo or Sharm El-Sheikh. Most of our liveaboard operators offer free scheduled transfers from either airport or from hotels nearby at the beginning and end of each cruise. However, it’s worth booking a flight to the airport nearer to the departure/return port to minimise road travel, even if it’s provided for free. For example, Hurghada Airport to Port Ghalib is 2.5 hours by road, but the journey from Marsa Alam Airport is just 15 minutes. Likewise, Marsa Alam Airport to the harbour in Hurghada Port takes almost three hours.
  • Safaga: Finally, among other rarely-used ports for Red Sea liveaboard diving cruises, Safaga is half way between Hurghada and Port Ghalib, on the east coast. Very few boats us this port, but a few do. As previously mentioned, occasionally the boat operators need to change the departure or return port for one of several reasons. In such cases, they transfer guests for free, but of course these journey times are longer than guests had planned for.

Group Sizes


group size

Unlike some liveaboard diving cruises in Asia, such as Thailand and Indonesia where each Divemaster guide will lead up to four or five guests, Egypt liveaboards have larger groups of divers, and therefore fewer dive staff. The water clarity gives more than 30 metres visibility at times, so diving in larger groups is fine because with such good visibility the group can spread out and still be within sight. Normally, the divers are Advanced Open Water or more experienced, so the maximum diving depth isn’t an issue. And with so many boats offering Nitrox for free, usually the whole group are on the same dive profile as well. However, in cases when one or two divers are heavy on air (maybe due to body size or limited experience) this can lead to the whole group having to surface earlier than some might want to. In an ideal world, the divers who need to end their dive early can be sent to the surface in a buddy pair while the rest of the group continues diving. But in reality if divers are ending early, then they are most likely inexperienced, and shouldn’t be sent to the surface without staff. Normally, after the first one or two dives of each cruise, the trip leader and dive staff have a pretty good idea of who’s good on air, who’s not so good, and who can be trusted to continue diving or be sent to the surface without a guide.

Red Sea Liveaboard Full-Charter Bookings


Chartering the whole boat for a Red Sea diving cruise is very popular, easy and great value. Many dive clubs from around the world choose to dive in Egypt’s Red Sea due to the convenient logistics, great value and wonderful diving experiences. The liveaboard boats tend to stay away from the crowds where inexperienced divers bang around the reef or learn to dive at Sharm El-Sheikh. Dive clubs and groups can enjoy diving cruises that suit their needs and experience levels. And because most Egypt liveaboards are designed to take 18-24 divers, it’s easy enough for a dive club to attract enough members who are willing & able to join. Finally, the majority of guest cabins on Red Sea liveaboards are twin beds, making it easier for friends to join. However, each boat has some double cabins.

How to Choose the Best Egypt Red Sea Liveaboard


Choosing the best Red Sea diving liveaboard cruise is a lot easier than you may think. You can use our date search & filter feature, or just get in touch with us and ask for a little help & advice. In fact, the selection of boats is always growing, and there’s nearly always a boat that we’re in the process of putting on these pages but haven’t completed yet. That boat may just be the perfect choice for you, so don’t be shy to ask. And finally, you may have seen a boat on another website but you prefer to book through us for the personal service, free gifts, best prices & booking terms. If you have, just let us know and we can normally book that for you, and at the same time we will add the new boat to our collection. You’re actually doing us a favour!

 

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