The SS Thistlegorm shipwreck, located in the northern Red Sea,
is regularly touted as one of the best wreck dives in the world.
Discovered by legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau in the
early 1950s, the sunken remains of the former WWII British cargo
steamship offer an intriguing glimpse back in time and some superb
coral diving in Egypt.
The wreck's exterior is, thanks to almost 100 years below the
waves, awash with colour; with swaying soft corals, delicate sea
fans and several shades of sponges providing refuge for myriad
colourful reef fish, morays and hawksbill turtles. While the
wreck's exterior has found new life as a living artificial reef,
the interior serves as a war museum. Divers who penetrate the wreck
will see Bedford trucks, armoured vehicles, motorcycles, Bren guns
and various aircraft parts lining its holds.
The Giftun Islands
If you'd prefer to cast your gaze over a natural reef rather
than an artificial one, and would appreciate an extra hour in bed,
then the short trip out to Giftun National Park offers some of
Hurghada's best coral diving. In Egypt, thanks to the clear water,
plenty of sunlight reaches the reefs, helping the algae inside the
corals photosynthesise and bloom into impressive coral gardens. Big
Giftun and Small Giftun are the two main dive sites to see the
healthy coral reefs, alongside Napoleon wrasses, turtles and
blizzards of reef fish. If you're lucky, you might also hear the
inimitable clicks of local dolphins.
The Oberoi House Reef
One of the best ways to enjoy the coral diving in Egypt is to
decamp in a hotel with its own house reef. House reefs allow you to
explore on your own schedule and are usually shallow enough that
you can enjoy a longer dive without worrying too much about air
South of Hurghada, the Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh has one of the best
house reefs in the world. Sitting on the edge of the Red Sea, the
shallow reefs are bathed in sunlight during the day and allow for a
hassle-free night dive once the sun has set. The reef starts a few
fin kicks from the private beach, so both snorkellers and divers
alike can explore the delicate corals and their accompanying
anthias, turtles, eagle rays, octopuses, lionfish, trumpet fish and
stingrays (to name but a few).