Archive for Ras Mohammed National Park
For years, Sharm el Sheikh has been a popular destination for scuba divers. Its beautifully clear, warm waters are home at some spectacular marine life.
I’ve dived in Sharm many times and its taken me a while to pick my top 5 dive sites as there are so many to choose from. However, I’ve come up with a list and in no particular order, my top 5 dive sites of Sharm el Sheikh are as follows:
Jackson is probably the most popular of the four reefs in the Straits of Tiran with divers and snorkelers alike. Boats are moored on the sheltered southern side of the reef and divers either head off east or west. To south west side of the reef has some stunning coral gardens and a bright red anemone at 28m. In the summer, it is also possible to dive on the north (or back) of the reef in search of Hammerhead sharks.
Ras Za’atar is located in Ras Mohammed at the southern side of Marsa Bareika. There are no moorings so your drift dive starts to the south and your travel north towards the entrance to Marsa Bareika with the reef on your left shoulder. It is a wall dive that slopes off into the blue but you can easily stay at less than 20m for this dive. After a few minutes into the dive you come across a spectacular table coral with a gorgonian fan underneath. There are usually some glass fish sheltering here and you quite often see Napoleon Wrasse and turtles here. It was also the first place I saw dolphin while I was under the water.
Just to the south of the 4 main reef in Tiran is Ras Ghamila and the end point of the dive is marked by the Ras Ghamila beacon. The entry point for the drift dive is to the south of the beacon is near the Conrad Resort. The real beauty of Ras Ghamila are when you head out from the reef to see the numerous gorgonian fans. If the current is right, you can literally glide past these stunning coral formations. Its not a particularly deep dive and another plus point is that not many dive boats stop here.
SS Dunraven (wreck)
A bit further round the tip of the Sinai lies the wreck of the SS Dunraven. Dating back to 1876, the Dunraven is lying on its back with its bow pointing at the reef. One of the propeller blades is missing so there is a good photo opportunity by the rudder. It is also possible to penetrate the wreck. Its a relatively easy dive and much less crowded that the more prestigious Thistlegorm.
Shark and Yolanda
Probably the most famous site in the Sinai, Shark and Yolanda is right at the very tip of the Sinai peninsula in the Ras Mohammed National Park. Currents can be strong here and often dictate which part of the reefs you have to dive. There are two main reef pinnacles; Shark and Yolanda. Dives normally start at Shark and you drift round either the back or front towards to Yolanda. This was a cargo ship which struck the reef and spilled it’s cargo of bathroom fittings many of which are still clearly visible. Its location means that the reefs are teeming with life and the remains of Yolanda’s cargo just add to the dive. It is also possible to identify the remains of the captain’s BMW if you know where to look. The downside is that there are always plenty of dive boats here but nonetheless, its still a good dive.
Despite the numbers of divers, diving in Sharm is still excellent with a wide range of dive sites to suit all levels of ability. The weather also makes it a year round destination so its popularity with divers looks set to continue as strong as it ever has.
Volunteer divers from dive centres in Sharm el Sheikh took part in an underwater clean up at Ras Mohammed marine park earlier this month.
The 120 divers covered one kilometre of reef, from Jackfish Alley to Eel Garden, and collected 150kg of rubbish from the popular dive site.
Most of the rubbish was fishing line, but other items included ropes, anchors, small bricks, tins and glass bottles. All the divers were given guidance on what to take and what to leave, and the safest and most environmentally-friendly way to remove fishing line.
Dr Mohammed Salem, the director of the National Park South Sinai Protectorates office said: ‘This is one of the most important coral reef areas for spawning of many species. Spawning depends on the health of the reef, as there is a relationship between feeding habitats and spawning events. We hope to see many more such clean-ups across the whole of the South Sinai.’
The clean-up event was the first in a series of projects run by the Chamber of Diving and Watersports (CDWS) and National Parks of Egypt.