Ras Mohamed National Marine Park
Ras Mohamed National Park is a peninsula separating the Gulf of Aqaba from the Gulf of Suez. Due to its geographical position, divers find almost permanent strong currents during all the year, which attracts larger fish. Beautiful beaches, extraordinary coral reefs and exciting dive sites make Ras Mohamed National Park a worthwhile visit.
Ras Za’atar is formed where the steep wall, stretching from Ras Mohamed, meets the Bay of Marsa Bareika. The best dive is the headland, starting on the outside wall and heading northwards. At approximately 30 metres you will see huge overhangs, caves, black corals as well as gorgonians. The further along the wall, the more colourful and attractive it gets.
Shark & Yolanda Reefs are among the most exciting of Ras Mohamed. Beginning at Anemone City, continuing to Shark Reef and ending at Yolanda Reef, you are likely to see huge schools of Barracuda, Jackfish and Batfish due to strong currents and nutrient rich water. Look out for the toilet!
Jack fish Alley is the traditional afternoon choice, after a morning at Ras Mohamed. Since there is no mooring it is a drift dive. The dive starts where there is a rock with a white mark on the coast heading direction south-west, you will be able to see various caves with colonies of Glassfish. Further southwest at about 17-metre depth there is a sandy “alley,” Manta Rays, Jackfish, Triggerfish and White-tip Reef Sharks are usually seen here.
The bay was open to scuba divers only a couple years ago, and access is still restricted and allow on its outer sides only. Small sake with two banners, red and green, set into the sandy coast indicate the area not to be entered. There used to be two-fixed mooring situated on the accessible coastal part which then were removed, so today the dive at Ras Ghozlani has to be done a drift. The route winds along an extensive sandy slope starting at 6m that descends to the drop off situated at around 25m. A series of coral pinnacles, often covered with soft corals and school of anthias, together with huge Acropora table and branching corals rise up from the sand. The table corals offer shelter to batfish, glassfish or sweepers and groupers, on the sandy slope there are Bluespotted stingray, pufferfish and triggerfish.
Ras Za’atar is the rocky promontory that delimits the deep bay of Marsa Bareika to the south. Usually you drift to the northeast with the reef on your left side. At the beginning, you will discover a table coral with gorgonian situated at 21m and winds along the gorgeous wall, which descends vertically. The wall is decorated by colourful Alcyonarians and gorgonians with peculiar horizontal position as well as colonies of Black coral. You will find the chimneys, which began at 10 to 15m, and narrow towards the surface where they open into the reef platform; from these crevices the rays of the sun penetrate the recesses creating spectacular effects. And there is some Lionfish, Pigmy sweepers and some big groupers. Once past the tip of the wall, turn into Marsa Bareika bay over a sandy slope with many coral pinnacles that create a true coral garden. Jackfish, Barracuda and some tuna cruise the blue in search of prey.
Jack fish Alley
The name of this sites delivers from the wide sandy road between the coral ledge bordering the coast and a parallel satellite reef that is often frequented by jackfish and other predators. Start to drift from the white mark on the cliff, after descending to 6m you will see the large entrance to the first cave, which penetrates the reef for about 40m. Heading to the southwest, you will come to a large coral outcrop beyond which at 14m, there is another cave that runs upwards and has wide exit hole at 6m. On the southwest side of sandy bay, there is another coral outcrop with populated by glassfish at 11m. Continue the same direction and you will be at sandy alley at 18-20m. Whitetip reef sharks, Manta ray, jackfish, Blue triggerfish and Bluespotted stingray have often been spotted in this area.
Eel Garden is well sheltered from the currents, but since it is exposed to prevailing winds and waves, you must pay attention to the condition of the sea. The dive is easy and the route winds through the sandy plateau slightly inclined to the east opposite the beach. On the central part of the sandy ledge there is a small cave out of which appears to flow an impressive V-shaped stream of sand. The middle section of the plateau is populated by lovely colony of Garden eels that can exceed 80cm in length. These creatures must be approached with extreme caution, since they are very timed and will slip quickly back into their lairs at the first sign of danger.
This is a magnificent wall dive, while looking down into the deep blue, you can admire a grandiose environment and at the same time see large pelagic predators and Hawksbill turtles. Even a Whale shark has been seen in this area. On the wall, you can explore rich in Alcyonarians, gullies, large gorgonians shelters and caves swarming with life, without losing sight of the blue from which Jackfish, Barracuda and some sharks might suddenly appear.
Sharks Reef & Yolanda Reef
Shark Reef is the most famous and popular dive site in the Red sea for the variety of its marine environment and above all for the extraordinary abundance of its reef and pelagic fauna. However, to enjoy this site in all its splendour you should go there in the summer months. Another point to bear in mind is that the incredible spectacle of schools of hundreds of barracuda, jackfish and batfish that appear before your eyes can be enjoyed only by those with enough technical know-how to face the currents, which at time are extremely strong. There are many drift dives you can make here, up to the weather conditions, currents and level of divers. One of the classic way is to start from Anemone City, which lies at 12-20m and just out like a large balcony. On this plateau you can see the large colony of Red Sea anemonefish. After Anemone City you must swim in the blue for a few minutes to lead you directly to Shark Reef. Here a wall that descends vertically to an abyss more than 70m deep, keeping this wall to your right. If you observe the blue you will easily spot schools of batfish, walls of jackfish, snappers and Bluespine unicornfish. You easily also find big school of small Blackfin barracuda, sometimes forming circles within which often move one or two Blacktip sharks. After going a few dozen meters more, you will reach the sandy and shallow saddle that connect Shark reef and Yolanda reef which silhouette takes shape right after a big gorgonian situated at 20m and second gorgonian at 14m, this one signal the start of a splendid coral garden with mauve coloured Alcyonarians contouring the eastern wall of Yolanda. After having cross this garden and curved around its southern corner you will see the remains of the cargo of Yolanda, a Cypriot merchant ship that sank here on the night of 1-2 April 1980 while on its way to Aqaba: containers, bathtubs, sanitary fixtures, wallpaper, case of whisky and even a BMW320 automobile that belonged to the ship captain. The wreckage is always surrounded by large Malaber groupers, Napoleonfish, Onespot snappers and fusiliers. The ship was pushed by waves to a depth of 50m at 1987, and on the 15th March 1987, sank into the blue during a violent storm. If you still have some air left, you can explore the sandy lagoon stretching out behind Yolanda reef and the saddle between the two coral outcrops inhabited by Bluespotted stingrays, scorpionfish, Stonefish, Napoleonfish and Crocodilefish.