Diving in Marsa Alam

Diving in Marsa Alam, by Packing my Suitcase.

Turquoise waters, rich marine life, healthy and colorful corals, wrecks, drift dives, canyons, and cave diving; imagine having this all in one place, wouldn’t it be a paradise for divers? I’d like to think so. Well, this place exists; it’s called Marsa Alam, a still unspoiled paradise – not for long – located in Egypt.

Marsa Alam offers innumerous dive sites, where many of them are shore dives, others are reachable on a boat day trip, others only with Liveaboards. There are dive sites for every level, for beginners to the most advanced and experienced divers. If you are considering learning to scuba dive, here is a very nice place to do so. However, for those of you willing to go only snorkeling, don’t worry, here is also a paradise for you.

The marine life

Ohh the things you see diving around here! The marine life in the Red Sea is surely abundant and diverse, going from the very small cleaner shrimps to the gentle giants Whale Sharks. If you are looking to see small or big, doesn’t matter, here is the place. And get ready, because by the end of this post, you will be feeling like diving, or at least snorkeling…

In order to keep up with all the names of the animals, I got a little Red Sea fish index, it certainly helped me to identify what I saw when diving, to understand what the guides were talking about, and of course, to introduce them to you.

The corals

From every color and texture, while diving or snorkeling in Marsa Alam you will be able to see Fire corals, Red Gorgonians, Salad corals, Raspberry corals, and the list goes on to over 40 different species.

The Invertebrates

Starfishes, crabs, lobsters, cleaner shrimps, squids, jellyfishes, octopuses and much more. The marine invertebrates family of the Red Sea has a long list.

The Fish

There are so many species of fishes in the Red Sea, that some I didn’t have any idea even existed. From the small Red Sea Clownfish to the big Napoleon fish and the Great Barracudas, to the different ones like the Ghost fish, Crocodile fish and Frog fish. You will must probably have your favorite one by the end of the trip, somehow my favorite ones are the Schooling Bannerfishes, these little guys have a funny way to look at you.

The Rays

The most common Ray you will be seeing is the Bluespotted stingray, in one of my dives I counted 10 of them. If you are lucky, you will also be able to see a Manta Ray or a Spotted Eagle Ray, I only saw the latter.

Going big

For those of you hoping to see the big ones, in Marsa Alam you can. There are giant turtles, dolphins, the rare Dugongs – or Sea Cows – giant morays, Whale Sharks, and other different species of sharks, like the Hammerheads and the famous Oceanic White Tip, which is considered to be the most dangerous species of sharks in the World – I had the luck to see one of them swimming passing through us, I must say something: I love sharks!

Of course to see them all, depends on the season you are going and on your luck! Sadly I didn’t see dolphins, Dugongs, Hammerheads sharks or Whale sharks, one more reason to go back!

Caves and Wrecks

If you are looking for exploring and adventure, you can also find it in Marsa Alam. There are many cave diving options, and most are not even deeper than 10 m. There is also the famous Hamada Wreck at only 18 m depths, a 63 m long ship that was sunken in 1993, which today is the house of many amazing marine species.

Tips

  • Keep in mind that many things will be extra cost when diving in Marsa Alam (i.e. fuel for the boat, environmental taxes, lunch on the boat, etc.). When choosing your diving center, make sure to get informed about it.
  • Try to book your dives in advance, it will be cheaper.
  • If you want to familiarize with the marine life you will encounter there, get a guide of species of the Red Sea, it’s pretty helpful.
  • I chose to dive with the Emperor Divers, but many people recommended Extra Divers too.
  • The house reef offered by Emperor Divers and Extra Divers is amazing, with plenty to see! You can either go with a guide or unguided, W and I did both.
  • If you want to know more about Marsa Alam, check out my post: Diving destination: Marsa Alam.

Diving in Marsa Alam, by Packing my Suitcase.

Useful Information

Visibility: varies from 20 m to 60 m (between April and May the visibility might be reduced due to plankton bloom)

Water temperature: varies between 24°C (January) and 30°C (July and August)

Wind: can be very strong between November and February, which will interfere on some offshore dive sites such as Elphinstone Reef.

Best time for:

  • Manta Rays: April and May
  • Whale Sharks: May and June
  • Hammerhead Sharks: May to August
  • Oceanic White Tip Sharks: October to December

Most famous dive sites: Elphinstone Reef, Abu Dabbab, Dolphin House and the Hamada Wreck. You will be able to learn a bit more about these and other dive sites in another post.

Diving in Marsa Alam, by Packing my Suitcase.

Egypt was the 3rd country where I had the opportunity to dive, after Croatia and Turkey. Some would say that diving in the Red Sea is better than many other famous places, however, as probably my dear friend Indah – who is also a diver and blogger – would agree with me, there is no place better than the other, every place is different, it pretty much depends on what you are looking for when diving; either ways, Egypt should be on your dive list! Ready to go diving?

About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • Sha

    Haha, You already know my phobia of deep waters but I would say that if I can see the underwater creatures myself, I would want to see Nemo…:)

    • Awwwwnnn the Nemo…so cute!! You know, when I encounter them underwater, they always make me smile 😀

      • Sha

        Since I prefer not to go deep in the waters, I like to visit aquariums instead and I never fail to look for Nemo…hehehe…;)

        • Awwwwwnnn that is a great idea!! You know, I am not a fan of confining animals in aquariums and zoos, but I do think is a great idea for many people to get to know the wildlife better and appreciate it more… especially for kids. And it can also inspire many people to explore the world 😀

          • Sha

            Since I cannot see them in the water, this is my way of seeing them in real life…definitely appreciate them more having seen them…

          • Exactly, thats why aquariums and zoos are great for 😀 not everyone likes to be underwater… my for example hates it, she is really afraid to dive even on a pool. So its something common…. but as you she also loves aquariums 😀

  • I like your beautiful photos. What a nice shot!

  • Beautiful! Makes me want to grab my scuba gear and go deep sea diving!

    *writes Egypt down on the dive list.

  • A complete review to Marsa Alam! Well written Allane and your UW pics are getting better! Did you use any lighting with your GoPro? BTW, do you know there is macro lens that can be attached to your GoPro so you can capture those cute clownfish and bannerfish in close ups? 😉 It’s called Polar Pro Macro Lens.
    Hammerhead Sharks in Marsa Alam! That’s interesting..maybe I should inform this to Dutchie – as much as he tried to avoid returning to Egypt, maybe he will say yeah for the hammerheads 😉 xoxo

    • Thank you Indah, Im happy that you liked the review… I really hope you can convince Dutchie to go back to Egypt… not every place is the same there, so maybe you should give it a try someday 😀

      This time I used a red filter, and I heard about the Polar Pro Macro Lens, just didnt know if it was good, now that you said it I will give it a try next time!! I still have lots to learn and improve on underwater photography, but Im already happy with the latest developments hahaha… at least the buoyancy got better!!

      And if you go to Marsa Alam, make sure to go during the hammerheads season, because it increases your chances to see them, sometimes there are a big group of them in the Ephinstone Reef, sometimes there aren’t any.

      • Will do!! Thanks a lot for the tips 😉 Dutchie is using GoPro – he does not use the macro lens yet – he thinks that’s my area of business when diving – but I have heard from a diver who used it, he said the lens is helpful – although for smaller species like nudibranch is still difficult to capture.

        • You’re welcome 😀
          hahaha as Dutchie I also love the big animals, but the small ones are amazing too and I hate that with GoPro you need to get too close to the animals… and most of the shots you think you are getting close enough and you aren’t…. I learned it in the hard way. I will for sure take a look at the micro lens and test it next year.

          Im also planning to buy a bigger underwater camera, I would love to have zoom and the opportunity to look at how the picture turned out underwater, because if its bad I can try again. 😀 thank you too for the tips!! I will reply your last email soon 😉

          • Hi Allane, why not buy underwaterhouse/casing for your DSLR camera or if you have a compact camera then just buy its underwatercasing. It is best to start Underwater Photography with camera that you have familiar of already. I made a mistake when starting UW photography, I bought a new whole set of Canon thingie meanwhile I am already used to Nikon and Olympus. I screwed up when we were in Bonaire. I had no idea how to operate Canon on certain situation – I did not come naturally when using Canon. I used the Canon and its uw casing when snorkeling in Thailand and it was fine because there was lights during snorkeling but not when diving. Underwater photography when diving is more difficult and we have to improvise with limited lights. So use a camera that you are familiar of already. It will help you a lot.
            Dutchie use GoPro for video. He is rarely using it to take pictures underwater. But he doesn’t feel to edit the video. Now we have hundreds of underwater videos that he thinks I am responsible to edit them!! o_O o_O o_O
            Have you taken any underwater video with your GoPro?

          • Thats a great idea Indah… I already have a Canon, though I am still trying to learn too hahaha. I thought we needed a camera that had the underwater option, dont we? Mine doesnt have that… so I was planning to buy a simple small one like that Lumix from Panasonic and then buy the case for it and improvise some lights (because they are a bit expensive).

            Ohh my really?? Thats nice, so he makes the videos and you must edit them, not fair hahaha 😀

            We have videos too, I find the GoPro veeeery good for videos, way better than for photos, thats why I guess I will leave the GoPro with W and buy another camera for me 😀

          • Hi Allane, underwater option is a nice addition but sincerely I am hardly using that option when taking underwater photo. As long as you know how to operate your camera, use the red filter plus take advantage of any available lights then you will be good. There is a guy I met in Flores who use red filter all time with his Canon G10 and his UW photography was stunning, just like a pro.
            Hahaha…yeah, he blame it on me for that – Dutchie bought GoPro so he has something to do when I took pictures when diving. But now I think he is addicted to take video underwater and he did pretty good in finding weird marine species – so many unique and rare animals that he captured on his video from our last dive in Indonesia – someday I will share it..it’s just editing videos could be quite annoying 😀

          • Wow thats great to know!!! I will do some research before I decide to buy anything and arrange something before my trip to Indonesia 😀

            Ohh my I know how annoying editing videos is… we also dont like editing ours. But I hope to see yours 😀

  • Amazing pictures ! Was it taken by your camera ?

    • Thank you dear!! Happy that you liked them!! Yes, it was taken with a Go Pro 3, plus a red filter 😀

      • The quality is great, especially under water where everything is slightly moving

        • I have to admit that it can be very challenging taking pictures underwater, especially for the newbies like me… Im still improving my buoyancy and trying to learn how to deal with this camera better… but nothing that practice wont help 😀

  • Your undersea photos are awesome! Whenever Egypt is mentioned, pyramids, deserts and sand comes to mind. It’s a welcome change to learn about diving possibilities in Egypt.

    • Thank you very much Helene, makes me happy to know you liked the photos 😀
      Yess, its always good to learn new things about the countries right? It was funny because when I was there my sis asked me when I was going to see the pyramids, and I told her I was in another part of Egypt, she was disappointed hahaha
      Diving in Egypt is amazing, and Egypt has over 7 among the 50 best dive sites in the world 😀

  • Amazing! Your photos are beautiful. I’ve never been scuba-diving, but it’s one of my dreams. One day I’ll make it.

    • Hi Rosanna, thank you for the nice compliment!!! I hope you do accomplish this dream, because it also used to be mine for a long time, this year I finally did it and just cant stop diving 😀 fingers crossed you will make it!

  • Wow! What a gorgeous collection of photos and I bet it was a lot of fun!! Absolutely love the sea turtle photo!

    • Thank you for the compliment Constance, Im happy you like the photos 😀 It was indeed lots of fun, Ive seen amazing things diving in Egypt! 😀

  • SOOOOOO beautiful! <3 I love your diving posts, they're something you don't see every day on travel blogs. 😉

    • Thaaaank you Vlad! Im happy to give you something different to see in this blog world 😀 and I also hope you can also dive soon and take some amazing pictures underwater too 😉

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    Stunning photos!! I have never dived but I love snorkelling and would love to see this region – love all the colourful fish and corals – it would be amazing to see manta rays – thanks for the useful tips about which time of year is best to try and catch them! Keep hearing how great snorkeling and diving are in the Red Sea region 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the compliment Shikha 😀
      This region is no doubt worth the visit, snorkeling there is heaven!! As for the mantas, Im afraid you can only see them when diving, as they are more into the deeper waters, and most of them can only be seen at the Elphinstone Reef, where only divers go 🙁 maybe its time for you to try diving 😀
      Either way you can see lots of thing while snorkeling there, live Octopuses, the Lionfish, dolphins and many turtles 😀 I hope you go there sometime, you won’t regret!!

  • Wow looks STUNNING. Great pics. Very jealous!

    • Thank you for the nice compliment Jon!!! Im happy that you liked them 😀

  • Your photos are gorgeous! I love snorkelling but I’ve never done diving before – not sure why – but I’ve always been thrilled at the underwater life I see just from snorkelling on the surface. This looks like a great place to dive. Will have to think about it myself one day 🙂

    • Thank you Ayla 😀 Im happy that you like it!!!
      If you love snorkeling and the underwater word then you must try diving on your next vacation, you will start seeing a lot more, but be careful because you can get addicted 😉

  • Soooooooooooo pretty! Some photos had exactly the same colors than my photos from the Sudanese Red Sea! You were lucky to see a lot of things. Did you dive every day? Was this your first Red Sea spot?

    • Thaaaaank you Miia 😀 finally some underwater pictures for you 😉
      I hear the sea in Egypt and in Sudan are very similar, there are lots of liveaboards going from Marsa Alam to Sudan, then back. Must be very nice doing this!!
      Yes I dived every day, and this was the first time in the Red Sea for me, but surely wont be the last!! 😀

      • Interesting!How far is MA from the border? I will google 🙂 When I was in Port Sudan (just before 9-11) there were very few operators and no international hotels (there is at least Hilton now) and the divers said this is what Egypt was 15 years ago. It was so preserved that wine bottles were intact in wrecks!! I never saw another diver!! But it has developed a lot since 2001.

        But I think MA is also less developed (thus preserved) than e.g. Sharm al Sheikh, right, so may be difficult to compare among Egyptian sites?

        So, how does the Red Sea rank compared to your other experiences?

        • Ohhh yes MA is very less developed than Sharm al Sheikh and Hurghda fro example. There are only some resorts and many unfinished constructions.
          Ohh so far the Red Sea is the best, not even compared to the Adriatic Sea and Mediterranean. There is so much more marine life, and the water isnt cold at all 😀 I find it amazing to have so many amazing beaches and great dive sites just a few hours from Munich, and plus for a cheap price!! You should go sometime 😀

          • We just got tickets to Miami so will be touring Florida during two weeks (Nov 29 – Dec 14)! We were there 2 yrs ago so will do pretty much same places, maybe a bit of the Mexican Gulf too. Pennakamp is great for diving & snorkeling, together with Biscayne they are the best sites North American sites if you exclude Hawaii.

            I forgot if you told me; what are the Xmas plans?

          • How awesome Miia!!!! You will have looooots of fun and please come back with maaany photos and stories to tell 😀
            Miami is pretty cool, I hope to come back someday…
            Yes I heard the diving there is good, I even considered going for new years eve but it was all too expensive!

            For Christmas I will be here in Munich with friends and my husband’s family. For new years eve, Im hopping somewhere in Italy in the middle of nowhere hahaha but I dont know if it will work out, lets see!!

          • As there is this cold wave all over in the US, I started looking at the Bahamas ferries yesterday 😉 Well, hope it will be nice (minimum 25C, air AND water)!!!

            Last time in Miami we visited one Sth American fusion food restaurant every day for lunch and am really looking forward to going back. It is a mixture of Bolivian and don’t-rememebr-what but oh so good!!

            Where would you have gone in the US for diving, in FL?

            In the middle of nowhere in Italy sounds cool to me 🙂 Maybe some time you could drive to the Champagne region (cannot be that far from Munich, right?), it is very cool too 🙂

          • Ohhhh thats awesome!! Please go to the Bahamas because its haven for diving… I was planning to go to Miami and then Bahamas to spend a few days and diving.

            About diving in Florida I just heard that its nice to dive there too, but didnt really look at the best locations, but if I go to Miami I will do some dives in FL then head to the Bahamas… I wanna see sharks, lots of sharks 😀

            Ohh yes I also thought about going to the Champagne region, I have only been to Reims but it was very beautiful. Though funnily enough, Tuscany is closer to Munich, so we might ended up going there 😀

            Where are you spending Christmas and New Years Eve?

          • We snorkeled 2 yrs ago in the Pennekamp National Park, and some fellow snorkelers had seen hammer heads just before us!!!! Pennekamp is really famous.

            So is the Biscayne National Park, but I am a bit unsure about the current diving & snorkeling conditions. The website says something about the change (end?) of concession, contract, and snorkeling unavailable at the moment 🙁 Let’s see.

            There is this cold wave in the US and am a bit worried… Imagine if it snows in Miami!!!! 😉 So I guess we will plan our traveling accordingly…. In fact we always plan last minute (and often not at all!) so as of today, we only have tickets and the ESTA permission, and nothing else…. 😉

            I cannot believe Tuscany is closer than Champagne but I always forget how south Munich is! There is a cool chateau we went to for my birthday (Chateau d’Etoges) south of Reims. I still need to write about it… It was so funny, bc we were at this super elegant restaurant of the castle and a dog from a nearby village came over and started barking. The waiters told that he comes in every night 🙂 They served him foie gras and finally carried him away hahahaha. That was my birthday 2 years ago 🙂

            My parents are coming here Dec 19 so French Christmas and New Year!

          • That sounds nice!!! I would love to see some hammerheads!! I hope the weather helps and you can go and make some cool photos and tell me how it was 😀 If it snows in Miami then I would this world is reaaally crazy hahaha, lets hope not!

            Yess, pretty weird that Tuscany is closer right? Munich is very south, close to Venice already. But the Champagne region is also reachable by car, and also a great option!!

            Awnn I would love to stay in a Castle, I guess your birthday must have been veeery special <3
            Chic dog, he comes every night just to eat foie gras hahah cute!! Please do right about it!!

            How awesome that your parents are coming for the holidays!!! Lovely!! I wish mine could come too, maybe next year!! 😀

          • I was very close to hammerheads in Sudan.. I was diving with friends (the one you read about) and we were going really deep. We were already at 40 meters but they continued descending bc they spotted hammerheads. I didn’t want and dare to go any deep so I waited for them and barely saw the shadows of these great sharks… Well, safer that way maybe!

            This is the link to the castle http://www.etoges.com/

            Have a lovely Sat night! I am going to get some more onion soup now 🙂

          • Awesome!!! Yeah, the hammerheads are a bit shy and they are normally spotted in deeper places…. not so easy to see them, lucky you 😀

            Thank you for the link, I will take a look now!!

            Yummyyyy onion soup, I love it 😀

  • Wow, what amazing photos – especially the ones of the sharks! I love diving but never take a camera, so it is nice to see some pictures from other people’s dives 🙂

    • Thank you dear 😀 happy that you like it!!! Yes, we were really lucky seeing this shark this day, in the previous dives no one saw any! 😉
      Ohhh you should bring a camera next time, its one more motivation to go diving 😀

  • Stunning photos Allane! I love sharks, too and turtles! That looks like the most fantastic dive site. I haven’t been in so many years… I think I’ve forgotten how to! 🙂

    • Thaaaank you Ting!!! Did you used to dive? I didnt know that!! Maybe its time for you to do it again, Egypt is a great option for us living in Europe, its warm all year long!!

  • Woooooow

  • Wow this looks amazing! Very jealous 🙂

    • hahaha thank you. It was amazing, I was impressed how diving in the Red Sea is beautiful. 😀

  • Such gorgeous photos! As scared as I am to scuba dive being able to explore the wrecks would be so amazing. Thanks for taking me down to have a look at this underwater world. 🙂

    • Thank you for the compliment Sue!! I am happy to have taken you into deep waters without scaring you 😀 you will most probably see some underwater photos around here!

  • Wow, amazing pictures! And the way you explain every little part of your journey is very interesting. I love the picture with the Schooling Bannerfish that looks directly at you. What a cute curious little guy 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the comment and compliment! I am happy you enjoyed reading about my diving experience 😀
      He is cute isn’t he? That’s way he is my favorite haha
      Do you dive too? Or would like to? 🙂

  • Wow, nice photos! Egypt is on top of my snorkeling-diving list, I hope to get there sometime soon! 🙂 Amazing little blog you have here, keep up the inspiring work! 🙂

    • Thank you very much! Yes, Egypt is an amazing place for diving and snorkeling… the marine life is unbelievably rich and varied 😀 Im sure you will love it!

  • onemoderncouple

    So cool!! We will have to go diving here! Thanks for the indepth info!!
    You were talking about nemo? He’s very teritorial, even if your big, he will try to scare you off 😉

    • onemoderncouple

      Please check out our blog http://onemoderncouple.com
      a post on diving in Koh Tao coming soon 🙂

      • Hey guys!! Thank you so much for stopping by!!! I sure will take a look at your blog and at your post about diving in Koh Tao 😀

    • Yess it is a must!! All divers I met in Egypt are crazy about diving there… there is so much so see, so many species and different dive sites! I have no doubt you guys will love it 😀
      Ohh yesss nemo is veery territorial, and I love that about these fishes hahaha… so cute when we come close and one of them comes up to say something like “get out of here” hahaha <3

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