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Diving Marsa Alam

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Marsa Alam, Egypt

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Shore Day Trip Live Aboard

Country: Egypt  Area: Southern Egypt

Water Temp: 22 - 30°C (72 - 86°F)

Schooling Hammerheads in Daedalus – May to July

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One of Egypt’s fastest growing holiday destinations, until recently Marsa Alam was just a small fishing village, then since the introduction of the new international airport in 2001 its popularity is growing, and is soon expected to rival the larger resorts in the north for diving Egypt.

Marsa Alam is popular with divers due to its nearby unspoilt fringing coral reefs which have frequent dolphin and turtle sightings. Due to its relatively new popularity its reefs are more pristine, uncrowded and the whole area has a more tranquil atmosphere.

Marine Conservation

The reefs surrounding Marsa Alam fall into a recently established marine conservation park, which is gaining international attention as the popularity of this location increases. Today, direct conservation efforts remain minimal and largely work off initiatives in neighbouring Hurghada. Most of the dive resorts in operation incorporate varied policies of responsible diving and environmental conservation into their work, donating percentages of profits to various conservation initiatives worldwide.

Climate

The climate is a sub tropical desert climate with warm winters and a very hot summer, and along with agreeable water temperatures it all adds up to a year round pleasant dive season. Although the dive season is year round there are more popular times to dive than others due to marine life seasons and the water temperature. From November to February there can be frequent strong winds and rough seas which may cause offshore boat trips to sites such as Elphinstone to be cancelled.

This is at its coldest in January and February and then warms up and peaks at its warmest in the high season of August.  This is a quite large difference in temperature so you will need to make sure you take the appropriate exposure protection for the time of year you are visiting.  At its coldest a 5mm full length wetsuit will be adequate for most people, but if you feel the cold or are planning on a week of diving on a liveaboard, a drysuit may be worth considering due to the loss of core temperature that can occur with taking part in long deep dives 4 times a day.

 
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Wildlife Calendar

                                   
                               
                       
                               

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Shore Diving

Although once an area just visited by liveaboard boats there are now many land based dive centres which provide shore and boat diving. The shore diving is easily accessed by short jeep rides to the entry points. There are numerous sites to choose from along the 100km of coastal reef such as Abu Dabab where divers and snorkeler’s alike visit to catch a glimpse of its resident dugong called Dennis. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to spot the dugong there is still an immense amount of life to occupy and delight everybody ranging from Guitar Sharks, Green Turtles to eels and colourful reef fish.

Day Trips

There are many excellent sites you can visit on day trips from Marsa Alam. Most dive centres with offer a two dive package which departs in the morning and returns mid afternoon. Some of the more popular sites to visit on these trips are Elphinstone Reef, Sha’ab Samadai (aka Dolphin House reef), and Marsa Shouna.

Elphinstone Reef is one of the most famous dive sites in Egypt and is a place where people have the chance of large pelagic encounters such as Oceanic Whitetips, Whitetip Reef Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, dolphins and sometimes even schooling Hammerheads! This spectacular reef’s steep walls are covered with colourful soft corals and thousands of anthias which along with an abundance of life makes this a photographers dream. The down side is that there are sometimes very strong currents so it’s not suitable for beginners.

Sha’ab Samadai is nicknamed Dolphin House due to its large pods of at least 60 spinner dolphins that can be seen whilst diving here. There is a lot more to see on the colourful horseshoe shaped reef which creates a pretty protected lagoon with great visibility. This is a once in a lifetime experience which can be enjoyed by divers and snorkelers alike.

Liveaboard Diving

Liveaboard diving from Marsa Alam allows more experienced divers to visit further afield sites such as the Brother Islands and St John’s and Daedalus. The Brother Islands are two pinnacles approx 50km from land. They have very steep reef walls plunging down to hundreds of metres deep. This makes the islands a brilliant site for shark encounters, with its resident Grey Reef Sharks, occasional Hammerheads and in the winter months the shy Thresher Shark which can be seen coming up from the deep in the early morning. 

Daedalus reef is about 80km east of Marsa Alam and has some of the best diving in Egypt. The steep walls are covered in beautiful pristine hard and soft coral and are usually dived on drift dives. This site is only for experienced divers as the current can be very strong with deep depths and open water. It is a great place to see various sharks such as grey reef, oceanic whitetip and even schooling hammerhead sharks. Other than sharks there is an abundance of reef fish, tuna and occasionally even an odd manta ray or whale shark!

There are many choices of itineraries to choose from so you will need to research the routes for each before you make a decision to ensure you pick one best suited to your level and interests.  A point to consider when doing this is that a lot of liveaboard itineraries also do have a minimum dive quantity and minimum experience level required.  They are also completely dive focussed not really suitable to non divers as the general day is dive, eat, sleep, dive, eat, sleep and so on with up to 4 dives a day. 

Dive Centers in Marsa Alam

Aquarius Diving Club

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Opened in 2001, Aquarius Marsa Alam is located directly on the beach at Tonduba Bay just in front of our own Awlad Baraka Ecolodge. Situated 14km south of Marsa Alam this is, by far, the most laid back centre of the Aquarius group, if not the Red Sea. A deserted island in the Pacific would look crowded by comparison. Peace and tranquility stroll hand in hand here and If for example you are doing a course and need a place to study you can choose the classroom, a comfy chair in the sun, sit on our private jetty and dangle your feet in the sea or ask one of our staff to sling you a hammock. The choice is yours!

On top of all of that we also have our own housereef directly in front of the dive centre, nothing is too much trouble in Marsa Alam.

We are providing daily diving excursions and PADI diving courses for starters as well as professional divers. Our qualified diving staff can teach courses in English, German, French, Russian and Dutch.

Land-based facilities

Servicing

Live aboard facilities

Freediving

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How to get there

Marsa Alam is located on the Egyptian Red Sea coast approx 250km south of Hurghada. Although a relatively new resort it has an international airport which receives flights from the UK and many other destinations in Europe. The other option is to fly into Hurghada and take a bus which takes about 4hrs. Some of the liveaboard companies based in Hurghada have one way liveaboards which start or end in Port Ghalib near Marsa Alam and use this option. A single entry tourist visa is required for all nationalities, some tour operators will meet you on arrival and provide these to you, but its best to check beforehand to see if this is included or not.

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Where to eat & drink

There are a few places to eat and drink in Marsa Alam, although it is still quite a small town and there’s not that much choice so the easiest and best value option for most people is to get an all inclusive or full board package deal with their accommodation.

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Family Activities and diving for Children

Marsa Alam is a very family friendly destination. Between the well designed all inclusive resorts and numerous bubble-making courses for kids, the entire family will find activities to do!

Other activities

If you would like to explore the surrounding area there are many excursions and day trips that can be arranged from Marsa Alam. You can ride a camel across the desert on a safari or visit them in their natural habitat at Wadi El Gamal National Park.

You can visit the nearby town of El Quseir to see its Ottoman Fort and shop in its bazaars or explore its nearby gold mine.  Further afield a few hours drive and you can reach the famous city of Luxor which is full of many ancient Egyptian temples and historic monuments as well as souks to explore.

 

A boat trip down the Nile is also highly recommended, where you can take in the beautiful surroundings such as the backdrop of mountains of the Valley of the Kings.

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Tips

Marsa Alam is a quiet and secluded resort-based town that is generally safe for tourists. If planning a visit, it is important to consult Egypt’s broader security situation as it has changed dramatically in recent years. That said, Marsa Alam has never been affected by Cairo’s political unrest and visitors are able to bypass the capital entirely by flying into the newly constructed international airport.  

Since the town is built almost entirely around large resorts, visitors infrequently leave the compounds making this a very safe and peaceful destination. Resorts also organize tours into the desert and to neighbouring towns, which generally tend to be hassle free as well.

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