Diving Safaga and Soma Bay

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Safaga and Soma Bay, Egypt

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Country: Egypt  Area: Egypt

Water Temp: 22 - 29°C (72 - 84°F)

Depth Range: 2 - 100m (7 - 328 ft)

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The main attraction here is watersports, if not diving then wind or kite surfing. The black sand dunes make sunbathing a different experience. 

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Visitors also come for the 'curative' properties in the areas local resources. Safaga is particularly renowned as a ‘curative centre’ for psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Nearby, Soma Bay is a private coastal resort located on its own peninsula reaching out into Egypt’s Red Sea. Located about forty five kilometres south of Hurghada, this self-contained community is only accessible via a private, single controlled gated road.

Panorama Reef, Credit

Soma Bay hosts five luxury resorts, an 18 hole championship golf course and one of the region’s largest spas and thalassotherapy centres. Besides having a nice sandy beach, this resort’s prevailing winds also make it ideal for kite surfing, windsurfing and sailing.

Soma Bay offers many shallow, sheltered reef dives for beginners or those wanting to try and learn to dive. There are also a number of sheer reef walls and wreck dives for the more enthusiastic, advanced divers. Hammerhead sharks often frequent this area in the spring while manta rays can be spotted during the winter months. Many of the reef sites also have caverns, caves and large overhangs which are home to an abundance of schooling fish, giant moray eels and healthy hard corals.

Redheaded and blue-eyed fish, Safaga, Credit

Marine Conservation

HEPCA is a marine conservation organisation borne out of Hurghada, but its projects, ideas and policies stretch to Safaga.

Climate

The hottest months are May to October expect temperatures of between 26-30 °C (79-85°F) and maybe a little higher.  December to February is cooler with temperatures between 16-18 °C (61-65°F). It hardly ever rains.     

 
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The Diving

Egypt diving is famous for its rich, colourful reefs, crystal clear water and abundance of fish life. Safaga is no different and has plenty of sites to keep you diving daily.  A string of 9 reefs lay between 20-60mins by boat from shore with another 12 sites lie between 40-90min away by boat. Depth here can plummet to 100m (328ft) and more yet there are calm, still and shallower reefs meaning everyone can enjoy the underwater spectacles. Divers can expect clouds of bright anthias, blue spotted rays, goatfish, giant morays, lionfish, napoleon wrasse, octopus, scorpion fish, crocodile fish, butterfly fish and angel fish on every dive. The reefs have some great hard and soft coral specimens and many gorgonian fans.

Safaga can accommodate everything from beginners and children diving to deep tech divers, snorkelers and free divers too.

Divers diving in Safaga, Credit

Of the closer in reefs, Tobia Arba is the most notable. Its five pinnacles are rich with macro life that can be difficult to spot. Look out for frogfish, stonefish, ornate ghost pipe fish, crocodile fish, Red Sea Walkman, sea moths, devil scorpion fish, nudibranch and cleaner shrimp.

Panorama Reef is one of the outer dive sites and about an hour away.  It’s certainly a must do site.  The massive mount rises from a depth of 400m (1312ft) to just close to the surface. It’s rich in hard and soft corals, napoleons on patrol, jack fish up to no good and clouds of Fusiliers. Keep an eye out to the blue for barracuda, tuna and rays too. The mount has plateaus where you might find giant grouper amongst the usual suspects. The site is large and has a chimney stuffed with gorgonian fans as well an area named anemone city by divers. Those obsessed with the long nosed hawk fish will find specimens trying to hide in the coral. The north plateau is a pure indulgence of dive site finery but can only be dived when conditions permit.

Reef Fish,Safaga, Credit

Abu Kafan Reef rises up from 600m (1968ft) depth to just below the surface and is another big ticket dive. Look out for the hunters and the pelagic here. Barracuda, tuna, turtles, sharks and maybe even a hammerhead or whale shark will possibly soar by.

Shaab Quais has some spectacular soft coral growth. Shaab Sheer East and West are notable reefs in their own right and a stop off for live aboard boats too. The east is home to a small wreck - it’s a Liveaboard which has been heavily salvaged, yet still houses plenty of life. Look for morays, crocodile fish, the resident longfin batfish, masked butterfly fish as well as the usual colour residents.

Dusk in Soma Bay , Credit

Wreck divers have a couple of metal reefs to entertain them. The M/S El Arish – El Tor is a 105m (344ft) ro-ro ferry and lies in 37m (121ft) of water in the port area. The wreck is protected but due to its location visibility can be less than what you might expect. Don’t less this worry you though, she is teaming with life.

The Salem Express is probably the most infamous wreck dive in the Red Sea. The ship went down quickly and evidence of this lies in plain sight. The tragic loss of life makes this dive a quiet and reverential swim in the depths. This is a unique wreck dive with much to notice. Controversy shrouds the wreck, should she be left alone with respect to those that lost their lives? The choice, to dive her, is yours alone. If you do want to, know that she is 115m (377ft) long and sits in 30m (98ft) of water, rising to 12m (39ft).

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How to Get there

Hurghada International Airport is the closest airport to Safaga and lies 63km away.

Dive Boats in Safaga, Credit                 

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Where to Eat & Drink

This is not a party town, but a quiet spot in which to relax and savour the peace. Most of your dining is likely to be within the hotels, many of which have seafront decks. Simple cafes and a few restaurants can be found outside of the hotels. On the waterfront, you can find locals selling their freshly cooked catch.         

Soma Bay, Credit

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Other Activities

The remains of the ancient Roman granite quarries of Mons Claudianus are a day trip from here, Luxor is 140miles / 220km away. You can try your hand at windsurfing or kite surfing, tuition is available and the conditions are perfect.

Family Friendly

It’s a safe place for children to dive but aside from this wind or kite surfing, snorkelling or playing on the beach, the area is quiet.

Safaga Market, Credit

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Tips

Take a magnifying glass with you to spot those micro-macro critters. You’ll see regulars with them at spots like Tobia Arba.               

Tired Camel in Soma Bay, Credit

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