Along the coastline between The Strait’s of Tiran and Ras Mohamed we find our local dives sites. They each offer spectacular corals and diverse marine life.
Ras Gamilla is the most northerly local dive site. This coastal bay is large and exposed with a green beacon marking the northern end of the site. As a result of no mooring lines, this dive is always done as a drift. The preferred direction to dive is north starting from the center of the bay.
The fringing reef drops down to around 12m and an extensive coral garden plateau spans out gradually sloping deeper. Boomies abound in the shallow sandy areas, and small table corals are dotted all around. This area of the site is often referred to as a Japanese Garden.
Moving deeper out across the plateau, huge Gorgonian Fan Corals appear. Located between depths of 18m to 30m — and standing up to 5m high — they sit one after another on the open coral garden expanse.
The coral garden plateau is vast and generally has a steady current. Consequently, this makes for an excellent drift dive — going with the flow and observing the marine landscape. Keep your eyes open for eagle rays and turtles, or larger rays sleeping on the sandy patches.
The Japanese Garden is home to moray eels, lionfish, blue spotted rays and nudibranchs. Meanwhile, out across the coral plateau large rays, groupers, turtles, and barracuda can be found. By the same token, this site is known for occasional sightings of whale sharks, bowmouth guitar sharks, and mantas.
Ras Nasrani marks the southern point of Ras Gamilla Bay. Generally, you will dive this site as a drift with the boat dropping divers into the water 150m south of the headland.
A 5m – 10m coral shelf runs along the top of this site with a sloping wall below. The shelf has an abundance of porite corals with small sandy areas in between. As a result of the sun filtering through the shallow water, the colours here are superb.
Near the start of the dive, a ridge appears running all the way down the reef wall into the depths below. An abundance of purple, red and orange soft corals thrive in the nutrient-rich current — while reef fish congregate in large numbers. At 26m the ridge juts out into the blue creating an overhang with a shelf below it. Here glassfish hang out and potato groupers rest on the shelf.
Shortly after the ridge, a very obvious large lettuce coral is located at 16m along the coral wall. It’s easily identifiable by its bright green colour. Check between the “leaves” for nudibranchs hiding out.
Moving closer to the headland the current can speed up significantly — as a result it carries you towards a large sandy bowl and the plateau beyond. Generally, you may encounter eagle rays gliding in the blue, or turtles feeding on the reef.
The sandy bowl spreads from the shallow shore reef to around 28m bringing an end to the wall. Furthermore, it signifies the start of the headland where a plateau stretches out beneath you. Also on the corner are several gorgonian fans — home to the long-nosed hawkfish.
Drift across the plateau keeping a watch out for stone fish, scorpion fish or octopus before shallowing up to hover over the hard coral garden for your safety stop.
This local dive site was made famous for its use in a Cheltenham and Gloucester TV commercial. A boy was featured diving down through shallow, blue tranquil waters and retrieving a pearl from the seabed.
The site is located along a straight stretch of coastline which shelters inside the headland of Ras Nasrani. As seen in the TV commercial, Ras Bob has glorious small shallow bays set into the shore reef plate. These are surrounded by colourful coral walls and bays — some of which are connected by shallow swim-thru tunnels in the reef plate.
Undulating sandy slopes and coral gardens run down into the deep from each little shallow bay. These provide a diverse habit for a variety of marine species. This site is most often done as a mooring dive — in either direction depending on which way the currents are running.
A large distinctive table coral is located at 12m along this site. Directly below this, spread between 20m – 30m, is a large eel garden on a sandy plain. As long as you approach slowly and carefully you will see the eels feeding in the current.
The topography of this site makes it an interesting, and fun dive. Coupled with the chance of spotting eagle rays and occasionally manta rays or whale sharks.
A canyon with white sands sliding down and pouring off into the deep is the primary feature of this local dive site. It’s formed between a sloping coral garden to the south of the site and a large outcrop on the north. This can be distinguished by a large lettuce coral at 12m, in the center of the dive site.
Located in a bend along the coastline south of Ras Bob, it’s normally done as a mooring dive. The sandy seabed runs next to the fringing reef, about 5m deep at its shallowest point. On these shallow sands, north of the canyon and the mooring lines, is a small Eel Garden colony at a depth of about 12m.
To the south of the canyon, a coral garden slopes off into the blue. Typically this dive will start with a descent on the shallow sands by the fringing reef — then proceed into the mouth of the canyon which starts at 10m.
The canyon is a couple of meters wide — it’s advisable to move along it in a single file as it winds its way down to a depth of around 35m. Small caves and dark crevices can be explored along the sides of the canyon. There is also a little swim through off the right side of the canyon at 13m which takes you back up to the sandy shallows.
Once your maximum dive depth has been reached in the canyon — you can choose either to head south along the coral garden slope or north and up to the Eel Garden.
Keep your eyes open in the blue for eagle rays, mantas and turtles. You might also find the remains of Noos One, a small wreck further along the southern slope.
The Gardens: Near, Middle, Fiddle and Far
The Gardens are the local dive sites situated in the first bay north of Naama. Without a doubt the dive site names are not very imaginative — however, the lack of creativity put into their names does not reflect the quality of these dive sites. They are some of the most popular of our local dive sites for their suitability for divers of all levels.
Near Garden is at the southern headland of this bay and can be dived either from a mooring line or as a drift. The mooring lines are on the southern side of the headland.
The fringing reef in front of the mooring drops down to around 7m and the sea floor here is sandy with small coral blocks. The reef gently slopes down to around 25m where you will find large pinnacles adorned with gorgonian fans, soft corals — and an abundance of glassfish surrounding them.
Stretching out from the headland is a deep water plateau where lucky divers might find white-tip reef sharks asleep on sandy patches at 30m. Spectacular eagle rays, Napoleon wrasse and moray eels are also often found here.
Middle Garden is about as simple a coral garden dive as one could ask for. Located in the middle of the bay, the slope of the coral garden here is very gradual. The mooring lines are located around a 12m sandy patch away from the shore reef.
Many coral blocks can be explored all around the sandy area. The coral gardens then gently slope to the center of the bay. Mild currents can run in either direction along this dive site, which may influence how this site is dived —essentially though, this is an easy dive site, with plenty of shallow colourful corals and lots of reef life.
Fiddle Garden is so named because it’s located between Middle and Far Garden. At this site, the mooring line is set into the sand at 12m on a gradual coral slope which drops off at about 15m.
A coral pinnacle that is on the edge of the drop-off is home to a pair of cleaner wrasse that have learnt to target the ears of divers as a potential food source. Also a stunning glassfish pinnacle is located further to the north of the mooring line, topped with beautiful hard and soft corals.
Far Garden is the northern headland of the Gardens Bay. Again this can be done as a mooring line dive or as a drift — starting on the inside of the headland and drifting out.
A steep slope runs down from the shore reef to a drop-off at around 20m. Pinnacles stand up like trees at varying depths along this slope, with fire coral branches and gorgonian fans and soft coral hanging from them.
Moving along the site, the slope briefly becomes a wall before moving around the headland to a wider plateau. Nudibranchs, stingrays and turtles can be spotted here, as well as trevally, jacks and barracuda.
Sodfa is the headland just south of Naama Bay and north of the more famous Tower dive site. This dive is done as a drift and the profile of the site is a wide sandy plateau stretching from around 12m by the shore reef to a 20m drop-off.
The plateau is scattered with coral bommies and pinnacles which support Gorgonian fan corals and soft corals. These create shelters for glassfish, shrimps and other small critters to hide in. Out in the blue, there is the chance of spotting an eagle ray or some barracuda — and if you are lucky a manta or whale shark.
This local dive site takes its name from a large column, or tower, of fossilized coral that stands high out of the water by the start point of the dive. This site is done as a drift, normally heading north.
The descent at this site is unlike any other site in Sharm, a semi-circular vertical shaft leads you straight down. It’s important to be mindful of your depth during your descent as the scenery can be mesmerizing. Once the maximum dive depth has been reached, divers head out with the reef on their left. At around 25m there are a collection of large coral pinnacles, often home to nudibranchs and the occasional Scorpionfish.
The reef slopes off into the blue and you should keep an eye open for turtles, Napoleon wrasse, and manta Rays. Towards the end of the site, a large pinnacle stands up from 13m to the surface near the fringing reef. This is an interesting and perfect place to make safety stops and the end dive.
Ras Umm Sid
Ras Um Sid is a favourite local dive site for many divers. It forms the eastern headland of Temple Bay and is easily identified by the Lighthouse standing above it. Dived as a shore dive or drift dive from a boat, this site provides a variety of underwater habitats with a massive diversity of life.
The coral walls near the shore entry are steep, nevertheless on the sea bed below there are large coral pinnacles. These are home to cleaner shrimp which attract surgeon fish, large groupers and moray eels in for a clean. On sandy patches around these pinnacles, crocodile fish and blue-spotted rays can often be found.
Moving out of the Bay the seabed suddenly drops away into the blue — leaving you hovering next to a wall pitted with nooks and crannies. There is a pristine gorgonian sea fan forest running down the wall that has taken hundreds of years to develop. Look closely in the fans for long-nosed hawkfish, or admire the many glassfish and lionfish hanging out.
After this, you come around the headland where you could see some reef sharks, trevally, snappers and barracuda. Additionally, eagle rays are spotted regularly, as well as Napoleon wrasse and the occasional hammerhead shark, manta or whale shark.
A gradual plateau appears after the headland which runs from the shallows right down to the open sea. Many small coral pinnacles are dotted about on this plateau providing shelter for a vast number of reef fish. Look out for stone fish, scorpion fish, nudibranchs and the resident batfish.
End your drive in the shallows next to the fringing reef encrusted with porites corals, soft corals and hard corals. The colours here are stunning and the light is amazing for capturing photographs.
This is a fabulously simple dive site, ideal for both novice and experienced divers. Situated in the center of a sheltered bay it houses a collection of coral pinnacles. The central of several coral blocks reaches all the way up to the surface — and it is these pinnacles that are called the Temple.
Several mooring lines are dotted around this bay and these are used for descents and ascents. Once you reach the center of the bay, you can circle the Temple pinnacles ascending gradually. Check out the nooks and crannies for reef life hiding inside, admire the colours in the shallows — and keep your eyes open for passing rays or turtles.
All around the Temple are coral gardens but the majority of life in the bay is congregated at the pinnacles. Blue-spotted rays, morays, lionfish, crocodile fish and scorpionfish are among the regular habitants of this reef.