Shark’s Bay - the northern Red Sea.

Shark’s Bay faces the southern tip of Tiran Island and is just fifteen minutes coach ride from Sharm el Sheikh airport. It is very well placed for diving by day boat or liveaboard, because of its close proximity to the world famous reefs in the Straits of Tiran. When we first dived there back in 1980 it was a deserted area, rugged coastline with the most beautiful turquoise sea, today it has developed into an area of small shops and restaurants, surrounded by whitewashed hotels attracting divers and sun worshippers alike - but the sea is still turquoise!
The local development has had its impact on the area, but the bay and foreshore still have a local Egyptian feel. The Shark’s Bay dive centre is on the right hand side of the bay next to the pier, where you arrive from the airport. It offers the visiting diver a choice of liveaboard or air-conditioned cabins on the beach. For those who enjoy retail therapy, pubs, clubs or a bit of night life they can be found in Na’ama Bay, a short ten-minute taxi ride away. Over the years, underwater Shark’s Bay, has provided some wonderful surprises, dolphins playing with the bathers, giant shoals of small fish at the pier, mantas just off shore and in 2005 a whale shark which circled the bay to the delight of snorkellers and bathers alike. The bay was then renamed, by some, as “whale shark’s bay”.

It’s always a good time to dive this area, but during November to March the prevailing wind from the north can be a bit chilly when you are removing your wetsuit. The water temperature cools at this time, but nothing that a 5mm wetsuit can’t handle. One of the nice times to dive here, if you like big shoals of fish, is the end of June when the fish gather in their thousands in the Ras Mohammed protected marine park. Barracuda, batfish, unicornfish, snappers and many more are to be found, hanging in the blue ignoring the visiting divers and doing what they came to do.

If you like wreck diving then get on one of the liveaboards and do the tour around the best wrecks in the northern Red Sea. The local skippers on the dive boats will take you on a ‘wreck fest’ plus some of the best dives in the Straits of Suez.

The Straits of Tiran is a wonderful place to dive, with its world famous reefs; Jackson, Woodhouse, Gordon and Thomas. The varied marine life, soft corals and large pelagic fish make it a must do. We have seen hammerheads and white tip sharks, shoals of barracuda, eagle rays and manta around these reefs. A detailed briefing is required to dive this area because of the very strong currents ripping past the reefs. On a good day, when both the currents and wind are light, you can swim around to the seaward (north to northwest) side of the reefs to visit some of the best soft corals in the world.

Travelling to this area from the UK is very easy as there are flights from most UK airports. My preferred, low cost way is to check the flight days and times from my favourite UK airport to Sharm el Sheikh. Then I email Shark’s Bay on ‘umbi@sinainet.com.eg’ and book the diving and choice of accommodation. Then I book flight only with a travel agent, and as we say JD (job done). You will be picked up at the airport and dropped back in time for your return flight. If you do a liveaboard the only extra cash you will require is for booze and staff gratuities. In 2005 you could do a week for £600 including flights, but we do go as a group of twelve and receive a group discount. The big advantage of going as a group is that you are able to dive where you want to and stay as long as you wish at a particular dive site, conditions permitting, which is by far the best way to achieve optimum conditions for photography.

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