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Diving in Sharm el Sheikh

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Sharm el Sheikh is located close to the tip of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and has long been a popular destination for divers.

Sharm, as it's generally known, has its own airport close to the main resort area, so getting to and from the airport isn't a problem. There are a few hotels that cater specifically for divers and have their own dive boats at the marina. Boarding on a morning can be a bit of a traffic jam of boats, but miraculously they all do seem to emerge largely unscathed.

The number of dive sites that can be accessed from Sharm is huge, from wrecks to sprawling reefs and all vary in quality.

Dive Sites

The wreck of the Thistlegorm is consistently voted one of the best wrecks to dive in the world, and other wrecks include the Dunraven and the Louilla sits on top of Gordon Reef, which is a nice wall dive. Most of the dive schools in Sharm usually run a trip out to one of these wrecks.

The national park of Ras Mohammed, right at the very tip of the Sinai, presents some of the more spectacular dives in terms of soft and hard coral and marine life. All divers have to pay a fee to dive in Ras Mohammed, but that fee is worth every penny for some of the marine life that you could see, including sharks and turtles and huge barracuda. It is also possible to see the biggest species of fish in the world, the whale shark. Because of the location of Ras Mohammed, it means there's almost always a fairly strong current which can change in a moment. It usually means dives there are for experienced divers only. Dive sites include Shark and Yolanda reefs and the shark observatory.

The Straits of Tiran comprise four main reefs, all named after British cartographers. Thomson, Jackson, Woodhouse and Gordon Reefs are all located at the end of the Gulf of Aqaba between the mainland and the island of Tiran. Because of the location of the reefs, and the amount of water flowing through the Straits, larger fish can often be found, as well as a diversity of coral. Again, currents can be strong.

Along the coastline of Sharm you can find some of the more local dive sites, often used for courses. These include White Knight, Temple, Ras Umm Sid, Anemone City, and are often better for people who haven't dived for a while, learners and people who are newly qualified.

Some of the marine life that you can expect to see on typical dives includes trigger fish, clown fish, blue-spotted rays, scorpionfish, stonefish and lionfish. If you are lucky you can also see some of the other wildlife already mentioned such as turtles and a range of shark species as well as dolphins. All recreational divers should already know that you don't interact with the underwater world, you observe. Some species of fish are poisonous and some coral is dangerous. You don't touch, ever.

You can dive in Sharm all year round and high season you'll only need a three mm wetsuit. Sharm is popular with divers and some of the dive sites have been damaged by the sheer numbers of people visiting the reefs. As a result of this some of the reefs have darkened in colour and are no longer as vibrant as they once were. There is a hyperbaric chamber in Sharm and all dive boats do carry oxygen in case of any problems.

Out of the water

While you're not in the water, you could head down to Na'ama Bay and relax at the beach. Here you will find bars and restaurants too, largely catering for western trends. There are also souvenir shops and small supermarkets where you can buy snacks and drinks.

If you want to experience a bit of real Sharm life, then you should head to the old town where you can explore some of the more traditional places to eat as well as the market area. Be aware that you are a guest in their country, so it would be nice if you dressed respectfully. If you are shopping or eating out, the Egyptian pound would be acceptable, but Euros or US dollars would probably be preferred.

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