We have teamed up with Travelling Diver to offer you printed guides to the Red Sea. Text and illustrations of dive sites are provided by Rik Vercoe, our largest contributor to the region and one of the foremost authorities for information in the area with over 1000 dives undertaken in the region during his research.
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Scuba Diving in Safaga, the Red Sea
Dive Site: Middle Reef
Description: Night dive
Depth: 3m to 11m (10 - 36 feet)
Visibility: 15 metres (50 feet)
A shallow reef with sandy patches and some large caves within the reef. We did this dive as a night dive and it made for a relaxing, gentle swim through the coral maze. Highlights were seeing an octopus and a free swimming giant moray. There was also a crocodilefish and all the usual reef fish. The caves were good fun to explore, although none of them went back too far and all required coming back out the way you went in. Most divers would be ok to go in them, although occasionally the tunnels got a little narrow.
Middle Reef (also known as Hal Hal - not to be confused with Umm Hal Hal to the southeast) is quite a large, circular shaped, reef located on an even larger coral encrusted plateau which comes up from the deep ocean. The size of this reef makes its ideal for more than one dive as it can be done in many different ways. To the northeast is a deep sloping wall with some excellent hard coral growth and large gorgonian sea fans, as well as whip corals. Occasional white-tip sharks, grey reef sharks and the odd lone turtle can be seen here. Current doesn't run here as often as you'd think, however is likely to some from the north to south if present. The northeast drop off is best dived from a zodiac or RIB which can put you as far north as possible where you can follow the wall back with the reef on your right shoulder. As you approach the southeast side of the reef, the coral covered plateau comes up to meet you and the main reef splits into numerous small pieces. This can make navigation confusing as the reef and plateau fuse into a beautiful coral garden with all manner of stony, boulder, brain and table corals. Pufferfish, grouper and octopus are rife in this area.
The northwest side also has a deeper drop off and can be dived in much the same way as the northeast side - either have a zodiac or RIB drop you to the north and head back to the southwest corner with the reef on your left shoulder, or do an "out and back" dive from your main dive boat. The south side is an ideal overnight spot for liveaboards and provides for some interesting night dives. Probably the southwest corner is easiest for navigation at night as the reef wall itself is a little more defined. Entering from your dive boat you can follow the wall at 6 - 7 metres around to the west and then north where there are sandy channels which lead into the reef itself in numerous places. These form small caves or channels which weave their way into the reef and can be explored with care, although they do not join up so you'll need to exit the same way you enter. At night featherstars and even Spanish dancers can be found on the reef or surrounding boulder coral. Masked butterflyfish swim shyly in pairs at dusk and small redmouth grouper tuck themselves away under coral overhangs.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor