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Scuba Diving at St John's, Marsa Alam, the Red Sea
Dive Site: St John's Cave
Location: St John's Reef
Description: Reef with tunnels and caves
Depth: 6 - 25 metres (20 - 80 feet)
Visibility: 20 metres (65 feet)
This reef is made up of a main "L" shaped reef with a myriad of smaller reef pieces and ergs dotted about in the surrounding area. Within the main body of the reef are a series of fissures and tunnels, several of which give no direct access to the surface, although there are always small opening above which allow light penetration. A torch is not necessary during daytime exploration, although is always an option allowing you to explore every nook and cranny. Boats normally moor on the southern part of the reef over 20 - 25m of depth to a flattish sea floor - there are often napoleon wrasse here. To the north of the boat mooring are two openings in the reef leading into the tunnel system. A good option is to locate the reef (the boats should be moored to it) and then head in a westerly direction (reef to right shoulder) ignoring these two entrances. As you approach the southwest corner, you'll find an entrance after 2 or 3 minutes (there is only one entrance here). Entering at this point, head straight on down the first passage and at the end turn left, then right. Note - after the first left turn it does not look like there is a right turn at the end of this passage, however proceeding in 7m of water it is there. Following this passage then take the next left which will ascend up to around 6m before you come out on the northern side of the reef into a coral garden. Simply remember left, right, left.
It is quite common for divers to end up coming back out of one of the two entrances by the boat - a good rule when you enter the system is to head in a north east direction whenever possible and you should reach the coral garden. There are some very nice boulder, brain and stony corals in the garden. Heading with the reef to your right shoulder will take you back around the southeast corner (there is also a short passage on the eat corner which cuts off the very eastern tip if you fancy a short cut). Before you come around the east tip you could head north to a series of ergs which are easily visible from one to the next. There are some nice overhangs and soft coral on these ergs. Once back on the south side of the main reef the boat should be easily located. Which-ever way you choose to dive this site the south part has little to offer in the way of coral and marine life, except perhaps the odd moray eel. Diving is definitely best done in the tunnel system or coral garden.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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