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Red Sea Coast
Diving in Hurghada
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UMM QAMAR
27 21.155' N
34 54.550' E

Qamar or "moon" in Arabic is the name of a solitary little island bearing a lighthouse which lies about halfway to Shadwan, 9km (5.6 miles) north of Giftun and 16km (9.9 miles) from Hurghada.

The island, approximately 400m (437 yards) in length, is positioned at the southern tip of a very long reef stretching for a distance of 2km (1.2 miles). Typically, lone reefs or islets tend to attract pelagic fish, and this is clearly the case here. Pause to look out to sea every now and then while diving, and you might be rewarded with the sight of sharks, mantas, andeagle rays cruising past the reef wall. The most popular diving area lies to the southeast, where the island itself forms a protective barrier against wind and waves. Begin your dive opposite the lighthouse (A) . A steep wall descends to depths of 35m (115 feet) here.

As you proceed south to the mooring point, you will observe that the sheer wall gradually becomes more of a slope. Many cracks and overhangs mark the upper section of the reef, all adorned with soft coral. Look out for the coral formation shaped exactly like a rhino horn which protrudes from the reef wall (B) .

 

 

Just past it you will find a deep cave with openings in its ceiling (C). This cave, home to lionfish and sweepers, is named Peter's Cave in honor of the underwater cinematographer Peter Scoones.

Don't use all of your film on the inhabitants of Peter's Cave: there are other attractive photographic targets here. Make your way to the deepest sections of the slope where you will still be able to see and record specimens of black coral (D), a species which has regrettably vanished from many corners of the globe because of its popularity in the jewellery industry. The actual coral slope is not terribly rich, so the large coral patches scattered along it naturally enough serve to focus the diver's attention. The area at the southern tip of the reef has a very different atmosphere thanks to the numerous coral formations found here. This is also your preferred mooring point.

 

SHA'AB UMM QAMAR
27 21.550' N
33 54.550' E

If seas are calm, dive the next reef in line: Sha'ab Umm Qamar. This very vital little reef boasts a small wreck at depths of 25m (82 feet). If conditions are unfavorable for diving, proceed to the island of Umm Qamar itself, which lies just 2km (1.2 miles) away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LITTLE GIFTUN ISLAND
27 11.030' N
33 58.530' E

The best spot to anchor for the night in this region, or to seek shelter from the strong northerly winds, lies off the southern side of Little Giftun Island. Moor along the co-ordinates listed above in the spacious lagoon formed here. The reef wall just east of the mooring point is a highly attractive dive spot.

 

 

 

ABU RAMADA
27 09.784' N
33 59.046' E

Just to the north is a flat rocky island with a length of 1km (0.6 miles). A lone pinnacle called Erg Camel lies off its eastern side. Its isolation in the stream of the current produces very favorable conditions for coral growth, and many fish species are attracted to it as if to a magnet.

 

SHA'AB ABU RAMADA
27 08.340' N
33 57.196' E

One of the most attractive of these is the Sha'ab Abu Ramada reef. It is located about 11km (6.8 miles) southeast of Hurghada, and 3km (1.8 miles) southwest of its larger countepart: Abu Ramada. This reef has earned the nickname "The Aquarium" thanks to its enormous schools of fish. Even reef fish typically found in pairs tend to cluster in large groups here. View the many facets of Sha'ab Abu Ramada as you circle it in a single dive. The reef is fairly flat, and is surrounded by clean level sand at depths of 12-15m (40-49 feet). The moray eels inhabiting the many caves on its western side make up for the relative scarceness of other marine life. But fish populations increase dramatically along the northern wall. The enormous schools of bannerfish are particularly impressive, although many other reef fish are well represented here. The eastern section of the reef has a very different character. Soft corals and rocky outcrops predominate. It is a short way back to the mooring which lies to the center of the southern side of the reef.

 

 

CARELESS REEF
27 18.700' N
33 56.200' E

Careless Reef lies 5km (3.1 miles) north of Giftun, and rivals The Aquarium in its popularity. But the splendid isolation of Careless Reef may only be broken if weather conditions are very mild, as it offers virtually no protection against high seas. The extended community of moray eels which populate this reef is largely responsible for its fame.

 

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