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Egypt: Red Sea - Dive Sites - Alternatives/Stingray Station


Alternatives

Diving


Snorkelling

By Boat

By swimming

By Live-aboard

All Divers

4

3

Yes

Yes

Yes

Location:

Eastern Shaab Mahmud, just off western Ras Muhammad

Access:

By day or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada

Average Depth:

18m (60ft)

Maximum Depth:

30m+ (100ft+)

Average Visibility:

20m (65ft)

Alternatives

This site is named for its relatively sheltered position. The area is subject to unpredictable storms and winds and dive boat operators need a place to moor safely to wait out these short periods. The Alternatives is an excellent place for this. In rough weather, it serves as an alternative to some of the more exposed sites in the area. The alternatives are in fact a chain of shallow patch reefs running from Shaab Mahmud eastward toward the Ras Muhammad coast. Stingray Station is a small part of this extensive chain located near its western end.

The Alternatives is a fringing reef and has a large lagoon in the middle of several submerged islands that form a ring. The boats will usually moor in the lagoon. The outside walls of the islands offer the best diving. They have small walls and many large corals heads that contain a large variety of marine life. Night dives are very popular here as well because of the safe mooring. It is very necessary to plan these night dives and to make sure that you dive toward one of the islands and not the channels between the islands that lead to the open ocean.

The landward side of the reef patches offers maximum depths of 10 to 15m (33-50ft), while on the seaward side reefs often drop well past 30m (100ft). The reef's isolated heads alternate with numerous sandy 'wadis' and amphitheaters, with numerous large pinnacles and coral heads.

The coral that makes up these reefs is luxuriant, with an especially good range of hard coral species. The soft corals are equally spectacular, with big patches of purple and yellow Dendronephthya and Xeniids vying for attention. Fish life is abundant and highly concentrated. The numerous sand patches support lots of bluespotted and blackspotted stingrays as well as resident leopard sharks. A bonus is the small whitetip and gray reef sharks which are also sometimes sighted here.

The typical depth range of the Alternatives is 20 to 60 feet and is best accessed by a boat dive or local guide. The expertise required is novice to advanced.

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Last Updated: May 29th, 2011

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