Diving in North Sinai
North Sinai, as the term is used in this book, means the northern coast of the Gulf of Aqaba. There is a big chunk of Sinai that lies further to the north, traditionally referred to as north Sinai, but it does not reach the Red Sea. The North Sinai coast stretches from Taba, the Israeli border post, to the northern section of Ras Muhammad National Park at Nabeq. It encompasses the towns of Dahab and Nuweiba, and includes some of the Gulf of Aqaba's finest dive sites. Like the rest of the Sinai, the northern coast is populated by Bedouin tribes whose ancestors migrated there from the Arabian peninsula centuries ago.
The Sinai is an arid, mountainous desert. The north coast follows the same weather patterns as the rest of the peninsula, receiving almost no precipitation and experiencing extremely hot, dry summers and winters marked by warm days and cooler evenings, with temperatures often falling sharply toward freezing during the night.
Here you will find some of the least spoiled reefs on the Egyptian coastline, with none of the hustle and bustle of the more developed diving areas to the south. Luxuriant coral gardens and sheer offshore canyons attract a dense population of reef fauna, and the clear waters bring crystal visibility to add to your diving pleasure.
The area's reefs are home to a dazzling array of Red Sea reef species, from huge Napoleon wrasse to tiny, glittering anthias. The range of pelagic species is also more than respectable. In addition, sea turtles and dolphins frequent North Sinai reefs, lending every dive the excitement of a possible encounter.
The reefs themselves are shining examples of tropical coral at its best, with a vast, lush range of hard and soft corals including exquisite table Acropora, Stylophora, massive Porites and Goniopora, fire coral, low-lying cabbage coral, spiky elkhorn coral, graceful gorgonians and pulsing Xeniid soft corals.
A steady north wind blows onto the North Sinai coast for much of the year, raising waves which can at times make access to the best sites difficult. As autumn moves toward winter, these onshore winds can be especially troublesome, but even during the worst weather there are plenty of sheltered sites to enjoy.
Access to North Sinai dive sites is almost exclusively from shore. this is partly a result of the prevailing winds which, combined with the area's sheer coastline, make it impossible for boats to anchor. However, since the best sites lie within a few meters of the coastline this is not a problem.
Dive Operators and Facilities
North Sinai hosts a number of professional dive operations. The bulk of these are clustered in Dahab, the area's main resort town, but others can be found in Nuweiba and even Taba. Most are of a high technical standard, offering tuition through a number of certification agencies and employing multilingual Western and Egyptian dive staff. Jeeps or pickup trucks ferry divers to the dive sites, and a full range of rental equipment is available.
Local Dive Etiquette
Because shore entries are the norm here, it is especially important
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Last Updated: May 29th, 2011
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