Red Sea

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Red Sea

Jacques Cousteau’s explorations of the Red Sea aboard the Calypso earned it the moniker “corridor of marvels.” Its rich, vibrant reefs and clear, pristine waters have been a favorite destination for European divers for decades but few North Americans have ventured to this land of antiquities and underwater wonders. Access to its incredible dive sites can be reached from land-based resorts and top rated dive operations or by luxurious live-aboard dive vessels. Diving is based out of three main areas, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, Safaga and Marsa Alam. Experience the majesty of Egypt’s ancient civilization on extension tours including Nile cruises, trips to the pyramids, archeological sites and museums.

Red Sea Information

Diving in the Red Sea

Egypt is located in North Africa, and the Red Sea extends south from the Sinai Peninsula to the Indian Ocean. Covering an area of about 1,010,000 square kilometers (390,000 sq mi), Egypt borders the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west.

The diving season is year-round with visibility averaging 100ft. Egypt has very hot summers and mild winters with very little humidity year round. The prevailing winds in the Red Sea are northerly year round and can be strong in the winter months, occasionally the “khamsin” a hot dry wind blows from the south, (Arabic for “fifty,” as the wind is said to come 50 days per year). They occur most frequently from March to June and usually do not affect the diving unless blowing very strongly which is rare.

Any time of year is good for diving, although if you are after really warm water it is best to visit the Red Sea between June and September. Water temperature ranges from 20°C (70°F) in January and February rising to 27°C (84°F) (and as high as 30°C (89°F)) in the Southern Red Sea from July to October. Air temperatures reach 36°C (102°F) in August and fall to 20°C (70°F) in January.

A 3 mm wetsuit or even a shortie will be appropriate in the summer months but from November through to April a 5mm is necessary and you may even need a hood and gloves.

Whether you want to dive reef slopes, drop offs, plateaus, or wrecks, the Red Sea has lots of different diving to offer. And just as varied as the diving, is the style of vacation… from upscale liveaboard to secluded beach resorts to dive-dedicated lodges, there is something for everyone.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements

United States citizens require a passport and a visa to enter Egypt. All passports must be valid for two months beyond the period of visit. A tourist visa is required for most nationalities including US and Canada. This can be obtained on arrival, for a stay of up to 30 days for US$15. A return ticket or documentation for onward travel, and proof of sufficient funds (US$1,000 or valid credit card), is essential.


There are no immunizations required by the Egyptian government. Please, check with your local health department or visit the web site of the Center for Disease Control at for a listing of immunizations recommended for travel to Egypt.

Culture and Customs

Egypt is a conservative society and visitors should respect local customs and sensitivities and dress modestly. Affection is not shown in public. For women especially, covering of the upper arms and legs discourages physical and verbal attention. Religious customs should be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture. Attempts to convert to anything other than Islam is illegal. Photography of military institutions is prohibited.

Tipping: Tipping is known as 'baksheesh' and some small change is expected for most services, though small change can be hard to come by. 'Baksheesh' can be a useful practice in order to gain entry to seemingly inaccessible places, or for extra services- a small tip can open doors, literally. A service charge is added to most restaurant and hotel bills but a 5% tip is normally given directly to the waiter. Taxi drivers are tipped about 10%.

Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50 Hz. European two-pin style plugs are standard so bring an adaptor and converter if needed.

Telephone service is available in most tourist area hotels and resorts.

Hotels in the larger cities are equipped with Internet services and there are plenty of Internet cafes around Sharm, but don’t expect much internet service in more remote areas.

Water Quality

Tap water in Egypt is not fit for drinking, so only purchase bottled water from reputable sources.

Language & Currency

Arabic is the official language although English and French are widely understood in tourist resorts.

The unit of currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. Most credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants. Visitors are advised to take travelers cheques in US Dollars or Pounds to avoid additional exchange rate charges. Banks are usually closed on Friday and Saturday, but private exchange bureaux, called 'Forex', are open daily and banks in major hotels are open 24 hours. Cairo branches of the Egyptian British Bank and Banque Misr now have ATMs available that accept Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus and are quite common in the main tourist areas.


Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 from last Friday in April to last Friday in August).

History, Art, and Culture

Egypt is synonymous with Pharaohs, the pyramids, temples and antiquities from ancient civilizations. And at the center of these great civilizations lies the Nile River that has influenced their economics, social life, politics and religion. It is the oldest travel destination on earth: Greek and Roman travelers came in 430 BC to wonder at some of the very sights that make it a modern travel destination today. The magnificence of the painted Valley of the Kings, exquisite temples and the pyramids were all sought-after subjects of admiration, and many were already 2,500 years old.


Egypt is one of the most populous countries in Africa and the Middle East. The great majority of its estimated 82 million inhabitants live near the banks of the Nile River, in an area of about 15,000 sq miles where the only arable agricultural land is found. The large areas of the Sahara Desert are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with the majority spread across the densely-populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.

Dive primer
  • Water Temp: 72-85°
  • Visibility: 100'+
  • Wetsuit: skin to 5mm
Best time to travel
  • Year-round
Favorite dive sites
  • Ras Mohammed
  • Jackson Reef
  • Thistlegorm
  • The Brothers
Topside attractions
  • Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
  • Pyramids of Giza & The Sphinx
  • Temple of Ramses
  • Valley of the Kings
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