Strait of Tiran – Scuba diving
Strait of Tiran Scuba dives are famous for teeming drift diving and pristine reefs. The chain of Gordan, Thomas, Woodhouse and Jackson reef dive sites offers steep wall drop-offs and amazing coral plateaus. And the reefs crash the surface and they are marked by the Swedish-built freighter wreck Loullia and the smaller cargo wreck Lara. Tiran island has 28°C throughout the summer and a visibility of 20-30m. Therefore, it is enjoyable diving. Just strong currents and swirls at the reef edges and down current at the reef crest require caution and advanced dive skills: See all the details.
The Straits of Tiran separates the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea. It is a narrow sea passages of only 7 sea miles between Egypt (Sinai peninsula) and Saudi Arabia. The strait is named after an 80 square kilometers island in the mid of the passage, the Tiran island. Tiran island belongs to Ras Muhammad National Park and is uninhabited. The Strait of Tiran is reachable via day trips from Sharm el Sheikh or Egypt liveaboard tours.
Famous dive sites are the chain of four coral reefs between Tiran Island and the Sinai Peninsula: Gordon reef, Thomas reef and Jackson reef have a length of 3.6 kilometer. And the visibility at these four reefs is around 20-30m. Some reef corner and the channel between the reefs challenge diver with strong currents and swirls. At the reef crest you might in some cases even face down currents. The summer water temperature reaches 28°C to 30°C and in the winter it can drop to 18°C.
The nearest reef to Sharm el Sheikh shore is Gordan reef, a beautiful pristine dive site. It caters a shallow coral plateau of eight meter depth and less current than the other three reefs. The most southern reefs is easily recognized by the Swedish freighter wreck Loullia. It is an amazing photo motif just pity enough not an accessible wreck dive. Gordan reef is one of the dive spots where I prefer to skip the deeper walls and enjoy a longer macro underwater photography session or just enjoy the reef life. Definitely just my bad luck, but I never had any shark sighting around the Tiran island anyway. That makes Tiran island for me a macro and not a pelagic dive site.
The second in the chain of reefs is Thomas reef with 420m the smallest, the beautiful and most famous reef. The reef wall drops on the eastern side to a 25m deep plateau. The amazing Thomas canyon in a depth of 35m parallel to the reef plateau is exciting tech dive. Divers might face strong currents like a “washing machine” on the north and south edge channeling with Woodhouse and Gordon reef. The preferred dive is on the east side drifting south northwards.
With the typical barrier reef shape and an elongated size of 1,200m Woodhouse reef has amazing drop off walls down to a terrace in 40m depth. Due to missing mooring options this is almost always a drift dive. Preferably you dive on the north eastern side with beautiful canyons. Importantly, it is advisable to end the dive at the sandy plateau before the corner. As the corner might become a bit tricky and risky. In one of my last dives I experienced a strong swirl with thermocline dropping perceptible. And the following moody water indicated me to reverse and end the dive at that point!
Above the surface Jackson reef is well recognizable by the cargo ship wreck Lara, a Cypriot merchant ship sunken 1985. Jackson reef is the one of the most famous Tiran island dive sites. Mooring is on the southern side in a depth of 40m. The reef is well known for beautiful corals and even giant Moray Eels and Giant Barracuda are around. Also at this reef diver need to pay caution towards the end of the reef with unpredictable strong currents.