The area around Safaga has some great diving, the best being the offshore reefs of Panorama Reef, Middle Reef and Abu Kafan. Some divers say this area equals the great sites of Ras Mohamed. The diving offers a combination of shallow reef dives and drop-offs, as well as the famous wreck of the Salem Express.
The Salem Express is a dramatic dive. Around 500 people perished in one of the worst marine tragedies of all times. The 100-metre ferryboat was on its way back from Mecca to Safaga after the annual Muslim pilgrimage in December 1991 when it hit the reef during a stormy night and sunk rapidly without giving the crew and passengers the chance to board the lifeboats. It is now home to a thriving underwater life, including a famous resident frogfish, blue-spotted stingrays, angel and butterfly fish. The ship itself is covered in a large quantity of hard and soft corals. It is one of the largest wrecks in the Egyptian Red Sea, roughly the same size as the Thistlegorm.
There is superb wall diving at Panorama, on the south-east of the plateau is a gorgonian and glassfish corner with the whole plateau covered in soft corals and on the south side is an anemone city.
Hal Hal (Middle Reef) is a rarely chosen dive site due to its distance from the coast, which makes it a virgin spot. The north side is a drop off going down to 80 metres and is a perfect location to spot tunas, barracudas, turtles and sharks. The southern side has colourful coral gardens along with some caves and canyons.
Abu Kafan is a 300-metre long, narrow reef offering a plateau at both north and south tips. We normally jump in the water on the north plateau and glide with the frequent strong current southwards along the impressive walls covered with soft and black coral, giant fans and gorgonians.
The Brother Islands are the pinnacles of two undersea mountains rising from the depths of the abyss and are located about 60 miles offshore. Part of the Marine Park Islands National Park, these islands offer stunning wall diving, with the walls being covered in soft corals and forests of gorgonians, creating a kaleidoscope of ever-changing colours. They attract a diverse array of marine species and large pelagics. Large tuna, jacks and snappers cruise in the blue, accompanied by occasional hammerheads, silvertips, silky and oceanic white tip sharks and mantas. Even the rare thresher shark can be found here. Sightings of the grey reef shark are almost guaranteed on the North and South Plateaux of Small Brother.
Abu Dabab is six reefs commonly known as “Fathers Steps” or “Fathers Stepping Stones” and as the name suggests a set of fairly shallow reefs ranging from depths of 25 metres to the seafloor. In between Abu Dabab II and III at approximately 15 metres is the wreckage of a small ship sunk after a fire in 2004. The reefs themselves offer colourful coral gardens and an underwater cave system to explore. Pods of dolphins have been known to frequent the area as well as blue spotted rays, Napoleons, giant puffers, box fish, sweetlips, batfish, nudibranchs and more.
Elphinstone is approximately 30km from Port Ghalib; Elphinstone reef is 300 metres long with sheer walls richly covered in colourful pink and red soft corals and elegant red gorgonians descending to around 40 metres. Other areas of the reef have near vertical cliffs, overhangs, small caves and drop offs of up to 100 metres. Elphinstone is known to experience some strong currents attracting many diverse species such as barracuda, angel fish, groupers, Napoleons, morays, reef sharks and great shoals of dogtooth tuna and jacks. Occasional sightings include dolphins, turtles, oceanic white tip and hammerheads sharks.