About 20 km south of Sharm el-Sheikh lies Ras Mohammed, Egypt's first and best preserved marine national park. It is surrounded by a spectacular coral reef formed 70,000 years ago. The park is characterized by vertical walls that can reach a depth of 700 meters and nutrient-rich currents that feed a variety of corals that have created a perfect habitat for underwater fauna.
From small colorful reef fish to large pelagic fish, the biodiversity and exuberance of Ras Mohammed can only be described as extraordinary. More than 1,200 species of fish have been catalogued in this park and 220 species of coral make this reef a must on your northern Red Sea itinerary. Add a visit to the wrecks of the Thistlegorm and the Dunraven near the reef and the trip is even better.
Due to its exceptional beauty and scientific importance, the Egyptian government declared Ras Mohammed a protected area in 1983 with an initial area of only 97 km². The park has been expanded to 480 km² and is still very well preserved due to the local defense of this national treasure and the awareness of divers.
The diving conditions are exceptional, with water temperatures around 20ºC in winter and up to 27ºC in summer. The good visibility of up to 50 meters and the quality of the water allow us to appreciate the good health of Ras Mohammed and to see from the reef the large number of pelagic that come to the area: tuna, barracudas, sharks, schools of carangids... an opportunity to be surrounded by fauna at any time of the year.
The best dive sites in Ras Mohammed
The Thistlegorm is one of the most famous and most dived wrecks in the world, a must dive in the Red Sea. This piece of World War II history tells its tragic story from the bottom of the reef and exemplifies many of the ships sunk during the war. We can still dive among the crew's belongings and see the cargo of motorcycles and trucks it carried. Diving on this wreck is truly impressive and unforgettable.
The famous Thistlegorm motorcycles were designed for the North African campaign during World War II. Image courtesy of ©Simon M Brown diveimage
The Dunraven is not one of the most famous wrecks in the Red Sea, but it is very interesting. We can dive through the corridors and enter the engine room of this steamship that has been submerged for more than 130 years and appreciate the healthy corals that have colonized it and the precious marine species that use it as a refuge such as batfish, hundreds of glass fish or huge groupers.
The Kingston, like the Dunraven, is one of the "grandfathers" of the Red Sea. This steam freighter has been sunk for more than a century, so it looks more like a coral reef that has been in the same waters for thousands of years than a human creation. The stern, which is still in good condition, is now completely covered with coral and a large number of colorful reef fish have made the wreck their home.
Pics by mattk1979
Ras Mohammed coral reefs
These two reefs are the most appreciated not only in Ras Mohammed but in the entire Sinai Peninsula. These adjoining reefs can be seen in a single dive and are a compendium of what we can see in Ras Mohammed: beautiful coral gardens, pelagic fauna and vibrant and colorful reef life. It also holds a curious surprise, the remains of the wreck Yolanda scattered along the bottom: toilets, sinks and bathtubs, forming a beautiful scenario.
Ras Ghozlani is one of the least dived reefs of Ras Mohammed, but of enormous interest, both for the quality of its coral and the life it shelters, and for the small influx of divers. In this reef we can find almost all the coral species of Ras Mohammed and a great variety of reef fish typical of the Red Sea such as banner fish, puffer fish, clown fish or Napoleon wrasse.
Ras Zaatar is a steep wall decorated with colorful alcyonarians, hard corals and some of the largest gorgonian fans in the Red Sea. The entire reef is teeming with small fish that swarm between the corals and features typical Ras Mohammed fauna such as Lionfish, Picasso Triggerfish, Emperor Angelfish and Clownfish.
The Eel Garden takes its name from the beautiful sandy plateau where dozens of endemic Red Sea garden eels, Gorgasia sillneri, live. The garden is surrounded by a beautiful coral reef with many typical Red Sea reef species.
The clear and shallow waters offer us a unique dive in the world. This reef is colonized by anemones and thousands of clownfish dancing in their poisonous homes. A large amount of fauna is concentrated on this beautiful reef that is well worth seeing on your next dive trip to the northern Red Sea.
Thousands of clownfish have made Anemone City their home. Image by Gagliardo
Shark Observatory used to be an excellent area to see reef sharks, but the massive influx of divers has pushed them to other areas of Ras Mohammed. Before you slide down the wall decorated with healthy gorgonians and lots of reef fish, there are beautiful corals just a few inches from the surface, making it a good opportunity to snorkel in the Red Sea.