Read an Excerpt
European divers have long considered the Red Sea to be a prime dive location, as it is the tropical sea closest to Europe. Divers from around the world now favor it because the Red Sea offers excellent diving both in winter, when other waters cool, and in spring and summer, in spite of intense African heat.
After the first adventurous expeditions in the 1950s, often organized with limited resources and great ingenuity, tourism has continually developed in certain areas. Lodging, dive centers, and charter boats specially equipped for underwater cruises are now commonplace. Particularly in recent years, the phenomenon has exploded, and the classic northern sites of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh have become sophisticated and well-equipped world-class dive destinations. The regions political stability and the convenient charter flights linking many European cities directly with these two sites have made this development possible.
The number of divers associated with the tourism boom has naturally posed an environmental threat to the regions reefs and their inhabitants. Fortunately, local authorities created underwater parks, such as Ras Mohammad, at the far southern tip of the Sinai peninsula, with the specific aim of preserving and protecting areas of particular environmental importance. These parks had an immediate and noticeable effect. Today, Ras Mohammad and other dive sites (such as the reefs in the Strait of Tiran, or Careless Reef) are among the finest dives in the world, not just in the Red Sea.
To the south, tourist facilities become less common. The seas here, in spite of regular dive visitors, have a unique aura of mystery, rich in contrasts and unpredictable. Interesting sites are the mythical islet of Zabargad, with its abandoned olivine mines dating to the 16th century b.c.; the small Rocky Island, with its noisy tern population; the Brother Islands, which are little more than crags breaking the surface some hundred miles south of the Sinai coast; and the unsettled waters of Dedalus Reef, which few scuba divers visit.
Still farther south, the Sudan, whose waters are a veritable underwater paradise, seems to close its doors to tourism. Diving here requires determination and adaptability. Lastly, the Dahlak Islands have been off limits for many years due to the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
For a region so important to scuba diving history, it is odd that there has never before been a single book to serve as a complete divers guide. This book fills that gap and provides serious divers with an overview of the finest dives in the Red Sea, from the far north to the southernmost Dahlak Islands. Each areas entry includes an underwater route map and a 3-dimensional drawing documenting a complete dive.