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Jul 23, 2024 at 11:59 PM
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South of the tropic of Cancer

The area of St John is rather unusual for the Red Sea. Its peculiarity lies in the formation of its sea-bed, which in this area between the coast and the Island of Zabargad forms a type of underwater plain, with depths ranging from 60 to 80 metres. Numerous reefs (called ‘Abili’ by the locals) rise from the bed, some coming out above sea level while others peak just below the surface.

There is some excellent diving in this area due to the rich marine fauna and flora. As St.John is in the Southern Red Sea, the waters are warmer during their winter season (22°/24° C.) than in the rest of Egypt.

The departure ports are determined by the position of the boats and by the Government guidelines valid at the time. Cruises will always only be carried out if weather conditions are favourable, and touch the numerous dive spots considered to be the best in the area. The Abu Galawa reef, for example, where the main attraction is a small wreck very rich in marine life, is ideal for a check-dive or night dive. Large coral-red barriers like Shaab Mahrus, Shaab Farag, Shaab Osam, Shaab Maksur and others still, are well known for their vertical walls covered in sea-fans and the possibility of meeting pelagic fish, plateaus covered with soft corals and black coral shrubs. Shaab Claudio is, on the other hand, a maze of caves that are easy to visit given the large openings at the sea surface, and has become famous for the wonderful scenery there. Umm Khouram, just above St John, has the same characteristics. The large Shaab Sataya reef is also called dolphin reef because of the dolphins often found there, was well-known for its Roman relics although unfortunately many have now been destroyed by some of its more irresponsible visitors. Shaab Hassan is another great stopover; located in the south-western part of Sataya, large numbers of garden eels raise their heads out of the sand at around 13 metres depth. Shaab Hammam is made up of a length of reefs separated by hard coral corridors, in particular the umbrella corals under which small white-tip sharks can often be found resting.

The trip to St John takes you past the tip of the Ras Banas peninsula, which surrounds the gulf of the ancient port of Bérénice.

The ‘Abili’ are the most typical feature of St. John. Among them: Abil Gaafar, like an underwater pyramid whose peak of hard corals is called the “Japanese garden”, has wonderful walls covered in soft coral and an uninterrupted presence of fish and often pelagics; Meetings with large pelagic fish are a daily occurrence at Abil Ali, including hammerheads, silver sharks, Longimanus and large mantas, and a visit to the north-western part with its giant trenches of sea fans, is not to be missed. Another indigenous species and typical of the Southern area of the Red Sea, is the Rhinoceros fish. Large specimens often crunch the hard corals found between the surface and a depth of 10 metres.

The White Rock reef takes its name from a large white rock which is the only part visible above sea level. Here the hard corals are the main attraction, especially the splendid and spectacular fire coral formations. Shaab Aiman is a show of fabulous hard corals. There is also an enormous Roman-style anchor to be found, completely camouflaged by hard corals. Not far from there, at Abil Salah, on both sides of the main tower are two plateaus covered in fish and colourful rocks.

The boats always anchor in well-sheltered areas, making night dives very easy and enabling you to spend peaceful nights throughout the year.


N.B. Please click on the for underwater maps

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