Posts Tagged ‘Red Sea’

The World’s Best Destinations for Wreck Diving

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Why do the Top 100 Readers Choice Awards, now in their 23rd year, still matter to divers? Because these are your picks, based on thousands of votes from the most experienced dive travelers on the planet. Why do they matter to us? Because every month you hear from our editors on what we think matters in the world of dive travel. For the January/February issue of Scuba Diving we get to listen to you, and we’re taking notes.

Here, we proudly present the No. 1 ranking destinations in the Best Wreck Diving category of the awards. The full list of winning destinations is below.

Pacific and Indian Oceans

1) CHUUCK

Many places boast a few shipwrecks as gee-whiz alternatives to biological reefs, but there’s only one Chuuk, also known as Truk. More than 50 Japanese ships, planes, subs and all manner of machinery, weaponry and fascinating (and sobering) wartime history are on display, the result of America’s deadly aerial barrage on the Japanese fleet in February 1944. This warm, calm lagoon in Micronesia holds a World War II mari- time museum without equal. The 433-foot-long Fujikawa Maru is superb, both for military and marine-life attractions — Zero fighter planes in the hold, deck guns draped in soft corals — and is shallow enough for novices. Tec divers descend 175 feet onto the phenomenal San Francisco to see tanks, trucks and bombs. Shinkoku offers bright invertebrates and school- ing fish; inside, a soldier’s bones rest in sick bay. Chuuk is also a mass grave, a testament to the tragedy of war. — Brandon Cole

Go Now: visittruk.com

2) Red Sea

3) Palau

4) Thailand

5) Hawaii

North America

1) NORTH CAROLINA

Diving North Carolina’s wrecks doesn’t force you to choose between swimming the top deck alongside sand tiger sharks or penetrating. At a handful of sites, including the USS Indra and the tanker Atlas, drop inside tight quarters to navigate alongside these big fish. — Brooke Morton

Go Now: visitnc.com

2) Florida and Florida Springs

3) Washington

4) California

5) Great Lakes

Caribbean and Atlantic

1) BAHAMAS

You might expect that a nation of 700 islands would boast a massive collection of downed ships — and it does. Your favorite might change to whichever one you dived last, be it the shallow and marine-life-rich SS Sapona cargo steamer off Bimini or Edward Williams off New Providence, where you’ll likely come face to face with Caribbean reef sharks and goliath grouper. — Brooke Morton

Go Now: bahamas.com

2) Cayman Islands

3) Bay Islands

4) Curacao

5) Bonaire

Scuba Diving in Egypt Aboard the Red Sea Aggressor Liveaboard

Friday, October 16th, 2015

I hammered away on my tank to attract the rest of the group’s attention, all the while marveling at the school of 19 hammerheads that was cruising in for a closer look at the invading bubble-blowers. My buddy, Brad, and I were the frontier party — hanging way out in the blue of Daedalus, looking for pelagics — while the others meandered along the sheer coral cliff. Our patience had paid off.

As I swam along, soaking up the magnificent view of these bizarre-looking sharks, with their distinctive meandering swimming motion, I was aware of a tank banger going of repeatedly near the reef. Turning to my right, I was astounded to see a 14-foot manta ray gliding toward me. I quickly snapped of a series of photographs as it breezed past me and turned, heading back out into the deep directly over my head. Watching the ray disappear, I caught Brad’s eye, and we celebrated with much fist-pumping. This is what everyone on board had come to the Red Sea for; this is what Daedalus is all about.

BACK IN THE RED

The Aggressor Fleet has returned to the Red Sea, utilizing the tried-and-tested Suzanna 1 as its liveaboard. Red Sea Aggressor — it is also named Suzanna 1 for a variety of reasons — is a modern, well-appointed yacht, initially launched in 2004. On the itinerary I joined, apart from a lone South African and a British couple, all the divers were from the U.S. or Canada. This is great news for Egypt in today’s climate — North Americans know and trust the Aggressor brand. My dive buddy, Brad Gehrt, had been on several Aggressor and Dancer Fleet vessels, and that helped with his decision to try out Red Sea Aggressor for a week.


Red Sea Aggressor runs two itineraries back to back — north to Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone, beloved by Red Sea aficionados; and south to St. John’s/Fury Shoals — so several of the guests had been on the yacht the week before or were staying on after our trip. It’s a smart marketing idea that’s obviously working — if you’ve traveled this far to get here, why not stay for two weeks? Aggressor also does occasional 10-day specials that take in the best bits of both itineraries.

The 120-foot yacht has been outfitted to the highest standards and offers a comfortable base from which to explore the Red Sea. The salon is sumptuously furnished, and the sun decks have plenty of room for everyone, even on a full charter. Aggressor’s rigid inflatable boats are equipped with boarding ladders to make getting back in easier, and they’re larger than the average Red Sea Zodiacs, so even with 10 divers, it’s not too much of a squeeze.

THE BROTHERS

The Brother Islands — also known as El Akhawein — are two pinnacles that protrude from the Red Sea some 60 miles offshore. There’s nothing else around besides these two barren outcrops that lie about a mile apart, magnets for marine life of all shapes and sizes.

Big Brother — the larger of the two, as the name suggests — is roughly cigar-shaped and approximately 2,500 feet long. It is topped by a British lighthouse, built in 1883, that is manned by military personnel who will sell you an “I Dived the Brothers” T-shirt.

On the north point lies the wreck of the Numidia, one of the most stunning wreck dives in the world. This huge cargo ship ran aground in 1901 and sank down the reef, becoming stuck at an impossibly vertical angle on the sheer wall. The bow has been smashed by constant wave action — the top 32 to 40 feet is broken wreckage, but beyond that the ship is remarkably intact down to the props at 280 feet.

Swept by sometimes strong currents, the Numidia is absolutely smothered in soft-coral growth that drapes over the superstructure, railings and masts. Reef fish swarm over the wreck, and gray reef sharks can be seen circling in the blue, along with the odd barracuda, trevally and tuna. The immense size of the wreck, plus its bizarre orientation, make it a dive not to be missed.
Around the west side of Big Brother lies the wreck of the Aida. This Egyptian transport vessel was bringing supplies to the lighthouse in 1957 when it ran aground and broke in half — the bow was obliterated on the shallow reef; the stern sank into deeper water and lodged upright between 115 and 215 feet. You don’t get long on Aida because of the depth, but it’s covered in soft corals and makes for a dramatic view, disappearing into the deep.

Small Brother lies around a mile away, a circular island surrounded by sheer walls and deep plateaus. Currents sweep onto the north point, bringing nutrient-rich waters, which means the soft-coral growth is phenomenal. And you get sharks. Gray reefs are the most regular visitors, but hammerheads and threshers put in the odd appearance — we saw a couple of hammers, and the other RIB encountered a thresher and a manta ray. The sheer weight of life on Small Brother makes it a smorgasbord of rich, vibrant colors as all the reef fish flutter in and out of sponges, coral heads and reef outcroppings.

DAEDALUS

My past three trips to Daedalus — Abu Kizan in Arabic — had been damp squibs, delivering nothing more exciting than the odd barracuda or trevally. This time around, it totally overshadowed its Big and Small Brothers.

After hearing reports of multiple hammerhead sightings during the previous few weeks, I was quietly harboring hopes for this large, circular reef. I needn’t have worried. The first two dives delivered lone and buddy-team hammerheads doing the odd flyby. But it was on the third dive when it all kicked of: a frenetic 10 minutes of glorious shoaling scalloped hammerhead action, which was topped of by a manta ray’s acrobatic display.

Inevitably, the second day at Daedalus couldn’t hold a candle to our manic first experience. We found the odd hammer, and another manta ray in a brief encounter, but otherwise, everyone was happy to enjoy the bizarrely tranquil conditions and absorb the views along the dramatic sheer walls.

ELPHINSTONE

Moving north to Elphinstone, we were greeted by less than ideal weather conditions. We attempted to moor on the northern plateau, but waves soon snapped a line, and our captain wisely motored to the south plateau to join the other liveaboards already there.

A strong current was running from west to east, but a few of us punched through it and hung at 100 feet, scanning the blue for any “men in gray suits.” Just as we were about to give up, we caught sight of two large dolphins, and then another four or five swept overhead and around us. The mammals put on a bit of a show, effortlessly darting here and there on the current-ripped plateau before heading of into the blue.

We drifted with the current down the east wall, keeping an eye on the blue for any pelagics that might show up. Alas, it was not to be, and conditions on the surface had deteriorated, so the cruise director called it quits.

All in all, it’s great to see Aggressor back in the Red Sea, and judging by this trip, a rosy future is guaranteed for this high-end liveaboard. As for me, I can’t wait to dive the southern itinerary.

Pyramid in Egypt

Scott Johnson

Ancient History and Mystery

Egypt’s ancient allure is both topside and below the surface of the Red Sea.

FIVE REASONS TO CHOOSE RED SEA AGGRESSOR

01 Get Wrecked
I defy any diver not to be blown away by the vertical wrecks of Numidia and Aida.

02 Sharks and More Sharks
These offshore marine parks are famous for their shark encounters, including gray reef, hammerhead, oceanic whitetip, thresher, and even the occasional tiger and whale sharks.

03 Catch My Drift
Due to their location in the middle of the Red Sea, the Brothers and Daedalus can sometimes be swept by extremely strong currents — get ready to put on your best Superman pose as you fly along the sheer walls.

04 Remoteness
For most of the itinerary you will not have any cellphone signal; after all, you’re here to get away from life’s hustle and bustle. (Yes, there is a satellite phone available if you must.)

05 Culture Vulture
You can’t travel all the way to Egypt and not venture out to some of the ancient attractions. The Aggressor team can assist with visits to the Pyramids and Valley of the Kings, and cruises down the River Nile.

NEED TO KNOW

When To GoYear-round, but the better conditions tend to be in summer. Winter can deliver more shark action.

Dive Conditions Summer water temps average 84 degrees, so a
 3 mm shorty or wetsuit is sufficient. In winter, temps can drop to 73 degrees, so a 7 mm suit (or drysuit) is a better option. Entries and exits from the RIBs can be rough; being comfortable with back rolls and negative descents is a plus.

Logistics Red Sea Aggressor departs from Port Ghalib, near Marsa Alam. There are numerous fights into Hurghada, about a four-hour minibus transfer from the marina, or you can get on a scheduled fight into Marsa Alam International Airport.

Operator Red Sea Aggressor (aggressor.com) can take 20 passengers and 12 crew.

Price Tag Deluxe staterooms start from $1,899.

Scuba Diving in Egypt Aboard the Red Sea Aggressor Liveaboard

Friday, October 16th, 2015

I hammered away on my tank to attract the rest of the group’s attention, all the while marveling at the school of 19 hammerheads that was cruising in for a closer look at the invading bubble-blowers. My buddy, Brad, and I were the frontier party — hanging way out in the blue of Daedalus, looking for pelagics — while the others meandered along the sheer coral cliff. Our patience had paid off.

As I swam along, soaking up the magnificent view of these bizarre-looking sharks, with their distinctive meandering swimming motion, I was aware of a tank banger going of repeatedly near the reef. Turning to my right, I was astounded to see a 14-foot manta ray gliding toward me. I quickly snapped of a series of photographs as it breezed past me and turned, heading back out into the deep directly over my head. Watching the ray disappear, I caught Brad’s eye, and we celebrated with much fist-pumping. This is what everyone on board had come to the Red Sea for; this is what Daedalus is all about.

BACK IN THE RED

The Aggressor Fleet has returned to the Red Sea, utilizing the tried-and-tested Suzanna 1 as its liveaboard. Red Sea Aggressor — it is also named Suzanna 1 for a variety of reasons — is a modern, well-appointed yacht, initially launched in 2004. On the itinerary I joined, apart from a lone South African and a British couple, all the divers were from the U.S. or Canada. This is great news for Egypt in today’s climate — North Americans know and trust the Aggressor brand. My dive buddy, Brad Gehrt, had been on several Aggressor and Dancer Fleet vessels, and that helped with his decision to try out Red Sea Aggressor for a week.


Red Sea Aggressor runs two itineraries back to back — north to Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone, beloved by Red Sea aficionados; and south to St. John’s/Fury Shoals — so several of the guests had been on the yacht the week before or were staying on after our trip. It’s a smart marketing idea that’s obviously working — if you’ve traveled this far to get here, why not stay for two weeks? Aggressor also does occasional 10-day specials that take in the best bits of both itineraries.

The 120-foot yacht has been outfitted to the highest standards and offers a comfortable base from which to explore the Red Sea. The salon is sumptuously furnished, and the sun decks have plenty of room for everyone, even on a full charter. Aggressor’s rigid inflatable boats are equipped with boarding ladders to make getting back in easier, and they’re larger than the average Red Sea Zodiacs, so even with 10 divers, it’s not too much of a squeeze.

THE BROTHERS

The Brother Islands — also known as El Akhawein — are two pinnacles that protrude from the Red Sea some 60 miles offshore. There’s nothing else around besides these two barren outcrops that lie about a mile apart, magnets for marine life of all shapes and sizes.

Big Brother — the larger of the two, as the name suggests — is roughly cigar-shaped and approximately 2,500 feet long. It is topped by a British lighthouse, built in 1883, that is manned by military personnel who will sell you an “I Dived the Brothers” T-shirt.

On the north point lies the wreck of the Numidia, one of the most stunning wreck dives in the world. This huge cargo ship ran aground in 1901 and sank down the reef, becoming stuck at an impossibly vertical angle on the sheer wall. The bow has been smashed by constant wave action — the top 32 to 40 feet is broken wreckage, but beyond that the ship is remarkably intact down to the props at 280 feet.

Swept by sometimes strong currents, the Numidia is absolutely smothered in soft-coral growth that drapes over the superstructure, railings and masts. Reef fish swarm over the wreck, and gray reef sharks can be seen circling in the blue, along with the odd barracuda, trevally and tuna. The immense size of the wreck, plus its bizarre orientation, make it a dive not to be missed.
Around the west side of Big Brother lies the wreck of the Aida. This Egyptian transport vessel was bringing supplies to the lighthouse in 1957 when it ran aground and broke in half — the bow was obliterated on the shallow reef; the stern sank into deeper water and lodged upright between 115 and 215 feet. You don’t get long on Aida because of the depth, but it’s covered in soft corals and makes for a dramatic view, disappearing into the deep.

Small Brother lies around a mile away, a circular island surrounded by sheer walls and deep plateaus. Currents sweep onto the north point, bringing nutrient-rich waters, which means the soft-coral growth is phenomenal. And you get sharks. Gray reefs are the most regular visitors, but hammerheads and threshers put in the odd appearance — we saw a couple of hammers, and the other RIB encountered a thresher and a manta ray. The sheer weight of life on Small Brother makes it a smorgasbord of rich, vibrant colors as all the reef fish flutter in and out of sponges, coral heads and reef outcroppings.

DAEDALUS

My past three trips to Daedalus — Abu Kizan in Arabic — had been damp squibs, delivering nothing more exciting than the odd barracuda or trevally. This time around, it totally overshadowed its Big and Small Brothers.

After hearing reports of multiple hammerhead sightings during the previous few weeks, I was quietly harboring hopes for this large, circular reef. I needn’t have worried. The first two dives delivered lone and buddy-team hammerheads doing the odd flyby. But it was on the third dive when it all kicked of: a frenetic 10 minutes of glorious shoaling scalloped hammerhead action, which was topped of by a manta ray’s acrobatic display.

Inevitably, the second day at Daedalus couldn’t hold a candle to our manic first experience. We found the odd hammer, and another manta ray in a brief encounter, but otherwise, everyone was happy to enjoy the bizarrely tranquil conditions and absorb the views along the dramatic sheer walls.

ELPHINSTONE

Moving north to Elphinstone, we were greeted by less than ideal weather conditions. We attempted to moor on the northern plateau, but waves soon snapped a line, and our captain wisely motored to the south plateau to join the other liveaboards already there.

A strong current was running from west to east, but a few of us punched through it and hung at 100 feet, scanning the blue for any “men in gray suits.” Just as we were about to give up, we caught sight of two large dolphins, and then another four or five swept overhead and around us. The mammals put on a bit of a show, effortlessly darting here and there on the current-ripped plateau before heading of into the blue.

We drifted with the current down the east wall, keeping an eye on the blue for any pelagics that might show up. Alas, it was not to be, and conditions on the surface had deteriorated, so the cruise director called it quits.

All in all, it’s great to see Aggressor back in the Red Sea, and judging by this trip, a rosy future is guaranteed for this high-end liveaboard. As for me, I can’t wait to dive the southern itinerary.

Pyramid in Egypt

Scott Johnson

Ancient History and Mystery

Egypt’s ancient allure is both topside and below the surface of the Red Sea.

FIVE REASONS TO CHOOSE RED SEA AGGRESSOR

01 Get Wrecked
I defy any diver not to be blown away by the vertical wrecks of Numidia and Aida.

02 Sharks and More Sharks
These offshore marine parks are famous for their shark encounters, including gray reef, hammerhead, oceanic whitetip, thresher, and even the occasional tiger and whale sharks.

03 Catch My Drift
Due to their location in the middle of the Red Sea, the Brothers and Daedalus can sometimes be swept by extremely strong currents — get ready to put on your best Superman pose as you fly along the sheer walls.

04 Remoteness
For most of the itinerary you will not have any cellphone signal; after all, you’re here to get away from life’s hustle and bustle. (Yes, there is a satellite phone available if you must.)

05 Culture Vulture
You can’t travel all the way to Egypt and not venture out to some of the ancient attractions. The Aggressor team can assist with visits to the Pyramids and Valley of the Kings, and cruises down the River Nile.

NEED TO KNOW

When To GoYear-round, but the better conditions tend to be in summer. Winter can deliver more shark action.

Dive Conditions Summer water temps average 84 degrees, so a
 3 mm shorty or wetsuit is sufficient. In winter, temps can drop to 73 degrees, so a 7 mm suit (or drysuit) is a better option. Entries and exits from the RIBs can be rough; being comfortable with back rolls and negative descents is a plus.

Logistics Red Sea Aggressor departs from Port Ghalib, near Marsa Alam. There are numerous fights into Hurghada, about a four-hour minibus transfer from the marina, or you can get on a scheduled fight into Marsa Alam International Airport.

Operator Red Sea Aggressor (aggressor.com) can take 20 passengers and 12 crew.

Price Tag Deluxe staterooms start from $1,899.

March Special – Save 50% on Red Sea Aggressor!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Aggressor Fleet & Dancer Fleet

Red Sea Aggressor

Book a new reservation on the Red Sea Aggressor starting Sept. 25, 2015 for any of the following weeks and save 50%. Thats right, it’s March Madness month and we are offering big savings.

March 5 – 12, 2016
March 12 – 19, 2016
March 19 – 26, 2016
March 26 – April 2, 2016

Money saving specials and other promotions do not apply. Added benefits for groups do not apply. Applies to individuals, couples, and groups.

Details

Valid From: March 5, 2016
Valid To: April 2, 2016
Price/Rate: $750.00
Booking Email: info@liveaboardfleet.com
Booking Phone: 1-800-348-2628
Website: www.aggressor.com

My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 1: Million Hope Wreck (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler)

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

“So what’s your favorite dive site?” asked a freshly scuba addicted student yesterday.
“Ummm… That’s a really hard question!” I’d replied.
He looked puzzled, “Why?”

Why indeed. I am a PADI Instructor, as are many of you. I am sure you get asked about your favorite dive site all of the time too – don’t you? What is your answer? How do you choose? How is it possible to remember every amazing experience underwater and then pick only one? It is almost always impossible. Diving is incredible in so many ways. You can enjoy a wreck dive as much as a wildlife dive, but we love them each for very different reasons.

So I thought I would write about my top 3 dive sites in this three-part blog series. Surely I can narrow it down to 3!

Dive Site 1: Million Hope Wreck

Location: Nabq Sharm El Sheikh
Description: Wreck
Length: 130 meters
Depth: 0-30 meters

Million Hope

This wreck has it all. It’s huge, it’s in shallow water, it’s covered in coral and teeming with life. This wreck is rarely dived due to its proximity to the shore line, and notoriously choppy waters make it hard to get there. However, if you are lucky enough to dive it you will be in for a real treat. It took me three trips to Egypt and many attempts by RIB before we had the right conditions to dive the Million Hope Wreck!

Why I love it…

Some of the ship is still visible above the surface but the majority is underwater. The shallow depth makes this wreck one of the most colourful and vibrant wrecks that I have ever seen. The traffic of fish was thick and the nudibranch were out in force. Beautiful.

It’s a big wreck! It is possible to get round it in one dive, although the use of nitrox to extend bottom time will make it a lot easier. This wreck sank in 1996 whilst heading for Cyprus. It was carrying fertilizer high in phosphates; the cargo had to be removed following an algae bloom, but there is still lots to see. The cranes that lie on the bottom create overhangs and there is even a Caterpillar crane at 22 meters; a bizarre addition to the dive that’s covered in colourful soft corals. The rotten seat and flooded controls are contrasted by the many scorpion, lion and glassfish that have made their home there.

Million Hope Wreck

White broccoli coral hangs from the ship’s stern but unfortunately the prop and rudder have been removed, leaving a void that the coral struggles to fill. It is one of the places on this ship that makes you feel very, very small! The hull is covered by enormous fire sponges and pajama slugs, as well as there being numerous starfish and pipefish clinging to it. There is a rotary telephone and a toilet seat in the sand surrounded by raspberry coral. There are penetration points everywhere; crew quarters, illuminated by various portholes; a work room complete with spanners on wall hooks, and where a piece of cloth still tied around an old radiator reminds us that this was a working ship.

You can also see the two boilers and twin six-cylinder engines before going up to make your safety stop. My “safety stop” lasted for more than 15 minutes! It was so beautiful between 3 and 5 meters that I could have stayed there forever.  The Million hope is a photographer’s dream – so full of natural light. The contrast of this huge rusty beast next to the multi-colored coral is one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen.

Million Hope Wreck

If you’ve enjoyed this article, watch this space for Part 2 next week!


Alexandra DimitriouAlexandra Dimitriou-Engeler is a PADI Dive Center owner in Agia Napa, Cyprus. She became a diver in 1992 and received her bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at Plymouth University in 2003. Her love of the ocean has always been her driving force, and this has led to the natural progression of becoming a diving instructor in 2005. She is currently a PADI staff instructor and owner of Scuba Monkey Ltd and is writing a series of guest blogs for PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The post My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 1: Million Hope Wreck (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler) appeared first on PADIProsEurope.