Map of the Red Sea

Diving the Egyptian Red Sea: The Brothers

The Red Sea has some of the best diving in the world, including The Brothers whose dives are detailed here. To dive at the Brothers, and other Egyptian marine parks, you need to have: logged at least 50 dives, have valid insurance, have a surface marker buoy and a torch.

You might also be interested in liveaboards visiting the Brothers, the diving at Elphinstone, wreck diving in Northern Egypt, diving in Dahab, diving in Jordan or diving in Saudi Arabia. More photos of diving around the Brothers are in the our Photo Gallery.

Diving the Brothers Further Reading Comments

Big Brother coral reef by Tim Nicholson
Big Brother. Photo credit: Tim Nicholson.


Diving the Brothers

The Brothers, or El Akhawein, are two small islands in the middle (width-ways) of the Red Sea. Big Brother and Little Brother are a 5 minute boat ride apart. The larger Brother is home to a lighthouse manned by the military. Often surrounded by wild currents, the scenary makes for some wonderful dives. Add to this the high likelihood of seeing sharks, and you're guaranteed fantastic experiences. We prefer the Little Brother for sheer decorativeness, but it's a narrow decision.

The Brothers are steep-sided cones. They were probably formed by volcanic action caused by the spreading of the Red Sea rift.

The Egyptian authorities have acted to protect the Brothers: the islands are periodically closed to divers, and even when open a $5 (US) fee per diver per day is charged (the money going towards protecting the marine environment). At the moment diving is allowed so go whilst you've got the opportunity.

Photo copyright Tim Nicholson

Getting There

Book a place on a liveaboard, generally out of Hurgahda. You can make your way independently to Hurghada and join the boat there, or book a complete package from your own country. For suggestions of companies operating dive boats and complete packages, see the Dive Operators page. The trip from Hurghada to the Brothers takes around 8 hours.

Liveaboard moored off Big Brother

When to Go

You need good weather to dive the Brothers. It's an exposed spot with no shelter for boats to moor up in. Anchoring is forbidden so mooring is at permanently fixed buoys. In very bad weather these may be swept away. The winds are often weakest during full moon, and if you can stand the heat, the months of June, July and August are the calmest. Sharks increase in number from May.

Big Brother, Aida II Depth: 15m to >45m
Davits on the Aida II wreck, Big Brother wreck

The Aida II is an Italian ship which was carrying troops one night in 1957 when it hit Big Brother. A large wreck with much intact superstructure, its shallowest point is at 15 m. Located on the Western tip of the island, the current is often strong. It may even diverge over the wreck. So you could hang easily over the mast, but a few metres either side would be battling to stay in one place. Watch the fish over the wreck and make for the ones that aren't moving very quicky.

A very good dive indeed with huge shoals of fish generally present, and large pelagics swooping in with the current. It slopes down the reef, descending to over 45 metres.

Big Brother, Numidia Depth: ~10m
Numidia wreck, Big Brother

There is more wreckage not far north from the Aida. Part of it looks like train carriages, accompanied by large wheels.

Big Brother, South-East Tip Depth: >40m

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended

A wall of soft corals drops to 40m, where you hit a short plateau. Over the edge of the plateau another wall descends even further. An excellent dive where you might see hammerhead or white tip reef sharks, schools of jacks, big grouper and scores of other fish.

Big Brother, South-West Wall Depth: >40m

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended

Soft Coral PhotoWhich direction you take along the wall depends on the current. It can be a lovely drift dive. A Victorian lighthouse stands in the middle of the south-west side of the Island, and you'll know when you're under the jetty projecting from the lighthouse from the old cans and other debris present. Choose your maximum depth: just about any is possible here so you can do as shallow or deep a dive as you wish.

Photo by Tim Nicholson
For enlargement click picture

Big Brother, North-East Wall Depth: >40m

A very similar dive to the south wall.

Big Brother Depth: >40m

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended

Flag fish on Big Brother

"Unspoilt wall dives, swathed in soft coral, hammerheads and mantas, shoals of snapper and jack - big current, big experience. "
Helen Moffatt, 2009

"Never the same twice and always a good chance of all sorts of sharks."
Mike O'Neill, 2009

"My first encounter with a school of hammerheads on a scooter dive. Great diving and awesome scenery. "
Xavier Merlin, 2008

"Two semi deep wrecks, strong currents make for challenging diving rewarded by untouched coral that flies by after hanging in the current shadow for hammerhead sharks and more."
Ethan Fox, Denmark, 2007

Little Brother Depth: >40m
Soft corals on Little Brother

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended

Little Brother's reef stretches out to the North East of the island and bottoms out to a sandy bottom at around 47 m. A beautiful dive with an excess of black coral, soft corals and sea fans. The top of the reef is between 2 and 6m from the surface and so there's plenty to see at the end of the dive.

"The smaller of the two brothers packs a punch - what it lacks in size certainly is made up for in it's fatastic wall scenery. the plethora of soft coral, of all shapes and sizes. I seem to have more luck on the south western edge of this island in encountering sharks too. Fantastic experience if you catch a calm period! "
Ashley Kidd

"Beautiful soft coral all over the site and Big change of multiple Grey Reef Sharks and sometimes Scalloped Hammerhead Shark. "
Edwin, Netherlands, 2008


Red Sea Diving Books

Some useful books to take with you on your trip to the Brothers.

Shipwrecks from the Egyptian Red Sea
by Ned Middleton, Hardback, Immel Publishing, 196 pages, 2006.
The author spent over 8 years engaged in dedicated research into the many shipwrecks which are found in this part of the world. There are nineteen major featured shipwrecks - including two which are only recently discovered. These are followed by brief details of another eighteen vessels which were too small to be classified as ships - tugboats, barges etc. Finally, there are brief details of approx. 250 additional vessels that are either not yet discovered, far too deep for scuba divers or never even existed.
34% off at Amazon.co.uk
or Buy from Amazon.com
Dive Red Sea: The Ultimate Guide
by Simon Rogerson and John McIntyre, Paperback, Ultimate Sports Publications Ltd, 320 pages, 2007.
In the main devoted to Egypt, but also covers Jordan, Yemen, Djibouti, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Eritrea.
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
or Amazon.com
Red Sea Map
Road map and chart of all the major dive sites in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea and Djibouti.
Coral Reef Guide Red Sea
by Ewald Lieske and Robert Myers, Collins, 384 Pages, Paperback (2004)
Coral Reef Guide Red Sea covers all common species of underwater life of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden that you are likely to see while diving or snorkelling. Each species is illustrated with a full-colour photograph and the text gives details of range and characteristic behaviour. A map of good dive sites appears on the inside front cover. Includes jellyfish, corals, nudibranchs, starfish, sea urchins, fishes and turtles.
More details and 20% off at Amazon.co.uk
buy from Amazon.com
Red Sea Sharks (In Depth Divers' Guide)
by Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch, Trident Press, Hardback, (1999)
A comprehensive guide to the sharks of the Red Sea.

Note: If you buy any book through one of these links, the SCUBA Travel site earns a commission (at no extra cost to yourself). Thank you for making your purchases from here and helping support the development of this site.


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Rest of the Red Sea

Diving Egypt

Diving Saudi Arabia

Diving the Red Sea

Diving Jordan

Diving Djibouti

Diving Sudan

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