Diving Egypt: Elphinstone Reef
The Red Sea has some of the best diving in the world - including Elphinstone, in Egypt, whose dives are detailed here.
Elphinstone is 6.5 nautical miles from the shore. You reach it by boat, either a liveaboard or on a day trip from Marsa Alam. It is better to do it from a liveaboard because you get longer on it, and the dive guides generally let you go deeper. It is 300 m long with sheer sides, and runs from North to South. At the middle it is just 1 m deep, but the walls drop steeply down to the depths. The current here can be very strong, which is good as it means plenty of fish life. Visibility is usually around 20 m.
"All cover of soft coral. hammerhead, grey reef sharks, longimanus sharks, huge napoleon and tuna...50 m gorgonia and 56 cave passing the all the reef....topppp
Leonardo, Italy, 3 September 2012
"Elphinstone is a fantastic drift dive. Large shoals of tuna and a turtle were the highlight of the dives. Excellent and exhilerating.
Steve Ivell, 2009
"Great dive but can be frightening in strong current."
Bob Smitherman, 2008
"After ten minutes one big manta was coming from east of the reef: spectacular
Alessandro, Italy, 2008
Two pinacles are on the north side of Elphinstone, the first at 42 m. You then swim back along a series of plateaus at diminishing depths (see the picture to the right). Look out for sharks, especially Oceanic White Tips which are somethimes seen here along with their pilot fish. Other things to see inlcude barracuda, emperor angel fish, zebra angel fish, hoards of anthias, beautiful soft corals, big groupers, giant morays and shoals of suez fusiliers.
"We dived the north in early July and at 34 m saw a 3.5m Tiger shark! Breath taking!
Martyn Slater, 2009
The plateaus of the south features a garden of soft corals, and look carefully for the colourful nudibranchs here. Sharks lurk at the tip. You can swim down the west side of the reef, and back up the east.
At the south end of Elphinstone is an archway. It's deep - 65 m - and contains a rock looking very like a sarcophagus.
"Arch was awesome done it twice...the rock is really like a sarcophagus. You can get through at around 55 m.
The east side is a great drop-off with huge gorgonia and yet more soft corals. There is some damage at the southern tip though. This can make a good, gentle (depending on the current obviously) drift dive. Large maori (napoleon) wrasse may escort you.
The west is less steep and slightly sandier than the East. Again, huge gorgonia and corals. There are lots of overhangs and small caves. Titan triggerfish patrol and squirrel fish inhabit the overhangs. At around 15 m are many siderea grisea eels. A lovely dive with the possibility of seeing turtles.
Although we recommend using a liveaboard to dive Elphinstone, you can do it as a day trip from Marsa Alam. For contact details for these, and the liveaboard operators, see our Southern Dive Operators page.
We recommend these books for your trip to Egypt.
- Marsa Alam - Diving Guide and Logbook
- by Julien Stein, Travelling Diver, (2008)
For £12.50 you get a guide-come-logbook for the Red Sea area around Marsa Alam, Egypt. The format is loose sheets designed to fit into a diving logbook binder. Includes Elphinstone. Read our review.
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
- 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, 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. An excellent sea life guide which I always take to the Red Sea
- 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
- Red Sea Map
- Road map and chart of all the major dive sites in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea and Djibouti.
- 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.
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