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SCUBA DIVING IN AQABA

The Wreck of the "Cedar Pride" - Following a fire on board, The Late King Hussein decided to buy the ship and appointed his son Prince Abdullah (now King Abdullah II) to oversee the project of creating an artificial reef.

There are over thirty main diving sites in Aqaba, most of them suitable for all levels of competence. Aqaba is all fringing reef stretching for a distance of over 25kms right down to the Saudi Arabian border, there are no off-shore reefs. The reef starts literally at the waters edge and extends like the fingers of your hands into canyons leading to pinnacles and drop offs. At most sites, when you are only 100m from the shore you are already descending to 50m or more. When shore diving, the dive starts as soon as you enter the water and continues until the last few centimetres.

Colourful corals thrive in the warm waters of the Red Sea.

The beaches are all easily accessible and the transport used can drive right up to the waters edge. By road, the furthest reef (the "Saudi Border" reef) is about 25 minutes from the town of Aqaba.

Underwater photographers will be pleased to hear that Nitrox is available in Aqaba.
If you bring your own diving suit, then in the winter months a 5-6mm suit is OK, in summer a 3mm shorty is fine, but it is always better to be warmer when in the water, especially if you are good on air or an avid underwater photographer, scarcely moving from one pinnacle.

Their smiles say it all.

Diving goes on all the year round, with different species to be seen in the different seasons. In June /July there are whale sharks, in February one can often see Mantas. A northerly wind blows down Wadi Araba all the year, which in the summer is a cooling breeze, but in winter it can be a bit chilly.

Attributes of Aqaba as a diving destination

Listed below the main attributes of Aqaba as a diving destination:

  • The sea in the Gulf of Aqaba is almost invariably calm with temperatures varying between 19/20 C in winter months to 26 C in summer. All diving is shore based as Aqaba offers fringing reef which commences at the shore line. There are no off-shore reefs to warrant boat diving. The soft and hard coral formations are spectacular and there are many species unique to this area.
  • The Red Sea Marine Peace Park is one of the most amazing Gulf of Aqaba’s attractions. This place is known to be one of the most beautiful diving areas of the world due to the amazing combination of sea life, corals, water transparency and nice weather it offers year around. Whether visitors go in summer or winter, water temperatures are always nice and transparency allows them to observe its marine life with the highest clarity.
  • You would be able to enjoy diving in the Gulf of Aqaba whether you are an experienced diver or a beginner since there are dive operators and qualified instructors available for every level. You would also easily find diving equipment rentals and everything you might need for diving
  • Great for photography and video viz 30-45m year round
  • Many dive centers to choose from offering a variety of unique experiences and options for the diver
  • Red Sea diving without crowds.

The Principal Reefs and Dive Sites of Aqaba:

POWER STATION – Located 5 Kms south of Aqaba town. Swim over fringing reef which drops down to 5m with sand and patch reef, from where reef slopes down to 20m and drops away to 200m. Swim down over the wall edge to depth of 30m and swim south.

FIRST BAY - From try dives to technical diving - this site provides for all - Diving south from the mooring you find a cabbage coral at 18m on the corner of the reef follow the wall back to the north and follow the contour of the reef. (For tec divers continue straight out to Death Valley starting at 50m and then south to Walter's Wall and George's Gulley which drops to 80m plus). The normal dive continues to the North where you will pass over a wide expanse of coral with black coral trees and come to a sandy gulley, follow this back up to 12m and work your way back across the reefs to the mooring.

CAZAR REEF- Next to the Marine Reserve and also the location of Club Murjan, the Alcazar's beach club. Enter at south side of gully edging down to 18m, lots of Cornet fish and Fusiliers, a cabbage coral marks the corner of the reef. Swim northwards over some large black corals to a pinnacle at 17m covered in soft coral.

EEL GARDEN – Site of the famous " pinnacle " - Named after the myriads of garden eels resident in the sand and grass areas here. One of the largest populations in the Red Sea! This provides an excellent area for photography. There is a sandy slope down to 20m (covered in garden eels - you need to stay still for them to appear) where there is a fantastic display of black corals.

KING ABDULLAH REEF – Approx 5 mins drive from the Club in an area known as the Tourist Camp. Enter the site through a maze of fringing reef with fantastic displays of Fire coral. Drop down to 5m and follow slope down to 12m to a large pinnacle full of a variety of marine life. Head across the sand to a large circular reef with a Gorgonia Fan coral in centre. Continue down to 24m where shoaling Pennant Fish have a "permanent" home. Ascend slowly in a circle and watch territorial displays Parrot Fish till you reach 10m.

BLACK ROCK – The northern side of Wreck Bay, adjacent to the former Tourist Camp. Entry at a gravel and shingle point, swim out and pick up the reef on the right and swim down to the planned depth, usually around 25m. Heading north there are immense coral slopes and valleys with large black coral "bushes". This is frequented by Hawksbill turtles.

THE WRECK OF THE CEDAR PRIDE - A Lebanese freighter scuttled in 1983 which now hosts a wide variety of hard and soft corals. She is intact and lies across two reefs on her port side. Divers can swim under her at 27m. She can take several dives to fully appreciate and is an excellent night dive. It is also the site for beautiful sea horses.

JAPANESE GARDENS - Also in Wreck Bay but to the southern end. Entry is through a narrow gully in the fringing reef and then descend to an eel grass bed, where you will find Snowflake Morays. The main reef is encountered at 5m then follow it down through shoals of Orange Basselets and Sergeant Majors.

TAIYONG Wreck - This wreck was discovered by the Dive Aqaba Tec Team in 2004. She lies on her starboard side in 50 metres of water off the dive site known as the Japanese Gardens, the maximum depth on the wreck is 57m and the top of the wreck is 35m. She was bought by the Aqaba port authority in 1974 and was used for off loading ships coming to Aqaba.

GORGONE ONE – Approx 8 mins drive from the Club. Named after the huge Gorgonia fan coral at 16m. After a zig zag entrance thru' fringing reef you are confronted with a huge Cabbage coral, the size of a house, there is also a resident turtle.

GORGONE 2 – Approx 500m south from Gorgone 1. Easy entry onto a shallow grassy area, swim out a distance of 30m to where the reef starts at 2m - 3m depth, often Scorpion Fish, Stone Fish and Crocodile Fish are seen at the base of the reef.

7 SISTERS - Here 7 pinnacles of coral vie for your attention over a solid coral reef. Luckily the depth is only 8-9m so you can enjoy the wonders each has to offer. Big Eye Emperor and shoals of Fusiliers live around these pinnacles.

7 SISTERS TO TANK - Easy entry over grass to where reef starts at 2-3 m. Lots of interesting invertebrate life in the shallows... Swim through the pinnacles and then turn in towards the shore to another set of pinnacles "the Fairy Ring".... Continue south at 8 m where patchy coral makes way for grass and sand till you will see in 6m an M40 anti aircraft tracked vehicle ("The Tank") scuttled in September 1999 to create an artificial reef.

OLIVER'S CANYON - A little more care is needed on entry as the terrain is rather rugged between the corals. Swimming through the fringing reef Surgeon Fish are seen here, to a small pinnacle and then continue down a gully with corals rising steeply on either side.

EEL CANYON – Located in what is referred to as “Big Bay” approx 10 mins drive from the Club. A spectacular canyon dropping between 2 reefs with an eel garden at the bottom.

AL SHOROUK -This wreck lies deep off the Eel Canyon dive site, to the West of Kirk's Forest in 38 - 58m. The ship is lying on her starboard side across two reefs lying West to East (bow to the East) this means that depths of over 60m can easily be achieved under the wreck.

YELLOWSTONE REEF – Also in Big Bay, care is needed at the entrance as there is sharp rubble and urchins. Once over this you pass over a large mountain coral (Yellowstone) at 5 m a good place for a safety stop at the end of the dive..

BLUE CORAL - A flat piece of "slab" marks the entrance of this unusual site. Care is needed on entry as the slab and flat stones can often be slippery and there are urchins lurking. Once over this area swim across the grass down to 12m where the reef starts.

KALLI'S PLACE – At the southern end of Big Bay. Named after one of Seastar's original instructors, Dr Kalli de Meyer, now head of the Coral Reef Alliance in the Caribbean. After an easy entry over shingle descend down a grassy spur to 7m and there on the right is a spectacular small reef with a mountain coral on top.

SHIPS PLACE - Named after a ship was pushed up onto the reef but successfully towed off with little damage to the reef. An easy entry on sand and grass down a slope to 10m where a narrow canyon steeply drops to great depths.

PARADISE - Named for all the beautiful soft red coral in the area. The dive can only be made at High Tide, wading out over the reef plateau. The reef drops to 6m straight away and you head out over grass with coral bommies. As you go deeper the coral gets more dense until at 30m you reach a wall.

Moon Valley - Be careful that you don't go too deep here! Named after a valley in Wadi Rum this site drops of steeply but offers a nice dive in the medium depth range 10-25m. Large pelagics can be spotted here, the occasional shark.

Click here for the map of diving sites in Aqaba

 

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