The Middle East offer some of the world’s best diving. With visibility that range from not great to amazing and wrecks shallow enough for entry level divers and others more suited for advanced divers, there really is something for everyone.
1. Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red Sea
Where: Strait of Gubal, Sharm El Sheikh, Red Sea.
Highlights: The Thistlegorm was a WWII British cargo vessel that was sunk by a German air attack in 1941. It was re-discovered by Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1952. Divers can see the ship’s anti-aircraft gun, locomotives, tanks, army trucks, jeeps, motorbikes, boots, rifles and spare parts for cars and planes. There are many penetration options and a number of holds to explore on the Thistlegorm.
Dive conditions: Currents on the wreck can be strong with currents on the surface and on the wreck running in different directions. The wreck lays between 16 and 35m, with most of the explorable areas deeper than 20m, making it a dive for advanced and deep divers. Water temperature here averages between 19 and 28° C.
2. Satil Wreck
Where: Eilat, Israel.
Highlights: The Satil was a French missile ship, scuttled in 1994. The wreck is semi penetrable at the bow (which lays at 18m) and the stern (which lays at 21m). The bow and stern are separated by the bridge which is covered in purple soft coral. Divers can see Arabian Angel and Emperor Fish (endemic to the Red Sea), octopus, pipefish and lionfish. You can also explore the skipper’s seat and wheel.
Dive conditions: min/max depth, water temp. The wreck lays between 18 and 25m and water temperature ranges between 27 to 30°C in the summer and 20 to 22°C in winter months.
3. Cedar Pride Wreck
Where: Aqaba, Jordan – A travel advisory to exercise increased caution is in effect for Jordan.
Highlights: The Cedar Pride belonged to a Lebanese shipping company. A fire on the ship in 1982 destroyed it beyond repair- yet still afloat. Eventually in 1985 the Kind of Jordan had the vessel scuttled to create an artificial reef. The wreck is covered in coral and lays on her port side. The inner cabins and engine room are penetrable by qualified divers. For the adventurous, night dives are possible on the wreck but 12 hour notice needs to be provided for this as Navy personal need to be present during night diving activities.
Dive conditions: The top of the mast reaches up to 7 m while the maximum depth of the wreck is around 27m. Water temperature around the wreck ranges between 20 and 28°C.
4. Al Munasir Wreck
Where: Muscat, Oman.
Highlights: The Al Munasir was a landing craft, scuttled in 2003 by the Royal Navy of Oman to form an artificial reef. The wreck sits upright and can be penetrated s shallow as 6m by qualified divers. Marine life around the wreck includes turtles, moray eels, shark, schooling snapper, goatfish, box fish and angelfish.
Dive conditions: The Al Munasir lays between 6 and 30m deep in water ranging from 21 in the winter to 31°C in the summer.
5. Inchcape 1 Wreck
Where: Al Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.
Highlights: The wreck was scuttled in 2001 by Inchcape Shipping. It is a small barge with 2 huge resident moray eels. Fred, the original eel is nearly 3m long! Divers can spot seahorses on the stern of the wreck and barracuda, stone fish, scorpion fish, jacks and schools of snappers/fusiliers hang around the wreck. Penetration of this wreck is not possible.
Dive conditions: The deck is at about 27m while the hull rests at 30m. Water temperature ranges between 19 and 27°C.
While the wrecks in the Middle East are all relatively new, they have all become integrated parts of the marine environment. The wrecks are teeming with fish life and each hold a bit of history to explore.
* A version of this article first appeared at www.scubadiverlife.com