Ras Umm Sid is situated to the north of Sharm el Maya. The dive sites will always be one of the classic dives of the area. It is renowned for its gorgonian forest. It is especially rich in fish life. Pelagics, typically barracuda, trevallies, caranx and grunts hang out at the corner above the drop off.

Diving Sites in Ras Umm Sid

Tower

Location: Just south of Na'ama Bay on the Sinai coast.

Access: By shore entry or local boat from Sharm El Sheikh, Na'ama bay or other port.

Conditions: shore entry can be tricky at low tide.

Average depth: 20m (65ft)

Maximum depth: 40m+ (130ft+)

Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

This site, named for a tower-like rock formation on shore, lies just below the tower resort complex. For shore entries and exits, especially at low tide, it is worth knowing about short cut. Halfway across the reef top, directly out from the steps, I a small submerged cave mouth.

The reef is most interesting in its upper reaches, with the exception of the canyon which drops to depth of 4m (130ft). Coral in the top 20-25m (65-80ft) is excellent, with a very wide variety of species. Quality is good particularly in terms of the luxuriant soft coral growth, which is in fine condition. The reef shallows host almost every fish you can imagine and reef sharks have been known to visit the reef's deeper sections. This is a particularly nice site to dive in the morning, when the sun's rays reach down into the canyon and the deeper reef slopes.

Pinky's Wall

Location: On the Sinai coast, between Tower and Turtle Bay sites (Sites 10, 12).

Access: By shore or by local from Sharm El Sheikh, Na'ama Bay or other port.

Conditions: Shore access is physically demanding.

Average depth: 20m (65ft)

Maximum depth: 60m+ (195ft+)

Average visibility: 20 (65ft)

Access from shore requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get to the cliff top, then a rather strenuous scramble down a narrow Wadi. You will then need to make a surf entry across the jagged reef top. This shore entry should only attempt by fit divers experienced in rough shore entries. Once in the water, conditions are near perfect; generally clear visibility reveals a beautiful sheer wall dropping to great depths, with excellent coral growth, particularly the pink soft for which the site is named.

Coral growth, especially soft corals like Dendronephthya, is what this site is all about. Stony coral growth is not as dense as at many sites near here, but the profusion of soft species more than compensates. Sweepers hide in shimmering schools in the recesses and overhangs, while schooling fish hang off the reef face. There are also good numbers of parrotfish, rabbit fish, groupers and wrasse. This site is exceptional for several reasons: as a wall site in a region of generally sloping reefs, as one of the limited numbers of sites with shore access, and as one of the most concentrated growths of soft coral on this stretch of coast.

Turtle Bay

Location: Sinai coast, between Pinky's Wall and paradise sites (Sites 11 & 13)

Access: By shore or by local boat from Sharm El Sheikh, Na'ama Bay or other ports. Conditions: generally easy, although shore access can be tricky at low tide.

Average depth: 30m (100ft)

Maximum depth: 35m+ (115ft+)

Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

This is medium sloping reef, bounded inshore by a mini-wall to around 10m (35ft), and a shallow reef top 30-40m (100-130ft) wide in places. The reef face is well covered with outcrops and pinnacles and boasts an excellent variety of coral species. Fish life is equally diverse, including many sedentary reef fish-scorpions, stonefish, lizardfish, hawkfish and others and the usual vast array of free swimming reef species.

When accessing the site from shore, particularly at low tide, the long walk across the reef table can be exasperating. In all but the lowest tides you can in fact swim across the reef top with your fully inflated BCD and scuba gear extended in front of you. Like many sites along this stretch of coast, the route to the shore access point is via a constantly shifting network of jeep tracks. Check with local dive centre for-up-to-date route information.

Paradise / Fiasco

Location: on the Sinai coast, between Turtle Bay and Ras Umm Sid sites (Sites 12 & 14).

Access: By shore, or by local or live-aboard boat from Sharm el Sheikh, Na'ama Bay or other ports.

Conditions: Some strong currents – drift diving is a good possibility. Average depth: 20m (65ft)

Maximum depth: 35m+ (115ft+)

Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

This is really a combination of two dive sites. The southernmost, Fiasco, lies just north of the point at Ras Umm Sid, while Paradise is the northern extension of the same reef. The paradise section has some amazing outcrops – like a garden of abstract sculptures. To the south, the pinnacles continue, interspersed with some very nice Acropora table. Avery good density of soft corals is complemented by a wide range of stony species. The quality of coral at this site, particularly inshore, is among the finest on the coast.

Big jacks and barracuda of more than 1m (3ft) can be seen here when the current is running, as can schooling and solitary reef fish, sandy sections host interesting bottom-dwellers, such as crocodilefish and Bluespotted Ribbontail Rays. Unless a decent current is flowing, the site can be somewhat dull, as water movement brings out the full variety of fish life. With a strong current it is possible to drift from the north end of paradise almost to the point of Ras Umm Sid on one tank.

Ras Umm Sid

Location: Ras Umm Sid point, southeast of Sharm El Moiya/Sharm El Sheikh town.

Access: by shore, or by local or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh, Na'ama Bay or other ports.

Conditions: strong currents possible; shore entry difficult due to wide reef flat.

Average depth: 20m (65ft)

Maximum depth: 35m+ (115ft+)

Average visibility: 2m (65ft)

This is a steep sloping wall, extending from the point at Ras Umm Sid inward toward the bay to the west. The reef follows the shoreline and is marked by intermittent sand patches, coral heads and pinnacles. Coral attractions include gorgonians, Acropora, fire corals, dense soft coral patches and some substantial coral formations. Fish life is more than acceptable, with lots of big and small Jacks/trevally, emperor and regal angelfish, various parrotfish, Picasso and other triggerfish, surgeons, Napoleon wrasse, moray eels and lionfish and stingrays on the sand.

Temple

Location: west of Ras Umm Sid, at the entrance to Sharm El-Moiya.

Access: By shore, or by local or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh, Na'ama Bay or other ports.

Conditions: Gentle and sheltered, with easy profile. Average depth: 15m (50ft)

Maximum depth: 35m+ (115ft+)

Average visibility: 20m (65ft)

This a flat, sloping reef with two major, and a few minor, pinnacles adding contour to the ref face. The largest of the pinnacles is the tower. Its bulk is split by two major fissures, one of which can be swum through. The second should not be entered, to avoid damaging the delicate gorgonians growing along its sides. All the pinnacles hide a surprisingly rich variety of reef animals.

Coral growth throughout the site is good, with a density and mix of species difficult to match in the immediate area. The fish are as pleasant a surprise as the coral, with a truly amazing range of species colonizing the reef. The surprising richness and diversity of this site make it one of the region's most underrated sites.