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While the Red Sea is best known for its kaleidoscopic coral reefs and close encounters with powerful pelagics like sharks and rays, the region is also home to some incredible shipwrecks. These sunken vessels are a playground for advanced and adventurous guests, offering endless opportunities for exploration, plus a few spooky stories to get your skin tingling.
Take a trip back in time with wartime relics, discover strange and surprising cargo lost to the depths, and feel your hair stand on end swimming past eerie and intimate items lost at sea. There's a wreck for every type of diver here! And, with far fewer divers on the site compared to other wreck diving hotspots, you'll likely have the best sites all to yourself.
Every Red Sea wrecks map ever written includes Egypt's most famous vessel - the SS Thistlegorm. This British armed Merchant Navy ship sank on October 6, 1941, after suffering extensive damage during a German bombing raid. The Thistlegorm and her cargo then lay undisturbed for years, before being rediscovered by Jacques Cousteau.
Today, the Thistlegorm is without a doubt the Red Sea's most popular and best-known shipwreck, home to incredible WWII artefacts including motorcycles, trucks, rifles, ammunition, military boots, and more. Dives here typically include a tour of the cargo holds, and stop at landmarks like the towering anti-aircraft guns, still pointed and at the ready.
This former British steamship sank in 1876, after running aground on the Beacon Rock reef. The damage caused Dunraven’s cargo of cotton and wool to set fire, badly damaging the ship's structure, before finally coming to rest in the shallows. This is one of the best wrecks in the Red Sea to combine wrecks and reefs, with the ship's exterior easily explored alongside colourful coral gardens clouded by fish.
The Dunraven is easy to penetrate, with large holes in the hull and shallow depths making it an excellent practice site for novice wreck enthusiasts. This site is also home to a surprising amount of macro wildlife, making it a top pick for photographers.
One of the lesser-known wrecks in the Red Sea, the Giannis D offers fascinating exploration, both inside and out, with shallow depths and easygoing conditions. Lying in three large sections, this wreck begins in less than five metres of water with its partially-buried propeller found just beyond 20 metres. So, even Open Water divers can tour her superstructure! Advanced and experienced visitors can head to the engine room - a maze of catwalks and handrails jutting out at odd angles. Make your safety stop alongside her mast, and on a clear day, enjoy a fish's eye view of the entire hulk scattered along the seabed.
Lying in 55 metres of water, the Rosalie Moller is one of the Red Sea's most interesting shipwrecks for technical exploration. This former cargo ship was sunk by German forces in October of 1941, giving the hull decades to accumulate a dense carpet of hard and soft coral. Now a thriving artificial reef, this deepwater site is also a magnet for pelagics, with reef sharks, tuna, and jacks patrolling the deck.
Because the Rosalie Moller is not accessible to recreational divers, it's one of the region's least visited wrecks. Expect silty conditions and low visibility, allowing wartime relics to slowly come into focus during challenging penetration routes.
This steamship wrecked on Shag Rock Reef in 1881, running aground in shallow water. Today, she lies at depths ranging from 10 to 20 metres, making her a perfect stop for your second tank of the day - after exploring legendary Shag Rock. With over 100 years underwater, her hull has been totally transformed into a living reef, boasting incredible coral gardens and abundant marine life. The Kingston easily makes the list for top wrecks in the Red Sea.
This is a great place to spot sea turtles and schooling anthias, plus pint-sized finds like nudibranchs. Because this wreck sits almost entirely upright, she makes for an excellent orientation dive - perfect for wreck speciality and open water students.
Part of the ship's graveyard at Abu Nuhas reef, the Carnatic ran aground in 1869, making it the region's oldest wreck. With over a century at depth, the Carnatic has been reduced to a skeleton of its former self, with each of the hull's exposed ribs completely encrusted in hard and soft coral.
Swim through this maze of beams for a chance to spot schooling glassfish, cool macro creatures like nudibranchs, and shattered wine bottles - all that's left of its original cargo. The Carnatic is shrouded in mystery, with local legends of unsalvaged gold and copper, and a curse on anyone who disturbs this lost treasure.
Learn more about the best diving in Egypt’s Northern Red Sea region!
The Salem Express has earned a reputation as one of the world's most poignant dives and a controversial addition to our list of best wrecks in the Red Sea. This passenger ship ran aground in 1991, claiming the lives of hundreds of pilgrims returning from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Salem Express diving feels like a trip to hallowed ground, with passengers’ personal items littering the hallways, cabins, and surrounding seafloor. The wreck's internal passageways have been sealed shut, closed to divers out of respect for the huge loss of life. Lying in twelve to 30 metres of water, divers of all skill levels can explore this emotional maritime tomb.
Embedded in the sloping reef of Big Brother Island, the Aida is a highlight for Southern Red Sea wreck diving. Because she lies at an extreme angle, ranging from 25 to 60 metres, she appeals to traditional and technical divers – with stunning coral cover extending well beyond the recreational diving limits. Because of the challenging diving conditions here, with powerful open ocean currents, you'll likely tour this wreck's exterior as part of a fast-paced drift dive. So, don't plan to stick around for too long or penetrate her interior. While exploring this wreck's hull, keep an eye out in the blue - rare pelagics like oceanic whitetips are sometimes spotted here.
If you’re still left wanting more, the Red Sea is home to countless more shipwrecks open for exploration. Search strange scattered cargo including tiles and toilets at less famous sites like the Yolanda wreck and the MV Marcus. Or, take the plunge at current-swept sites like the Ulysses and Numidia. We predict that Egypt’s Red Sea will be one of 2021’s hottest dive destinations - and these stunning wrecks are just the icing on the cake!
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