THE RED SEA OFFERS some of the most diverse diving in the world. Whether you want a lazy dive through a shallow coral garden, or a drift with the current over a drop-off, scouring the blue for pelagic marine life, there are sites to suit everyone.
But what if you’re the type who gets seasick on a boating lake What if you’re on a family holiday and don’t want to be on a boat away from the kids all day What sort of diving can the Red Sea offer you
There is more than 1500 miles of coastline in Egypt, and much of it offers fantastic shore-diving opportunities.
Shore-diving can get a mixed reaction from divers because, like anything, it has its pros and its cons.
On the downside, you’ll find that the sand can get everywhere. Also, the dive-sites may not be as challenging as those in open water.
Alternatively, shore-diving offers the chance for divers on holiday with a family to be away from them for no more than a couple of hours.
It also provides opportunities to see the sort of marine life that is less common offshore.
Shore-diving is more suited to all levels of diver, given that you will usually have a sloping seabed that offers a choice of depths for each site.
So if you decide to miss the boat and feel the sand between your toes, where should you go to see the best that Egyptian shore-diving has to offer
Shore-diving is available in any number of areas, but a few have become favourites. Here is a selection:

Located in the Gulf of Aqaba, these two resorts have flourished over the years thanks to their mix of traditional Bedouin charm and the spectacular macro life just offshore.
The coastline features a shelf of gradually sloping sand before dropping off to more than 100m as you venture further into the gulf. Both Nuweiba and Taba are favoured by photographers, because they offer easy access to the dives and plenty of life to capture on memory cards.
Taba is close to the border with Israel, and has been developed as a resort community of hotels, shops, bars and restaurants.
The dive-sites are renowned for frogfish, and there’s a good chance of seeing a number of species. Many frogfish have become accustomed to divers, and it’s not uncommon for some of the larger ones to approach and pose for photos.
Nuweiba is a port town, and you can catch a ferry from here across the gulf to Jordan. The coast is dotted with camps that were once popular with Israeli holidaymakers, and each one provides a chance to dive from shore.
Many of the dive-sites have patches of seagrass that are home to any number of smaller species.
At the right time of year, you can spend an entire dive in the grass hunting for seahorses, shrimps and other-worldly creatures.
One of the best in the area is a bay called Magana, which in spring is home to a number of seahorses that take shelter on the grassy slope.
They may be diminutive, but the first time you find a seahorse in the grass can match the experience of far larger sightings.
Alternatively, you could spend a week on the house reef at the Hilton, and still find things you missed last time.
The range of shrimp, nudibranchs, sea moths and frogfish will take your breath away on this surprising reef.
If you prefer your attractions a little larger, simply head down the slope along the reef wall and stay alert for moray eels, lionfish, octopus and the ever-miserable stonefish.
With deep water just a short swim away, there is always a chance to see large rays that have ventured into shallower water, but this is generally an area for macro life.

An hour’s drive south of Nuweiba is the world-famous town of Dahab. Although close to its northern neighbours, Dahab offers a completely different type of diving, and has become a haven for technical divers and freedivers, as a result of the abrupt drop-offs and immense depths available from shore.
There are also some spectacular caves and canyons through which to swim.
The most famous dive site is the Blue Hole, which reaches a maximum depth of around 130m.
A technical-diving utopia, this site offers easy access from shore, with a choice of depths available, as well as the notorious arch at around 52m that opens out into the gulf.
Coffee shops and restaurants have become established along the shore, offering the chance of a drink and a bite to eat between dives.
It’s common to see both snorkellers and divers with multiple tanks walking into the sea here. This is a site that can be enjoyed by every level of diver, because it offers a sheltered lagoon over the sinkhole itself, with easy access to the hard coral formations.
The outer reef wall over the saddle opens up to the blue water, and turtles are often sighted gliding past divers.
Being close to the deep water also changes the nature of the marine life that you are likely to encounter when diving in Dahab. Besides turtles, you have a good chance of seeing large rays, and sharks have also been spotted.
There are many sites other than the Blue Hole along the coast that offer a variety of experiences.
The atmosphere of the town itself is another of the major attractions. Dahab has a laidback approach to life, and some fine restaurants and bars along the promenade.

Crossing over from the Sinai peninsula, the next stop on the tour is Hurghada. The majority of diving in Hurghada is done from boats, but there are several hotels with house reefs that should not be overlooked.
These offer almost as much diversity as the offshore reefs, but come with the added benefits of usually being quieter dive sites, and offering a chance to see some macro life that you simply wouldn’t see from a boat.
The secret to shore diving in Hurghada is to dive slowly, keep your nose close to the seabed and look for the little things.
Nudibranchs can be found in among the corals or crawling across the sand, and you will see why they are sometimes called the jewels of the sea.

The next stop on our tour is El Queseir. This traditional fishing town is about 75 miles south of Hurghada, and has some fascinating history on land and some spectacular diving below water.
All along the coast are small bays and inlets that allow shore access to the Red Sea. There are 30-40 “official” dive sites in the El Queseir region, but there are many more bays that offer the chance of diving. Hotels have spread along the coast, and some offer boat-diving, but most will visit the bays with a pick-up truck and minibus.
The topography is typically a sloping seabed through a horseshoe-shaped reef. The size varies, and many sites have cave and tunnel formations in the shallow reef-plate just waiting to be explored.
Most have openings in the roof and the sunlight streams through, ensuring plenty of light and a magical effect as it ripples on the sand.
In the centre of the bay there is either seagrass or sand, and you can spend much of your time looking for critters among the blades of grass or hiding in the sand.
Rays, sharks, dugongs and turtles have all been seen along this coastline as well, so it’s always worth keeping one eye on the blue, just in case.
The trump card of El Queseir is the solitude you will find at most spots. Thanks to the wide choice of sites and the number of visitors it gets, fewer than its northern shore-diving neighbours, there is a good chance that you will be the only group of divers at a site.

If you head south from El Queseir, the next town you come across is Marsa Alam. The region spreads much further along the coast, however, and is home to some classic shore dives.
The most famous in the area is probably Marsa Abu Dabab, which is home to a resident dugong known locally as Dennis. Growing boat traffic was becoming a danger to his safety and restrictions were applied, so the site is now accessible only from shore.
As well as Dennis, the bay is home to a multitude of green sea turtles (which range from large to absolutely huge), guitar rays and a plethora of smaller life.
Many bays also act as nursery sites for juveniles. They spend their early months in the shelter and safety of the shallows before venturing out when they are old enough. It’s wonderful to see a perfect replica of a lionfish or butterflyfish just a couple of centimetres long.
One of the best spots to find juveniles is a site called Marsa Shouna (aka Marsa Shoni Kebir), a mile or two south of Port Ghalib. Entering from the beach, you can swim left or right along the deepening reef wall and hunt for miniature versions of your favourite fish.
When you feel your eyes starting to strain, you can always visit the patch of seagrass in the centre of the bay and hunt for turtles instead.
There are traditional resort hotels along the coast, but also more and more eco-camps. These offer a chance to relax in well-equipped tents or huts close to a house reef. Similar to the camps near Taba and Nuweiba, you can enjoy the peace and quiet until it becomes too peaceful, and then simply go diving.
Marsa Alam is also famous for Elphinstone, and many dive centres can arrange boat trips to this offshore seamount to supplement your shore-diving. After the leisurely stroll into the surf from the shore, the speedboat ride will feel even more exhilarating.
Elphinstone is home to a variety of shark species at certain times of the year, so you can get your adrenaline rush and still be back for breakfast!
So if you thought that shore-diving was just for courses, or that you have to keep taking the seasickness tablets, think again. Diving from the beach opens up a new world of possibilities, and no matter how experienced you are, there is always the chance to see something new.
Just be careful of that sand. It really does get everywhere.