Sha’ab El Erg is a considerably sized reef formation directly in front of El Gouna, one of Egypt’s lesser-known holiday resorts 20 km north of Hurghada. This location, away from the most beaten routes, left Sha’ab El Ergs inhabitants relatively undisturbed. It is not uncommon in Sha’ab El Erg to meet pods of friendly spinner and bottlenose dolphins, as well as manta rays and other majestic inhabitants of the reef. Sha’ab El Erg is best accessed with a liveaboard. Its distance from the shore makes it inconvenient for daily charters and its considerable size allows for more than one underwater itinerary. It is ideal to plan at least a few dives on Sha’ab El Erg.
Sha’ab El Erg, which translates from Arabic to "the Reef of Pinnacles", includes the main barrier–a horseshoe-shaped reef with its open side facing south, a satellite formation–Gota Sha’ab El Erg and a series of coral pinnacles. While being less colourful compared to the other reefs nearby, Sha’Ab El Erg is a great area for night diving and is famous for its resident pod of dolphins.
There are four or more possible itineraries in Sha’ab El Erg: the southeastern Lighthouse, the Dolphin House, Manta Point, and Gota Sha’ab El Erg–all of which are relatively shallow and suitable for divers of different levels. In the proximity of the southeastern lighthouse, the reef forms a gentle slope dense with brain coral and other hard corals, with sandy patches ideal for picture taking. The slope reaches a depth of 12 metres, which is also the typical depth for this specific dive site. Here, divers can observe different species of moray eels, turtles, and some large specimens of napoleon wrasse cruising by.
On the opposite end of the Lighthouse lies Gota Sha’ab El Erg, a beautiful satellite formation surrounded by numerous pinnacles covered in hard and soft corals. The dive takes place between 10 and 14 metres, where the picturesque pinnacles alternating on the sandy bottom provide shelter for numerous benthic species, many of which, such as the colourful nudibranch, are great subjects for excellent macro pictures.
During March and April, when the water is rich with plankton and nutrients, divers can attempt a dive to Manta Point. This area is located on the northern side of Sha’ab El Erg, exposed to the current and directly facing the open waters: it requires good planning and a certain level of confidence, as it has some potentially strong currents. Manta rays are elusive creatures–do not be overconfident of seeing them, despite the dive site’s name. The reef is beautiful here, so enjoy the dive and keep searching the blue and the shallows–you might get lucky.
Sha’ab El Erg’s main attraction is the Dolphin House, with its resident pod of bottlenose dolphins. The pod, composed of a variable number of individuals (generally 10-20), loves to hang out in the shallow, protected southern side of the horseshoe reef. They won’t mind a visit from divers and snorkelers. Several divers reported encounters with the playful bottlenose dolphins and even with their smaller relatives, the spinner dolphins. However, the best way to interact with them requires nothing more than fins, mask, snorkel, and a lungful of air.
This text is for information purposes only. It has been written by members of the website and can be inaccurate. Always contact local professional divers before diving.