In the fourth of our six-part series on the world’s most dive-able wrecks we’re highlighting the best wreck diving in the Middle East. (Check out Asia’s best wrecks here, the best wrecks in the United States here and the best wrecks in Africa here).
The Middle East offers some of the world’s best overall diving. With often-amazing visibility and wrecks that run the gamut from shallow-water to advanced, there is something for everyone. Here are our picks for the best wreck diving in the Middle East.
SS Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red Sea
Where: Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
The famous SS Thistlegorm was a WWII British cargo vessel, sunk by a German air attack in 1941. Jacques Cousteau rediscovered the wreck in 1952, where divers can see the ship’s anti-aircraft gun, locomotives, tanks, army trucks, jeeps, motorcycles, boots, rifles and spare parts for cars and planes. There are many penetration opportunities and several holds to explore on the Thistlegorm.
Currents, both on the wreck and surface, can be quite strong and run in different directions. The wreck sits between 52 and 114 feet (16 and 35 m), with most of the explorable areas deeper than 65 feet (20 m), making it an advanced dive. Water temperature averages between 66 and 82 F (19 to 28 C).
Where: Eilat, Israel
The Satil was a French missile ship, scuttled in 1994. The wreck is semi-penetrable at the bow, which lies at 59 feet (18 m), and the stern, which lies at 69 feet (21 m). The bridge, which is covered in purple soft coral, separates the bow and stern. Divers can see Arabian angelfish, endemic to the Red Sea, octopus, pipefish and lionfish. They can also explore the skipper’s seat and wheel.
The wreck sits between 59 and 82 feet (18 and 25 m) and water temperature ranges from 81 to 86 F (27 to 30 C) in the summer and 68 to 72 (20 to 22 C) in the winter.
Where: Aqaba, Jordan
The Cedar Pride belonged to a Lebanese shipping company. A fire on the ship in 1982 destroyed it beyond repair although it remained afloat. Eventually in 1985 the King of Jordan had the vessel scuttled to create an artificial reef. Coral now covers the wreck, which lies on its port side. Qualified divers can penetrate the inner cabins and engine room. Adventurous divers can also participate in night dives on the wreck, although the sponsoring dive shop must provide 12-hour notice as Navy personal must be present during night dives.
The top of the mast reaches up to 23 feet (7 m) while the wreck’s maximum depth is around 89 feet (27 m). Water temperature ranges from 68 to 82 F (20 to 28 C).
Where: Muscat, Oman
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 qualified divers can penetrate the wreck as shallow as 20 feet (6 m). Marine life around the wreck includes turtles, moray eels, sharks, schooling snapper, goatfish, boxfish and angelfish.
The Al Munasir lies between 20 to 100 feet (6 and 30 m) deep in water ranging from 70 F (21 C) in the winter to 88 F (31 C) in the summer.
Where: Al Fujairah, United Arab Emirates
Inchcape Shipping Services scuttled this small barge in 2001. There are two huge resident moray eels, one nearly 10 feet (3 m) long. Divers can spot seahorses on the stern of the wreck, as well as barracuda, stonefish, scorpionfish, jacks and schools of snappers and fusiliers. Penetration is not possible.
The deck is at about 89 feet (27 m) while the hull rests at around 100 feet (30 m). Water temperature ranges from 66 to 81 F (19 to 27 C).