Dive Site: The Brothers Islands, Egypt

One of Egypt’s more remote dive sites, Brothers Islands boasts pristine corals, large pelagic life, and two wrecks: not bad for two islands that aren’t much larger than a football field each. 

The Brothers are two islands in the southern part of the Red Sea, about 115 miles from Egypt, and an almost equal distance from Saudi Arabia’s shore — so it’s fair to say they’re in the middle of the ocean. They rise up as two enormous pillars from the surrounding sea floor, more than a mile beneath them. Because of this geology, they offer some of the most dramatic wall diving in the Red Sea. And because they are so far south, and so far out to sea, only liveaboards can reach them, meaning that the coral is far more pristine than coral nearer the coast.

The islands are fittingly known as Big Brother and Small Brother. Big Brother holds the main attractions — apart from the walls and corals themselves — two wrecks, the Numidia and the Aida, which are positioned on its sloping sides. There’s also a cleaning station at one end of the island, which often attracts sharks, mostly black- and whitetip reef sharks, but grey reef sharks, thresher sharks and hammerheads are also frequent guests. The corals themselves, on both islands, teem with various reef fish, as well as larger specimen such as groupers, napoleon wrasse and barracuda.

The two wrecks are in somewhat poor condition, and the Aida is more or less torn apart from its descent down the wall over the years. The wreck starts at about 100 feet/30 meters, though the engine is still visible right at the surface. The Numidia offers some penetration along its decks and gangways, as well as into the hold. It starts at 30 feet/10 meters, but descends all the way down to 230 feet/70 meters; so recreational divers must take care to stay in the shallower end of the wreck.

The Brothers often make for good drift dives, as there can be some strong current at the site. Zodiacs from the liveaboard boats will drop divers off at one end of either of the islands, and the dive will follow the current along the side of the island until the divers either reach their vessel or are picked up by Zodiac again.

Currents can get quite strong, and strong wind is not uncommon, so precautions should be taken, including bringing a DSMB in case you’re separated from your group. The site is considered appropriate for experienced divers only, and many operators require a minimum qualification of Advanced Open Water Diver or similar, as well as at least 50 logged dives.