Shipwreck Diving in Red Sea Jeddah
The Red Sea is a popular diving destination partly due to its uniformly and evenly distributed temperature between the surface and at different depths. It has good visibility that reaches up to 151 feet (46 m) and most important of all, it is rich with marine life.
Saudi Arabia Red Sea
Saudi Arabia Red Sea, especially near Jeddah, is also rich in history and has no shortage of mysteries. Just as with the horrendous vehicle driving in most part of Saudi Arabia, there are also many navigation errors made over its shallow waters. Coupled with severe weather conditions and equipment failures, its Red Sea are littered with wrecks all within a short distance.
These wrecks have been lying undisturbed for decades attracting marine life from all over the Red Sea and giving a new life to these bulky giants.
Try Shipwreck Diving
If diving is your recreational activity and you are tired of fishing or diving among the coral reefs, you may want to try shipwreck diving.
They are beautiful to look at, but these shipwrecks are still dangerous, so buoyancy control is crucial to avoid damaging the decaying wreck and yourself.
There are several of these wrecks in Jeddah and you are actually spoilt for choice. If you are keen to explore these mangled remains, try the following sites, which are more accessible and popular in Jeddah.
The Staphonos, which sunk in 1978, carried with it construction materials consisting of steel beams, cable, chain link fence and asbestos sheets.
The Staphonos Wreck or now known as Cable Wreck is located off the north-west of Two Tower Reef (Abu Tayr reef), and rests on its left (port) side on coral sand.
Although laid at 79 feet (24m) deep, there is still sufficient ambient light from above to naturally lights the wreck without having to explore with artificial lights.
The top of the wreck is accessible at 56 feet (17m). Although small, it is fairly intact and if the currents are not severe, swimming around is relatively easy. You will find hundreds of fish taking refuge in the bow of the ship, between mooring ropes, scattered cargo pipes and cables.
On calm days, this wreck is easily accessible to divers of all experience levels, but when the current is strong, it becomes an advance dive.
The most photographed part of the wreck are the ship’s mast and stern section, so you may want to bring your camera when you do the cable wreck dive.
Ann Ann Wreck
Ann Ann Wreck is 2 hours from Jeddah on the 26-Mile-Reef. It is the largest and most challenging shipwreck and therefore appropriate for intermediate to advance divers.
The wreck stand upright facing East with its bow firmly plowed into the reef. The stern section is spectacular to visit with its huge rudder ornamented with shellfish and enormous propeller decorated with soft coral. The wreck sits at the bottom at a depth of 30m. Here you may see blue-stripes snappers, blue spotted stingrays, dogtooth tunas and, occasionally, white-tip sharks.
The rear section of the wreck, resting at 46 feet (14m), is still full of winches and machinery often frequented by goatfish, broom tailed filefish, coral groupers and the territorial Sohal surgeonfish. Despite its obvious size, the wreck is badly broken up so exercise caution.
Red Sea Dive Guide
Chicken wreck named for its cargo of frozen chicken is one of the favorite dive spot near Jeddah.
This wreck is suitable for novice divers and being sandwiched between adjacent reefs, the current remains calm all year round. The deepest point of this dive site is 72 feet (22m) at stern of the wreck. The front (the bow) is pointing towards the reef and the ship is resting on its port side. The rail of the ship is not damaged and decorated with hard coral.
There are plenty of pixie hawkfish and some pipefish swimming around on the flank facing the surface.
Marble wreck is a shallow water wreck suitable for novice divers. It sits at 18m at its deepest point and it is possible to cruise around at 26-40 feet (8-12m) depth.
The Red Sea has had a devastating effect on this wreck quite literally ripping it apart. The left (port) sections have completely collapsed scattering marble everywhere. You will find lionfish guarding the rear close to a ladder decorated with coral. Pay attention to the masts, which are often adorned with oysters and acropora coral.
As you might have guessed, it got its name from the marble cargo that it used to carry. Some still refer to it as the Abu Saba Wreck.
When you go shipwreck diving, for your own safety take note of the following:
- Watch out for fishing lines that pose an entanglement risk
- Avoid swimming into or under the wreck as they are ageing and it can be difficult to ascertain when they might collapse
- It is advisable to be up-to-date with your tetanus vaccinations as sharp edges on wrecks are usually rusty.
- Never touch the wrecks since many wrecks are covered with fire sponge, hydroids, shellfish, and edges of broken up wreck parts
- Please respect these wrecks and do not remove any items or parts from them
- Also, for your safety, do not attempt wreck penetration as it is a high risk activity that requires specialized equipment, training and supervision
- Please use existing mooring ropes to moor at the dive site rather than dropping the anchors on the wrecks, which is harmful to marine life and will compromise the very wreck that you are visiting. If you use a charter boat, please advise your boat operator accordingly.
Dive Shops in Jeddah
1. Blue Reef Divers
Located behind Danube supermarket, off Tahlia Street. GPS: N21°32.756', E39°09.810'
Sat-Wed 9am-11pm Thu-Fri 7am-11pm
Tel: +966-2-6606368 Fax: +966-2-6602064
2. Blue Reef Divers Branch
Durrat Al-Arous , about 50km north of Jeddah
Sat-Wed 9am-11pm. Thurs & Fri 7.30am-11pm
Tel: +966-2-6181777 Fax: +966-2-6181778
3. Desert Sea Divers
North Obhur road (Creek) near Rose Village Compound, after the big mosque. GPS: N21°43.685', E39°06.449'
Sat-Wed: 10am-8pm Thurs & Fri: 7am-8pm (closed on Monday)
Tel: +966-2-6561807 Fax: +966-2-6561288 www.desertseadivers.com
4. Dream Divers
King Road, next to Auto Mall
Sat-Thurs: 9am-11pm Fri: 6pm-11pm
Tel: +966-2-2150019 Fax: +966-2-6644892 www.alahlam-marina.com
5. Al-Khorayef Yamaha Marines Equipment
King Road, next to Auto Mall
Sat-Wed:8am-12.30pm, 5.30pm-9pm Thurs: 8am-1.30pm Closed on Fri
6. Red Sea Divers
Opposite Danube, off Tahlia Street GPS: N21°32.743', E39°09.727'
Sat-Wed: 9am-11pm Thurs& Fri: 7.30am-11pm
Tel: +966-2-6606368 Fax: +966-2-6602064
7. The Arab Circumnavigator
Behind Danube supermarket, off Tahlia Street. GPS: N21°32.790', E39°09.802
All week 9am-10pm
Tel: +966-2-6651304 Fax: +966-2-6608224
Every dive is optional. Every ascent is mandatory
Diving isn't dangerous. Drowning is what's dangerous
It's always better to be up here wishing you were down there than be down there wishing you were up here
Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make all of them yourself
Dive Resorts in Jeddah
There are several Dive Resorts around Jeddah and below are some that you can check out:
- Ahlam Resort Tel: +966-2-2886242
- Dive Village Tel: +966-2-6561980
- Durrat Al-Arous Tel: +966-2-6180000
- Nakheel/Ghulam Beach Resort Tel: +966-2-2342266
- Red Sea Resort Tel: +966-2-6562199
Better Buoyancy Tip
Scuba tank will get lighter during your dive, so make sure you have an easy descent. If you struggle to get down, then you will be working hard to stay down. To make a safety stop may be hard if you are too buoyant.
Marinas in Jeddah are:
- Al-Ahlam Marina Tel:+966-2-2886242
- Al-Nakheel Village Tel: +966-2-6562101
- Red Sea Marina Tel: +966-2-2340117
Your Vote on Shipwreck Dive
If You Have a Chance to Go Scuba Diving, Would You Do Shipwreck Dive?
Diving in Jeddah
Red Sea diving especially near Jeddah does not attract that many divers as compared to the Red Sea diving in Egypt. Hence, you will not be fighting with so many diving crowds for the best dive. You will have a better and more enjoyable diving experience.
The main reason is the difficulty in getting visa to Saudi Arabia. There is no such thing as a tourist visa in Saudi Arabia. You either come in on a pilgrimage visa or get a job and enter with work visa. Many expatriates take up diving and do it on most weekends.
Jeddah has so many to offer and if you get a chance to visit Saudi Arabia, come to Jeddah and enjoy the diving, fishing and many other water activities in its Red Sea. If you are tired of the sea and the sun, then you should go to Abha, Saudi's mountain resort that enjoy mild weather throughout the year
All photos used are with permission from Peter Telkins (Flickr profile name Peter Tee) and Adam Ward (Flickr profile name wardsabroad). You can see more of their works at their respective Flickr pages. Special thanks to both Peter and Adam for sharing and giving me permission to use their photos for this article.