Scuba diving at Elphinstone
Scuba diving at Elphinstone
Scuba diving in Elphinstone is one of the most popular dive trips in the Red Sea. The long sausage shaped reef is only 30 km from the bustling resort of Marsa Alam, a hub for Red Sea scuba diving. There is a shallow reef on the top and steep drop-offs that drop down thousands of meters to the sea bed. The currents that run across the reef bring a great deal of nutrients so diving in Elphinstone is a full on pelagic show. It is worth considering that the currents are quite hard and the drop-offs are steep, so in Elphinstone scuba diving is really only for those with a few dives under their weight belts.
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Marine Life in Elphinstone
What you will see when you are scuba diving Elphinstone depends on which of the dive spots you are at. On the top and the walls there are lush coral gardens and hundreds of types of reef fish. Huge napoleon wrasse can be seen here along with triggerfish and cunningly disguised frogfish. Barracuda are often seen hanging out around the steep wall edges along with giant trevally which are passing by in the current.
On the two plateaus on either end of the reef the life is a little different. There is some coral and some reef fish too but the big attraction here is the sharks. Black and white tipped reef sharks can be found all over the Southern end and if you are lucky huge thresher sharks can be seen passing by at both ends. To the north there are some great places to spot oceanic whitetips, hammerheads and even whalesharks cruising by.
Best Dive Sites in Elphinstone
There are four main dive sites in Elphinstone, each of the two walls and the two plateaus to the north and south. The two walls start at only a few meters deep and drop off sharply. They are both covered in hard and soft corals and plenty of reef fish including huge napoleon wrasse and big barracudas hanging around. The water is crystal clear at the walls although it is worth noting that the currents usually run North to South so the walls experience some strong drift, around 2 knots plus.
The Northern plateau drops down in stages from five meters to forty where there is a flat plateau before the huge drop into the abyss. This is a great place to see white tipped and black tipped reef sharks and huge shoals of trevally. There is also the chance that you might see the huge but shy thresher shark and even whale sharks and hammerheads if you are lucky.
The Southern Plateau is one of the best dive sites in Elphinstone for sharks. It starts a little deeper, around 25 meters and the main area for spotting sharks is around 40 meters. Oceanic whitetips can be seen passing by over the side and even coming in close over the plateau, breathtakingly close to any divers perched there. Technical divers diving at Elphinstone will find that a little deeper at the plateau there is a tunnel connecting the two walls. Nicknamed the Elphinstone arch this passageway is said to contain the coral encrusted remains of an Egyptian sarcophagus.
Best Time to Dive in Elphinstone
In the Red Sea scuba diving is good all year round, but the life you will see when you are at Elphinstone scuba diving does vary so the best season to visit Elphinstone will depend of what you want to see. Whale shark season in Elphinstone is between May and July and thanks to plankton blooms there are also mantas and turtles around the reef. Hammerheads are more frequent in the summer as well but some sharks such as thresher sharks come in the winter. The water temperature varies from 21 to 30 degrees between winter and summer so be sure to bring the right exposure protection.
Experience Level for Diving in Elphinstone
In Egypt scuba diving is open to a wide range of levels, with many dive spots perfect for novice divers. The current and drop-offs you will find while diving in Elphinstone however make it more suitable for more experienced divers. There are some spots such as the top half of the reef which are easier going though, so there is no reason those with a few dives under their belt shouldn’t dive here, just ensure to listen carefully to the dive briefing from your divemaster.
How Do I Get to Elphinstone
There are numerous airports in Egypt but the closest by far to Elphinstone is Marsa Alam airport. This airport takes flights from most major European airports with connections further afield. Once you are at Marsa Alam there are numerous Egypt liveaboards to take you scuba diving in Elphinstone which are available from the nearby port of Port Ghalib offering up to four dives per day.