Liveaboard Diving in St. Johns

What to Expect On A St John's Reef Liveaboard

Liveaboards to St. Johns, Egypt will visit this area located in the southern Red Sea, more than 200 km/ 124 miles South of Marsa Alam, St. John's island sits in the inlet of Foul Bay. It is one of a number of small islands inside the bay which, despite its ominous name, is home to some of the best waters for diving in the region. The island and the surrounding reefs are part of the Elba National Park which covers a very large area of land and islands close to the Sudanese border. Though both nations have expressed great interest in the region because of its natural beauty and international appeal the area is currently under the protection of the Egyptian National Park. This means that fortunately, the area is well protected on land and underwater. A good selection of Egyptian Liveaboards run popular itineraries to St.Johns throughout the year.

The St. John's 'reef' is actually a number of reefs all around the island. They cover around 290 square kilometres with a wealth of diverse dive sites on offer. Due to their remote location St.Johns is recommended to be visited on a liveaboard dive cruise. These reefs are home to a huge selection of beautiful hard and soft corals and numerous reef fish and sharks. There are also a huge number of atmospheric caves and caverns, swim-throughs and tunnels and deep drop-offs for spotting the bigger fish.

Daily Schedule (example)

Morning - The very first dive of the day will be as early as possible to enjoy as much time underwater as possible. After a quick snack and a coffee on board there will be a briefing from the guide on the site and conditions. Although it is one reef system the dives vary substantially, so be sure to keep a good ear out during the briefing for conditions and warnings.

After the briefing everyone will head to the dive deck and prepare, many of these dives are perfect depth for Nitrox so most people will have to analyse before kitting up. The groups will be dropped and picked up by small tenders at the dive site.

Afternoon - After a proper breakfast there will be another three dives in the afternoon with a lunch break in between. There will often be an opportunity for night or sunset dives later in the day in certain areas of the reef.

St. John's Underwater

The reefs of St. John's are varied in depth, topography and wildlife. Habili Ali to the East end of St. John's is a submerged shallow plateau with huge drop-offs on all sides. The walls are spectacular for gorgonias and black coral and anemone as well as grey reef sharks, barracuda and napoleon wrasse. There are also passing visitors with the occasional manta, oceanic whitetips and even occasional hammerheads. There is also a chance to see pods of dolphins which can appear from nowhere and take over the reef. The visibility can be up to 35 meters on a good day but the currents here gets very strong which considering the sheer drop-offs makes it a site for advanced divers only.

In addition to reefs with all-round walls like Habili Ali and Habili Gafaar there are also slightly more relaxed dives like the strangely named Dangerous Reef. Here the current is much less and Dangerous Reef benefits from a flat bottom at 20 meters instead of a deep drop-off. There are some easy swim throughs and lots of squid and eels, perfect for a night dive.

Caves are also a big attraction with St. John's Caves being one of the best. Coral encrusted swim throughs and chimneys are everywhere along with beautifully lit caverns. Unsurprisingly, eels and huge shoals of cardinal fish are a common sight here along with soft and hard corrals and all kinds of reef fish.

Top Tips for St. John's Reef

  • An SMB is a must, with so many boats around these very popular sites surfacing without one can be very hazardous.
  • Keep an eye on your depth gauge or consider a depth alarm on your computer especially since a lot of boats use EANitrox.
  • Be very careful when diving in caverns and swimthroughs as there is hard coral and sharp rocks all around these spaces.

Getting to St. John's Reef

Most Egypt Liveaboards going to St. John's depart from Port Ghalib, 1 hour from the resort of Marsa Alam. Marsa Alam has its own international airport with connecting flights to most major European destinations. Alternatively, Hurghada airport has a wider range of departure ports but is around a four-hour transfer from Port Ghalib. Be aware that most companies will charge extra for a transfer from Hurghada to the departure port.

The reef itself is an overnight sail, around 14 hours in transit from Port Ghalib. It is possible for liveaboards to make the journey in one sailing and arrive in St. John's early morning. However, this reef is often part of an itinerary that includes Daedalus and Fury Shoals so they may stop of there first, before moving on to St. John's. Other Southern itineraries take in St. John's and the neighbouring Rocky Island and Zabargad dive sites. Liveaboards will often anchor a little further away and drop and pick up divers at the dive sites by small tenders.


St. Johns Diving Reviews

  • 9.0 Superb
  • 125 Verified Reviews
  • 9.2 Superb
  • Frances D
  • United States United States

St. Johns has nice beautiful caves.

Diving St. Johns in November on the MY Seawolf Dominator

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Jonathan B
  • United States United States

Amazing!! Wonderful reefs, clear water, super calm conditions.

Diving St. Johns in May on the Seawolf Felo

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Kathleen P
  • United States United States

Beautiful. My favorite part

Diving St. Johns in July on the Miss Nouran

  • 7.6 Good
  • Austin L
  • United States United States

Corals much better than expected

Diving St. Johns in April on the Tillis

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Stephen L
  • United States United States

Topographically stunning. The pinnacles and the swim-throughs are the highlight in St. John.

Diving St. Johns in December on the Emperor Echo

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Clara W
  • United States United States

Nice dive sites, conservation minded

Diving St. Johns in February on the Emperor Echo

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Aaron T
  • United States United States

Great. Best coral I have ever seen.

Diving St. Johns in November on the Blue Horizon

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Kaitlyn O
  • United States United States

Great water clarity, nice coral

Diving St. Johns in December on the Golden Dolphin II

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Pauline P
  • United States United States

Really interesting coral topography

Diving St. Johns in April on the Emperor Elite

  • 5.2 Review score
  • Don E
  • United States United States

Some of the reefs were spectacular and some pretty boring

Diving St. Johns in July on the JP Marine

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Elizabeth P
  • United States United States

Crystal clear nice dive site

Diving St. Johns in September on the Blue

  • 7.6 Good
  • Sergei K
  • United States United States

Nice swim throughs and healthy corals, but not much marine life to see. Also, quite crowded.

Diving St. Johns in November on the Sea Serpent

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • David W
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

St John's caves were outstanding and stands as one of my top 3 dives.

Diving St. Johns in February on the Emperor Asmaa

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Petronella P
  • Sweden Sweden

Good . Very nice corals but no big life at all

Diving St. Johns in December on the Emperor Elite

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Malgorzata B
  • Poland Poland

My first time in this site. I'm impressed and would like to return.

Diving St. Johns in November on the MY Seawolf Felo

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Andrei P
  • Sweden Sweden

Great! And we managed to visit Zabargad and Rocky Island as well.

Diving St. Johns in March on the Emperor Elite

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Marc F
  • France France

Visiting, evolving into caves of this particular reef by easy and shallow diving was amazing and wonderful !

Diving St. Johns in September on the Emperor Asmaa

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Kim B
  • Canada Canada

It was absolutely beautiful.

Diving St. Johns in September on the Contessa Mia

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Xiangyu W
  • China China

Coral is very beautiful, the topography of the dive is spectacular. But there are few fish and big things

Diving St. Johns in February on the JP Marine

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Stefano P
  • Italy Italy

Very good dive sites, we enjoyed the deep dives, with several species of fish undisturbed by divers, probably due to less frequent diving in those areas. Amazing.

Diving St. Johns in June on the Tillis

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Gabriel C
  • Brazil Brazil

The boat stops and there's nothing in the landscape. When you look down , you seem a espetacular reef. This place is not only one reef, it is a set of various reefs.

Diving St. Johns in July on the JP Marine

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Nina D
  • Germany Germany

Still nice reefs and great amount of fishes...even a tiger shark!

Diving St. Johns in August on the Okeanos Xplorer

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • nari C
  • South Korea South Korea

really beautiful geographical features

Diving St. Johns in August on the JP Marine

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Sujeong O
  • South Korea South Korea

There were various beautiful canyons and caves. It was awesome the sun shine through the cracks.

Diving St. Johns in August on the Blue Melody

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Joar M
  • Sweden Sweden

Very good. Lots of marine life and cool swim throughs.

Diving St. Johns in December on the Emperor Asmaa

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Thomas R
  • Austria Austria

Amazing huge reef - beautiful caves

Diving St. Johns in April on the JP Marine

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • WONKYU L
  • South Korea South Korea

I loved the cave system with wonderful corals.

Diving St. Johns in April on the Blue Horizon

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Michael H
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Excellent vis on most dives, probably +30 m. And you won't see better corals (hard and soft) anywhere else.

Diving St. Johns in May on the JP Marine

  • 9.2 Superb
  • David D
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Excellent diving, well planned and guided and safe. Saw lots of interesting things.

Diving St. Johns in May on the JP Marine

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Raymond A
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

We had the good fortune to be the only boat, so the reefs weren't crowded. the other reefs were also great (but with more divers in the water).

Diving St. Johns in May on the JP Marine

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Michael B
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Diving was good although the "cave" diving got a little congested at times, corls were good - relaxed diving.

Diving St. Johns in June on the Samira Discovery

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Vitor S
  • Portugal Portugal

Coral and reef fish good. No big fish. Out of the crowds.

Diving St. Johns in July on the Seawolf Felo

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Bernd B
  • Germany Germany

Excellent dive spots (Big Gota, Dangerous, Small Gota) and conditions

Diving St. Johns in July on the Emperor Asmaa

  • 7.6 Good
  • Alena Miriam S
  • Czech Republic Czech Republic

Variety of dive sites, some sharks, it would be good to spend more time there.

Diving St. Johns in August on the JP Marine

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Christopher T
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Some nice dives in cave systems. A good variety of the small fishes on most sites. Schools of larger fishes not really at all. Generally healthy reef systems.

Diving St. Johns in September on the Amelia Discovery

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • BJORN L
  • Norway Norway

Excellent visibility, amazing life beneath the sea.

Diving St. Johns in September on the MY Odyssey Liveaboard

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Emanuel W
  • Austria Austria

Beautiful. Rich marine life and lots of vast and colourful coral gardens, plus surreal underwater landscapes.

Diving St. Johns in November on the JP Marine

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Regula B
  • Switzerland Switzerland

Wonderful, just the water is to worm. Sad to see the coral diing.

Diving St. Johns in September on the Blue

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Michelle Maria N
  • Switzerland Switzerland

It's my first time in Egypt, so I can't compare it to other places. There was a variety of dive sites in this trip, from amazing to ok.

Diving St. Johns in November on the JP Marine

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Vincenzo F
  • Italy Italy

interesting but only a few fishes

Diving St. Johns in June on the JP Marine

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Sabine V
  • Germany Germany

In comparison to diving the Red sea in 2009 it has made a sad development. I expected healthier reefs

Diving St. Johns in October on the Nemo

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Yan Martin V
  • Denmark Denmark

Very nice and easy dives, including dolfine dive

Diving St. Johns in October on the Emperor Echo

  • 6.8 Review score
  • Janusz S
  • Finland Finland

Different kinds of coral and schooling pelagic fish. Nice night dives.

Diving St. Johns in October on the Al Farouk II

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Victor R
  • Colombia Colombia

The caves were amazing with sunlight coming from the top.

Diving St. Johns in November on the Emperor Elite

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • John B
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

I had heard so much about St John’s but it did not quite live up to expectations..A lot of dead coral and bleaching..

Diving St. Johns in November on the Blue

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Shady E
  • Egypt Egypt

Beautiful aquarium sized fish and huge coral reef with caves, swim throughs & pinnacles

Diving St. Johns in November on the Blue

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Paola B
  • Italy Italy

Really great coral formations and colorful fish

Diving St. Johns in November on the Blue

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Margaret V
  • Canada Canada

Spent a couple days here and St. John’s added large smile to my face for colours and exquisite clams.

Diving St. Johns in January on the Emperor Echo

  • 7.6 Good
  • Thomas L
  • Austria Austria

Very good - dramatic drop offs, lots of life.

Diving St. Johns in February on the Blue Seas

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Derek M
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Beautiful, lots of small life and stunning swim throughs and caverns

Diving St. Johns in March on the Blue Seas

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Andrea U
  • Germany Germany

Best dive at UmmKhararim with caves

Diving St. Johns in March on the JP Marine

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Mark D
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Very good. Large area with lots of reef choices.

Diving St. Johns in April on the JP Marine

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • David D
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Excellent diving on some seldom dived reefs. Excellent fish life and undamaged reefs.

Diving St. Johns in May on the JP Marine

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Rolf L
  • Netherlands Netherlands

Excellent. The caves and labyrinth were magnificent and clear

Diving St. Johns in July on the Tillis

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Catherine M
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

On previous visits I've gone through the caves unguided, which I think I prefer, but we had great dives. The corals are just spectacular

Diving St. Johns in July on the Tillis

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Nazif E
  • Turkey Turkey

We dove at St Johns last year. Cavern system is amazing.

Diving St. Johns in July on the Emperor Elite

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Peter W
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Stunning but some dives challenging due to currents

Diving St. Johns in July on the Blue Seas

  • 6.0 Review score
  • kristoffer G
  • Denmark Denmark

okay for small stuff, not the best and a little boring

Diving St. Johns in July on the JP Marine

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Michael M
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

the "caves" were very interesting

Diving St. Johns in July on the Tillis

  • 7.2 Good
  • mic D
  • Netherlands Netherlands

niet geweest want te warm en dus geen verwachte aanwezigheid van haaien

Diving St. Johns in July on the Emperor Echo

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Lukasz G
  • Poland Poland

New route included Zagarbad and Rocky Islands, with prestine reefs, however we did not reach deep south (Dangerous reef) but this was not a problem. Overall almost optimal dive sites choice

Diving St. Johns in August on the Red Sea Aggressor III

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Rebecca B
  • Switzerland Switzerland

Atemberaubend schön, mir haben die Korallenriffe sehr gefallen

Diving St. Johns in September on the Emperor Elite

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Patrik H
  • Sweden Sweden

Exelent! Felt like I was the first one there! Not a single broken corall and we found the endemic fish!!

Diving St. Johns in October on the Emperor Asmaa

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Christian M
  • Germany Germany

Sehr schöner Tauchgang mit Haien und Delfinen. War aber sehr viel los.

Diving St. Johns in November on the Royal Evolution

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Linus G
  • Switzerland Switzerland

Beautiful reefs, caverns, turtle.

Diving St. Johns in December on the Hammerhead I


Origin: US