Liveaboard Diving in Thistlegorm

What to Expect On A Thistlegorm Liveaboard

A dive liveaboard to the SS Thistlegorm, one of the world's most famous shipwrecks resting in around 20-30 meters of water should definitley be on any divers 'must' dive' list in the Red Sea. She left Glasgow in June 1941 carrying locomotives for an Egyptian train company and military vehicles and munitions for the Allied forces stationed in Egypt. She anchored off the coast with the HMS Carlisle as an escort waiting for transit through the Suez Canal.

The Thistlegorm never made it to the Canal though. On the 6th of October, she was mistaken for a troop carrier and bombed by the Luftwaffe. She sank through a destructive combination of the German bombs and the ignition of her own ammunition. Most of her cargo still remains inside the ship's holds, except for two locomotives which lie on either side of the shipwreck.

The Thistlegorm was rediscovered as a dive site by Jacques Cousteau in the 1950's and during the diving boom in the 1990's it became a world famous dive site. The cargo is easy to view without wreck penetration because the wreck spilt in two revealing trucks, guns, motorcycles and many other military goods in the cargo holds. This is a dream for wreck divers and there are plenty of eels, barracuda, batfish and the occasional turtle around for wildlife lovers too. Numerous Egypt liveaboards offer dives on the Thistlegorm as part of their Northern Red Sea itineraries

Daily Schedule

Morning - The Thistlegorm is rated one of the best wreck dives in the world, which means that it is extremely popular. This means lots of divers visit every day, so if you are diving from a liveaboard you are in luck. The morning will be early, around 6 am, but it is well worth it to get in the water and start exploring before any of the day boats arrive from Sharm. For this reason, most liveaboards diving the Thistlegorm try to make two dives on the wreck before heading to another quieter site in the afternoon.

A light breakfast in the morning followed by a briefing will help you to orientate yourself for the dive. The wreck is very large so maybe even take notes in the briefing so you can spot important points when you get down there. Liveaboards and other boats often anchor on or very close to the wreck meaning divers can go directly from the main boat without needing a tender.

Thistlegorm Underwater

The Thistlegorm is over 128 meters long and sitting upright on a sandy seabed. The wreck site has so much to see that it takes at least two dives, if not more, to see the majority of it. Best to start with the deeper profile at the stern which is around 30 meters then work your way up.

The Thistlegorm is split in two, with the smaller stern section on its side and a fantastic break that leaves the layers of cargo decks exposed. On the stern in addition to the propeller, tanks and munitions there are also machine and anti-aircraft guns hanging from the now vertical deck. They are a dream come true for divers with a passion for World War II hardware.

There are also two locomotives, one on the port and one on the starboard side. They came out of the vessel when she sank and sitting in the sand not far from the main wreck they are a perfect subject for underwater photographers. Towards the middle where the bowels of the ship have been exposed by the explosion that sank her there are numerous layers of the holds. These holds are full of different cargos, including everything from rifles and grenades to shoes and boots a veritable underwater museum.

The marine life is more concentrated towards the shallower area close to the stem of the ship although you will find cardinals in the holds and crocodile fish in the sand near the locomotives. Big barracudas hang out above the wreck though and eels are frequently seen poking out of different cracks and holes in the structure.

Top Tips for Thistlegorm

  • A liveaboard cruise which visits the Thistlegorm really is the best way to see this wreck, with early morning dives you will avoid the crowds arriving by boat from Sharm el Sheikh.
  • The wreck can be a bit disorientating so making a quick slate copy of the sitemap might prove helpful.
  • For photographers a good flash is a big advantage. Many of the most photo worthy items, are in the hold, where the light is scarce.

Getting to Thistlegorm

Egypt liveaboards that include the Thistlegorm normally depart either from Sharm el Sheikh or Hurghada. Both resorts have their own airports offering international flights from mainland Europe with connections further afield. Almost all liveaboards offer transfers for guests from the nearby airport or hotels in the area.

Liveaboards which dive on the Thistlegorm usually embark from Sharm el Sheikh and will normally travel along the coast towards the Thistlegorm taking in a number of dives in Ras Mohammed National Park and the wrecks at Abu Nuhas. Those that begin in Hurghada will head North via Abu Nuhas and other popular wreck sites such as Shaab El Erg.

It is also possible to access the Thistlegorm by day boat starting in Sharm el Sheikh. The day starts very early usually around 4 am and returns around 5-6pm. This long day is due to the 4-hour sail from the port at Sharm. Most of these day trips offer 2 dives on the Thistlegorm.


Thistlegorm Diving Reviews

  • 9.2 Superb
  • 66 Verified Reviews
  • 9.2 Superb
  • Toby D
  • Netherlands Netherlands

Very adventurous. Underwater war museum. Indeed tot 10 world wreck!

Diving Thistlegorm in September on the King Snefro 5

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Chris D
  • United States United States

Great wreck, eels all over the place.

Diving Thistlegorm in June on the Emperor Echo

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Joel V
  • Netherlands Netherlands

Can't get enough of the Thistlegorm!

Diving Thistlegorm in July on the Contessa Mia

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Ahmad A
  • Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia

Best wreck for divers to explore the world war underwater stories.

Diving Thistlegorm in July on the King Snefro 5

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Agata B
  • Poland Poland

Best wreck ever! So much to see.

Diving Thistlegorm in July on the King Snefro 5

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Marc D
  • Switzerland Switzerland

Excellent, especially the night dive.

Diving Thistlegorm in July on the Red Sea Adventurer

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Christian F
  • Canada Canada

Excellent Experience; one of the best dives ever!

Diving Thistlegorm in June on the Seawolf Dominator

  • 9.2 Superb
  • david R
  • United States United States

Absolute spectacle to see!

Diving Thistlegorm in June on the Excellence

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Nicolai J
  • Denmark Denmark

Thistlegorm is always an amazing experience. We had 4 dives incl. a night dive - all amazing.

Diving Thistlegorm in June on the Blue Melody

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Annmarie C
  • United States United States

Interesting dive when entering hulls to see the boots, tires, airplane wings, motorcycles, trucks. This was the best wreck dive I have done.

Diving Thistlegorm in May on the King Snefro 5

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Frank U
  • Germany Germany

At the moment with not so many groups down there: Amazing! If you take some time reading about the history behind: Thrilling!

Diving Thistlegorm in May on the Snefro Love

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Tara M
  • Australia Australia

AWESOME we did several dives which was perfect to make sure we saw it all

Diving Thistlegorm in April on the Snefro Pearl

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Francois L
  • France France

Fantastic as I am not very intersted by wreck diving.

Diving Thistlegorm in April on the Snefro Pearl

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Jesse A
  • United States United States

Thistlegorm lives up to all expectations. It is truly as stunning as pictures you see

Diving Thistlegorm in April on the King Snefro 5

  • 8.4 Very good
  • France H
  • Canada Canada

Visibility was not great but the wreck is spectacular.

Diving Thistlegorm in April on the Emperor Asmaa

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Shanna T
  • United States United States

I loved this dive. It was cold the deeper you dove. I enjoyed going through the ship and exploring.

Diving Thistlegorm in June on the Seawolf Soul

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Johannes B
  • Germany Germany

challenging and a discovery dive

Diving Thistlegorm in October on the King Snefro 5

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Vladislav P
  • Germany Germany

The most beautiful wreck of the world, I think, 4 dives on it were awsome! Alle the motocicles, lorrys inside, locomotives on the sand, rifles, boots... And thousends of fishes, bat fishes, jack fishes, and all the rest...

Diving Thistlegorm in August on the Blue Pearl

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Sang L
  • United States United States

Did 3 dives there, afternoon dive was to see the whole outer side, night dive and then morning dive inside, Ahmed was an excellent guide to make sure we got to see the all the key areas. Next time I go I will have much better knowledge and know where I want to spend more time looking around in.

Diving Thistlegorm in July on the Red Sea Adventurer

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Sergey Z
  • Russia Russia

Very big and beautiful wreck. Two dives is the must, one outside and second inside of the wreck.

Diving Thistlegorm in May on the Emperor Superior

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Lloyd P
  • United States United States

Once in a lifetime! I have been wanting to dive this wreck for 5 years!

Diving Thistlegorm in April on the King Snefro 5

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Peter S
  • South Africa South Africa

just loved this experience - got the most incredible photos and it was like a history lesson under the sea

Diving Thistlegorm in March on the Emperor Superior

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Chelane P
  • United States United States

Great wreck. It's so neat to dive on a wreck that still has all of it's cargo!

Diving Thistlegorm in February on the Snefro Pearl

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Frances D
  • United States United States

Thistlegorm was outstanding. We used a rope to descend and ascend - My dive guide took us into the wreck and the entire experience was awesome!

Diving Thistlegorm in February on the Red Sea Adventurer

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Adrian R
  • Switzerland Switzerland

Very nice, must be one of the best wrecks out there. Huge and full of stuff to see.

Diving Thistlegorm in February on the Snefro Pearl

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • John G
  • Denmark Denmark

The greatest wreck, you can dive it 10 times and still wanna go back!

Diving Thistlegorm in November on the King Snefro 5

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Jesse A
  • United States United States

Famous wreck that will not let you down. Probably the most photographed wreck in the world

Diving Thistlegorm in November on the Blue Planet 1

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Sabrina H
  • Germany Germany

In generall an impessive wreck but sometimes to many divers on the same time

Diving Thistlegorm in November on the Snefro Love

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Götz Ulrich L
  • Germany Germany

Two day and one night dive there were not enough for me ...

Diving Thistlegorm in November on the Emperor Superior

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Patrick H
  • Germany Germany

The reason to book this tour and my expectations were absolutely overachieved

Diving Thistlegorm in September on the Blue Horizon Liveaboard

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Jason W
  • United States United States

Thistlegorm was great-- it was my first wreck experience and very fun!

Diving Thistlegorm in September on the Snefro Love

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Qais M
  • United States United States

An adventure, hard to describe in words!

Diving Thistlegorm in August on the Blue Fin Liveaboard

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Magnus T
  • Sweden Sweden

Most amazing!!! Wish we stayed longer there!

Diving Thistlegorm in June on the Snefro Love

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Genevieve G
  • Canada Canada

Amazing experience. Such an amazing wreck!

Diving Thistlegorm in April on the Snefro Pearl

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Alexander J
  • United States United States

Not much of a wreck diver in general, but this was outstanding

Diving Thistlegorm in March on the Blue Fin Liveaboard

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Neil B
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

The highlight of the trip.

Diving Thistlegorm in March on the Emperor Superior

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Annette E
  • Norway Norway

Great, but to many people and very bad vizibility..

Diving Thistlegorm in December on the Emperor Asmaa

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Hazleen Z
  • Malaysia Malaysia

Fantastic. We were lucky to not have another boat on Thistlegorm, we had the site to ourselves.

Diving Thistlegorm in December on the Blue Melody

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Catherine R
  • Canada Canada

I loved it and I apreciated that we dove 4 times there. We could really explore all the different parts of the wrecké We were very lucky to have the wreck almost to ourseves or it is excellent planning.

Diving Thistlegorm in October on the Snefro Love

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • nils peter G
  • Denmark Denmark

A minde blowing experiance everybody should try! It is the moste fantastic dive sight I have tried.

Diving Thistlegorm in May on the King Snefro 6