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The area around Safaga has some great diving, the best being the offshore reefs of Panorama Reef, Middle Reef and Abu Kafan. Some divers say this area equals the great sites of Ras Mohamed.
The diving offers a combination of shallow reef dives and drop-offs, as well as the famous wreck of the Salem Express.
The Salem Express is a dramatic dive. Around 500 people perished in one of the worst marine tragedies of all times. The 100-meter ferryboat was on its way back from Mecca to Safaga after the annual Muslim pilgrimage in December 1991, when it hit the reef during a stormy night and sunk rapidly without giving the opportunity to the crew and passengers to board the lifeboats. It is now home to a thriving underwater life, including a famous resident frogfish, blue-spotted stingrays, angel and butterfly fish. The ship itself is covered in a large quantity of hard and soft corals. It is one of the largest wrecks in the Egyptian Red Sea - roughly the same size as the Thistlegorm.
There is superb wall diving at Panorama, which is in fact one of the largest reefs in Safaga, featuring numerous grottos and overhangs, where gorgonians and soft corals thrive with the frequent nurturing currents. Due to the size of the barrier, there are at least three different dives to be done here: the south plateau and the east and west drop offs. Barracudas and white tip reef sharks and occasionally hammerheads and manta rays can be found. The south plateau is somewhat more protected by the current.Abu Kafan is a 300-meter long and narrow reef offering a plateau at both north and south tips. We normally jump in the water on the north plateau and glide with the frequent strong current southwards along the impressive walls covered with soft and black coral, giant fans and gorgonians.
Hal Hal is a rarely chosen dive site due to its distance from the coast, which makes it a virgin spot. The north side is a drop off going down to 80meters, and is a perfect location to spot tunas, barracudas, turtles and sharks. The southern side has colorful coral gardens along with some caves and canyons. This dive site is mostly available only from a liveaboard.
Photographs courtesy of Emperor Divers