Almost every hotel rents space to independent dive shops, most of which provide the same services for the same prices: PADI, NAUI, and CMAS courses from beginner to instructor levels; three- to seven-day safaris; and daily trips to Ras Muhammad, Tiran, and other local sites. What sets the dive centers apart is their degree of professionalism, quality of guides and boats, and levels of hospitality. Supervised introductory dives, local boat dives, and shore dives cost about €40 for two dives, weights included. Longer boat dives cost about €60; daily equipment rental costs €25; and a five-day, open-water certificate course costs about €350.

Tiran, one of Sharm's most-visited sites, is a one-hour drive east off the coast. It can be rough as you cross the Straits of Tiran, but it is well worth the trip. On a day of diving, you cover two of the four reefs in this area; north to south they are Jackson, Woodhouse, Thomas, and Gordon. It is popular for its strong fly currents—there are drift dives only—and rich coral walls, and you may spot some big fish. Sharm el Sheikh, South Sinai.

The Thistlegorm wreck is a diving-safari favorite, and some companies in Sharm will organize a day of diving that begins at 4 am and returns you to Sharm, exhausted, at 5 pm. Strong currents and low visibility make this a hard dive, but it's a fantastic site. Sharm el Sheikh, South Sinai.

Jackfish Alley is a great drift dive, with ergs swarming with shoals of glassfish and basking stingrays, a coral garden, and a gully where you should see large jackfish. Sharm el Sheikh, South Sinai.

Ras Nasrani is a favorite shore dive 18 km (11 mi) northeast of Na'ama Bay that is also often done by boat. From the shore you may get lucky and get a private tour of the reef with the resident napoleon fish, which will take you around and bring you right back to the entry point. Remember not to feed him, or any other fish. Sharm el Sheikh, South Sinai.

Ras Muhammad National Park, at the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula, is considered one of the world's top dive sites. With great beaches and more than ten reefs to choose from, the park is a great place for shore and boat diving. The yellow starkness of the desert contrasts wonderfully with the explosion of life and color under the water. The most popular boat-dive plan includes Shark's Reef and Jolanda Reef, where you can see hordes of great fish, beautiful coral, and some toilets and sinks deposited by the Cypriot freighter Jolanda, which sank here in 1980. 30 km (15 mi) south of Sharm El-Sheikh, Sharm el Sheikh, South Sinai.


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