The Brother Islands are located 65 miles southeast of Safaga and 32 miles northeast of El Quesir in the middle of the Red Sea. The two little islands are named ‘El Akhawein’ in Egyptian, which means the Brothers.
These “islands” are the exposed tips of two massive reef pillars that rise from the sea. They are the only significant reefs in the area, and as such act as a magnet for any pelagic and reef fishes. Washed as they are by the full force of open-sea currents, they support an incredible dense and diverse coral population, with almost overwhelming beautiful soft coral growth on all sides. Big Brother, the larger of the two, lies about 1 km north of its sibling. It is easily identified by its Victorian stone lighthouse, a legacy of the British rule.
A narrow reef table around the island’s shore gives way almost immediately to a sheer vertical wall, dropping well past the limits of sport diving. Absolutely fantastic coral growth begins at the surface and continues unabated into the depths.
The fish life here is more than impressive, ranging from the tiniest anthias in the shallows to the most impressive sharks in the depths offshore. With the exception of the northeast side, a fringing reef plunges away on all sides, with sheer walls covered in gorgeous soft and hard corals and beautiful sea fans. There are fish everywhere, although the millions of little orange anthias seem to dominate the surrounding scenes as they dance in and out of the corals in orchestrated unison!
Number One is a luxury liveaboard and the property of German dive pioneer in Hurghada; Rudi Kneip. His boat is cruising the Red Sea for many years now. Number one makes weekly trips to the Brother all year round and the boat can be chartered for longer trips as well.
This ship leaves from the harbor of Hurghada and offers room to 20 passengers. There are 10 spacious cabins, with each a double bed and a smaller bunk bed up top. Each cabin has its own private shower and a little refrigerator and comes with telephone. Three showers are located on the upper deck. The boat has air-conditioning all around which is necessary in the heat of the Red Sea climate. The lounge is has comfortable chairs, a bar and TV.
Dive Sites in The Brother Islands
Big Brother is 400 m by 90 m and is surrounded by a supreme reef which drops off to big depths. Currents can be strong all around the Brother Islands. This has one big advantage: it will attract big fish!
The diving is done by zodiacs or from the rear of the boat. There are only a few place to anchor on both Brother Islands.
Little Brother is – in contrary to Big Brother – totally uninhabited. It is only one third of its bigger brother. There is no vegetation and the only rulers are the birds. The dullness from above the water is in total contrast with the beauty under water. Little Brother is surrounded by steep walls, which lead to great depths. Black coral, big gorgonias and lots of hard and soft coral can be seen here. Little Brother has only just a few places to anchor.
On the northwest side of Big Brother a wreck can be found at reasonable depth. The bow is in 30 m of water and the rear of the ship starts at 40 m. The name of the wreck is ‘Aida’, a 75 meter long passenger ship, which was used by the Army as a supply ship. During a storm in 1957 the boat sunk but luckily all 157 passengers were rescued. The ship is standing alongside a steep coral wall and is covered with colorful soft corals. The wreck starts at 26 m and ends at 60 m.
NUMIDIA (the railway wreck)
Less than 100 m north to ‘the Aida’ there is a second and much older wreck in shallower water. This wreck is called ‘the railway wreck’ or ‘the Numidia’. It was an English ship transporting material for railways. The ship sank around 1900 and is completely covered with soft corals in all colors. The bow, marked by a collection of strange wheels is starting 9 m. The rest of the wreck is at 15 m and goes on to 40 m, where the hull has been broken. The rear of the boat and the propellor can be found around 80 m. The current can be very strong. This seems to be one of the nicest wrecks in the Red Sea.
When the weather is bad the waves will be big and the wind will be strong. Diving on the Brothers can then be limited to one day only, because it is difficult to anchor.
When to Visit The Brother Islands
Best time would be the summer months as the water is warmer. But the Red Sea can be dived all year round, you just have to put on a thicker suit or a dry-suit
Getting to The Brother Islands
Fly into the international airport of Hurghada. There are charter flights from many major cities in Europe. Otherwise you can fly into Cairo first and take Egyptian Air to Hurghada or even the bus if you prefer
Make your way to Safaga by bus or taxi where the boat will be waiting for you. It’s a long, 160 km crossing to get to the Brothers. This journey can only be recommended during calm weather and will be canceled if the sea is too rough.