Named because of the large number of water wells in the area, the town of Nuweiba gives a chance to submerge into the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Aqaba. This is a great place for the beginners to set off on an underwater trip over the colorful reefs.
A large variety of macro life and shallow waters in the area of Nuweiba attract photo artists from all over the world. Some of the clubs even arrange specialized Underwater Photography Workshops there. Technical divers can hone their skills in clear waters near Nuweiba.
Nuweiba can be found in the northern part of Egypt being the part of Sinai Peninsula. It is less known than its southern neighbors Sharm el Sheikh which is located 150km (93mi) from Nuweiba and Dahab reachable within 70km (43mi). There is the town of Taba and the border with Israel stationed 70km (43mi) to the north.
The nearest airports which you can use to arrive at Nuweiba are Sharm el Sheikh International Airport and Taba Airport. The latter usually services charter flights. Nuweiba also has a ferry connection with Jordan and road connection with Israel. However, if you are traveling from other destinations it might be better to arrive by air. Thus, you will avoid longer customs procedures on the borders with Israel and Jordan.
The seascape in Nuweiba area forms an underwater bridge to the coast of Saudi Arabia. It is rather narrow and the depth goes down to 90m (295ft.) while in the surrounding area of the Gulf of Aqaba it goes down to 1200m (3937ft.).
The reef starts right from the coast gradually descending down that is why most of the dive sites can be reached from the shore. Nevertheless, there are several spots with drop-offs, caves, and crevices. Deeper areas are very popular among technical divers due to good visibility and calm waters.
There are many corals and sea grass gardens as well as 2 artificial reefs. Dive sites are divided among several areas: Bawaki, Ras Shaitan, Rock Sea, Al Maagana, Labyrinth, MFO, Farrah Shore, Myserique, El Hibeq, Ras Mumlah, and Ras Abu Galum.
Currently, only 2 dive clubs provide diving services in the area of Nuweiba: African Divers and Blue Force Nuweiba.
Best Dive Sites Overview
Ras el Shetan Area
This area features 3 dive sites suitable for all levels of divers: Castle Beach, Ras Shetan, and Angelfish. The entrance to all of them is made from the shore via swimming through and breaks in a coral reef. The slope starts at 10m (32ft.) and it goes down to 40m (131ft.). Coral gardens are full of hard and soft corals, including a large variety of Anemones. Sandy areas usually host large Rays, Bluespotted Stingrays, Crocodilefish, and occasional Guitar Shark. Among the sea grass, you can try to find Seahorses, Red Sea Pipefish, Ghost Pipefish, Nudibranch, and beautiful Spanish Dancer. Reef fish shimmers with all the colors: Firefish, Lemon Goby, Blue Puller, Purple Firefish, and many others. Scorpionfish, Stonefish, Yellow Mouth Moray, and Eagle Ray are often seen here.
Angelfish Dive Site is famous for huge table corals and a cleaning station with Glassfish at the depth of 29m (95ft.) in the northern part of the site.
There are several dive sites in this area. The Labyrinth is one of the most interesting sites because of the complicated underwater channels and passages. The entry and exit from the dive site are made via these labyrinths, so you need to be careful with navigation in order not to get lost in dead-end parts. The area is followed by coral gardens surrounded by clouds of small fish. Here you can also expect to see Snappers, Barracuda, and Giant Frogfish. If you go further there is a wall going down to 50m (164ft.) where a deep dive can be enjoyed.
MFO Area (The Sinkers and Pipeline)
Such a strange name comes from the Camp of Multinational Force of Observers located in this area, though it is more famous for its artificial reefs which grew over pipelines and a buoy.
If you’ve never seen pipelines under the water, it is worth visiting Pipeline dive site. They are no longer used while some time ago they were made by the Israeli army for desalination purposes. Pipelines start at 5m (16ft.). The dive site can be visited by all divers as the maximum depth at one of the pipelines is 12m (39ft) and the other goes down to 22m (72ft.). They have become home for many hard and soft corals and reef fish. You can expect Frogfish, Scorpionfish, Batfish, Octopus, and Torpedo Ray. Snappers and Jacks usually stay near the cleaning staying where they are serviced by Wrasse and Shrimps.
The Sinkers is a mooring buoy. Someone might have mixed the depth when placing the buoy or the length of its chains was not enough. In the long run, the buoy did not reach the surface and stayed in-between. Now it is located at the depth of 8-12m (26-39ft.) forming a great artificial reef. It is a paradise for macro life amateurs and underwater photographers. You can enjoy Glassfish, Fusiliers, Damsels, Cleaner Shrimps, Morays and larger fish like Barracuda and Jacks around the buoy.
Ras Anu Galum
This area is part of Ras Anu Galum National Park. You can get there by boat via special arrangement with the dive club. As these dive sites are rarely visited, you can find untouched reefs and drop-offs going down to 60m (196ft.). Corals in shallower areas are widely represented by Brain Coral, Table Coral, and Anemones. Here you’d better look into the blue as there is a chance of seeing Turtle, Barracuda, Eagle Ray, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Shark, and even occasional Whale Shark.
Best Dive Season
Diving is possible in any month of the year in Nuweiba. Best time to dive is usually in May-June and September-November.
During January-April, the sea gets colder and there are strong chilly winds, so you can feel uncomfortably cold as soon as you get out of the water. In July and August, you might witness the opposite: these are the hottest months of the year.
The average sea temperature is 26°C (78°F). The water becomes colder between January and May; it can drop to 22°C (71°F). During the hottest months, it warms up to 28°C (82°F) in the deeper areas and to 31°C (87°F) on the surface.
The average visibility stays between 15-30m (49-98ft.), and there are very few places where you can come across strong currents. Usually, currents become stronger during the periods of the new moon and full moon.
The area around Nuweiba has a great variety of hard and soft corals: different species of Anemones, Table Coral, Brain Coral, Fire Coral, Broccoli Coral, Yellow Hard Scroll Coral, and others. Corals are in good shape even though the area suffers from a lack of attention from the authorities and rubbish can be found on the shore.
Among the reef inhabitants, you can notice a large variety of Flatworms, Slugs, Nudibranchs (including Spanish Dancer), Giant Clams, Shrimps, Seahorses, and Ghost Pipefish. If you have a quick eye you might be able to identify the 4 different types of Frogfish: Giant, Painted, Freckled, and a rare Randall’s Frogfish.
From time to time, it is possible to see Green Turtles, Mimic Octopus, Eagle Rays, large Rays, Bluespotted Stingrays, and Torpedo Rays. It is not common to see Sharks and Manta Rays in this area due to shallow waters of the Gulf.
The choice of accommodations is not very big in Nuweiba as it used to be a budget location with Bedouin-style camps. Nevertheless, now you can find few 4- and 3-star hotels.
Hilton Coral Resort
Being part of the world’s brand Hilton Coral Resort is 4-star beach accommodation. You can choose from Standard, Deluxe Rooms, and Suites each of which comes with the all-inclusive board package. The Resort features several restaurants, pools, tennis court, squash, and mini-golf. There is also a special Children’s area and Kid’s club on the territory of the Resort. Diving services can be ordered from African Divers located not far away.
Swisscare Nuweiba Resort Hotel
This 3-star hotel provides 2-roomed suites each of which features 2 bathrooms and 2 balconies or terraces. The Hotel is located on the beach right next to the house reef. The facilities include a restaurant, a pool, billiards, Children’s playground and a massage cabinet. Diving services are provided by African Divers Dive Club which is located onsite.
Helnan Nuweiba Bay Resort
This beach Resort provides accommodation in Bungalow-style Standard, Superior, and Deluxe Rooms. The Resort also owns 45 rustic huts with shared bathrooms. The guests of the huts can use the hotel’s facilities. Among the facilities you can find a pool, a restaurant, a sauna, a tennis court, and Children’s playground.
La Sirene Resort
This is a small Resort located near the beach. It offers 36 Rooms with a terrace or a balcony. A restaurant and a lounge are available on site. Diving services are provided by Blue Force Dive Club stationed on the territory of the Resort.
Liveaboards usually do not serve Nuweiba’s dive sites as they usually head either to Deep South of Egypt or stay around such northern and central dive destinations like SS Thistlegorm, Ras Mohammad National Park, and Brothers. Thus, if you wish to discover Nuweiba’s dive site you need to choose one of the land accommodations.
Other Activities For Non-Divers
As reefs are located in shallow waters you can expect wonderful snorkeling in the area of Nuweiba. Plenty of reef fish, representatives of the macro world, as well as Turtles and Rays, will leave good memories of this place.
Mount Sinai & Desert trips
Mount Sinai is the world famous sacred mountain for Christians, Jewish, and Muslims. It is located within a ~90-minute drive from Nuweiba, so you can take an opportunity to visit this historical place. At the foot of Mount Sinai, you can also find Saint Catherine’s Monastery being one of the oldest functioning Christian monasteries in the world.
Besides historical sites, you can enjoy a safari, a private jeep tour, and a trekking guided tour in the nearby Colored, White, and Rainbow Canyons. All of them feature incredible rock formations sometimes with colored folds and ceilings.