he Red Sea Coast in Saudi Arabia is one of the most unspoiled underwater treasure troves in the world, and it’s no secret that diving in Saudi Arabia is considered the penultimate adventure for advanced divers. Luckily, with the opening of tourism in Saudi Arabia, scuba junkies don’t have to save the best for last. The Saudi coast is brimming with pristine marine life, shipwrecks and virgin reefs, and with the expansion of dive shops in cities like Jeddah, Yanbu and Al Lith, both beginner and advanced divers now have equal opportunity to experience diving in Saudi Arabia.
Best time to dive in Saudi Arabia
The climate in Saudi Arabia makes for beautiful diving weather year-round. Water temperatures of the Red Sea stay consistently between 77 and 95°F (25 to 35°C). In fact, between July and October, diving in the Red Sea can feel like swimming in a giant, warm bath!
Visibility is just as pleasant as the temperature. Diving experts who have combed the underwater region recommend going out in late afternoon, when the sun illuminates the splendid red coral and diverse ecosystem of the Red Sea.
Dive sites, marine life & scuba lessons in Saudi Arabia
Jeddah is the easiest place to find a diving adventure in Saudi Arabia. The coastal city contains a variety of dive shops, all suited for beginner and advanced divers. Divers who want to see a more local side of Saudi Arabia, however, should consider a trip to Yanbu, about 200 miles north of Jeddah, or Farasan Island, on the southern coast.
Best dive sites & shipwrecks near Jeddah
Some of the best diving in Saudi Arabia happens right outside Jeddah, home to the biggest seaport in Saudi Arabia and loved for its proximity to the Red Sea, as well as an abundance of tourist attractions. Jeddah is a popular destination for both advanced and beginner divers. Dive shops are easy to find in the city limits, and Red Sea expeditions can be booked any day of the week.
The Boiler Wreck – Abu Madafi Reef
Sitting between four and 18 meters below the surface of the Red Sea, the Boiler Wreck is a perfect starting point for diving in Saudi Arabia. The area is shallow enough for beginner divers and packed so full of sights that even the most advanced diver will not want to miss it. The ship is believed to be more than a century old, and divers can explore many coral-covered caves and caverns surrounding the vessel. Some of the coral near The Boiler Wreck actually covers older shipwrecks which are hard to spot – but fun to look for!
Advanced divers can ask to be dropped near the west end of the wreck, where a wall directs divers to underwater treasures nearly 45 meters deep. At this depth, divers will see black, pink and red corals and possibly sharks and manta rays. Larger fish like bonito, blue fin jacks and kingfish also have been known to hang out near the deeper side of The Boiler Wreck.
Ann Ann Wreck – Abu Faramish Reef
Located on what is known at the 26-Mile Reef, the Ann Ann Wreck is the largest wreck site near Jeddah. It also is considered the most difficult dive in the region but still offers some breathtaking opportunities for beginners. The ship, which sunk in 1977, stands almost completely upright, making the bow visible from only 5 meters down. The stern can be viewed from a depth of 32 meters.
Because the ship is badly damaged, particularly in the deeper waters, advanced divers are warned to be extra cautious when swimming through the open galley, captain’s room and electric room, which now are occupied by tuna fish, bluestripe snappers and blue-spotted stingrays. Sometimes whitetip sharks visit the Ann Ann Wreck, also.
The Miss Marie – Jeddah port area
Divers can view three wrecks in one dive when visiting The Miss Marie, which collided with a reef more than 30 years ago and has been a popular site for diving expeditions ever since. While the area is a bit difficult to reach, the reward is an array of marine life and a close-up view of three abandoned ship bows poking out from the surface of the water.
Underneath, the ships remain largely intact, and divers of all levels are invited to explore encrustations, brightly-colored coral and winding gullies. The reef is home to sea turtles, manta rays and scores of unique fish. Divers might also run into sharks of different species, including the hammerhead, lemon, reef, tiger and silky shark.
Cable Wreck (Staphonos) – Abu Tair Reef
With construction materials scattered all around its crash site, the Cable Wreck at Abu Tair Reef makes for a fun diving trip and underwater scavenger hunt! The ship, originally called the Staphonos, was hauling a full load of supplies when it went down in 1978. Now, divers of all levels can explore steel beams, cables, chain link fence and even sheets of asbestos at depths of up to 24 meters.
The wreck site is considered an easy dive with big payoffs, and divers who swim around the bow will more than likely get to meet the resident guitarfish, also known as a guitar shark, due to its elongated body which resembles a manta ray and shark all rolled into one! The Cable Wreck also guarantees encounters with large schools of goatfish, snappers and the occasional whitetip reef shark.
Al Lith Island (Jabal Al Lith) – Southern Jeddah
Situated just south of Jeddah, off the coast of Al Lith, this tiny island is a star attraction for divers and tourists alike. Al Lith Island features white sands bordered by shallow, gorgeous blue waters, perfect for snorkeling and swimming. Advanced divers love the area because it is a well-known site for spotting whale sharks and large fish of multiple varieties.
Guests to the island are welcome to set up camp and spend a few days diving and exploring the dry land, which features mountain ravines and a network of caves.
Where to stay while diving in Jeddah
Jeddah is home to several diving resorts and hotels situated near the city’s marinas. For an all-inclusive experience, travelers can choose a hotel that offers diving courses onsite, or at the very least, can recommend a nearby shop with certified instructors and equipment.
Farasan Island & Farasan Island Marine Sanctuary
In the far south of Saudi Arabia, off the coast of Jazan, is where divers will find Farasan Island and Farasan Island Marine Sanctuary. This diving haven contains 84 islands swarming with marine life that both beginners and advanced divers can explore. Depths range from 10 to a whopping 500 meters, and this part of the Red Sea is known for colorful clownfish, moray eels, barracudas and many species of sharks. Divers longing to spot a whale shark should visit between March and June.
Guests can easily find enough on the islands to keep them occupied for an entire week. Besides diving, the area is known for its white sand beaches and historical landmarks, like the sandstone village of Al Qassar.
Best Red Sea scuba diving sites near Yanbu
Located in northern KSA, about 200 miles from Jeddah, is Yanbu, the second most popular place for diving in Saudi Arabia. Yanbu is home to the Seven Sisters, an area known for hammerhead shark sightings, and Abu Galawa, a gorgeous underwater world dotted with colorful coral, schools of barracuda and lots of hammerheads, as well as other species of sharks.
The best thing about diving in Yanbu is that the area is largely unexplored, so divers may uncover brand new attractions and underwater treasures!