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While the Red Sea may steal the hearts of divers, Alexandria offers a quirky alternative in Egypt. Visitors can explore ancient artifacts left by everyone from the pharaohs to WWII pilots.

Diving in Alexandria

Quick facts

Diving around Alexandria can be categorized by four different dive types.

In the Eastern Harbor and near to the shore, divers can discover ancient ruins from the pharaohs, Romans and Greeks. The most popular dive site in the area in Cleopatra’s Underwater City which is full of sphinx statues and Roman columns. This city, which was built by Alexander the Great in 300BC, collapsed into the sea after an ancient earthquake. Other ancient sites include Lighthouse and Fort Qaitbey.

To the east of the city, a couple of wrecks from the Napoleonic-era Battle of the Nile offer an interesting diversion for advanced divers. For beginners, the shallow wreck of a WWII airplane gives a glimpse of the area’s modern history.

Further out, Omu Sukan is Alexandria’s premier wildlife dive. In this area, a family of curious eagle rays greats divers. A white-tip reef shark has also been known to make an appearance.

Finally, three hours west of Alexandria, Siwa Oasis gives divers the chance at a freshwater dive in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The crystal clear waters contain the remains of a Roman construction and the occasional freshwater fish. This dive can be combined with an overnight trip to a Bedouin village for a fascinating excursion.

Diving in Alexandria is sought after by history buffs, but can also be a challenge. Visibility in the area is often less than five meters. In addition, government permits must be obtained prior to diving. The governing agency often changes the rules for the permits without notice if they fear divers are collecting artifacts for private collections.

When to go

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What to see

Alexandria is not known for its marine life. If you want reefs and colorful fish, head to Egypt’s Red Sea. In Alexandria, you are more likely to spot ancient statues in the form of a sphinx than a lion fish.

With that said, Omur Sukan, which is a site further removed from shore, has a family of commonly seen eagle rays. A reef shark or two might also make an appearance. In addition, at the Siwa Oasis, a few freshwater fish or two can be seen.

Overall, if you want to see a variety of marine life in Alexandria, check your expectations. Divers come to the area to discover the history that remains buried beneath the sea, not to see a plethora of marine life.


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Alexandria, located on Egypt’s north coast, is the most popular destination for history-loving scuba divers in the region. With over 7000 Pharaonic, Greek and Roman artifacts and wrecks from Napoleonic battles, WWI and WWII, this Egyptian city offers some of the most interesting and unique dive sites in the North Africa. In addition, Alexandria is the jumping off point for dive groups heading to the oasis springs of the Sahara Desert.

The city’s Mediterranean climate on the edge of the desert creates ideal diving conditions for most of the year. The average air temperature is a moderate 64°F to 87°F (18° C to 31° C) while water temperatures vary by season. In the winter expect water to be 69°F (20°C) while the summer brings an average water temperature of 81°F (27°C). Diving in Alexandria is year-round, however divers who wish for warmer seas might plan their trip between June and September. It’s also important to note that visibility in the area is notoriously poor. It’s not uncommon to have a dive with only 6 foot (2 meter) visibility.

Because of Alexandria’s historical importance in Egypt and its location along the Mediterranean, this stop has become increasingly popular with divers. Between the Underwater City of Cleopatra, the Alexandria Lighthouse, Siwa Oasis and the wrecks from the Battle of the Nile, divers have plenty of sites to choose from. Accommodation is also easy to find. Budget friendly accommodation may be hard to locate, but a wide range of mid-range to high-end hotels are available.

As a final note, diving in Alexandria is not a popular activity. You can expect to be the only group in any given site. Because of this, finding a dive operator may also be a challenge and adequate preparation before your trip is necessary. In addition, dive centers will require at least two days notice of your dive in order to secure the necessary permits to dive in the area.

Other attractions

If Alexandria has a lot of ancient history under the water, there is even more above sea level. History-lovers and holidaymakers will rejoice in this seaside escape. A tour of the historical city wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina or the Montazah Palace Gardens. The Royal Jewelry Museum and the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa are also sure to delight. If you’re looking for a bit of a breeze in the oppressive desert heat, head for Fort Qaitbey. It has the best ocean views around. In addition to attractions in Alexandria city, tourists can enjoy trips to the surrounding desert. You’ll be reenacting scenes from The Alchemist as soon as you spot your first oasis.

Getting there

Borg el Arab Airport services Alexandria. Flights destined for Alexandria mostly originate in the Middle East or North Africa. In addition, transportation from Borg el Arab to the city center is limited to an expensive taxi journey.

If you are arriving from Europe, Asia or North America, a better port of entry is Cairo International Airport. Frequent buses and trains depart from Cairo for the 2-3 hour journey to Alexandria.

Once you reach Alexandria, taxis and local buses may be used to travel from point A to point B.


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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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