Off the coast of southerly Elba National Park in Egypt, St. John’s, Zabargad and Rocky represent the most isolated Egyptian dive destinations. These Red Sea islands sit just north of Egypt’s border with Sudan and the Tropic of Cancer. As part of the national park, St. John’s, Zabargad and Rocky Island are protected marine environments and divers are only just beginning to realize the beauty they contain.
The formation of this group of islands, known as Foul Bay, is seemingly unique. Scientists believe these land masses were not formed by volcanos. Rather, they are a part of Earth’s upper mantle material that has been thrust up to the surface of the sea. Because of its geological formation, these three islands are rich in the gem stone peridot. For this reason, divers can often spot evidence of former mining colonies when exploring topside.
Today, St. Johns, Zabargad and Rocky are the most difficult dive sites to access in the Egyptian Red Sea but are also among the most rewarding. Almost all divers who arrive here come via liveaboard. However, the area’s tourism industry is just beginning to develop. Resorts are popping up in Hamata and Berenice both of which offer access to Foul Bay. Do yourself a favor and get to this diving paradise before the crowds do!
As most dive trips to St. John’s, Zabargad and Rocky Island are completed by liveaboard, you probably won’t have much time to explore the area’s topside attractions. If you’re lucky, you’ll spend some time on one of the islands’ pristine white sand beaches.
For those who are staying at one of the resorts in Hamata or Berenice, a one or two day trip to Luxor, a dolphin watching trip or a drive to El Quseir is sure to keep you entertained. You might also consider kitesurfing lessons, quad biking or a desert camel safari.
Most diving to the deep south of Egypt is conducted by liveaboard. These boats depart from Hamata, Port Ghalib or Marsa Alam.
Divers can also stay in one of the resorts near Hamata or Berenice.
All of these cities are served by the Marsa Alam Airport. There are direct flights from many European capital cities, but connections are also available from Cairo.
From the airport, Hamata and Berenice are a two hour journey to the south by private transfer or boat.