Late March Red Sea - Which sections?

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OP
Pillpusher

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I did BDE (trip report) last May. Overall, I enjoyed it, but our divemaster said it was the wrong time of year. We didn't see a single Oceanic white tip, and had a few 'wasted' blue water dives we didn't see anything - but also 1 really great dive we went to see the reef instead of blue water and a few hammer heads showed up and got close.

I am a much bigger fan of colorful coral reefscapes and less of pelagics compared to a lot of other divers and I really enjoyed Marsa Shouna, so if I did another Spring/Early summer Egypt trip, I'd probably go deep south. Not that I don't appreciate pelagics, but there are better places to see them, and the coral formations in the Red Sea are unique and better than anywhere else - at least anywhere you can get to as easily and cheaply from the US.

All that said, if I had the option to do BDE again this Spring at current airfare and liveaboard prices without worry about COVID, I'd take it in a heartbeat. I don't have either the time or money to do 2 big trips in a year, and I booked 3 Egypt liveaboard trips I didn't get to take due to COVID before that 1 I went on. So I am waiting until Fall, if Indonesia is still closed, BDE in September is a very real possibility.
Funny, my cancelled Raja Ampat trip is the reason I’m scrambling to do this in March… lol. It was the best option I could think of (when everything I read said that March-May was the best time).
 

Christian

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Thanks for the info. I’m coming to realize the same. It’s maddening because nearly every website you come across by googling “best time to dive Red Sea”, say that “March-May or Sept to November” are the best times. However, the more info I gather, the more it seems like March-May is one of the WORST times.

I’m considering pushing back the trip to late may/early June, unless I can figure out why all these websites boast March-May as being so good. March is WAY more convenient for me, but if waiting a couple of months would truly be THAT much better, I feel I’d regret going in March.
Don’t trust ”web-sites” that want to sell trips year round. There are also plenty of ”experts” that have done one or two trips to the region.
March/May is superb for the Central Red Sea — The Sudanese Red Sea. Everything in Egypt is Northern Red Sea and it’s generally ’best’ in summer with tropical water temps and more big fish. Best overall site in Egypt is Brothers with some of the best coral, great chances for pelagics and a couple of wrecks.
Listen to what local guys say that dive there year round.
 

Christian

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Looks like an incredible trip! Oceanic white tips are definitely way up on my list, but I fully realize that’s going to be hit or miss regardless of the timing.

OWT:s the exception to ”summer” — they have a distinct sesson peaking in November. It changes a little from season to season but has been pretty consistent for the last 25 years. B, D or E are the places. Defindtely a lot more than hit or miss inside the right period.
 
OP
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Don’t trust ”web-sites” that want to sell trips year round. There are also plenty of ”experts” that have done one or two trips to the region.
March/May is superb for the Central Red Sea — The Sudanese Red Sea. Everything in Egypt is Northern Red Sea and it’s generally ’best’ in summer with tropical water temps and more big fish. Best overall site in Egypt is Brothers with some of the best coral, great chances for pelagics and a couple of wrecks.
Listen to what local guys say that dive there year round.
I hear ya. I was getting that info from websites that aren’t selling anything as well… though, they may have been getting their info from websites that do, so…lol. Regardless, that’s why I’m posting on here. To get real feedback on whether or not I should even bother going in late March.
 
OP
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It is the Interwebz, and it is what it is …
True. Well, the original purpose of this post has been asked and answered, IMO... Unless anyone on here feels that the reefs in Ras Mohamed make it worth going north rather than the reefs to the south.

Guess I need to start a thread on whether or not late March is even worth it, or if I should push it back a couple months to the end of May, beginning of June.
 

Christian

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Ras Mohamed, Strait of Tiran and the Thistlegorm are fantastic dives, with the right conditions. With a turbulent last 7-8 years in Sinai and then Covid, one of the main troubles in this area has been effectively mitigated: crowds! There are few divers.
But reffering to our previous discussion, RasMo/Shark-Yolanda might be the most time sensitive spot in egypt. Most of the year a dramatic wall with a pretty lively reef. Good vis. Colorful coral. In summer, July-August it blossoms and with full moon currents ”all” the fish in the Red Sea gathers, barracuda-, jackfish-, snapper- and batfish schools.
Where ever you end up deciding on liveaboarding, north or south, moving the trip farther towards the summer months is a good thing.
 

DS79

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Hi, I probably repeat myself, but July is not necessarily better for sharks in the red sea than March/April.
So I disagree on this with Christian.

As most of you probably know, most Sharks rather don‘t like super-warm water with no current and Egypt in Summer is super-warm.
The truth is: every year is different and nobody can predict this.
At Daedalus, the hammerheads are usually staying deeper the warmer the water becomes in the shallower layers.
My best trip with big schools of fully grown scalloped hh‘s was in a year with a very cold April (water temps) and a thermocline at around 25m.
For Longimanis, the best month used to be October, but all the seasons have recently pretty much been shifting and becoming unpredictable (global climate change. E.g water in December 2020 and 2021 was as high as 28c. Which is considerably too warm. The same in March 2021). At least there is no rainy season 😉
In essence, moving your trip from March to later could be exactly the wrong move or a good one in retrospective - really nobody knows. However, what we do know is that it tends to get warmer earlier nowadays compared to the past and marine life is somehow adapting. We also know, that there will be 15-25 safari boats with 20 divers each at the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone starting around Easter holidays until November. These Reefs are really not big….
In March and early April, it should be much less crowded.
Guides are always forced to give kind of an explanation if you don‘t see sharks on a particular trip. „Season“ is an easy one.

Much less crowded reefs would be a reason for me alone to go early.

What many people forget: Brothers, Daedalus, and Elphinstone are world class reefs in terms of corals and reef life. It‘s the wrong mindset to go there only for pelagic stuff.

The reefs in the Fury Shoals are definitely not better than BDE concerning corals an smaller stuff. Zabargad and St. Johns indeed have very healthy coral gardens.

If there is a St. Johns or Rock-Zabargad- St. Johns tour, I would take this as the second tour.

By the way, you would save a lot of crossing time and wasted days in the harbor, if
you find a 2 week „best of Egypt“ tour. harder to find, but there are some from time to time.

Flying to HRG is a good idea.
 
OP
Pillpusher

Pillpusher

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Hi, I probably repeat myself, but July is not necessarily better for sharks in the red sea than March/April.
So I disagree on this with Christian.

As most of you probably know, most Sharks rather don‘t like super-warm water with no current and Egypt in Summer is super-warm.
The truth is: every year is different and nobody can predict this.
At Daedalus, the hammerheads are usually staying deeper the warmer the water becomes in the shallower layers.
My best trip with big schools of fully grown scalloped hh‘s was in a in a year with a very cold April (water temps) and a thermocline at around 25m. For Longimanis, the best month used to be October, but all the seasons have recently pretty much been mixed up (global climate change. E.g water in December 2020 and 2021 was as high as 28c. Which is considerably too warm. The same in March 2021). At least there is no rainy season 😉
In essence, moving your trip from March to later could be exactly the wrong move or a good one in retrospective - really nobody knows. However, what we do know is that it tends to get warmer earlier nowadays compared to the past and marine life is somehow adapting. We also know, that there will be 15-25 safari boats with 20 divers each at the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone starting around Easter holidays until November. These teefs are not big.. In March and early April, it should be much less crowded.
Guides are always forced to give kind of an explanation if you din‘t see sharks on a oarticular trip. „Season“ is an easy one.

Much less crowded reefs would be a reason for me alone to go early.

What many people forget: Brothers, Daedalus, and Elphinstone are world class reefs in terms of corals and reef life. It‘s the wrong mindset to go there only for pelagic stuff.

The reefs in the Fury Shoals are definitely not better than BDE concerning corals an smaller driff (Zabargad and St. Johns indeed have very healthy coral gardens as well).

If there is a St. Johns or Rock-Zabargad- St. Johns tour, I would take this as the second tour.

By the way, you would safe a lot of crossing time and waeted days in the harbor, if
you find a 2 week „best of Egypt“ tour. harder to find, but there are some from time to time.

Flying to HRG is a good idea.
Interesting... I appreciate it. It's to get differing opinions like your two's that I started the other thread comparing March/April to May/June. Hopefully some others chime in there to share their experiences as well. Like you, I prefer to avoid the crowds, if at all possible, as long as I'm not giving up too much for it.

And yeah, I did look for longer, 10-14 day trips. I would have preferred that to get to know and have the same crew and boat the entire time, but those don't start until summer.
 

DS79

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Check out the „Blue Melody“ starting April 29th: 10 days „ultimate Red Sea tour“.
I would do something like this plus a few days diving from a nice resort (Mövenpick Qusir).

Keep in mind, on an one week safari, you usually have only five and a half days of diving..
 
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