Check Out These 5 Arab Countries for the Best Snorkeling and Diving Spots
By: Christian Jimenez/Arab America Contributing Writer
Snorkeling is a favorite pastime for many as it combines swimming with searching for all sorts of wildlife under the sea; from fish, to starfish, to octopus, to sharks, and many other sea creatures. Here are five Arab countries you should visit to find some of the best snorkeling and diving spots.
The first place that is famous as a snorkeling spot is the site of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. Its location is on the Red Sea coast in the Gulf of Aqaba, which boasts many amazing displays of wildlife and coral reefs. Along with coral reefs, the area also hosts shipwrecks and contains relatively calm and cool waters, which helps with the hot climate of Egypt where temperatures can reach as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months. Some of the most well-known spots located past the coast of Sharm el-Sheikh include Na’ama Bay, the Straits of Tiran, and Ras Mohammed National Park.
Nearby to Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, and also sharing the Gulf of Aqaba, is Jordan. This destination arguably contains the most famous snorkeling and diving locations within the Arab World. The best places for snorkeling and diving within Jordan are located between Jordan’s port of Aqaba and its border with Saudi Arabia, as this coastline is a part of the Aqaba Marine Park, which is itself part of the wider Marine Peace Park of the Red Sea. Some famous places to visit within Jordan’s territorial waters include: Power Station featuring coral reefs mostly made out of fire coral; Cedar Prime with fan corals and basket stars; and, the Japanese Garden with black corals as well as lionfish, angelfish, snappers, etc.
Another Arab location sharing the waters of the Red Sea is Sudan, allowing the country to contain similar marine creatures as Egypt and Jordan. Some of the amazing sites that Sudan has to offer include of Angarosh, which contains many different types of sharks such as hammerheads, tiger sharks, and reef sharks, as well as different kinds of tuna like yellowfin and bluefin tuna. You can also find Sha’ab Rumi Reef, which, similar to Angarosh, contains reef sharks like gray reef sharks as well as silky sharks. The last place to visit within Sudan that is worth mentioning is Umbria Wreck. It is there where you can find cleaner shrimp, snappers, spinyfish, and barracudas along with other types of common reef fish.
With great diving and snorkeling sites located on the opposite body of water bordering the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf is Oman. Similar to the nations of the Red Sea, Oman showcases amazing marine life with areas such as the Bandar Jissah and Bandar Khayran, which are both located near the capital of Muscat, fringed with beautiful coral reefs. You might want to visit Daymaniyat Islands, which is an archipelago of nine islands and has been designated as a national marine reserve by the Omani government. The Island of Al Fahal contains a large shark population around its coasts, giving the island the additional name of Shark Island. Oman contains many sharks and other beautiful marine life forms such as fish, starfish, sponges, and even the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark!
5. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Lastly we visit the United Arab Emirates to find its amazing snorkeling and diving spots. The UAE, in common with Oman, shares some of the most amazing areas of endemic marine life that the Persian Gulf has to offer. Most of their famous marine areas are located within the Emirate of Fujairah, which is not too far from Dubai. Its waters contain many large areas of coral reefs along with countless marine animals, such as sea turtles and dolphins, as well as purposes, manatees, and whales that can be seen further out in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Another interesting fact about snorkeling and diving in the UAE is that in addition to national coral reefs, there are also places where you can dive indoors, such as inside the aquarium of Dubai. You can also cage dive as the sharks swarm around you in the UAE.
These sites are special areas where you can look at all sorts of marine life endemic throughout the seas and oceans off the coasts of the Arab World, from the Red Sea, to the Persian Gulf, to the Gulf of Oman. To all of the snorkeling and diving enthusiasts who find themselves traveling in the Arab World, make sure you check out these five destinations listed in this article. I guarantee you will not regret your time spent discovering the waters in these beautiful countries.
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