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Shipwreck Diving in the Red Sea, Jeddah

As an engineer, Mazlan had the opportunity to travel and work abroad. He has traveled to over 30 countries.

Shipwreck diving in the Red Sea is more popular in Egypt. If you want a change of scenery, this article explains why you should now try shipwreck diving in Jeddah instead.

Shipwreck Diving in the Red Sea, Jeddah.  Photo of Ann Ann wreck.

Shipwreck Diving in the Red Sea, Jeddah. Photo of Ann Ann wreck.

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea

The Red Sea is a popular diving destination, partly due to its uniform temperature with depth and its good visibility of up to 151 feet (46 m). Most important of all, it is rich in marine life.

The most popular destination is Egypt's as accessibility is better. But you should give Saudi Arabia's Red Sea a try—it is less crowded and cheaper.

Littered With Shipwrecks

The Red Sea is rich in history and has no shortage of mysteries. Navigation errors in its shallow waters, severe weather conditions, and equipment failures have littered the Red Sea with wrecks.

These shipwrecks have been lying undisturbed for decades, attracting marine creatures that give new life to these fallen giants.

Shipwreck Diving (4 Shipwreck Sites)

If diving is your recreational activity, and you are tired of fishing or diving among the coral reefs, you may want to try shipwreck diving.

There are several of these wrecks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with plenty of choices. If you are keen to explore these mangled remains try the following sites which are the more accessible and popular sites in Jeddah.

Feeding the fishes at Jeddah Red Sea

Feeding the fishes at Jeddah Red Sea

1. Cable Wreck

The Staphonos, which sank in 1978, carried with it construction materials consisting of steel beams, cable, chain link fence, and asbestos sheets.

The Staphonos Wreck, now known as Cable Wreck, is located northwest of Two Tower Reef (Abu Tayr reef) and rests on its left (port) side on coral sand.

Although it lies 79 feet (24 m) deep, there is sufficient ambient light from above to naturally light the wreck without having to explore with artificial lights.

Longspot snapper swimming around the Cable Wreck

Longspot snapper swimming around the Cable Wreck

The top of the wreck is accessible at 56 feet (17 m). Although small, it is fairly intact. If the currents are not severe, swimming around it is relatively easy. You will find hundreds of fish taking refuge in the bow of the ship, between mooring ropes, scattered cargo pipes, and cables.

When you go shipwreck diving here, keep a lookout for the whitetip sharks and blue-spotted rays. They like to hang out around Cable Wreck.

On calm days, this wreck is easily accessible to divers of all experience levels, but when the current is strong, it becomes an advanced dive.

The most photographed parts of the wreck are the ship’s mast and stern section, so you may want to bring your camera when you do the cable wreck dive.

Anthias fishes on the Ann Ann wreck, off Jeddah

Anthias fishes on the Ann Ann wreck, off Jeddah

2. Ann Ann Wreck

The Ann Ann wreck is two hours from Jeddah on the 26-Mile Reef. It is the largest and most challenging shipwreck and therefore appropriate for intermediate to advanced divers.

The wreck stands upright facing east with its bow firmly plowed into the reef. The stern section is spectacular to visit with its huge rudder ornamented with shellfish and enormous propeller decorated with soft coral.

The wreck sits at the bottom at a depth of 30 m. Here you may see blue-striped snappers, blue-spotted stingrays, dogtooth tunas, and, occasionally, white-tip sharks.

The rear section of the wreck, resting at 46 feet (14 m), is still full of winches and machinery often frequented by goatfish, broom-tailed filefish, coral groupers, and the territorial Sohal surgeonfish.

When divers go shipwreck diving here, they never fail to photograph sitting on one of the ship's toilets. Despite its obvious size, the wreck is badly broken up, so exercise caution.

3. Chicken Wreck

Chicken Wreck, named for its cargo of frozen chicken, is one of the favorite diving spots near Jeddah.

This wreck is suitable for novice divers; since it is sandwiched between adjacent reefs, the current remains calm all year round. The deepest point of this dive site is 72 feet (22 m), at the stern of the wreck. The front (the bow) is pointing towards the reef and the ship is resting on its port side. The rail of the ship is not damaged and is decorated with hard coral.

There are plenty of pixie hawkfishes and some pipefishes swimming around on the flank facing the surface.

Part of the Marble wreck, in Jeddah Red Sea

Part of the Marble wreck, in Jeddah Red Sea

4. Marble Wreck

Marble Wreck is a shallow-water wreck suitable for novice divers. It sits at 18 m at its deepest point and it is possible to cruise around at 26-40 feet (8-12 m) depth.

The Red Sea has had a devastating effect on this wreck, quite literally ripping it apart. The left (port) sections have completely collapsed, scattering marble everywhere. You will find lionfish guarding the rear close to a ladder decorated with coral. Pay attention to the masts, which are often adorned with oysters and Acropora coral.

As you might have guessed, Marble Wreck got its name from the marble cargo that it carried. Some still refer to it as the Abu Saba Wreck.

Buoyancy Tip

These shipwrecks are beautiful to look at, but they are dangerous, so buoyancy control is crucial to avoid damaging the decaying wreck or yourself.

Your scuba tank will get lighter during your dive, so make sure you have an easy descent. If you struggle to get down, then you will be working hard to stay down. Making a safety stop may be difficult if you are too buoyant.

Safe Wreck Diving Tips

When you go shipwreck diving, for your own safety, take note of the following:

  • Watch out for fishing lines, which pose an entanglement risk.
  • Avoid swimming into or under the wrecks. They are aging and you don't know when they might collapse.
  • Be up-to-date with your tetanus vaccinations as sharp edges on wrecks are usually rusty.
  • Never touch the wrecks, since many wrecks are covered with fire sponges, hydroids, shellfish, and broken edges of parts.
  • Please respect these wrecks and do not remove any items or parts from them.
  • Also, for your safety, do not attempt wreck penetration, as it is a high-risk activity that requires specialized equipment, training, and supervision.
  • Please use existing mooring ropes to moor at the dive site, rather than dropping anchors on the wrecks. Anchoring on wrecks is harmful to marine life and to the wreck. If you use a charter boat, please advise your boat operator accordingly.

Dive Shops in Jeddah

ShopAddressOpening HoursTelephone

1. Blue Reef Divers

Located behind Danube supermarket, off Tahlia Street. GPS: N21°32.756', E39°09.810'

Sat-Wed 9am-11pm Thu-Fri 7am-11pm

Tel: +966-2-6606368 Fax: +966-2-6602064

2. Blue Reef Divers Branch

Durrat Al-Arous , about 50km north of Jeddah

Sat-Wed 9am-11pm. Thurs & Fri 7.30am-11pm

Tel: +966-2-6181777 Fax: +966-2-6181778

3. Desert Sea Divers

North Obhur road (Creek) near Rose Village Compound, after the big mosque. GPS: N21°43.685', E39°06.449'

Sat-Wed: 10am-8pm Thurs & Fri: 7am-8pm (closed on Monday)

Tel: +966-2-6561807 Fax: +966-2-6561288

4. Dream Divers

King Road, next to Auto Mall

Sat-Thurs: 9am-11pm Fri: 6pm-11pm

Tel: +966-2-2150019 Fax: +966-2-6644892

5. Al-Khorayef Yamaha Marines Equipment

King Road, next to Auto Mall

Sat-Wed:8am-12.30pm, 5.30pm-9pm Thurs: 8am-1.30pm Closed on Fri

Tel: +966-2-4202666

6. Red Sea Divers

Opposite Danube, off Tahlia Street GPS: N21°32.743', E39°09.727'

Sat-Wed: 9am-11pm Thurs & Fri: 7.30am-11pm

Tel: +966-2-6606368 Fax: +966-2-6602064

7. The Arab Circumnavigator

Behind Danube supermarket, off Tahlia Street. GPS: N21°32.790', E39°09.802

All week 9am-10pm

Tel: +966-2-6651304 Fax: +966-2-6608224

When Is the Best Time to Dive?

Summer is the worst month to visit or go diving in Jeddah. It is hot, sweltering, and arid. The temperature averages about 100°F (38°C) for June, July, and August. If you swim or dive during these months, it is like entering a huge warm bathtub. Late afternoon diving is better as the weather and the water is cooler.

The best time of year to dive in Jeddah is from early November to late April.

Dive Resorts in Jeddah

There are several Dive Resorts around Jeddah and below are some that you can check out:

  • Ahlam Resort Tel: +966-2-2886242
  • Dive Village Tel: +966-2-6561980
  • Durrat Al-Arous Tel: +966-2-6180000
  • Nakheel/Ghulam Beach Resort Tel: +966-2-2342266
  • Red Sea Resort Tel: +966-2-6562199

Marinas in Jeddah

Marinas in Jeddah are:

  • Al-Ahlam Marina Tel: +966-2-2886242
  • Al-Nakheel Village Tel: +966-2-6562101
  • Red Sea Marina Tel: +966-2-2340117

Other Diving Sites in Saudi Arabia

If you are tired of the diving sites in Jeddah then try Yanbu, about 200 miles (322 km) north of Jeddah. You can also try Al Lith Island (Jabal Al Lith) 132 miles (212 km) south of Jeddah or Farasan Island off the coast of the city of Jazan, which is 487 miles (783 km) also south of Jeddah.

Diving Humor

Every dive is optional. Every ascent is mandatory.

Diving isn't dangerous. Drowning is what's dangerous.

It's always better to be up here wishing you were down there than be down there wishing you were up here.

Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make all of them yourself.

Diving in Jeddah

Red Sea diving near Jeddah does not attract as many divers as Red Sea diving in Egypt. In Jeddah, you will not be fighting the crowds and you will have a more enjoyable diving experience.

Saudi Arabia Visa

In the past, the main obstacle has been the difficulty of getting a visa to visit Saudi Arabia. There was no such thing as a tourist visa in Saudi Arabia. You either came on a pilgrimage visa or got a job and entered with a work visa (many expatriates take up diving and do it on most weekends).

Thankfully, Saudi Arabia started issuing tourist visas and you can apply online here. You can also check if your country is eligible for this eVisa application.

But Jeddah has so much more to offer than just diving. If you get a chance to visit Saudi Arabia, come to Jeddah and enjoy diving, fishing, and many other water activities in the Red Sea. If you are tired of the sea and the sun, then you should go to Abha, Saudi's mountain resort, which enjoys mild weather throughout the year.

Photo Credits Note

Photos of all the shipwrecks are used with permission from Peter Telkins (Flickr profile name Peter Tee) and Adam Ward (Flickr profile name wardsabroad). You can see more of their works on their respective Flickr pages. Special thanks to both Peter and Adam for sharing and giving me permission to use their photos for this article.

FAQs on Shipwreck Diving

Here are a few of the questions people tend to ask about shipwreck diving:

How Dangerous is Shipwreck Diving?

Shipwreck diving can be dangerous if:

  • You got lost inside the hull of the shipwreck.
  • When you get engrossed with the 'finds' and forget to check or monitor your air gauges, and gas supply gets disrupted or runs out.
  • Dangerous prey like sharks might be lurking around the wreck.
  • Your dive depth is more than 20 feet, which can lead to breathing difficulties.
  • Got trapped, entangled, or injured within the wreck.
  • Loss of visibility because your dive lights run out of battery, or a cloud of sediment that can partially or completely reduce visibility.

Types of Wreck Diving

  • Non-Penetration Diving: When you just swim around the wreck. Usually done by beginners and is the least dangerous.
  • Limited Penetration Diving: Diving and exploring areas of the wreck that are illuminated externally by natural lighting.
  • Full Penetration Diving: Diving and exploring areas beyond the natural light area, which can be very dark, and if you don't carry a dive light, you can get lost. This is the most dangerous type of shipwreck diving and should be done only by experienced divers.

What Other Equipment Should I Bring for Shipwreck Diving?

  • Dive Light, either wide-beam or narrow-beam light or both. Bring extra dive light and extra battery as backup.
  • Dive Knife, in case you get entangled within the wreck (fishing nets, etc).
  • Wreck Line and Reel, to guide your way out of the shipwreck. This is very useful when visibility is reduced.
  • Underwater Slate, a writing medium to communicate with your fellow divers, jot down notes, etc.
  • Extra Breathing Gas, as a precaution.
  • Thick Gloves, protect your hand from reefs or sharp edges, keep your hand warm, and can also improve your grip.

Your Vote on Shipwreck Diving

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Mazlan A


MJ on April 26, 2013:

Any clues on who arrange the dives in Jeddah.. Who to contact.?

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 22, 2012:

@watergeek : They are expert and professional divers and how I wish they were.

Susette Horspool from Pasadena CA on August 21, 2012:

They ARE great photos. I wouldn't mind at all having them attributed to me, but . . . I don't even know how to scuba dive, much less photograph underwater. I'm guessing the photographers are greatstuff's friends and/or dive buddies. Am I right?

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

Leah, this is Greatstuff and you should make a point to visit Red Sea, if you have a chance. Fishing and diving there are quite an experience.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

A.A. Zavala : Thanks for dropping by and the compliments.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

@teaches12345: Yes, to finally find treasures that will pay off all our debts and with more than enough balance for us to enjoy life! That will be a dream! Thanks for sharing and the votes.

Leah Lefler from Western New York on August 21, 2012:

Wow, watergeek - the photos in this hub are so beautiful! It makes me want to visit the Red Sea. I love the fish and the idea of seeing shipwrecks in person is so intriguing!

Augustine A Zavala from Texas on August 21, 2012:

Outstanding hub with interesting wreck photos. Thank you for sharing.

Dianna Mendez on August 20, 2012:

If I could, I would enjoy this beautiful experience. The thrill of swimming among the different fish and finding treasure would be a lifelong memory. Voted up.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 18, 2012:

@watergeek Diving in Thailand is another good area for divers. He should come down to Malaysia as well. We have some great diving sites esp. in the eastern part of Malaysia off Sabah . My nephew runs a diving school and diving tour at Pulau Tioman and he organized diving tours to other diving sites in Thailand and Bali, Indonesia.

Susette Horspool from Pasadena CA on August 13, 2012:

Very interesting. I would send this to my brother, but he's diving off the coast of Thailand right now.

escaran from Philippines on August 13, 2012:

wow like a titanic!