Welcome to the Egyptian Red Sea
Beyond the shoreline, you will find, beautiful coves, millions of reef fish, coral gardens, reef walls, azure waters, incredible visibility and wrecks, every single thing that attracts divers from all around the world and marks the Red Sea as a world class diving destination.
Egypt is known to be home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations. It bears testament to some of the earliest triumphs for mankind itself. Egypt is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the pyramids of Cairo and also the well-known Museum of Egyptian Antiquities housing the legendary treasure of Tutankhamen. However, Egypt is much more than sand, pyramids and ancient monuments. It is a cruise down the river Nile, hot nightlife and a luxury hotel, it is an invigorating desert, especially for us scuba divers, the Red Sea.
No matter how beautiful and impressive the above water attractions may be, the real beauty and jewel in the Egyptian crown has got to be the astonishing diving.
History of the Two Brothers
The Two Brothers were a Nantucket whaleship which sank during the night of February 11th in 1823. The ships sank off of the French Frigate Shoals and were only discovered in 2008 by a team of marine archaeologists working on an expedition for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Due to the identity of the ship not being known immediately, the wreck was called “Shark Island Whaler”. The ships identification was announced by NOAA in February 2011, on the anniversary of the 188th of her sinking, as Two Brothers. The wreck is the first ever discovery of a wrecked Nantucket whaling ship.
The first artefacts found at the wrecks include three try pots, two anchors, bricks and the remains of the ships rigging. In 2009 and 2010, expeditions with more artefacts were opened which displayed four cast iron cooking pots, harpoon tips, glass, ceramics and blubber hooks.
Also referred to as Al Akhawein, the Brother islands are now a couple of small islands located in the Red Sea. One of them is called Big Brother and the other Little Brother. Numerous dives can be found throughout both of the islands.
Scuba divers from all around the world come here throughout the year in order to experience some of the most alluring coral formations and reefs and astonishing wreck dives that the Red Sea has to offer.
Diving the Brothers
The Brothers are two very small islands width wise, both islands form a steep-sided cone shape, possibly formed by volcanic action caused by the spreading of the Red Sea rift. The Big Brother and Little Brother are only a 5 minutes boat journey apart. The larger Brother is home to a military manned lighthouse. The scenery around the island makes for some wonderful diving and is often surrounded by wild currents. There is also a high chance of seeing sharks which guarantees a fantastic experience.
The Brother Islands are known as a world famous scuba diving destination and offers some of the best diving in the Red Sea and in Egypt. These small islands gain their famous reputation for their incredible pristine corals and the high chances you have of diving with sharks there!
Egyptian authorities have acted to now protect the Brothers. The islands are regularly closed to divers and when open, a fee of 5 US dollars is charged per diver. This money is put towards protecting the marine environment.
Dive Locations surrounding the Brother Islands
The Aida: The Aida is a transport supply ship around 75 meters long and is a very popular wreck dive off of the island of Big Brother. It sank back in 1957 and can now be found at a depth of 30 to 60 meters. At the deepest end of the wreck, large groupers can be found swimming over the hard and soft corals with an array of colourful marine life that can be found throughout the reef which has established itself over the years.
The Numidia: Often referred to as the Railway Wreck and also found off of Big Brother Island. This British wooden cargo ship sank in 1901 on a voyage on route to India which never met its end. Around 130 meters in length, you are still able to see two locomotive wheels that were on board when the ship went under. The framework of the ship is now covered in beautiful corals and the reef that is has created is now full of life. Depths of this dive range from 8 to 9 meters.
Little Brother: Reef walls teeming with life surround the Little Brother Island. Further around the wall eventually gives way to a plateau where you can find grey reef and silvertip sharks at a depth of around 40 meters deep. Some divers are lucky enough to see groups of hammerhead sharks. Other highlights includes barracuda, black corals, massive gorgonian fans and tuna.
As the Brother Islands are located in the middle of the Red Sea, around 150 km south east of Hurghada and around 125 km north of Marsa Alam, they are only accessible by liveaboard. Most of the offered liveaboards visiting the Brother Islands start in Hurghada or Safaga.
You will need to be an experienced diver in order to dive the Brothers. This is due to the remoteness of the sites location, its great depth and strong currents. As it is a National Park, you must have at least 50 dives logged to embark on a Liveaboard. The current on both walls tends to run from the north to the south, so dives are more than likely to end on either wall by the southern plateau which is a wide ledge around 20 meters or so deep.
What Marine Life Can I See diving the Brothers?
The Brothers dive location is a reef and is therefore an ideal location to spot and dive with sharks. The experience of diving with sharks is just one of the mind blowing fish encounters that this destination has to offer.
During your dive at the Brothers, you will be able to encounter grey reef sharks, silvertip sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks and if you are lucky enough, schooling hammerhead sharks. Sites of the rare thresher shark have also been reported from time to time.
The Brother Islands are also home to some fantastic reef life, home to countless colourful reef fish, pelagic fish such as giant trevally, barracuda, tuna and even the magnificent giant manta ray. The vertical walls are covered with coral formations which are home to a spectacular fish population, making the islands diving an unforgettable and remarkable dive.
The Brother Islands are both amazing for seeing walls with unspoiled hard and soft coral. The underwater scenery it has to offer really is breathtaking and the diving out of this world. A well deserved dive spot for our Top 12 Dive Destinations.
When is the best time to visit the Brothers?
Diving at the Brothers is possible all year round. Although, June to August is the best season to dive at this location as this is when the sea is at its calmest. Shark population also seems to increase in May so this would be the best time to go if you are planning on diving with these amazing creatures.
Due to its off shore location, sea conditions can get bad and diving can be cancelled due to rough sea conditions. During the winter, from November to March, the sea conditions are often worse and increase chances of liveaboard trips being cancelled.
As it is an exposed spot with no shelter for boats to be able to moor up in, good weather is crucial to be able to dive at the Brothers. Anchoring is forbidden at this location therefore permanently fixed buoys are used for mooring. In cases of very bad weather, these permanently fixed buoys can be swept away. Winds are often the weakest during a full moon and if you are able to stand the heat, June, July and August are the months when the sea is calmest. An increase of the number of sharks have been seen during the month of May.
Most divers tend to book a place on a liveaboard out of Hurghada. There are options to make your own way independently to Hurghada and join a boat when you get there, or some people prefer to book a complete package from home before they arrive. A trip from Hurghada to the Brothers Islands normally takes around 8 hours.
Egypt Travel Information
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.
Language – Arabic
Currency – Egyptian Pound
Major Airports – Divers enter at Hurghada and Sharm el Sheik International airports. You can also fly through Cairo and connect to your destination from the same terminal.
Topside Attractions – Visit the pyramids and the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, take a camel ride through the desert or a cruise down the Nile.
Information links – egypttoursim.org