Egypt is much more than sand, pyramids, and ancient monuments. For scuba divers, the Red Sea offers fantastic dive sites with mesmerizing aquatic life and brilliant wreck diving.
Just beyond the shoreline, you will find, beautiful coves, millions of reef fish, coral gardens. Along with reef walls, azure waters, incredible visibility, and plenty of WWII wrecks. You will find everything that attracts adventure divers, making this a world-class diving destination.
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 SS Thistlegorm
The Thistlegorm is a World War II shipwreck located in the North of the Red Sea in the Strait of Gubal. A former 128-meter long British transport ship and sunk in 1941 after being hit by a German air attack.
This armed British Merchant Navy ship with naval personnel had ammunition stored below deck, as well as machine guns, motorbikes, train carriages, and trucks. The armed freighter was en route to drop this valuable cargo to allied troops stationed along the Suez canal.
Sadly, it never made it to its destination as it was destroyed by a German bomb attack on its final voyage. It sunk off the coast of the Red Sea and is now one of the most dived wrecks in the region.
After the Thistlegorm sank, she lay undisturbed for around 14 years until discovered by Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1955.
The shipwreck is in very good condition, and you are able to dive amongst WWII relics as the deck cargo remained underwater all those years. That is what makes this dive site so spectacular, especially for history buffs.
Diving the SS Thistlegorm Wreck
Depth: 14-30 m
Visibility: 25 m
Dive Level: Advanced
Best For: Wreck diving, lionfish, barracuda, shrimp
This outstanding shipwreck draws thousands of scuba divers to its location each year. The best thing about diving Thistlegorm is the incredible amount of intact artifacts.
By the wreck, you can find 2 tanks, jeeps, motorbikes, 2 locomotives, army trucks, various spare parts for cars and planes, and stacks of rifles. It really is like diving with history, a time-lapse through the past, and a real eye-opening experience.
It is recommended that you take two dives when diving the Thistlegorm. Most will do one exterior dive and a separate interior dive to marvel at all the artifacts.
Entrance is possible at the stern of the ship, and this brings you back into history. However, this is only recommended for experienced wreck divers as it can be difficult to navigate safely.
A trip to the Thislegorm wreck today, really is like travelling through time. The scene is that of a bomb site with visible signed of major destruction and devastating loss.
The SS Thistlegorm wreck is a war grave, a giant underwater museum, a unique piece of military history. Even though it has been at the bottom of the ocean for over sixty years now, it is no less magnificent and worthy of your next dive trip.
Divers can visit the wreck from Sharm El Sheikh by daily boat or during a week-long dive safari. Located at a depth of just 30m with good visibility, this is the perfect wreck dive. The bow is just 15 meters below the surface and the propeller sits at 27 meters.
SS Thistlegorm Dive Conditions
The wreck is located in a remote location. The dives are deep, the bottom times are long and the bulk of the dive time is spent exploring in the dark, in the narrow interior of the vessel.
Advanced certification and ample experience are a must when visiting this dive site. It is recommended that divers have the following specialty courses; Peak Performance Buoyancy, Wreck, and Deep.
Entrances are accessible to all areas of the wreck for recreational divers, although technical training, such as nitrox, dual tank set up and decompression diving will allow for better and safer exploration.
Occasionally, currents may be strong, which is why mooring lines are set up. Make sure you know how to find them because you don’t want to drift away or get lost in the largest ship on the Egyptian seabed.
Once inside, you will find that time has stood still. Laid stacked just as when it was loaded in 1941, divers can discover trucks, motorbikes, guns, and wartime cargo that never reached its destination.
Even after several dives on the SS Thistlegorm, it must be said that after so much enticement, there is always something new to discover and see.
Recently, a local diver has claimed that he came across a newly discovered locomotive 150 meters away from the wreck. Now the race is on for divers to reach and photograph the engine along with the ship’s funnel, which are both still attached to the deck below, clean off of the ship by the explosion.
What Marine Life Can I See in The Egyptian Red Sea?
The marine life surrounding the Thistlegorm wreck really is great. Just like most areas within the Red Sea, here you are likely to encounter a vast variety of reef fish, batfish, large schools of barracuda, and snappers.
Turtles are not uncommon and giant schools of jacks can be caught swimming past in their large groups. On each dive, you can expect an amazing diversity of fish every time.
Across the colorful coral walls, you will encounter thousands of anthias sweeping across, complete with wrasse, blue-spotted rays, coral groupers, butterfly fish, and angelfish. If you are not too caught up in all of these beautiful attractions, keep your eyes open – you may be lucky enough to spot that majestic whale shark gently cruising past.
Best Time to Dive SS Thistlegorm Shipwreck
The desert coastline of the Red Sea very rarely sees any rain. This means that there is almost no freshwater runoff, making for great visibility and awesome scuba diving conditions all year around.
Dive conditions do vary by season, however. During May to October, the water temperatures are around the mid-80s, when the surface weather is scorching hot. In the winter from November to April, Egypt hosts more comfortable air temperatures while the water can drop to about 70 degrees or even lower.
March-May are peak scuba diving months and when you will meet the most tourists. If you prefer to be on less crowded dive boats, you can plan a visit in February or June.
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: egypt.travel
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Still curious about scuba diving the SS Thistlegorm and what you can expect during your dive trip? Here are a few final things you need to know about this wreck dive.
How do you get to the Thistlegorm?
Most scuba divers make a day trip from either Sharm el Sheikh (3 hours) or Hurghada (4 hours) to dive the Thristlegorm wreck. If you want to save yourself some travel time you can book a dive trip on a Red Sea liveaboard.
What depth is the Thistlegorm?
The SS Thistlegorm sits on the seabed at 32 meters at its deepest point so you’ll likely be floating between 14-30 meters underwater. The ship itself is 128 meters and many dive operators recommend diving with nitrox to get the most out of it.
Who discovered the Thistlegorm?
The world-famous dive Jacques Cousteaus was the first to discover the SS Thistlegorm wreck in 1955. Interestingly enough, he found it by chance since he was actually looking for the sunken Calypso.
The SS Thistlegorm, a sunken British navy transport ship is one of the most exciting dive sites in Egypt’s Red Sea. This wreck dive is best for more advanced scuba divers because it lies far out in the open sea with potentially strong currents.