Scuba diving at Panorama Reef

13 Jan 2010

Panorama is also known as Abu Alama, meaning “Father of the Mast”. This is a reference to the concrete pillar which once marked its northern shores but has now been replaced by a high-tech automated beacon. It lies 60-90 minutes (weather dependent) outside of Safaga. It is an elliptical-shaped reef on a North-West-South-East axis. On the North end is a dramatic plateau (15-25 metres) and drop-off. Down the East and West sides runs a narrow, sloping ledge at the same depth.

Location: Red Sea / Egypt / Safaga
Description: Reef / Coral garden / Caves
Depths: 3-78 meters

Napoleon fish Red SeaThe journey across can get very rough, especially since your boat or liveaboards will be taking it on the beam and therefore will roll a lot. Once you get there however, the reef gives ample protection for several boats. The current comes almost always from the North. It can get very strong, howling across the North plateau (beware of up-currents and down-currents) and ripping down either side of the reef. The South plateau is usually calm.

A drift dive on the North plateau offers some of the best diving. However to get there, you will need very calm weather or alternatively, a zodiac. After investigating the plateau, you can head down either wall to your live aboard, now moored in the lee of the reef (South). This is a long swim if unaided by current. The Western wall of the reef is best and the South-East corner boasts many gorgonians.

Red Sea fishesThe North plateau swarms with lots of big fish, like surgeonfish, unicornfish, barracuda, giant trevallies, whitetip sharks (especially on the West side), grey reef sharks (especially in the afternoon), eagle rays, dolphins, silvertips and even longimanus, the oceanic whitetip shark. Everywhere are turtles. On the South plateau lives a family of three Napoleonfish alongside morays, crocodilefish, scorpionfish and a turtle with a deformed shell. Also, there is a large colony (50-60) of anemones.

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Author: Livia (Volgyesi) Hertelendy