Shark and Yolanda Reefs Sharm information, tours, prices and online booking
Shark and Yolanda Reefs in Sharm are ones of the most famous of the northern Red Sea dive sites. That is why they always are very busy. The best time to dive this sites is at first light – somewhere around 6.30am. In fact, it is well worth the early start. The dive site is essentially a single pinnacle which rises almost vertically from around 800 meters. At around the 26m meter mark it splits into two separate pinnacles. The one to the east is known as Shark Reef and the one to the west is known as Yolanda or Jolanda. In fact, it named after the Cyprian freighter which hit the reef and deposited it’s cargo on the west side of it in 1980). The currents here can be strong and the best dive plan is for either your dive boat or its tender.
It is to drop you to the northeast of Shark Reef and then for you to descend and drift in onto the east side of Shark Reef. The boat drop should normally take place further away from the reef. It maybe advisable to take a compass reading and then drop below the surface to avoid the boat traffic. The water in Yolanda Reef is truly deep and as you look down the vertical wall the water takes on an inky dark feel. An ideal start depth here would be the 30-40m mark. It is where the current allows it is worth spending some time looking out into the blue. Whilst a little more rare these days it is still possible to see white-tip reef sharks. If you’re lucky larger, grey reef sharks identifiable by the thick black strip. In fact, it runs all the way down the rear of their tail fins.
More information about Shark and Yolanda Reefs Sharm:
Look out for barracuda, jacks and tuna. Yolanda Reef itself on the eastern side of Shark Reef fed by nutrients from the sometimes strong currents. As a result, there are some beautiful gorgonian fan corals and black whip coral. The deeper part of the reef has a proliferation of soft coral from the 30m – 70m range. Soft coral requires much less light than hard coral and seems to thrive in this inky abyss. Once you spent some time on the east side of Shark Reef, or if the current is running, then turn and with your right shoulder reef side head southwest around the reef. You will see the reef wall sloping up beneath you as you head towards the gap between Shark Reef and Yolanda and you drift over a rising plateau.
It is not the normal dive plan to go between two reef pinnacles. In fact, the current generally takes you past the two pinnacles on the south side. Yet, if current allows there are some beautiful hard coral formations between the two reefs. It is worth noting that coral growth is less around this object. You have to take care of the environment rather than gain a photographic trophy. As you come around to the west side of Yolanda Reef, there are vast numbers of toilets and sinks. They made up the majority of the cargo of the container ship Yolanda. A common misconception is that the cargo container wreckage is actually the wreck of the Yolanda- it is not. The wreck itself, having initially lodged precariously on the edge of the reef wall at around 25m, subsequently slipped over the edge, stern first, and down into the depths.
Further information about the site:
In fact, the wreck itself now rests on a 40 meter wide ledge. It is where it crumpled after its stern impacted with the ledge. The bow in fact is at 140m and the stern at just over 200m. The final part of the dive can either spent behind the north side of Yolanda or over the cargo wreckage. Normal exiting procedure is to ascend to your safety stop depth and drift away to the west of Yolanda Reef. If the current runs, perform your safety stops behind the reef. It is where you will get protection from the current before drifting off for pick up. Otherwise, you may drift far away from the reefs. Take extra care when exiting as there can be a lot of overhead boat traffic.
Shark and Yolanda Reefs diving site facts:
- Dive Site: Shark Reef / Yolanda, Ras Muhammad.
- Location: 27°43.150N; 34°15.590E.
- Description: Reef / drift / wreck.
- Depth: 36 meters (118 feet).
- Visibility: 50 meters (165 feet).