Scuba Diving United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The reefs are virtually untouched and prime for exploration. But, it’s the mysterious whale shark – locally called al djer – that flock to these waters that has put United Arab Emirates on the map as a dive destination.
Encompassing the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, which separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – especially Dubai – has long been known as a shopping destination, rather than a sporting attraction. However, scuba divers have discovered great diving along the UAE’s coastline, including popular dive locations along the Gulf of Oman out of Al Fujairah and from Dubai along the Persian or Arabian Gulf. Historically, Dubai has always been a thriving seaport and, where there are ships, there are shipwrecks – lots of them. On the east coast, the shorelines and reefs are virtually untouched and prime for exploration. But, it’s the mysterious whale shark – locally called al djer – that flock to these waters that has put UAE on the map as a dive destination.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
Inchcape 1, Al Fujairah– The Inchcape shipping company donated this intact barge that was purpose sunk in 2001. It sits upright in 32 metres/104 feet of water and the current over this wreck attracts trevally, barracuda, snapper and just about any other schooling fish. A resident moray eel rules the wreck along with his minions, rays and scorpionfish.
Sharm Rock, Al Fujairah – Three small rocks break the surface of this site that is swarming with marine life underwater. With a maximum depth of about 12 metres/40 feet, you have lots of time to explore the pinnacle walls covered with soft and hard corals along with anemones with clownfish. Look for several species of parrotfish, pufferfish, snappers, pipefish, eagle rays and reef sharks.
Martini Rock, Al Fujairah – A sizable rock pinnacle that starts at 5 metres/15 feet (perfect for your safety stop) and quickly drops to only 20 metres/66 feet, Martini Rock is in a protected marine park and boasts a wide variety of ornamentation – pink and purple soft corals, whip and rod corals. Watch for slow, stealthy lionfish, eels and rock-imitating scorpionfish. You’ll also see the big critters such as snappers, sea turtles and barracuda.
Dibba Island, Al Fujairah – This small island specializes in big, healthy table corals. But, that’s just the backdrop for the parade of rays, sharks, turtles and rivers of trevally. The reef starts at 15 metres/50 feet and reaches for the sun – falling just short of its goal as it tops out at 3 metres/10 feet.
MV Dara, Dubai – Sunk after an explosion in 1961, this 120-metre/400-foot wreck sits on her starboard side in 20 metres/ 66 feet of water. Having been down for many years, the wreck crawls with marine life. Eagle rays, barracuda, guitarfish and even whale sharks like to visit this shallow wreck.
Cement Barge, Dubai – This barge sank in 1971 during a storm and now sits 12 metres/40 feet down. You can see the cement bags in the cargo hold and peer into the numerous holes in the hull. Lots of tropical fish surround this wreck, including snapper under the propeller shaft and clownfish defending their anemones. Large schools of juvenile barracuda patrol the perimeter and stingrays rest in the sand.
VISIBILITY: Off Dubai, the visibility is lessened by all the construction in the area, averaging 5-10 metres/15-30 feet. Off the east coast, visibility ranges from 5-50 metres/15-150 feet, depending on the site and season.
WATER TEMPERATURE: The water is a toasty 33°C/91°F in summer and a pleasant 22°C/75°F in winter.
WEATHER: Because the UAE is a desert, temperatures can significantly vary with the seasons. That means you can see a range from 15°C/60°F in winter to more than 45°C/106°F in summer. Diving is available throughout the year.
MARINE LIFE: You can find whale sharks, guitarfish, sea turtles, eagle rays, reef fish, clownfish, cuttlefish, trevally, barracuda and lots of macro life.
LANGUAGE: Arabic. English is widely spoken.
CURRENCY: Dirham. Credit cards are widely accepted.
MAJOR AIRPORT: Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport.
ELECTRICITY AND INTERNET: 220 volt, 50Hz. Internet is widely available, especially in hotels and cafes.
TOPSIDE ATTRACTION: Definitely be amazed by the architecture in Dubai and, of course, the shopping. Visit the many historic places and the Heritage Village in Abu Dhabi. Explore the beaches and mountains near Al Fujairah.
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.
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