This has to be the best reef I have ever dived – anywhere!
Located at the Ras Mohammed National Park in the Northern Red Sea, this is a drift dive, usually done by doing a giant stride from the back of your liveaboard.
Once you’ve hit the water, you swim on the surface for about 10m to the reef and descend to about 25m. The reef is a sheer wall dropping 750 metres to the sea floor and for the best possible (and longest) dive, depths of between 20 and 25 metres are recommended.
Most of the times, you usually get a current that carries you from the direction of Anemone City round to Shark Reef, where you can choose to go over the saddle between Shark and Yolande Reef, or go round the outside of both reefs. Either way, you will land up at debris from the wreck of the Yolanda, famous for the toilets and baths that lie there.
My favourite route is to take the saddle between Shark and Yolanda reefs. After gliding past Shark Reef with its gorgonian fans, soft and hard corals and lots of small reef fish such as anthias and goldies – and huge schools of fish in the blue such as unicorn fish and the odd ray or shark gliding by – you’ll turn right and onto the saddle where you usually find lots of giant and blackcheek morays, often swimming freely whilst hunting with Jacks, and huge triggerfish making nests by blowing in the sand (keep clear!). Once in the main part of the saddle with its sandy floors, rocky outcrops and soft corals, the current usually picks up and sweeps you past groups of unicorn fish, napoleon fish and trigger fish. The visibility here is usually great and you can see, well, forever!
At the end of the saddle, you’ll emerge between Yolanda and Satellite Reef or the between the main wall and Satellite Reef (your choice!). Between Yolanda and Satellite Reef, you’ll come across the wreckage of the Yolanda (Jolande) which sank in 1980 with her cargo of toilets, sinks, baths, wallpaper. This is a great area to investigate, and the current tends to drop off at the toilets, where nearly everyone has their photo taken ….
It’s about now that your dive comes to an end (almost an hour, depending on your depth!). Swim away from the reef (it’s important you are far enough from the reef that the RIB can come and collect you), do your safety stop, deploy your SMB and one of the RIBS from your liveaboard will come and pick you up.
Shark and Yolanda reefs are full of life and the time of year we visit is when the fish school there to spawn. It is a beautiful dive with vibrant life and an interesting wreck. Because of the depth of the wreck itself, this is a fantastic dive for technical divers too and - and definitely one you won’t want to miss on any dive to the Red Sea.
We’ll be travelling to the Red Sea this year and will be diving Shark and Yolanda Reef. Why don’t you come and join us? To find out more, please visit our Red Sea Trip page by clicking here.