I did it again. After my first liveaboard in Thailand in April 2022 I recently came back from another one in Egypt. We cruised along the coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt for 8 days. Discovered the most beautiful reefs in the Northern Red Sea. Shipwrecks, dolphins, colourful fish and stunning topography were only a few of the highlights. This is a full review about my liveaboard experience on South Moon in Egypt.
In my blogpost about my first liveaboard in Thailand I already stated that this was probably only the beginning of many more to follow. Well, I got addicted and therefore found myself on another boat six months later. This time the trip was taking us through the Northern Red Sea, along the coast of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.
Facts about South Moon
- Duration: 8 days
- Number of dives: 23 (3 dives & 1 night dive per day)
- Departure and arrival point: Sharm el-Sheikh
- Cost: I paid around 1.200 € including Nitrox, rental gear, tips, fuel and national park fee (booked with liveaboard.com)
- Requirement: As most of the dive sites are quite deep (up to 30 meters) you need to be a certified Advanced diver
- Water temperature: Around 27 degrees – a 5mm wetsuit is highly recommended
- Air temperature: During the day around 30 degrees & blue skies. At night temperatures dropped down to around 22 degrees.
A typical day on a liveaboard is about diving, eating, enjoying the views and sleeping.
The trip covers Ras Mohammed National Park, wrecks like Thistlegorm, Kingston and Dunraven, the Straits of Tiran with Gordon, Thomas, Jackson and Woodhouse Reef as well as some local dive sites. So basically the boat cruises around the South side of the Sinai Peninsula. We did the trip in October and had always a visibility above 20-25 meters. The water temperature was around 27 degrees. I was wearing a 5mm and boots. Sometimes I wished I had a rash guard or something to wear underneath the wetsuit. However, I’m used to diving in 30 degrees so it depends on what you’re used to. You can see all the dive sites further below.
The fish you will see depend a bit on the season and mother natures mood. We were lucky to see dolphins and a hammerhead shark (that one was a really short sighting though). According to the dive guides the best time of the year to see sharks and eagle or manta rays up there is June to August.
Departure from Sharm el-Sheikh
The departure and arrival point for the liveaboard was Sharm el-Sheikh. We arrived at South Moon in the evening and therefore stayed in Sharm one night before. I personally preferred to have had a flight that arrives one day earlier. It leaves more time in case there are delays or a flight gets cancelled (our flights were three hours delayed as the airport staff went on strike on that day).
Once arrived at the boat the crew gave a first introduction, we set up our dive gear, made ourselves comfortable in the cabin and had a lovely first dinner with the whole group. For the dives were also divided into two groups based on experience and air consumption. Each group therefore had 8 divers and one guide.
The boat stayed at the jetty for the first night. Considering I was very excited for the dives, I slept really well.
Daily schedule on South Moon
In total we did 23 dives. Some dives sites and procedures apparently vary depending on the group and customer wishes. The staff of South Moon was always trying to make everyone happy! Before every dive our diveguides gave a dive briefing with information about the dive site and expected marine life.
Most of the dives were drift dives which meant that we swam with the current from the drop-off point and were then picked up by zodiac somewhere else. We unfortunately never experienced a really strong current. I think it would’ve been quite adventurous though. Currents are also dependent on the season and weather conditions.
Day 1 was the departure day from Sharm el-Sheikh.
- 6 am: Waking up & dive briefing
- 7 am: Check dive at Temple Reef (to see if the groups work together and air consumption is on one level)
- 8 am: Breakfast
- 10:30 am: Ras Umm Sid, Ras Mohammed National Park
- 12:30 pm: Lunch
- 2:30 pm: Jackfish Alley, Ras Mohammed National Park
- 4 pm: Snack
- 6 pm: Nightdive at Beacon Rock
- 8 pm: Dinner
The schedule of the other days were pretty similar to Day 2. The only difference were the dive sites.
- First dive: Dunraven (wreck)
- Second dive: Small Crack
- Third dive: Shag Rock / Kingston (wreck)
- Fourth dive: Night Dive
- First dive: Thistlegorm (wreck)
- Second dive: Thistlegorm (wreck)
- Third dive: Sting Ray Station (Ras Mohammed NP)
- Fourth dive: Sting Ray Station (Ras Mohammed NP)
- First dive: Shark & Yolanda reef (Ras Mohammed NP)
- Second dive: Ras Ghozlani (Ras Mohammed NP)
- Third dive: Gordon Reef (Straits of Tiran)
- Fourth dive: Gordon Reef (Straits of Tiran)
- First dive: Thomas Reef (Straits of Tiran)
- Second dive: Woodhouse Reef (Straits of Tiran)
- Third dive: South Laguna Reef (Straits of Tiran)
- Fourth dive: South Laguna Reef (Straits of Tiran)
- First dive: Jackson Reef (Straits of Tiran)
- Second dive: Jackson Reef (Straits of Tiran)
- Third dive: Ras Katy (local dive site)
My experience on South Moon
The time we spent on South Moon and exploring the underwater world of the Red Sea was fantastic. On day three, my body adapted to the number of dives and I was kind of in a flow. It was so nice to wake up in the morning, meditate on the upper deck and watch the sun rise behind the mountains. Followed by a first dive and then breakfast. The days are long and fulfilling.
I only used my phone to take photos but else went completely offline. There was Wifi on the boat but honestly, it’s the best opportunity to not be online and only focus your mind on what you’re doing. Overall, the number of days and dives were perfect.
You can find more information about the trip as well as booking details here.
We had a twin cabin with windows and a private bathroom. The cabin was located on the upper deck. I loved waking up and watching the sun rising from bed.
The crew changed our towels once during our stay. Every day they also made our beds and kept the room clean. We felt really comfortable in the cabin! To brush our teeth we used drinking water as the water from the tap should not really be swallowed to avoid stomach problems.
South Moon had four decks: lower deck cabins (1), dive deck & lounge (2), upper deck cabins & chillout area (3), chillout area (4). We spent most of our days on deck 3 or 4 enjoying the sun and views. Food was served in the indoor lounge on deck 2.
The meals on South Moon were absolutely amazing. There was a great variety of plant-based, vegetarian and meaty dishes as well as dessert for each meal. And pancakes for breakfast! My favourite dish was the warming soup after the night dives. I’d say it was a good mix of Arabic and Western food. All in all lots of fresh vegetables, beans and lentils. I loved the food a lot and was always the first at the buffet.
We could also get drinking water, coffee and a nice selection of teas at any time of the day. Softdrinks and beers could be bought on the boat for a reasonable price.
My thoughts about South Moon
All in all I really liked this liveaboard and the underwater world of Egypt. The visibility was amazing and it was interesting to see all these massive reefs. It might depend on the season but what I was missing a bit where huge school of fish. In general, the water was a bit cooler to what I’m used to, after a few days my body adapted though.
Compared to the other boats, South Moon was the perfect size. In the future, I want to only book liveaboards with less than 15 people though. What seems to be normal on most liveaboards is that the dive groups vary from 6-8 people, which I personally think are too many divers. Our group was 8 people, a mix of “camera” divers and “normal” divers. It’s always a bit tricky as the camera divers like to get the best shot, whereas the others kind of just want to go with the current and not stop all the time. The group size is something I will consider for future liveaboards.
Things to prepare for your trip
There are a few things I’d like to mention which are very helpful to prepare for a liveaboard.
Dive insurance is not only important in general but also required to go on this liveaboard. It covers accidents, missed diving days, missed flights etc. For liveaboards I usually go with Diveassure.
Advanced & Nitrox Certification
For South Moon it is required to be a certified Advanced Diver as you’re going to dive deeper than 18 meters and go to see wrecks. Being Nitrox certified is super helpful as well as you won’t be restricted by your no decompression limit.
No mobile network
If you’re planning to be online and get some important things done I recommend to get a SIM card. The Wi-Fi on the boat is not super reliable. If you don’t really need to be online I suggest to just pack your phone away. It’s so nice to not be in the “online” world with your head but instead to fully commit to your trip.
Bring a sweater or jumper
The temperatures in Egypt are in general really hot. Also the sun is strong. However it can be quite windy and especially after a night dive you can get cold. I’d therefore recommend to bring a jumper for the evenings or even a towel dress to wear until you warm again.
Advice for your stay in Sharm el-Sheikh
You are probably going to stay in Sharm el-Sheikh for at least one or two nights. In case you’re not into big hotels and touristy areas I have some special recommendation for you. Sinai Old Spices is a bed and breakfast which is located in a Bedouin village outside the touristic areas like Naama Bay. Helen, the owner, put a lot of effort into making this place look really authentic and boho.
Due to the location you will get to see how the locals live. This is very interesting, but can also feel a bit foreign. The area is dusty, the streets are ran down. But: It’s a real experience and once you are in the B&B everything is clean and modern. Just be aware that you’re a 20 minutes ride away from the beach and need a taxi to get to the ocean or the old town. Old Spices is great for a short stay for those who really don’t like the touristic centers.
From Sharm el-Sheikh you can also get a taxi to cities like Cairo and Dahab. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to visit these places but it’s a great reason to come back to Egypt!
Liveaboards are an addiction. You just started one, meet some people aboard who tell you about the ones they did and within a few minutes another five potential destinations will be added to your list. I already have some ideas about the next liveaboards I’d like to do. If in Egypt, then I’d like to explore the Southern part of the Red Sea.
Regarding the rest: The timing and destinations are not set yet, but you will definitely find out on my blog. Sea you soon! UPDATE 07/2023: I’ve just done a liveaboard in the Komodo National Park – it was amazing!