Place Category: Hurghada / El Gouna
90 minutes to 2 hours north of Hurghada, depending on the weather and where you leave from. It is a vast horseshoe shaped reef, with its open side facing south. At the centre of the horseshoe is a shallow lagoon, dotted with ergs (hence the name). It is dived in a number of places: on the north point, on the east wall, or on the south west point (illustrated) known as Gota Shaab el Erg. The latter is the most popular. A shallow channel separates a large erg from the main reef. On the south and west sides is a wide sandy plateau and numerous towers and coral blocks.
It can be rough getting there, but on arrival, you couldn’t find a better anchorage. Current on the Gota is mostly weak.
Forget the main reef, there is easily an hour’s good diving on the Gota and its surrounding towers and pinnacles alone. Four very photogenic blocks lie in 16m water to the south (they are cut off from the illustration).
Most local guides have two things to say about Shaab el Erg – Dolphins and Mantas. Dolphins can be seen frequently all year round in the lagoon, Manta hang out on the north point and are seasonal (February, March are the best months). On the plateau surrounding the Gota are Scorpionfish, Leopard Groupers, Snowflake Morays, Blue-spotted Rays and Painted Triggerfish. Underneath the table corals look for White Tips. In the sand you can find Cone-Shells, Spire-Shells and flatfish. On the shallow reef reside Unicorns, Emperor Fish, Bream and Snapper.