|The Farasan Banks
The Farasan Banks are a series of about a thousand small reefs and a few small football size islands. They are located on about the same latitude as the border of Sudan with Eritrea, more than a thousand kilometers south of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt!
All Farasan Bank diving is wall diving. On the East and West of the islands the wall is down to in some places 500 meters. On the Northern and Southern points we have flats and plateau's from 10 to 30 meters. These flats have sandy bottoms while some are channels forming sand highways running half way around the reef. There are no known wrecks on the Farasan Banks. A normal cruise would be: Sailing south from Al-Lith passing Jebel Al-Lith, to the Islands of Malattu, Dohar, Marmar and Jadir. This area is the most prolific nesting area for the Hawksbill and Green Turtles that are spotted on nearly every dive. South from the group of four to Shib Ammar and from there to the Islands of Dannak, Jabbarah and Eagle, the Islands upon which you can stretch your legs. You will have turtles crossing every evening, resting or just coming into the shallows to laze around, the islands are littered with discarded egg shells and nest craters.
You can expect truelly magnificent world class diving. The reef life is abundant and colourfull with many soft corals. The Gorgonian corals are 2 to 3 meters across and there are walls of black coral. On the reef you will see many anthias, clownfish, snappers, moray eels, butterfly fish and if you can find them there are ghostpipefish. Along the reef you will see schools of big eye jacks, huge Trevally jacks, schooling barracudas, schooling tuna, big solitary barracudas and large solitary big eye tuna, dogtooth tuna and yellowfin tuna. I even saw marlin a couple of times. There are many rays, and manta's can be seen. You will have many shark encounters, white tip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, silky sharks, hammerhead sharks and if you're lucky: Tiger sharks!
An attraction are the Bump Head Parrotfish. These huge fish are mostly found in quite large schools and you will see them "grazing" on top of the reef like a herd of buffalo.... a splendid sight!
Dolphins are common in these waters and you will see them many times. We even saw false kiler whales while snorkelling on the surface.
The islands at the Farasan Banks are a refuge for birds, yellow footed boobies nest on the island as well as fish eagles. In the warm shallow waters just on the beach you can see baby rays and baby sharks. Needless to say that diving in Saudi Arabia is pristine, there are only 3 liveaboard boats for the whole of the Saudi Red Sea Coast, which is over 1.800 km long. The Farasan Banks are about a 3 hours drive from Jeddah to the port of Al Lith, from where we sail for the Farasan Banks.
Diving is good all year round, there is no bad season.... if you spend a week on the Farasan Banks in april or october, you will have a splendid week on both occasions. There is very little wind on the Farasan Banks although sea conditions can change rapidly as it does anywhere in the world.
||1st half of the year
||2nd half of the year
water temperature surface:
water temperature at 30 meters:
|air temperature at sea
Description of some of the dive sites.
On the Eastern side of this site the wall slopes down to 200 meters, these walls are spotted with caverns, lagoons and small caves many with small reef sharks inside. On the southern tip we have a sand highway going east to west and ending in a turquoise lagoon thick with fish. On the northern tip we have a dive site called the washing machine, named thus for the extreme current 2 to 3 kts coming from the north to the south west, we have dived with manta, white tip shark, on a good day this site will give you the ride of your life, dive safely, dive with a buddy go with the flow you will have a fast, furious safe dive.
This is a one of the main turtle nesting islands, on and around this site we have seen large populations of turtle, coral grouper, blue spotted grouper, purple tang, lyre tail coral fish, many varied different color of soft corals, reef shark, white and black tip shark, blue spotted sting ray and even tiger shark.
This reef far to the South of the main group of islands, we call dolphin reef as we usually see dolphin inside sometimes in great numbers, this is one of the reefs that we have found we can sail the boat inside the reefs lagoon and anchor so we have protection in any weather.
This totally submerged reef is as its name suggests, at a depth of 30 to 40 meters on the Eastern side huge Gorgonian Fans, shark, manta and always giant bump head parrot fish are seen, at the Southern tip at a depth of 25 meters four complete corral heads are made up of only bubble corral, during the season the Southern tip is a mass of juvenile cuttel fish attached to every piece of corral in the vicinity.
This dive site has a channel type area which is located at the eastern side of the island. You can find red snapper, stone or scorpion fish, blue spotted sting ray, barracuda, black & White tip reef shark, turtle, moray eel, bump head or buffalo parrot fish, brain coral, stinging coral and black coral.