Planning a trip to the Middle East? You’re in luck! For scuba divers, there are many epic diving destinations to explore in this region. And, each of the best diving destinations in the Middle East opens a door to an underwater world filled with beautiful landscapes and diverse marine life.

The Middle East, known for its rich history and diverse ecosystems both topside and underwater, is a top choice for scuba enthusiasts. From the vibrant coral reefs of the Red Sea to the historic wrecks nestled in the Mediterranean, we explore the top diving destinations in the Middle East that every diver, from beginners to seasoned professionals, should add to their bucket list.

Join us as we dive into the the Middle East and uncover the aquatic treasures that lie beneath its shores.

two divers explore a coral wall in the Red Sea in Egypt

1. Egypt

Egypt consistently ranks as one of the best diving destinations in the world — and for good reason. Clear underwater conditions, rainbow-colored coral reefs and memorable marine life encounters make it a not-to-be-missed diving mecca. The mix of wrecks, walls, drifts, pinnacles and shore dives mean Egypt’s waters have something for every kind and level of diver.

Ras Mohammed is home to one of the best wreck dives in the worldthe SS Thistlegorm. At the right time of year, schools of hammerhead sharks can be found at Daedalus Reef, and oceanic whitetip sharks can at also be seen at Elphinstone Reef. Between May and August, the northern Red Sea regions are frequented by numerous pelagic species, including whale sharks. Plus, the coastal region of Marsa Alam is also a top spot for searching out dugongs.

Egypt’s year-round visibility and pleasant water temperatures are a couple more reasons this destination is so popular with divers. The numerous dive centers and resorts along the coastline also make diving and exploring the local culture a breeze. Alternatively, the Red Sea liveaboards make it possible to cover Egypt’s top sites in a short time.

a sea turtle eats a coral reef in oman

2.⁠ ⁠Oman

Thanks in part to its comparatively undeveloped coastline, the diving in Oman regularly surprises divers with its diversity and abundance of marine life. Even diving out of the capital of Muscat offers colorful reefs and encounters with moray eels, turtles and even whale sharks (peak months are September to October). 

In the north, the remote and rather rugged region of Musandam offers impressive underwater biodiversity and a variety of dive sites to explore. While Salalah, in the south, has a pristine coastline with near-endless bays and beaches. Turtles, stingrays, nudibranchs and octopus are regular logbook entries.

a scuba diver explores a tank situated underwater in aqaba jordan

3.⁠ ⁠Jordan

With only 27 kilometers (17 miles) of coastline, it would be easy to assume Jordan lacks any noteworthy diving — but that is far from the case. Inside Jordan’s Aqaba Marine Reserve, divers will find a plethora of marine life to enjoy. The reserve is home to more than 500 fish species, four turtle species and several marine mammal species, including dugongs. Diving in Jordan is also surprisingly convenient; many of the top dive sites are accessible from shore. 

In addition to marine life, Jordan also offers exciting walls and world-class wreck diving. The Underwater Military Museum is a must-visit dive area, with the chance to see a troop carrier, anti-aircraft guns, and several tanks underwater.

Furthermore, calm waters, minimal tides, moderate temperatures and reliable visibility further justify making Jordan a dive destination worth visiting.

a coral reef in saudi arabia

4.⁠ ⁠Saudi Arabia

With a coastline touching both the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, it should come as little surprise that Saudi Arabia has diving opportunities to please everyone. 

The Farasan Banks is a biodiverse region which spans more than 350 miles (563 kilometers), making it a great destination to explore by liveaboard. Gorgeous coral reefs off untamed islands create a thriving marine ecosystem. Divers here might spot barracuda, reef sharks and hammerhead sharks. 

In addition, as a relatively undiscovered diving destination, many of the dive sites in Saudi Arabia remain well-preserved, with little to no sign of degradation. Now is the best time to explore this quickly developing diving destination.

A shark from diving in a live aboard while on vacation in October in Sudan

5.⁠ ⁠Sudan

At the time of writing, all travel to Sudan is advised against.

Sudan definitely falls into the category of lesser known diving destinations in the Middle East. But the chance to see barracuda, manta rays, dolphins, a variety of sharks, pilot whales and turtles, mean there are plenty of reasons to add Sudan to your dive vacation diary.

Most diving here is done by liveaboard, allowing divers to get the most out of their time in this remote part of the Red Sea. In addition to thriving coral reefs and excellent biodiversity, divers can also explore the remnants of one of Jacques Cousteau’s experiments. It was here that the explorer tested his concept for living underwater.

scuba divers and freedivers explore deep dive dubai, the world's deepest swimming pool
Image courtesy of Deep Dive Dubai

6.⁠ ⁠United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates may be more well known for its cloud-piercing buildings, hotels, malls and theme parks, but look beyond this, and you’ll find plenty of worthwhile opportunities to get in the water during a visit. The UAE has dive sites and challenges to suit every level of diver. The general lack of current and range of shallow dives makes it a great option for anyone looking to take their first breaths underwater. For more experienced divers, a number of reefs and wrecks make for a worthwhile journey.

In addition, it’s worth mentioning that Dubai is also home to the world’s deepest indoor diving facility, Deep Dive Dubai. Here scuba divers and freedivers can venture down to 60 meters (197 feet) in a swimming pool.

Photo of a diver from inside a cavern

7.⁠ ⁠Turkey

Nearly surrounded by water and with a southern coastline that borders the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey is a natural diving destination. The waters here are full of history, with wrecks dating back hundreds of years. There’s also a variety of marine life to spot and fascinating underwater landscapes.

Of Turkey’s numerous potential dive destinations, Kaş arguably takes the top spot. This popular destination has a mix of underwater entertainment for divers to enjoy. From an abundance of marine life and wrecks to ancient relics and caves, no two days of diving ever have to be the same. Also be sure to keep your eyes open for any temporary underwater art exhibitions going on during a visit. 

Travel a short way north and along the coast from Kaş, and you’ll find Bodrum. Divers can enjoy wrecks here, including a picture-worthy propeller plane, along with marine life-filled sites where octopuses, turtles, moray eels, seahorses and seals can all appear.

Eilat Israel

8.⁠ ⁠Israel

At the time of writing, most countries are urging visitors to “Reconsider Travel” to Israel, with specific regions falling under “Do Not Travel” advisories.

As a country with coastline touching the Red Sea, the Dead Sea and Mediterranean Sea, Israel offers divers the choice of many very different diving experiences. 

Perhaps the most noteworthy of Israel’s underwater experiences is an underwater museum. Opened in 2006, Caesarea Underwater Archaeological Park gives divers access to an ancient port. Highlights include a lighthouse, warehouses and several shipwrecks. Further along Israel’s Mediterranean coast is the Rosh HaNikra Caverns. This unique dive site was created by the ocean and is still being eroded every day. During this shallow dive, divers can explore the area’s fantastic grottos and caves.

Marine life-wise, Israel’s colorful coral reefs in the Red Sea off the coastal city of Eilat can offer encounters with dolphins, turtles, octopus, seahorses and whale sharks. These reefs rival those found in Egypt and Jordan, making an excellent add-on to any trip to Israel.

Ready to Dive Into the Middle East?

Feeling inspired to discover everything the Middle East has to offer underwater? Get in touch with the Scuba Travel Experts at PADI Travel. Available via phone, email or live chat, these scuba diving professionals can find you the perfect Middle Eastern destination. Alternatively, browse all the available dive trips in the Middle East by clicking the button below.

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