Red Sea Governorate, Egypt
El Ikhwa Islands (Brothers Islands)

From above, the El Ikhwa Islands (Brothers Islands) are the clutch to a fan of coral fields spread out beyond their borders.

If you’re in Egypt and fancy a good dive, the El Ikhwa Islands must be at the top of your itinerary. The sibling islands are essentially two cones of steep volcanic rock jutting out from the middle of the Red Sea. The islands reveal little, sharp grey stones littering the beach and a single lighthouse, with them diving past the royal blue curtains spread out beneath the boat, divers will be overwhelmed by the dizzying spiral of fish shoals. Their silver scales are an iridescent rainbow against the sun’s rays. Descending 30m brings you closer to the waving arms of gorgonian fans in warm shades, their bulbous ends brushing against your fingertips. The steep island slopes form walls of dense coral and anemone, with the fronds of this living breathing forest moving in concert with the waves.

While the shoals of fish add color to the reefs, most divers are here for the kings of the ocean. Silvertips and grey reef sharks abound the warmer top waters, being surprisingly gentle as they probe your equipment with a push of their pectoral fins. These underwater legends can sometimes be spotted even before a dive, their tell-tale dorsal fins protruding out of the ocean’s gently rolling surface. Shark watching is also best done off the northern tip of Small Brother Island, where the gentle island banks fall away steeply to an extensive plateau of corals carpeting the sandy seabed. The Big Brother is more famous for the two shipwrecks by its coast, their rusted steel shells now a sturdy frame abundant with reef life. The Aida and Numidia are minutes away from each other and a visceral reminder of the temporary nature of man’s inventions. The wrecks have now found a new lease of life, quite literally. It would seem that years of minimal tourist traffic have kept the shore life thriving.

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Tips Before You Go
The Brothers Islands are only suitable for advanced divers with the appropriate certification, and even so, you are advised to visit the waters with a local guide. The guides are full of tips, and will be able to advise you on things like the best time to dive based on your preferences. For instance, diving at dawn will increase your chances of sighting thresher sharks. Given the isolated and offshore nature of the spot, the currents which run along the eastern and western walls of the island from the North to South can be rough. Though there isn’t much on either island, you can find a relic of the Victorian era on Big Brother, a 32m tall lighthouse left by the British centuries ago.
Al Ikhwan