x9200 wrote:The sea at the top part looks very shallow so why not snorkeling?
The area tinged pale brown is the reef-plate (the top of the reef). That tends to be very shallow, maybe .5-.75m, and gets direct sun for say 10hrs a day so is a relative desert. About the only thing that can survive that hostile environment is fire-coral (pale brown in colour). That coral will sting you if you touch it, not ideal for snorkellers.
The patchy aquamarine/azure water in front could be good for snorkelling. In fact you do see the occasional snorkel boats up there. Cue: 50 people thrashing wildly about in the shallows. Cue#2: divers on nearby boats rolling their eyes, 'F me, will you look at this bunch of muppets!'. The only plus-side is these snorkel boats are also party-boats (house music etc). So if you moor up next to one, you get some music during an interval, and also they attract a young crowd, so you get a lot of fit young ladies sunbathing on the top and front decks too. Easier on the eye than a bunch of hairy-arsed divers
The thing is those reefs can get washed by serious currents*. It's ok if you stay in one small calm patch, but stray just a little too far, with a current and you can be in trouble very quickly, and it escalates very quickly! The rye joke is that if you judge the turning point on that dive wrongly, you can end up in Jordan. [Been there done that. My buddy and I were 'headed for Jordan', and we more or less pulled ourselves back to safety, hand over hand, using reef-hooks, but that was er... a pretty alarming 10-15 minute process. I surfaced with 20 Bar and probably couldn't speak for an hour. That remains one of the hairiest dives I've done
The other thing is the Tiran reefs are a marine park, so you have to pay an entry fee. Also on a boat that size, it's a c45-60 minute cruise from the tourist hub (Sharm). So you pay a pretty big fuel-premium. Most young people don't want to spend 2hrs in transit I suppose, hence all in all, you don't get many snorkellers there.
* Do a Google/Map search on 'sharm egypt'
You'll see the chain of four mid-channel islands to the upper right. The whole Gulf of Aqaba gets 'strained' through those islands, hence why they make great dives.
Zoom in on the islands, top > bottom
Jackson Reef (and amazingly, there appear to be no boats moored up on the south-side. Might be early morning, or later pm). Most dives are a 'to and fro' on the south side. The north-side is a 'blue dive' and you can encounter a shoal of hammerheads. But it's an advanced dive on that side.
Woodhouse Reef. You dive the east side, the west side is way to wild. If the current is with you, you can drop on the southern tip and drift almost the entire length northwards towards Jackson. Over a kilometer!. But the crossing between Woodhouse and Jackson is the stuff of legend. There lies 'The Washing Machine'. Time the tides wrongly on that crossing and you'll be spun from 30/40m >10m > 30/40 > 10, round and around, until you probably run out of air and die. Probably why I know only one person who has done it. There's a 'recreational-diver end marker' nearing the north end of Woodhouse it's a tractor tyre lying on the reef, at c15M. Ignore that at your peril.
Thomas Reef. That can be a real turbo-drift of a dive, great fun. You drop at maybe '5pm' on a clock-face, and aim to go enti-clockwise to about 10-9pm for your pick-up. Theoretically if you pick your tides just right, you can circumnavigate it.
Gordon. Lovely chilled dive, shallow, over a coral garden. Stay on the east/SE side though to keep out of the potentially dangerous currents. However, there's a sand bowl ('amphitheatre') apparently a magnet for Eagle Rays, somewhere over around 7pm, about 75m away from the reefplate. That's what me and my were looking for when we ended up 'heading for Jordan'.
--- The lovely looking lagoon to the right, would make great snorkelling. But that is Tiran Island, and it's UN occupied with peacekeepers/observers. You've Saudi to the east, Israel and Jordan to the north, and Egypt to the west. That is a main shipping route from Asia, to Israel/Jordan, hence it's strategic importance.
I have dived that lagoon once. I was on a liveaboard moored up for the night on the south side of Jackson Reef. We took a RIB over and did it as a night-dive, which was something special. I expect the military knew we were there (not least our dive lamps), but weren't concerned enough to have to act...