Diving in the Middle East is influenced by the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Here we can find amazing wreck diving from the WWII as well as easy encounters with Pelagics.
Some of the best diving areas are Diving Turkey, Diving Bahrain, Diving Saudi Arabia, Diving Oman, and Diving Jordan.
Encircled by the Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Black Sea, Turkey has beautiful spots with turquoise crystal waters. Diving in Turkey is relatively new but is developing along with the tourist industry. The warm weather in Turkey makes scuba diving possible all year round; however, the diving season begins around April and the height of the season occurs in August where the waters reach temperatures of 30C.
The most popular scuba diving sites are located in the mediterranean side of Turkey, and include Diving in Alanya, Diving in Antalya, Diving in Bodrum, Diving in Kas, and Diving in Gallipoli. The Turkish Riviera has several interesting wrecks, caves and a wealth of archaeological finds. There is also a variety of sea life to be seen, like Barracuda, Sea bream and Octopus. However, the level of sea life is typically Mediterranean, and not as much sea life can be seen as in scuba diving in the Red Sea or Caribbean. Antalya offers a particularly good wreck scuba diving opportunity as this is where a Second World War hospital ship sank.
Diving in Bahrain has been in the past years affected by dredging for land reclamation projects, which stir up silt and smother coral. Most of the colar reefs are gone, however there are literally a couple of Pearls left in this island: in Bahrain’s underwater scene, there's a couple of spots which are known for its pearl diving. Few spots in the world have such an abundance of oyster beds, and divers are free to collect as many shells as they can carry on specially organised pearl-diving trips. According to the statistics, you might find one pearl of value in every 100 shells and you can always get lucky!
Despite all the damage done, there's still one reef in Bahrain that has remained largely unharmed by reclamation practices: Bulthama. The small dive site is about a two-hour boat ride to the north of Bahrain and boasts an abundance of marine life, from beautiful hard and soft corals to moray eels, sea snakes and hundreds of species of fish. There’s only one catch, it can be quite difficult to get there.
Saudi Arabia diving is really one of diving's last frontiers - very few Westeners have ever managed to diver here, despite the best efforts of many. The appeal of diving almost untouched, barely explored reefs, far from the hustle and bustle of the western Red Sea's tourist resorts, is undeniable: unfortunately, the barriers that prevent you from doing so are almost insurmountable. The main immovable obstacle to foreing visitors wishing to visit the country's spectacluar reefs is the Saudi government, which actively discourages foreign tourism in the country.
Unanimous choice as the number one dive in Saudi Arabia is the Boiler Wreck, not just because for the coal-fired ship that lays on its starboard, but because of the overall dive profile offered at this location. The dive boat drops the divers off in open water 50 m west of the wreck where they descend to the first shelf wall 45 m below. A short exploration of this wall reveals large sea fans one meter in diameter gently swaying in the current, black coral bushes host to crustaceans and small fish, and soft corals of pink and scarlet red. On any given dive sharks, manta rays, and large carnivorous fish like bonito, blue fin jacks and kingfish may pass along the wall.
Diving Oman is a turtle experience, as its beaches are some of the most important turtle nesting sites in the world, therefore the government has conservation policies to protect them. One of the most popular places to see turtles is The Daymaniyat Islands, are a group of nine small islands in the Gulf of Oman. In order to dive here you need a permit and boats don't land on the islands at all during the nesting season.
The easiest access to the islands is from the dive centre at the Al Sawadi Beach resort. It's about 45 minutes boat ride to the nearest one, Junn Island. It's a tiny, rocky island with a sweep of sandy beach. The diving here is full of colour with bright yellow and purple soft corals and hard corals in many shapes, and good numbers of reef fish . If you've dived in the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean you will recognise some of the species here: shoals of fusiliers and blue tang, goatfish digging in the sandy patches, large surgeonfish streaming by in groups - there is plenty to see and photograph. Beautifully patterned moray eels watch from their holes in the reef. Pufferfish and pairs of brightly coloured bannerfish swim close to the corals. Lionfish stalk their prey and cuttlefish hang in the water or jet away when disturbed. Painted rock lobsters hide in rocky crevices and sea urchins sit everywhere on the sea bed protected by their long spines. I enjoyed watching anemone fish in their snake-lock homes. Our dive guide pointed out a deadly stonefish blending invisibly into a coral background.
Once an important trading centre of the Roman Empire, and straddling the ancient Holy Land of the world's three great monotheistic religions, Jordan is a tiny desert kingdom wrapped in history. However history is not the only attaction Jordan has to offer. With its 15 miles of Red Sea coastline, the coral reef in this area is terrific. Despite not being a pelagic area, while diving in Jordan you will often see turtles, napoleon wrasse and other reef life.
Aqaba, with its clean sandy beaches and transparent warm waters, is the mecca for divers in Jordan. Famed for its preserved coral reefs and unique sea life, this Red Sea port city was, in ancient times, the main port for shipments from the Red Sea to the Far East.