Skip to main content Skip to footer

Drift dives and pick-up drifts

Currents and drift dives in Hurghada

Do you often go diving in Egypt, in Hurghada? Think you already know all the diving sites like the back of your hand? Or have you already dived in many different places in the world and have something to compare? We believe that there is still much to discover. Especially if you have the opportunity to do the so-called pick-up drift.

What is a drift and pick-up drift?

Drift means to dive in the current. There can also be stronger currents at diving sites in the Red Sea around Hurghada. Especially on the northern sides and at smaller reefs in the open sea. The currents here usually go in a direction from north to south. It is therefore better to organize a drift, and of course in such a way that the current will carry us pleasantly and at the end of the dive we will be picked up by a boat. But what we mainly want to tell you here: we have a chance to explore interesting locations far from the anchorages of diving boats. Some of the coral reefs in Hurghada, mainly around the islands, are large and long, and the anchorages tend to be only on the southern sides above the shallows. A non-negligible fact is that the current brings nutrients. So where the current is stronger, the reefs are also more alive.

How is such a dive in the current organized?

In order to get further and even further, it is necessary to arrange for the boat to drop us further by the reef and then pick us up at the place where the current will take us. So we'll do what's called a pick-up drift. In Hurghada we dive from large dive boats, but we also have a Zodiac speedboat available. So we can combine whether we jump from a big boat or Zodiac and what picks us up after the dive. At the end of the dive, the guide usually shoots a buoy, preferably close to the wall, and with the buoy overhead at a depth of around 5 meters, we swim away from the reef into the "blue". If we have a buoy, passing boats will know about us and we can surface safely. We surface near the buoy and wait for the boat. It is important to follow the instructions of the boat's crew. It is necessary to move a little away from the reef, because the boat that comes for the divers has to turn off the engine, the propeller cannot run and the boat cannot maneuver at the moment when the divers are being picked up. Therefore, let's try to get out from the water into the boat without unnecessary delays.

We recommend the specialties PADI Drift Diver (diver in a current) or DSMB Diver (Delayed Surface Marker Buoy Diver), where you learn how to launch the buoy correctly.

You can buy our book Hurghada Dive Sites & Wrecks, which is also available in English.

What to watch out for when drifting?

  • On dive sites with strong currents, stay close to the reef during the dive.
  • Stay close to your dive partner and your group.
  • If you are diving near a deep wall, keep to the same depth as your dive guide and/or partner.
  • However, remember that diving in a current requires excellent buoyancy control.
  • Do not surface further from the reef without a buoy, a boat may pass by.
  • Follow the instructions of the boat's crew when coming up from the water.

Dive sites suitable for pick-up drifts in Hurghada

North Umm Gamar

In the north of Umm Gamar Island there is a pristine coral garden. The dive is not very deep, and the currents are usually not very strong. We start at the coral tower at a depth of around 20 meters. Then we continue with the reef on the left shoulder towards the coral garden, which is a mixture of soft and hard corals and is inhabited by large schools of coral fish.

El Fanadir Deep South

If we head just south from the anchorage at El Fanadir South towards Hurghada, we soon encounter very extensive coral gardens that extend from 15 meters deep to 6 meters further south. Among them are sandy flats where large stingrays such as feathertail or mangrove stingrays stay during the winter season. Due to the sandy lagoons, visibility may be a little worse.

Shaab Pinky

Shaab Pinky

Shaab Pinky

Coral wall on the north side of the Big Giftun Island closer to the coast of Hurghada. The dive starts above a deep wall, we swim with the reef on our left shoulder. Later a shallower plateau appears below us at a depth of around 15 meters. Above the plateau, the current can strengthen, the place of the strengthening of the current can be recognized from a distance by a large number of fish. There are some very vivid coral blocks on the bottom. There is a chance to meet eagle rays or barracudas here.

Shaab Alex

The wall by the Big Giftun Island between Hamda and Shaab Sabina dive sites. We swim with the reef on the right sholuder. The bottom gradually descends in depth. The reef is full of various coral fish, sometimes we also meet a eagle ray or a turtle.


From the island of Small Giftun towards the north-west, a long reef extends, which forms a large lagoon - Torfa El Shahed, also called Ben El Gebel, which means between mountains or islands. On the outer side of the coral reef, we can dive along the wall. When the current and waves allow it, we swim towards the east with the reef on the right hand side. In this direction, the plateau near the coral reef gets deeper and deeper. It is also possible to swim in the other direction and reach the boat anchorage on Torfa, the bottom is not deep here.

Erg Somaya

Erg Somaya

Erg Somaya

Boats can anchor at this dive site only if there is no strong current. Otherwise, the anchor line is difficult to find from the boat, because it floats in the depth in the current. In that case, it is not out of the question to jump on a pick-up drift. We swim with the reef on our right shoulder, passing several coral blocks growing on the edge of the drop-off. Then a shallower erg with lots of Red Sea Anthiases. They swim in large schools all together against the current that brings them food. When the current is strong, we can end the dive where the normal drift starts at the Police Station - Small Giftun dive site. Therefore, be careful when surfacing on a passing boat.

North Abu Ramada

North Abu Ramada

North Abu Ramada

Other dive sites in Hurghada where the currents can be very strong are around Abu Ramada Island. Therefore, it is better to organize a pick-up drift here. We jump on the northern peak of the reef, preferably with negative buoyancy. Depending on the strength of the current, i.e. if it is very strong, we have to get to the eastern side of the reef as quickly as possible and continue with the reef on our right shoulder. Therefore, we recommend the dive only to experienced divers. If the current is gentler, we can look around for a very nice plateau and drop-off on the north-west side.

Erg Abu Ramada

Erg Abu Ramada

Shaab Ayman - Erg Abu Ramada

By Abu Ramada Island we can also drift over the coral garden which is around 20 meters deep and continue towards Erg Abu Ramada and maybe beyond if the current is too strong. In the place where we jump, we can, especially in winter, meet whitetip reef sharks resting in a small cave. Another nice place along the way is Erg Abu Ramada, three connected towers covered with soft corals that cannot even be swam around in strong currents. In that case, we continue further towards the wall towards Cave Abu Ramada.

Shaab Adel

This place is located near one of the most popular coral reefs in Hurghada, Gotta Abu Ramada. There is a plateau at a depth of around 16 - 18 meters. Several coral towers and blocks rise from the bottom. This location is not visited very often and therefore there is a chance to meet a shark here. We swim around one tower after another and wait to see if anything appears. We make a safety stop at the buoy, almost all coral towers are deeper than 5 meters.

We also offer wreck diving in the Red Sea in Egypt and Deep Diver, Enriched Air Diver (Nitrox), Wreck Diver or Sidemount Diver courses.