Scuba diving in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has made substantial investments in tourism infrastructure, particularly in the Red Sea. Dive centers and resorts equipped with professional instructors and top-notch gear have emerged to cater to the burgeoning interest in underwater exploration.
The popularity of scuba diving in Saudi Arabia, notably along the Red Sea coast, has been on the rise. Efforts to bolster tourism and enhance coastal regions for recreational pursuits, including diving, have been underway.

Diving and Marine Life

Scuba diving in Saudi Arabia promises a distinctive underwater adventure, showcasing a plethora of marine life and captivating dive sites. Along the Red Sea’s western coastline, Saudi Arabia boasts some of the planet’s most immaculate coral reefs and dynamic underwater ecosystems.

Among Saudi Arabia’s premier diving area is the Farasan Banks, a cluster of islands nestled in the Red Sea. Here, enthusiasts can dive into coral gardens, underwater pinnacles, and encounter a myriad of marine species, from vibrant fish to majestic turtles, rays, and an array of sharks.

While Saudi Arabia’s underwater realms remain relatively uncharted compared to other dive destinations, its pristine reefs and abundant marine biodiversity offer boundless potential for scuba diving enthusiasts.

Diving in the Red Sea is generally favorable year-round due to its temperate climate. However, the optimal time for diving is typically during the cooler months spanning from October to May.

Farasan Banks Itinerary – KSA

Duration: 10 nights onboard + last night hotel

Itinerary details
Day 1 Al-Lith port (Embarkation)
Day 2 Sailing to Canyon Reef for check dive, Sailing to North Mar Mar Island for 2nd dive, 3rd at south Mar Mar Island, Night dive at East Mar Mar Island – Overnight
Day 3 Sailing early morning to North Dohra Island for morning dive, sailing to Gorgonia reef for 2nd dive, sailing to North Sha’ab Ammar reef for 3rd dive & night dive
Day 4 Early morning dive at Sh’ab Ammar South, sailing to Choppy reef for 2nd dive, sailing to Danak Island for afternoon & night dive – Overnight
Day 5 Sailing early morning to North Mudarr Reef for morning dive, 2nd dive at South Mudarr Reef, sailing to south Jebbara Island for 3rd & night dive – Overnight
Day 6 Sailing early morning to East Eagle Island for 1st dive, 2nd dive at South Eagle Island, 3rd dive at North West Eagle Island – Sailing at night to Mubarak Reef.
Day 7 Early morning dive at North Mubarak Reef , 2nd & 3rd dive at South East Mubarak reef, sailing at night to Dorrish Island
Day 8 Whole day diving at Dorrish Island – Overnight
Day 9 Exploration & Expedition the South of Farasan Banks
Day 10 Sailing early morning to Mubarak Reef for 2 dives, sailing to small Marabit ElKheil for 3rd dive, sailing at night to Long Reef.
Day 11 Early morning dive at south Long reef , sailing to Canyon Reef for 2nd dive. Sailing to Al-Lith port – Dis-embarkation & transfer to Jeddah for last night hotel.

Important notes:

  • This itinerary has been specifically tailored for serious divers who want to enjoy the key reefs of the Red Sea with no traffic, providing ideal underwater atmosphere for all types of divers particularly for underwater videographer & photographers.
  • Farasan Banks area is huge with many pristine untouched reefs, atols, pinnacles & Islands which needs to be explored.
  • On each trip we’ll dedicate one day to explore more the deep south of Farasan banks.
  • This itinerary is reserved for experienced divers with minimum 50 dives logged.
  • Jacques Cousteau during his first Red Sea expedition in 1963 aboard the Calypso described the Farasan Banks “As one of the most fascinating areas on the planet“ .

Farasan Banks: Premier Dive Destination

The Farasan Banks stand as a pinnacle among Saudi Arabia’s scuba diving destinations, known for their stunning coral reefs, diverse marine life, and crystal waters. Here’s a comprehensive overview of diving at the Farasan Banks:

Location: Situated in the Red Sea, off the coast of Jizan Province in southwestern Saudi Arabia, the Farasan Banks consist of a group of submerged reefs and coral formations.

Marine Life: The area is home to a diverse range of marine species, including colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, rays, sharks, and even dolphins, providing divers with an immersive encounter with thriving underwater ecosystems.

Visibility: Visibility in the waters surrounding the Farasan Banks typically exceeds 30 meters (100 feet), offering unparalleled clarity for divers to admire the underwater landscape and its marine creatures.

Dive Sites: Divers can explore a variety of dive sites around the Farasan Banks, each offering unique underwater landscape and marine encounters, ranging from underwater pinnacles and coral gardens, walls where divers can explore crevices and caves.

Dive Conditions: Generally, diving conditions at the Farasan Banks are favorable, characterized by calm seas and minimal currents, although conditions may vary seasonally.

Accessibility: Access to the Farasan Banks is typically facilitated via Liveaboard from the mainland, with the nearest port being the jetty of Al-Lith city, situated approximately 220 kilometers south of Jeddah.

Scuba diving at Farasan Banks offers an unforgettable underwater experience, with the chance to explore some of the most pristine and biodiverse marine environments in the Red Sea. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced diver, Farasan Banks has something to offer for everyone.

Arriving to Jeddah Airport

Traveling to Jeddah Airport from Europe offers several options, contingent upon your departure city and preferred mode of transportation. Here’s a breakdown of how you can reach Jeddah Airport from Europe:

  • Direct Flights: Many major European cities offer direct flights to King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) in Jeddah, provided by airlines such as Saudi Arabian Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France, and Turkish Airlines. Direct flights typically offer the most convenient and expeditious means of reaching Jeddah Airport from Europe.
  • Connecting Flights: If your departure city lacks direct flights to Jeddah, you can opt for connecting flights with layovers. Major hub airports in Europe, including London Heathrow, Frankfurt Airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and Istanbul Airport, offer connecting flights to Jeddah Airport operated by various airlines.
  • You will be met at the airport by a representative of the liveaboard.
  • You will be transferred to Al-Lith jetty for embarkation (depending on arriving time)
  • The day of Dis-embarkation you will be transferred to Jeddah for last night hotel B/B
  • The following day you will be transferred from the hotel to Jeddah airport

KSA eVisa Program

Saudi Arabia has recently launched a tourist visa program aimed at boosting tourism and showcasing the country as a prime travel destination. Here’s a comprehensive guide to obtaining a tourist visa for Saudi Arabia:

  • eVisa System: Saudi Arabia provides an electronic visa (eVisa) system for tourists hailing from eligible countries. Travelers can conveniently apply for the tourist visa online via the official Saudi Arabia eVisa portal or authorized visa facilitation services.

  • Eligibility: Eligibility criteria for the tourist visa may differ based on nationality. While some nationalities are eligible for visa-on-arrival, others may need to utilize the eVisa system and apply in advance.

  • Application Process: Prospective visitors are required to complete an online application form, furnish necessary documents (such as a passport with at least six months validity, a recent passport-sized photograph, and proof of accommodation), and settle the applicable visa fee.

  • Visa Types: Saudi Arabia offers various types of tourist visas, including single-entry and multiple-entry options, each with differing durations of stay. The validity and duration of the visa are contingent upon the traveler’s preferences and the chosen visa type.

  • Visa Fees: Visa fees for Saudi Arabia’s tourist visa can vary based on factors like visa type, nationality, and processing time. It is advisable to consult the official eVisa portal or authorized visa facilitation services for the most current fee information.

  • Processing Time: While the processing time for a tourist visa to Saudi Arabia may vary, applications are typically processed within a few days following submission. Expedited processing may be available for certain travelers at an additional cost.

  • Entry Requirements: Upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, tourists holding a valid tourist visa must adhere to immigration procedures and present their passport and visa documents to the immigration authorities.

  • Visa Extensions: Travelers interested in extending their stay in Saudi Arabia beyond the visa validity period may explore the option of applying for a visa extension through appropriate channels.

Before planning a trip to Saudi Arabia, it is imperative for travelers to verify the latest visa requirements, eligibility criteria, and application procedures, as these are subject to change. The official Saudi Arabia eVisa portal and embassy/consulate websites serve as reliable sources of up-to-date information and guidance regarding the tourist visa application process.

For those interested, the official link for the eVisa application is:

Good to Know

  • Single female tourists are welcome in Saudi Arabia without any issue

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date you plan to return home from your trip

  • It is your responsibility to review and meet the update vaccination requirements and visa/immigration requirements

  • Dive accident insurance (to include medical evacuation), it’s your responsibility to have adequate cover in place and to bring your certificate as proof

  • All diving passengers must provide their dive certification card and their logbook: you will be unable to dive unless you can prove you meet the boat’s minimum certification level

  • Dive computers are mandatory: please bring your own or arrange with us in advance to rent one

  • Please remember it is your responsibility to ensure you are fit to dive: it’s required to produce a medical certificate, often dated under two years or under a year, proving you can dive safely

  • Itinerary and number of dives are indicative and subject to weather conditions and may change in advance, and during, your trip – safety will always come first. Itinerary changes do not give you the right to refund your trip

  • We recommend you to buy travel and trip cancellation insurance