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The southernmost reef of the four and nearest to Sharm, Gordon Reef has a different topography than the others. This site has both a shallow plateau area and drop-offs. Divers can do the site as a mooring or a drift dive. This reef also features the aforementioned Loullia wreck, perched on its northern edge, but sadly since it remains above the water, there’s no wreck diving. Generally boats moor on the southern plateau with a maximum 26 foot (8 m) depth. Dives then head east to the drop-off, beginning at around 53 feet (16 m). Currents along the southern edge of Gordon are never that strong. But divers should be aware that they can cut across the plateau. There is a small eel garden to the north.
The most popular reef of the four, Thomas is also the smallest. Depending on the conditions, you’ll do this dive as a drift since there are usually strong currents on the southern and northern ends of the reef. The walls, with large plateaus at around 82 feet, (25 m) on the southeastern side, can feature sleeping sharks in the sandy areas. There is also a fence of gorgonian fans.
Qualified tec divers can also explore Thomas Canyon, which is suitable for all tec levels. Starting at 115 feet (35 m) at a narrow entrance with a number of arches created by fallen boulders, the canyon is 262 feet (80 m) long and the deepest point is around 295 feet (90 m).
Woodhouse is the longest reef here and tends to be dived as a drift dive from south to north. Starting in the south there is a wall to about 98 feet (30 m) with coral growth all the way down from the surface. It slowly peters out into a slope towards the bottom. There is also a canyon at the halfway point, 82 feet (25 m), where you will start to notice the current strengthen. This is generally where the dive also ends unless conditions permit. If so, the dive can be extended into the Washing Machine — so called due to the very strong currents in all directions.
Jackson is the last reef, furthest north in the Straits of Tiran, and my favorite of the four. Here the dives are from moorings on the southern side, sheltered from the currents and sometimes large swell. At the mooring there is a 131-foot (40 m) wall. You’ll descend to your planned depth heading west with the reef on your right shoulder. Jackson Reef has some of the best corals in the area and an abundance of small fish. I’ve also seen turtles, large eels, large tuna and, best of all, an octopus perched on some coral.
Once you reach the western shoulder, you’ll feel the current strengthen. It’s time to turn around and head back to the boat. In late summer and early fall, when conditions permit diving the backside of Jackson, you may see schooling scalloped hammerheads. Tec divers can also dive the remains of the Lara on the northern side, weather very much depending.