In the area of the Red Sea known as the “deep south”, one of the legendary dive sites are two very small islands known as Brothers Islands.
They are located some 60 miles from the Egyptian coast, off of El-Quesir, meaning that they don’t see any day boat traffic. The only way out there is by way of liveaboards.
The larger one, fittingly named Big Brother, is some 400 meters long, and features the only structure of the islands, a lighthouse and a few buildings associated with it. Here a handful of Egyptian soldiers do tours of duty manning the lighthouse.
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The other island, Small Brother, is just to the north of Big Brother, and is somewhat smaller.
What makes diving in Brothers Islands unique is that they are pinnacle islands, meaning that below the surface, they plummet hundreds of meters vertically down, without any sandy beaches or shallow reefs around.
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Big Brother has a plateau on the south end, starting at around 30 meters depth and sloping out to about 50 meters before dropping off.
This means that almost all diving here is wall diving, but also that the chances of spotting big game, such as rays, sharks, and other pelagic predators, are very high around the islands. The plateau at Big Brother is a good place to spot sharks, as is the northern tip of the same island, where there is a cleaning station.
Big Brother also sports two wrecks, the Numidia and the Aida.
The former is on the northern tip, below the cleaning station, at some 35 meters, and the Aida is on the eastern face of the island, at around 30 meters, however, the engines of the Aida are all the way up around 10 meters, at the point where the ship struck the reef.
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The condition of the Aida means that there’s little chance of penetrating the wreck, but the Numidia offers decent options for this.
Recreational divers need to be careful, though, as the wreck is positioned almost vertically, to swimming around inside the wreck can quickly disorient you and take you to depths exceeding what you planned. The wreck reaches all the way down to some 80 metres, out of range of all but the most advanced tech divers.
Great Corals for Small Brother
Small Brother is often a good place for shark spotting, and the lack of structures means that aside from dive ships, very few ships come to Small Brother, meaning the corals are generally more pristine here. In particular the top part, in the first 10-20 meters of water from the surface, are booming with corals, soft and hard. And sharks are often spotted here, as well.
The main challenge with Brothers is their exposed placement. Winds can be strong here, and currents can also be strong and unpredictable.
Experience and fitness can be good companions here, as can some form of distress beacon, such as an EPIRB. Bringing an SMB (and knowing how to deploy one) is mandatory on most liveaboards going there. Good buoyancy skills are also needed, as maintaining depth is critical, and sometimes challenging, due to the lack of references below you.
Big Marine Life
The marine life often spotted at Brothers include napoleon fish, hawksbill turtles (there’s a resident one on Big Brother), grey reef shark, thresher sharks, oceanic white tip sharks, hammerhead sharks, tuna, barracuda, giant murrays, eagle rays, and much more.
Aside from the underwater sights, there also an option of visit the lighthouse on Big Brother, from where you’ll have a view of both islands, and the vast expanses of water surrounding them.