1 Abu Thlma (80km north of Muharraq) Abu Thlama is one of the best reefs in Bahrain and, thanks to its distance from the shore, one of the few that has not been affected by the land reclamation that has killed off reefs near the shore. Here you can find a wide variety of tropical fish (including clown fish), as well as spectacular brain and table corals. This is also one of the deepest dives in Bahrain, ranging from 8 to 30 metres. Best time to go is the summer (May to November), because the dive boat cannot navigate choppy waters.
2 Fasht Najwah (50kms north of Muharraq) In the vicinity of Abu Thlma, Fasht Najwah is the least visited dive site in Bahrain, and consequently has the greatest number of fish. Marine life is of the kind typically found in the Red Sea and Maldives. Fed by a cool upwelling from the surrounding depths, Najwah is a rendezvous for whale sharks, which should be on the list of things to see for any serious diver or big fish fanatic.
3 Shetaya (60 km north of Muharraq) Bahrain is blessed with over 400 square miles of oyster beds, which have been used for the harvesting of natural pearls for thousands of years. Shetaya is legendary for divers looking to strike lucky. The seabed here is flat and lies around 12 metres below the surface. Although there are few fish in the area, divers are free to pick up as many oysters as their hands and tanks will allow. You can keep what you find, meaning this may be one of the few dives in the world on which you can make a profit.
4 Fifi Wreck (Southeast of Bahrain, 25km east from Al Dar Island) Bahrain’s best wreck dive, this tug boat caught fire and descended to the depths in the 1980s, meaning it has had a good 20 years to acquire a marine ecosystem. It’s in pretty shallow water (around seven metres) meaning it is perfect for Padi Open Water students, and is a popular place for night diving. You can find angel fish, surgeon fish, shrimp and baby barracudas as well as sting rays, turtles and even sea snakes if you’re very lucky.
5 Fasht al Adham (8kms off the east coast of Bahrian) Fasht al Adham is a large and shallow reef around 8kms off the east coast of the country. It’s the most sheltered local site and is great for those out on their first dive. Although you won’t get the variety of fish you can find on those reefs situated further from the shore, it is a great place to build up your confidence before taking the plunge in the middle of the ocean.
Scuba Master (17 292 154, www.scubamaster.ws) offers regular boat trips (from BD12, excluding equipment, or BD30 inclusive), as well as Padi Open Water courses (BD180 including Open Water book and table and four dives).The dive shop behind Gosi Centre is open Sat-Thu 9am-1pm and 4pm-9pm; Fri 9am-6pm.
Bahrain’s Big Five
Whale Sharks The biggest fish in the world can also be the most elusive, and is only an occasional visitor to the Gulf. The best place to find them is in the deeper waters to the north of the country away from the reclamation.
Dugongs Found across parts of the Indian and Pacific Ocean, dugongs or sea-cows are among the most exciting creatures to live off Bahrain’s coast. Although sightings are rare, they are known to live in the waters to the east of the country between Bahrain and Qatar.
Turtles Although Bahrain’s turtle population has been decimated in recent years by land reclamation, dredging and shrimp fishing, there are still marine turtles to be found on the northern reefs if you’re lucky.
Lion Fish Lion Fish are among the most beautiful fish in the sea and, although venomous, they rarely pose a threat to divers if kept at a distance. Most sightings have been on the northern reefs.
Sea Snakes Despite being among the most venomous reptiles in the world, sea snakes rarely bite and are amazing creatures to spot on a dive. They can be found during dives on Bahrain’s eastern seaboard.