Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
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Last updated on January 10, 2024
Napoleon Reef is a popular diving and snorkeling spot in the Dahab area. This location is usually visited on boat tours, which drop snorkelers on the tip of the reef, where there is a massive Madrepora patch reef. Multicolored reef fish, rays and moray eels can be observed at shallow depth, both on the inner reef and on the outer drop-off.
Napoleon Reef is located at the southern tip of the Dahab peninsula, approximately 3 miles/5 kilometers south of the city center. Most visitors reach this site during boat excursions, which are easy to book in all hotels and tour agencies in Dahab (around 25 euros per person).
It is also possible to explore this spot from the shore, by entering the water from Laguna Beach. In this case, you will still be more than 500 meters from the tip of the reef. It is therefore advisable to stay in areas close to the shore.
If you reach this spot by boat, you will enter the water directly from it. If you are exploring this spot on your own from the shore, we recommend entering the water from Laguna Beach (see map). Do not enter the water if there is current.
The Napoleon Reef is an extension of the reef that fringes the coast of Dahab. On its internal side, it has the advantage of being very well sheltered, while offering a well-developed coral drop-off. It is generally in this area that snorkeling is practiced, but if the sea is calm, you can also explore the outer side of the reef, on the open sea side.
On this spot, the underwater landscape is very diverse. If the bottoms are quite poor near the beach (mainly areas of sand covered with small coral patches), they become spectacular on the southern part of the reef, which begins about 200 meters south of Laguna Beach.
In this area, the Napoleon Reef presents a set of reefs forming more or less steep slopes and drop-offs. While the reef crest is very close to the surface, the depth increases rapidly at the foot of the coral formations (↕+33 feet/10 meters). About 450 meters south of the beach is an enormous massif of Madrepora, detached from the reef, which gave its name to the site (↕16 feet/5 meters).
The coral is in very good condition at this spot, particularly on the intermediate plateaus (↕10-12 feet/3-4 meters), where soft corals and hard corals cover the seabed. In places we see beautiful examples of Dendronephthya hemprichi, a remarkable arborescent soft coral. Generally pink or orange in color, this species is not very common at shallow depths in the Red Sea.
At Napoleon Reef a great diversity of fish is found, representative of the coral ecosystems of the Red Sea. Parrotfish, clownfish, butterflyfish and anthias are unmissable in the coral areas, where giant moray eels also hide. Bluespotted stingrays (often resting on the sand, in the shade of coral overhangs) and spotted eagle rays (swimming in open water near the slopes) are quite often seen here.
Some excursions combine several snorkeling spots and include a meal. Ask when you book. There is no restaurant on the beach.
More images of Napoleon Reef in this video shared by JC_Mara:
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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