New Canyon | Aqaba-Jordan-Red Sea

Best Crack Underwater

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True name New Canyon
Depth 12m to bottomless
Conditions Canyon/wall, mild current at depth
Visibility Excellent (20m+)
Platform Shore or boat
Level Beginner-Advanced
Snorkelling? No (yes, at nearby The Tank)
Other names used Oliver’s Canyon

This deep, coral-walled canyon was born after Aqaba Earthquake in 1983. Keep a sharp eye – life here is vibrant at all levels of the food chain and changes with depth, thriving on ancient fossil reef that descends to 35m before dropping suddenly into the open blue ...

 New Canyon | Aqaba-Jordan-Red Sea
New Canyon itself is deep and clear, dominated by hard corals at depth.

We’ll gear up not too far away from The Tank – many divers like to start their dives here – or if diving by boat, from a mooring nearby. Descending to the sandy sea floor at 12m, head out to sea, following the slope of the bottom. In just a few kicks, the canyon walls begin to rise around us.

Scorpionfish and molluscs are particularly common here, along with schooling reef fish and a wide variety of sandy-bottom dwellers between coral heads and pinnacles.

 New Canyon | Aqaba-Jordan-Red Sea
The shallows and plateaus are covered in thriving Red Sea reef.

With corals, anemones, sponges, and other invertebrate creatures all well-represented along the canyon’s coral walls, shoals of fish are common to the area as the mild tidal current funnels nutrient-rich water toward the open sea ahead of us.

Before we get there, we’ll need to make a choice – left or right?

Heading left, the canyon opens up around us as we come to a tabletop bed of seagrass with scattered coral heads breaking up the topography at around 15m. Turtle and ray sightings aren’t uncommon here. This is a great area for training with plenty of life to see and open areas for exercises.

Like the rest of Aqaba, every coral head teems with life.

If we were to stick right at the turn, though, we’d get a different kind of dive experience. Descending past 21, then 24m, hard corals begin to dominate the walls and black coral begins. We start to see larger pelagic species and reef predators (though shark sightings are uncommon) as we approach the end of the canyon.

 New Canyon | Aqaba-Jordan-Red Sea
Sightings of sea turtles and other larger species are common in the open water surrounding New Canyon.

At 24m, the sea floor drops out from under us. Here we must be careful not to exceed our planned dive depth in crystal-clear waters. There is often a mild current in the canyon, so let’s keep that in mind for our exit. Only divers with appropriate Tec training and experience should go further than this.

For now, we’ll head back up a little and follow the canyon wall – or the reef above it, around 18m in depth – back to our exit point and, air supply permitting, head all the way back to explore The Tank in one of the best safety stops ever.

 New Canyon | Aqaba-Jordan-Red Sea
Hang out at The Tank after your New Canyon dive for the coolest safety stop ever.

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Arab Divers