While the relatively small port city began significant development as an industrial powerhouse in the 1970s, Yanbu’s history dates back to around 500BC with the Minaeans: an ancient mysterious kingdom that established a spice and incense route between Yemen and Egypt. The city was an important rest stop for traders due to the nearly 300 natural springs, or ‘nabaas’ (hence the name Yanbu), and its port.
But Yanbu shouldn’t be on your radar just for its unique history; it is the place to experience the majesty of the marine. Endearingly called the ‘the Pearl of the Red Sea’, the port city is known as Saudi Arabia’s scuba diving capital. Home to countless underwater treasures, communities of scuba divers, and marine creatures to admire, Yanbu provides everything a salt-water enthusiast could want.
From untouched coral reefs to old shipwrecks, there are some amazing diving spots to choose from. First and foremost, there’s the Seven Sisters coral reef chain, which is widely known for hammerhead shark sightings. The diving spot is replete with some of the most amazing reef systems in the world. Tucked behind a great towering reef wall, fields of corals stretch out like an underwater cosmopolitan landscape of hues.
Part of the Seven Sisters, Abu Galawa is dotted with colorful coral and exotic fish. The diving spot is also famous for a World War 2 shipwreck: a Chinese tugboat that sunk in 1947, and now entirely covered by soft and hard corals. Speaking of wrecks, two other must-dives are the Luna and Iona Wrecks, which have interesting histories. Iona, a British ship, sunk when it hit the neighboring coral reef system and is now home to spectacular marine biodiversity. Exactly how a British ship got into the Red Sea during World War I is still a mystery.
They say anxiety is the dizziness of freedom. So where do you even start when deciding to scuba dive in Yanbu? As always, turn to the professionals. There are countless diving stores to get you started who will organize boat rides to dive spots, pair you with a guide, and provide equipment, such as:
Saudi Diving Center (058 388 8301)
Diving Bubbles (050 562 0679)
Dolphin Free Diver (054 642 0600)
Natlus Divers (012 206 1548)
Diving Leaders (056 503 0966)