SUBEX – Pioneers in diving tourism

Walti Guggenbuehl Rene Galster J

SUBEX was founded in 1965 by the two diving pioneers Walti Guggenbühl (right) and René Galster (left) with the founding of the first Swiss diving school (at that time still EUROSUB) on the island of Elba. Soon thereafter, the land-based activities were successfully enriched with the first Odyssee diving cruises.

In 1971, shortly after the 6-day war, a first advance into the Sinai took place with a small exploration group, which at that time was still under Israeli occupation. What was seen and experienced there was so inspiring that a plan was immediately drawn up which was then soon implemented: in 1972 two Land Rovers and their trailers were loaded with extensive equipment, shipped to Israel and driven to Sharm-el-Sheikh. The famous SUBEX Sinai Safari programs were born, which were successfully carried out until 1985. During these years the entire Sinai coast was dived, explored and not only discovered a great underwater paradise, but also the great tourist potential of this area was recognized. For a long time, the Sinai coast was considered an insider tip by divers.

At the same time, René Galster explored the Maldives in 1972, which became the third pillar of the SUBEX company. SUBEX has been successfully present there for more than 20 years!

SUBEX’s own travel agency (SUBEX-Reiseservice AG) created special tours all over the world, which were personally accompanied for years by both founders as profound connoisseurs. Hardly any destination in the coral belt around the globe was not visited.

In 1985, the opportunity arose in Hurghada to operate a diving base all year round. Johann (middle) and Verena Vifian, then employed as diving instructors on Elba, did not miss this opportunity and moved spontaneously to Egypt, where the SUBEX bases Hurghada, Sharm-el-Sheikh, El Quseir and Sahl Hasheesh were gradually created by iron will and untiring commitment.

Today, SUBEX can proudly look back on 45 years of experience in and around the Red Sea!

Company strategy considerations and succession planning led to the sale of all diving centers outside Egypt and the travel agency in Switzerland in 1999 and the relocation of all SUBEX activities to the Red Sea. Johann Vifian continues to lead the company there.

SUBEX  –  Diving holiday is a matter of trust

Your holidays are precious – and we make sure that you can enjoy them without worrying! Since its foundation in 1965, the well-being, satisfaction and safety of divers have always been a top priority for SUBEX. Of course, without losing sight of the fact that diving is and should remain an adventure!

A recommendation rate of 99% and two-thirds of regular customers, some of whom visit SUBEX several times a year, are clear key figures for THE ART OF DIVING. Ultimately, the art of diving is a feeling that cannot be described, but can only be experienced and dived. We cordially invite you to join us! A stress-free day including recreation, relaxation and adventure should be the be-all and end-all of every SUBEX diving holiday.



Our guide, who guides a maximum of four divers in each dive, gives a detailed briefing before each dive about the expected conditions with regard to topography, wildlife, currents, as well as the respective safety measures.

Each dive is designed by the guide as an adventure dive and afterwards the seen in detail discussed. All training courses naturally take place in the same maximum ratio of “one for four”.


No unnecessary restrictions of diving time.diving depths up to 40 meters are allowed depending on conditions and education

What I give back to the underwater world, she gives me back

SUBEX is committed to actively contribute to environmental protection and respect for marine flora and fauna as a respectful diver. This applies equally to SUBEX staff and all diving guests. This is already given to the SUBEX Divers during the training.

The conviction that every diver as a guest in the magnificent underwater world must not do any harm and that life under water is protected and respected is lived. Many valuable activities around the preservation of the reef ecosystem can be traced back to the initiative of Managing Director Johann Vifian: He is co-founder of the HEPCA, initiator of the El Quseir Charter, as well as the Reef Check Study in El Quadim Bay.

These projects have attracted attention at the international political level with great patience and commitment. The continuation and expansion of the projects aim to raise awareness of the importance for the protection and conservation of the “underwater habitat”.


In El Quseir, Red Sea, Egypt, from 06.12 – 09.12.2005, on the initiative of the diving company SUBEX, a symposium for the protection of coral reefs took place.

More information about the El Quseir Charter here on

El Quseir Charta website

The SUBEX concept cannot be more clearly emphasized than in this article published by Spiegel online: Less divers, more reef by Linus Geschke.


Since August 2011, every SUBEX Dive Center has been providing its guests with a drinking water tank free of charge for the entire diving holiday. This should put an abrupt end to the issue of disposable plastic bottles. At check-in at the respective base, the guest receives the bottle, which keeps both cold and hot.

The bottle has a cup from which it is convenient to drink. Water is also available at the dive centers free of charge for refilling. The boats, minibuses and jeeps for half and full day trips are equipped with water dispensers, so that the diver or snorkeler only takes his water bottle with him and thus does not produce any garbage. At the end of your holiday you can take the bottle with you at cost price of 4 Euro/5 CHF.

All SUBEX employees are also required to use the bottle. SUBEX hopes that the idea that originally established Beluga-Reisen will be taken up by all diving centers – for the protection of the environment.

The VDST (Verband Deutscher Sporttaucher) and NABU (Naturschutzbund Deutschland) are committed to keeping the diving areas free of waste, e.g. by avoiding plastic bottles as with the SUBEX bases. Here you can download the pdf with helpful tips.


After 10 years of valuable cooperation between the “Green Globe” certified Mövenpick Hotel Sirena Beach and SUBEX THE ART OF DIVING in El Quseir, Managing Director Johann Vifian initiated that the famous El Quadim Bay is being examined for its condition by renowned marine biologists. The globally recognized organization Reef Check e.V. was commissioned to do this.



HEPCA (Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association) is a recognized, non-governmental organization. HEPCA’s mission is to protect and conserve the environment, coral reefs and the ecosystem of the Red Sea and its coastline.



At every step that SUBEX associates with nature, be it the construction of a new diving centre, the selection of dive sites, the training of diving instructors or the composition of diving groups and the individual “walks” under water, we are always anxious to act in the spirit and for the preservation of nature.

Clean-up days, the El Quseir Charter, the annual marine biology seminar, a limited number of divers at “our” house reefs should preserve nature for future generations in its usual beauty. Environmental awareness is not a phrase for us – it’s passion.


  • By hiring instructors and guides, who all have at least 250 logged dives – most of them much more by the way – and bring a corresponding experience with them.
  • Through comprehensive security arrangements on all our bases.
  • Through reliably maintained rental materials and means of transport such as boats and vehicles.
  • By air28 as standard gas.
  • In the course of the annual renewal of the operating permit in Egypt, the technical committee of CDWS (Chamber of Diving and Watersports) carried out a review according to ISO 24803 criteria for the first time in 2009.
The result: SUBEX dive centers in Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh and El Quseir are now ISO certified!

All bases met the required knowledge and qualifications and fulfilled all approval and test criteria to work according to the standard of EN 14467 and ISO 24803. These standards define requirements for recreational scuba diving service providers. They define the areas of training, organized and guided dives for certified divers, rental and maintenance of diving equipment and compressors and also safety standards.


The CDWS was founded in 2007 by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism with the aim to improve the quality, service and safety standards of the diving and water sports industry as well as to protect the unique environment of the Red Sea. The Egyptian authority will no longer issue a diving license if the dive center cannot prove that it is ISO/EN certified.

CDWS (Chamber of Diving and Watersports) has successfully signed an agreement with the Austrian Standards Institute (ON), the certification body of the European Underwater Federation (EUF), to adapt and introduce European standards.

The certification stands for the standards EN 14467/ISO 24803 for recreational diving services and states that the training, the diving operation and the safety precautions are carried out according to the European standards of the EUF.

CDWS has assembled a team of 5 independent auditors. Every center or boat in Egypt has to undergo a 2 to 4 day tax audit – a process that is now mandatory in Egypt. Members must meet a list of criteria and guidelines before their membership is renewed. Potential members must meet the same criteria in order to receive approval. The controls shall check that

  • Services offered
  • Certificates and company documents
  • venues
  • accoutrement
  • Documents and documentation
  • staff information
SUBEX air28 – it’s all in the mix

The first and still the only ones worldwide to fill their tanks with specially created breathing gas SUBEX air28 instead of normal compressed air. Diving with the 28 % oxygen enriched air mixture does not require any additional training and increases the safety of the recreational diver as well as the feeling of well-being during diving many times over.

1*4*4 – One for four – One for four

Our dive center is organized in such a way that the guide never accompanies more than four guests per dive. It informs you in detail before the dive about the expected conditions with regard to topography, fauna, currents as well as the respective safety measures. Each dive is designed by the guide as an adventure dive and afterwards the seen in detail discussed. Of course, all training courses take place in the same maximum ratio of “one for four”.

Welcome Dive

Free escort and supervision during the first dive, so that your diving holiday can start without worries.

No stupid limits

No unnecessary restriction of the diving time. The steel cylinders filled with 200 bar may be breathed empty to a residual pressure of a few bar. Diving depths of up to 40 metres are permitted – naturally only under consideration of training, experience and daily form.

Quality and safety

We place very high demands on our employees. The selection is made carefully. All of them are intensively prepared for their tasks by us personally in a demanding introductory phase. On the bases and the diving ships you can rely on a well thought-out emergency management and appropriate assistance.

Diving equipment and workshop

Professionally tested and regularly maintained diving equipment is just as natural for us as breathing regulators with octopus, diving computers, visually corrected diving masks and halogen lights. Steel devices up to 15 litres, always filled with air28 at 200 bar as standard, guarantee a pleasant and safe diving pleasure. There are also excellently equipped workshops available.