Egypt Destination Guide

Sun. Sand. Sea and amazing diving!

Egypt Destination Guide

Sun. Sand. Sea and amazing diving!

From the Editor

The Egyptian Red Sea held a fascination for me right from the moment I first dabbled in the world of diving some 34 years ago. After taking the plunge at the age of 12 in North Wales, I voraciously devoured any literature I could find on scuba diving – and books on the Red Sea were one of my initial discoveries. I marvelled at images of the underwater museum that is the SS Thistlegorm, the vast swathes of fish shoaling off Ras Mohammed’s Shark and Yolanda Reef, the magnificent sharks on the Brothers and Elphinstone, and the wreck graveyard of Abu Nuhas. I longed to explore these heavenly visions myself – and now I have, making more than 50 dive trips to Egypt over the past 20 years. However, the Red Sea holds such a strong allure that whenever I get back home, I am already longing for my next trip to the Middle East.

We Europeans are extremely lucky that the Egyptian Red Sea is virtually on our doorstep. Depending on where you live, a mere three to five hour flight and you are touching down in what is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest diving Meccas.

The Red Sea is our nearest Indo-Pacific diving, and the myriad colours of corals, sponges and marine life that greet you when you finally dip your head beneath the surface will literally take your breath away. And this is before you have ventured out to any of the famed dive sites, which include some of the best walls, wrecks and drift dives on the planet. Don’t let the relatively short flight fool you, this is world-class diving on a par with anywhere else on Earth, so I suggest you make the most of it and head out for some Red Sea action of your own.

Over the following pages, you will find an overview of the main diving resorts, together with some of the top dive sites that can be found in those areas, as well as information on things you must do when you are in Egypt, which will help you plan your perfect Red Sea diving excursion.

Mark Evans, Editor-in-Chief

From the Editor

The Egyptian Red Sea held a fascination for me right from the moment I first dabbled in the world of diving some 34 years ago. After taking the plunge at the age of 12 in North Wales, I voraciously devoured any literature I could find on scuba diving – and books on the Red Sea were one of my initial discoveries. I marvelled at images of the underwater museum that is the SS Thistlegorm, the vast swathes of fish shoaling off Ras Mohammed’s Shark and Yolanda Reef, the magnificent sharks on the Brothers and Elphinstone, and the wreck graveyard of Abu Nuhas. I longed to explore these heavenly visions myself – and now I have, making more than 50 dive trips to Egypt over the past 20 years. However, the Red Sea holds such a strong allure that whenever I get back home, I am already longing for my next trip to the Middle East.

We Europeans are extremely lucky that the Egyptian Red Sea is virtually on our doorstep. Depending on where you live, a mere three to five hour flight and you are touching down in what is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest diving Meccas.

The Red Sea is our nearest Indo-Pacific diving, and the myriad colours of corals, sponges and marine life that greet you when you finally dip your head beneath the surface will literally take your breath away. And this is before you have ventured out to any of the famed dive sites, which include some of the best walls, wrecks and drift dives on the planet. Don’t let the relatively short flight fool you, this is world-class diving on a par with anywhere else on Earth, so I suggest you make the most of it and head out for some Red Sea action of your own.

Over the following pages, you will find an overview of the main diving resorts, together with some of the top dive sites that can be found in those areas, as well as information on things you must do when you are in Egypt, which will help you plan your perfect Red Sea diving excursion.

Mark Evans, Editor-in-Chief

12 MUST DO THINGS IN EGYPT

Check out our handy ‘bucket list’ of dive sites, locations and experiences you absolutely have to get involved in when you head off to Egypt and the Red Sea, including diving the shipwreck of the mighty British supply vessel Thistlegorm, visiting the legendary archaeological sites of the Valley of the Kings, taking a cruise on the iconic River Nile and, of course, riding on a ‘ship of the desert’, a camel.

12 MUST DO THINGS IN EGYPT​

Check out our handy ‘bucket list’ of dive sites, locations and experiences you absolutely have to get involved in when you head off to Egypt and the Red Sea, including diving the shipwreck of the mighty British supply vessel Thistlegorm, visiting the legendary archaeological sites of the Valley of the Kings, taking a cruise on the iconic River Nile and, of course, riding on a ‘ship of the desert’, a camel.

FROM REC TO TECH

The Egyptian Red Sea is the perfect destination for everyone from raw novices yet to take the plunge into the underwater world to technical divers hankering for their latest fix of world-class shipwrecks, walls and reefs out in the deep. And it is not all for scuba divers – snorkellers will be delighted by the vast shoals of fish and colourful corals in the shallows, while freedivers can find plenty of outstanding sites to challenge their breath-hold skills.

HURGHADA AND THE BAYS

The undoubted jewels in the crown of the Egyptian Red Sea Riviera can be found in and around the sprawling coastal town of Hurghada, with its lavish marina development and plethora of hotels, and ‘the Bays’, endearing resorts such as El Gouna, Makadi Bay, Soma Bay and Sahl Hasheesh, which have developed and grown into tourist hotspots of their own over the past 15-20 years.

HURGHADA AND THE BAYS

The undoubted jewels in the crown of the Egyptian Red Sea Riviera can be found in and around the sprawling coastal town of Hurghada, with its lavish marina development and plethora of hotels, and ‘the Bays’, endearing resorts such as El Gouna, Makadi Bay, Soma Bay and Sahl Hasheesh, which have developed and grown into tourist hotspots of their own over the past 15-20 years.

EL GOUNA AND SAHL HASHEESH

El Gouna, located a short distance north of Hurghada, has gone from being a small resort clustered to a full-fledged town complete with its own hospital and school. Hotels and resorts flow around the lagoons and marinas, dive centres access some of the Red Sea’s most-iconic sites, and the downtown area is complete with an array of bars and restaurants. Sahl Hasheesh lies to the south of Hurghada, and again boasts a rich selection of hotels, resorts and restaurants to suit all budgets, as well as a bustling main promenade.

MAKADI BAY AND SOMA BAY

Further south from Hurghada you can find Makadi Bay and Soma Bay. Both these developments are building a strong reputation as a tourist getaway, and each is well catered for when it comes to hotels and resorts, watersports and dive centres, restaurants and bars, spa facilities and the like. Whether you want to chill out and relax, or enjoy an action-packed adventure on land or in/under the water, these two bays have got you covered.

MAKADI BAY AND SOMA BAY

Further south from Hurghada you can find Makadi Bay and Soma Bay. Both these developments are building a strong reputation as a tourist getaway, and each is well catered for when it comes to hotels and resorts, watersports and dive centres, restaurants and bars, spa facilities and the like. Whether you want to chill out and relax, or enjoy an action-packed adventure on land or in/under the water, these two bays have got you covered.

EL QUSEIR AND SAFAGA

Continuing south down the coast towards Marsa Alam, you will find El Quseir and Safaga. Safaga was a thriving port town which has now also developed a tourist resort area, and it finds favour with divers and holidaymakers who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, but equally don’t want to be too far from a major town. El Quseir is a hidden gem, a small town-come-resort off the beaten track that is the perfect place to relax and unwind, and savour the topside and underwater delights on offer.

MARSA ALAM​

Way to the south of Hurghada – and served by its own international airport as well if you don’t want a lengthy transfer – you will find Marsa Alam. This is one of the fastest-growing resort areas in Egypt, and comprises developments in various areas and bays, including Port Ghalib, which has grown into a luxury marina complex complete with hotels, restaurants, bars and shops.

MARSA ALAM

Way to the south of Hurghada – and served by its own international airport as well if you don’t want a lengthy transfer – you will find Marsa Alam. This is one of the fastest-growing resort areas in Egypt, and comprises developments in various areas and bays, including Port Ghalib, which has grown into a luxury marina complex complete with hotels, restaurants, bars and shops.

OFFSHORE MARINE PARKS

For experienced divers wanting to see the very best walls, reefs and marine life that the Egyptian Red Sea has to offer, then taking a liveaboard out to the offshore marine parks is an absolute must. Sites such as the Brothers, Daedalous, Rocky Island, St John’s and Fury Shoals have achieved legendary status, thanks to a heady blend of coral-smothered walls, world-class shipwrecks, exciting drift dives and the chance of encounters with various pelagic species.

THE SINAI PENINSULA

The Sinai Peninsula is home to the iconic resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab, gateway to Ras Mohammed Marine Park, the four Tiran reefs, and the infamous Blue Hole. Dahab has retained its chilled-out vibe, and offers an escape from everyday life, while Na’ama Bay – the main resort area of Sharm – boasts a promenade, hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and an array of land-based and water-related activities.

THE SINAI PENINSULA

The Sinai Peninsula is home to the iconic resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab, gateway to Ras Mohammed Marine Park, the four Tiran reefs, and the infamous Blue Hole. Dahab has retained its chilled-out vibe, and offers an escape from everyday life, while Na’ama Bay – the main resort area of Sharm – boasts a promenade, hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and an array of land-based and water-related activities.

LAND-BASED EGYPT

You cannot visit Egypt and not experience some of the many archaeological wonders that have been uncovered over the years. Iconic sites such as the Pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza, and the Valley of the Kings and the Temples of Karnak at Luxor, to name just a few, transport you back in history and it is impossible not to be blown away by these relics. A cruise down the River Nile is also a ‘bucket list’ item that dovetails nicely with historical tours.