Red Sea Pictures Guide
Egypt Pictures Guide Weather
Hurghada Sharm el Sheikh Dahab
Holidays on the
A mere five hours direct flight from the UK, the Red Sea gets almost certain sunshine
all day long, some warm waters outside mid-winter, healthy coral formations and marine life coupled with modest
prices, and some fair beaches - ironically in this country that's 98% desert the sand is coarse and beaches tend to be small. The best beaches are artificial and mostly on the mainland (Hurghada) side.
A relaxing afternoon off Dahab, north of Sharm el Sheikh in the Red Sea. That's the Sinai Peninsula in the background.
Na'ama Bay in Sharm el Sheikh. Photo by cpadula.
When to go there
September - May. It rarely (almost never) rains so humidity is very low; it'll be T-shirt days and sweatered winter nights.
Worst: Christmas and Easter school holidays (overpriced, overcrowded and sea water is bloody cold) June-September (extreme heat but warm waters).
The air temperature in this region ranges from about 30°C in May (26°C at night) and water temperature of 24°C, to 20°C in February (16°C at night) and water temperature of 20°C.
The hottest month - uncomfortably so, is August, 42 °C in February (33°C at night) and water temperature of 28°C .
Makadi Bay, a bit south of Hurghada on Egypt's mainland Red Sea coast. Photo by kallerna.
Red Sea Resorts
Sharm el Sheikh and other resorts in the area are now victims of their
own success with the biggest problem being how to avoid being part of
a milling, mooing herd from dawn to dusk.
Beach resorts line both sides of the sea, on the east side and part of the Sinai peninsula is the long established Sharm el Sheikh and its neo-hippy counterpart, Dahab. This side has activity options outside the resorts, such as trips to St Catherine's monastery, colourful rock canyons or even Israel and Jordan are not a huge drive away.
On the west (mainland) coast of the Red Sea lies relatively old and touristy Hurghada
(not a pretty sight) and a cluster of new resort towns that are resolutely inward-looking and uncultured but nevertheless can provide good value, guaranteed sun, sand and sea holidays.
Escaping from the hell of mediocrity that is Hurghada, Red Sea, on Egypt's mainland, unlike Shram and Dahab that are on the Sinai side across the sea. Photo by Karelj.
Hurghada on the Red Sea's west coast is a 30km string of resorts with no urban
heart, unless you call a short parade of fast food joints, Sky TV pubs
and tacky souvenir shops a worthwhile core. i.e. if you choose to holiday
in Hurgada then accept that you'll be in your resort hotel, on the beach or in
the sea, unless you take a tour to Luxor. On a comparison website like this one you'll find inexpensive Hurghada hotels that have good ratings and are considered decent quality by previous guests.
a fishing village just 30 years ago is now a chaotic mass of style-free
cement blocks unless you happen to be staying in an exclusive resort in
which case forget the town, enjoy your little paradise, it will be good
value, the sun will doubtless shine all day every day and the diving/snorkelling
will be superb, unless you bump into jellyfish.
Scuba with a whaleshark on the Red Sea's Daedalus Reef. Photo by Derek Keats.
The wreck of the Sha'ab Abu Nuhas is a famous dive nearby or the islands
of Giftun and Abu Ramada are good for easier coral and fish gazing.
Hurghada is on Egypt's west Red Sea coast, more or less opposite Sharm
el Sheikh which is on the south tip of the Sinai peninsula.
Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm el Sheikh on the Red Sea. Photo by Marc Ryckaert.
on the other hand and on the Sinai side of the Red Sea, is more upmarket
than Hurghada and embraces excellent watersports facilities along with a plausible,
lively tourist centre in Na'ama Bay, though it's still short of laid-back
Egyptness and the suburbs are a half-developed wasteland.
Apart from sunbathing Sharm's raison d'etre is scuba diving, with
two prime sites attracting most of the dive boats - the Strait of Tiran
in the north and Ras Mohammed in the south. The best dive locations may
take up to two hours to reach though good snorkelling places are close
How to avoid the dive crowds? Start really early or spend a few
days on a live-aboard dive boat that will anchor in just the right place
at the right time. Live-aboards sail from Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada and
newly developed Marsa Alam (south of Hurghada on the Egyptian mainland).
Dahab and the Sinai mountains, Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea. Photo by jay8085.
north of Sharm el Sheikh and heading up the Gulf of Aqaba, is the Red
Sea's most relaxed and natural resort/village with some lovely small hotels
and restaurants and clusters of neo-hippies to prove it, though as the
place develops they will doubtless be exiled and the charm will be cemented
over. Next stop Aqaba?
Dahab also offers great snorkelling and diving, including immediately
offshore, but the beaches are miserable. Other activities available around Dahab are camel rides to St Catherine's monastery, visiting Bedouin camps and quad-biking.
newish, still developing Red Sea tourist resorts can be found in the
Gulf of Aqaba at Nuweiba and Taba,
or north of Hurghada at El
Gouna and south of Hurghada at Makadi
El Quseir and Marsa
The famous and challening Blue Hole Dive site in east Sinai, 8 km north of Dahab, on the Red Sea. Photo by Grand Parc.
email from Henry:
We made one excursion from Dahab to the Greek Orthodox monastery of Saint Catherine which is built around the burning bush from where Moses supposedly heard God speak to him. The bush is still there even though much of it has been hacked away by zealous pilgrims.
The monastery continues to be inhabited by a number of Greek Orthodox monks so it is only open for visitors for a couple of hours a day. When we arrived there were already coach loads of impatient tourists waiting to go in. Eventually, the doors opened they barged their way in. We hung back waiting for things to calm down and entered when most people were already leaving. It didn’t give us much time, but at least we were left to walk around its cobbled streets relatively in peace.
Dahab is a very different from the rest of Egypt. Less than 30 years ago it was just a collection of huts and cabanas that the Bedouin used to rent out to travelers and young Israelis. Now it is much more developed with lots of hotels, restaurants, shops and scuba diving establishments. To be quite honest it is not really my scene, but my family loved it.
A cunningly camouflaged Scorpionfish in the Red Sea. Photo by Derek Keats
Sinai Bedouin offering rides up to St Catherine's monastery.
Bedouin are nomadic desert people belonging to different tribes spread over North Africa
and the Middle-East and frequently found in the Sinai peninsula. They are courageous, self-sufficient and offer extreme
hospitality to other desert travellers. They do not respect Islamic fundamentalists.
A popular bedou saying is 'I against my brothers, I and my brothers
against my cousins, I and my brothers and my cousins against the world'.
A common mistake: Bedou is the singular form of the Arabic noun, bedouin the plural just as fellah (peasant farmer) is singular
and fellaheen is plural.
Taking tea with a Bedou family in the Sinai.
And let's not forget that Israel has a large beach resort - Eilat - on the upper right limb of the Red Sea.
And adjacent to Eilat is Jordan's Aqaba which is mainly a commercial port but has some well developed beach resorts and marinas along the Red Sea coastline. This shot of the Tala Bay Marina is by Martin Nikolaj Christensen.
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