On the western shore of the Red Sea in southeast Egypt, Marsa Alam has grown into a popular tourist destination since the opening of the international airport in 2001. People come here to enjoy the untouched dive sites off the coast but there isn’t much more to do other than water activities so if you’re after sightseeing then best to head to a different city. If you want to see a coral reef like none other then this place is for you.
The city is in the middle of nowhere but getting there has become easier over the years. Egypt Air flights from Cairo are available five days in the week or fly from a few European countries such as Austria, Germany, Italy, Netherlands or the UK but usually only once a week. Be sure to organise transport to your hotel before you get to the airport because taxi drivers may take advantage of you if they know you’re stuck. Getting a bus here is possible from the major cities but it’s easier to fly.
Accommodation is mostly big 4 or 5 star resorts. It’s best to look for an all inclusive deal as you’ll be eating and drinking in your hotel anyway. You can find one in a 4 star resort for about $50 a night for 2 people or a 5 star from $90 a night, less if you book a package deal including flights. All of the resorts front the Red Sea and the views are fabulous.
Other than the most popular activities of diving and snorkelling, there are a few other things to do in the area such as fishing or kite surfing, desert safaris, or visit the historical city of El Quseir and the Ottoman Fort. You can also chill out on the beach or get a relaxing massage.
The reefs here are alive and in pristine condition due to the fact that most people head to Sharm el Sheikh or Dahab to dive, so this is still almost a secret in the diving world. It’s possible to dive in the wild with spinner and bottlenose dolphins, several species of sharks, turtles and for an amazing opportunity get up close to the endangered Dugong. The water is also rich with every kind of coral and reef fish imaginable in the Red Sea so you’re in for some great dives!
There are about 25 dive sites in the area, enough to keep you busy for a good week or two. All divers and snorkelers will enjoy the site of Marsa Abu Dabab and although it has no coral, it’s the best place to see Denis the resident Dugong, turtles, guitarfish and sometimes eagle and manta rays. Photographers will love the macro opportunities here as it’s common to find a sea horse, ghost pipe fish or red sea walkman in the sea grass here.
Elphinstone Reef is a superb wall dive for advanced divers and encounters with dolphins and sharks are common here. Big barracudas, jacks, tuna and snappers hang out along the wall. Samadai Reef is also a good spot to see spinner dolphins and a seahorse or two.
You’ll love the amazing diving opportunities available here in Marsa Alam, so jump in the water and off you go and say hi to Denis the Dugong for us!