Egypt Independent

Taking sanctuary in the Sinai Peninsula: Local beach roundup Part III



From Ras Sudr to Taba, Al-Masry Al-Youm devotes the third part of a local beach roundup to the best spots on the Sinai Peninsula, at the northern end of the Red Sea, where intrepid adventurers and lazy beachcombers alike can happily spend what remains of this summer season. 

Ras Sudr

A favorite destination for wind and kite surfers, Ras Sudr is relatively close to Cairo, the first stop after the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel, which passes under the Suez Canal. There’s not a lot of nightlife, but if water sports are what you are looking for, Ras Sudr is the place for you.

Budget: Medium to high

Hotels: Green Ras Sudr hotel is around LE700 per night.

Beachwear: Bikinis are fine, but you’ll find most guests in sportier gear better suited for diving and wind and kite surfing.

Places of interest: None, really; the area is very resort oriented.

How to get there: The East Delta Bus Company or by car.

Sharm el-Sheikh

Arguably the most famous resort on the Red Sea, Sharm el-Sheikh is known not only for beaches, partying, diving, and fun, but also for major political conferences. Home of the Egyptian branch of the Le Pacha club, Sharm el-Sheikh is also a destination for ravers.

Budget: Medium to high

Hotels: Naama Bay, the most populated area of Sharm el-Sheikh, and the closest to town, has a shoreline of hotels from the Lido to the Pigeon House. Naama Bay’s Hilton and Movenpick are very expensive. Pigeon House has been renovated but remains a more budget-friendly option. If you take a step back from the beach, the Kahramana hotel is a nice option. Except for a couple of square meters, the entire beach front is reserved by hotels, so make sure to inquire with your hotel about beach access. Terrazzina provides an option for those staying in beach-less hotels, but there is an entrance fee and it hosts a lot of beach parties with very loud music.

Beachwear: Bathing suits and bikinis are fine but, despite the best efforts of some tourists, topless tanning is not allowed.

Places of Interest: Sharm el-Sheikh is fairly close to a number of beautiful Sinai oases, and Dahab’s famous Blue Hole diving spot.

How to get there: Sharm has an airport with a high frequency of flights, and the East Delta Bus Company should get you there in about eight hours.

Dahab

As you move back up the east side of the Sinai peninsula, you find Dahab. Ten years ago, Dahab was a relaxed gathering of camps–little huts scattered on the beach with walkways made of matted down sand–and a gathering of beach-side restaurants that served great generic food for dinner and often a joint of marijuana or hash for dessert. Things have changed. The road by the beach is paved with cobblestones, police are everywhere, and five-star hotels have replaced the huts. Although some of the camps remain, the old Dahab is long gone.

Budget: Low to high

Hotels: Le Meridien for 5-star service; the Mohamed Ali Camp or Penguin Resort for a taste of old Dahab.

Beachwear: Dahab still has a bit of a hippie feel to it; you’ll find bikinis and bathing suits, but no flash and glamor.

Places of Interest: Following the hippie motif, you’ll find yoga on the beach along with Reiki healing and massage. If you want to explore the area, you can have a Bedouin dinner, take a safari in the desert, or visit one of the area’s many oases. St. Catherine Monastery and Mt. Sinai are popular excursions.

How to get there: Fly into Sharm el-Sheikh and take a bus or a taxi to Dahab (taxis will be pricier, naturally). Or take the East Delta Bus Company or drive a car yourself directly to Dahab.

Nuweiba

Nuweiba refers to both the town of Nuweiba and a large piece of coastline which stretches almost from the town up to Taba. Nuweiba, the town, is very little, with only a couple of restaurants and a bazaar. It’s not a very pleasant place to stay. Along the coast, a number of camps have opened, in most cases offering a very relaxing experience.

Budget: Low

Hotels: The camps along the coast range in amenities and styles. Basata has beautiful, unusual white sand and requires both a reservation and, occasionally, connections to a patron or owner. At Basata, you are encouraged to cook your own food and cell phones are not allowed in the eating area. Castle Beach has no such requirements, but you should definitely negotiate room prices and pay for your food as you order it, rather than waiting for the final bill. CHeck out Al-Masry Al-Youms in-depth review of Nuweiba.

Beachwear: Hippie-style clothing, bathing suits, and bikinis.

Places of interest: Blue Hole for diving, St. Catherine’s Monastary, Mt. Sinai and Colored Canyon for hiking, and Ras Abu Gallum for a camel ride are all a car ride away.

How to get there: You can fly into Taba, it’s closer, and take transportation from there. It might be easiest to take the East Delta Bus Company or drive.

Taba

Eilat, Israel is right across the border from the city of Taba, which makes it a popular destination for Egyptians as well as for Israelis and tourists in Israel who want to see Egypt. Tourists from Israel are able to travel as far south as Dahab for two weeks without a visa. Tourism in Taba has quieted down since the bombing of the Hilton Taba six years ago, but the destination still offers some very luxurious hotels and attracts many tourists.

Budget: Medium to high

Hotels: The most popular and luxurious area is Taba Heights, which holds not only a number of resorts–a Marriot, Hilton, Sonesta, and Movenpick–but also a sand golf course. Other hotels are located right outside the Taba Heights area. Plan a hotel-based vacation if you’re going to Taba.

Beachwear: Since you’re in hotel, bathing suits and bikinis are more than acceptable.

Places of interest: Mt. Sinai and the St. Catherine Monastary are accessible by car. Taba boasts great diving courses for those who want to earn their diving certification. You can also plan a day trip to Eilat.

How to get there: Fly into Taba, take the East Delta Bus Company, or drive.