Things to Do in Red Sea
The two Giftun Islands—Giftun Kebir and Giftun Sughayer—are some of the closest to Egypt’s resort town of Hurghada and comprise part of a marine reserve in the Red Sea with spectacular coral reefs and drop-offs teeming with life. Day-trippers come for snorkeling, diving, and sunbathing on the pair of islands’ pristine, protected beaches.
Opened in 2008, Hurghada Marina is the recreational hub of the Red Sea resort. Centered on a 200-berth harbour and bordered by the Marina Boulevard—a walkway flanked by palms, parks, and ochre-painted shops and residential blocks—the marina boasts an abundance of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
On the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Ras Mohammed National Park is home to Sharm el Sheikh’s best diving, notably Shark Reef, Yolanda Reef, and Jackfish Alley. Besides the pristine coral that awaits offshore, the land delivers empty beaches, rugged cliffs, and desert, plus mangrove swamps, salt marshes, and diverse birdlife.
Mt. Sinai rises a lofty 7,497 feet (2,285 meters) above sea level and is an important religious pilgrimage site, where the prophet Moses is said to have received the 10 Commandments directly from God. Visit the site’s ancient monastery or hike to the summit for panoramic views of Egypt’s mountainous Sinai Peninsula.
Set beneath a mountain many believe to be the Biblical Mt. Sinai, St. Catherine’s Monastery has a heritage dating back to the fourth century AD and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Still a working monastery, St. Catherine’s has defensive walls that house chapels, a library museum, and what is claimed to be a descendant of the Biblical burning bush.
Hurghada’s Marine Biology Museum reveals insights into the aquatic wonderland lying offshore.
Whether you’re a keen snorkeler or want to learn more about the world’s rare coral reefs, the museum provides all the answers, focusing on the Red Sea’s ecological environment.
You’ll also find out about the critters that live in the Red Sea, including sharks and turtles.
Mahmya Island, a small island off the coast of Hurghada, offers access to some of the clearest, bluest waters of the Red Sea away from the busy nearby shores. Accessed by boat, the island has food and lounge facilities and places to get snorkel gear. Snorkeling in this area is a must, as the underwater life is bright, colorful and active and it is less crowded than in other snorkel spots.
An abundance of marine life awaits in the many reefs just below the water’s surface. Dozens of tropical fish and a variety of coral types can be seen just off the island’s beach. Dolphins are a frequent sighting and a highlight for many visitors to this area. Soak in the Egyptian sun on a white-sand beach and cool off with a dip in the calm, turquoise waters.
Just 4 miles (6 kilometers) off the Sinai coast, Tiran Island technically belongs to Saudi Arabia—yet its waters are part of Egypt’s Ras Mohammed National Park. The challenging diving around the Straits of Tiran is some of Egypt’s best, while the island is a mecca for snorkelers who appreciate its crystal waters and unspoiled coral reef.
The focus of the Sharm el Sheikh resort action is Na’ama Bay, a collection of glittering seaside resorts fronting the water.
Stroll the beachfront promenade lined with restaurants and hotels, or organize a camel or horse ride to the desert Bedouin villages.
Na’ama Bay’s clubs party hard from midnight to dawn, and cafes overlooking the water are an atmospheric setting to try a sheesha water pipe.
Of course, Na’ama Bay’s other raison d’être is as a jumping-off point to hit that crystal-clear water, filled with fluttering fish, lying offshore in Ras Mohamed National Park.
Hollywood Sharm el Sheikh brings the Hollywood movie experience to the Sinai Peninsula. This dining and entertainment zone features an animatronic dinosaur park, 7D cinema, musical fountains and statues of international celebrities scattered throughout. Regular live entertainment might involve folk music, belly dancing or living singing, and every Friday evening, Hollywood hosts a pool and foam party with live DJs.
Hungry visitors have a few movie-themed restaurants to choose from, including Jaws Restaurant overlooking the dancing fountains and Titanic Restaurant, where the decor and the music were inspired by the Oscar-winning film. A collection of shops within the park sell goods with set prices, eliminating the hassle of bartering so common in Egypt.
More Things to Do in Red Sea
North of Hurghada’s luxury resorts lies the Old Town of El Dahar, where you’ll find the city’s most authentic restaurants and shops. A highlight of the area is a traditional Egyptian souk that’s crammed with shops selling leather, copper, papyrus, spices, and shisha pipes.
The corals of Careless Reef, set in the open waters of the Red Sea about an hour from Hurghada, are flourishing again as it recovers from the crown-of-thorns seastar’s predation. With excellent visibility, shallow pinnacles, and a steep wall with caves and overhangs, it offers something for every diver, including the chance of big pelagics.
This beachfront water park in Hurgada is a favorite for many families visiting the area. With 46 different water slides, a wave pool, water cannons, a wave simulator for surfing, waterfalls throughout and the turquoise ocean merely steps away, there are dozens of ways to enjoy the water. Brightly colored themed structures provide ways to stay cool while climbing and playing in the freshwater. Palm trees create shade in a lagoon area for when it’s time to relax.
There is also a lounge area facing the sea on the hotel’s private beach, seven large pools (three of which are freeform,) or the option to stay in the water and float along in one of the many inner tubes. Water slides range from small and slow to extreme and fast, the largest of which is a 19-meter free fall slide. There are also supervised smaller pools designated for children.
At the Alf Leila Wa Leila hotel property, 1,001 Nights (Alf Leila Wa Leila) is a celebration of Egyptian culture, color and dance with a variety of entertainment and dinner theater shows. Serving local food and drink, the many acts tell the history and folklore of Egypt through live music, a sound and light show, belly dancing and a pharaonic horse show that includes acrobatics and horsemanship. Each show tells the life of ancient Egypt and its pharaohs, the tribal history of the Bedouins, and other customs and traditions of the many regions of Egypt.
The shows are set in the largest theater of the area, with a seating capacity of 2,500. Other highlights include traditional Egyptian architecture including a large fountain and a performance of tanoura, an Egyptian folk dance in Sufi festivals. The whirling dance is unique to Egypt, performed by Sufi men in long, colorful skirts.
Once a small fishing village, Hurghada has grown into the most toured destination in Egypt. Though it sits beside the bright-blue waters that bring many visitors to the area, the Abdel-Moneim Riad Mosque stands tall on its own — offering visitors the chance to connect with the daily life and culture of the beach town.
The intricate design of the mosque’s classic Islamic architecture — combined with the scenic placement in the area between the main street and the ocean — makes this a unique mosque to visit. The minarets can be seen from long distances, and the call to prayer can be heard resonating from within its walls. Domes, arches and hallways are detailed with delicate carvings. Local citizens can be often seen heading to the mosque, with most visiting on Fridays for prayer.
The short trip to Mons Porphyrites is a popular excursion from Hurghada.
Egypt’s rare porphyry was highly valued by the ancient Romans, and these former Roman quarries were mined for their precious purple and white crystalline stone, used to decorate columns, sarcophagi and temples.
This former quarry town was once a thriving settlement of houses, temples and workshops. Today, you can still see relics of this activity, which involved not only quarrying the semiprecious stone but also dragging it for miles across the remote desert sands to the Nile, from where it was shipped to Rome.
Nearby Mons Claudianus supplied the Romans with rare black granite, which was used to carve the pillars of Rome’s Pantheon.
Sharm el Sheikh Old Town (Sharm el Maya) was the first resort area in Sharm el Sheikh, created when the Israelis occupied the Sinai Peninsula after the Six-Day War. Today, the Old Market is a major point of interest in the area, a popular beach resort.
The only dolphinarium in South Sinai, Sharm el Sheik's Dolphina Park houses a pod of dolphins in its state-of-the-art facilities. Trained professionals care for and work with the dolphins—naturally very intelligent and playful animals—while giving visitors to the park an opportunity to observe these cetaceans and learn more about their behaviors, habitats, and social structures. Check out the dolphin shows to see highly choreographed performances showcasing the dolphins' intelligence.
Sharm el Sheikh's Aqua Blu Water Park sits within the Aqua Blu Sharm resort complex, which allows paid entry to the park for those not staying at the hotel. Nestled on the Ras Om El Seid Plateau, this sprawling park features a huge number of water slides (44 to be exact) and nine pools, making it a popular spot for a family excursion in Sharm el Sheikh.
The slides include twisting, high-speed rides for older kids and adults in addition to the more gentle rides for little ones. To illustrate the range, slide names range from Twister, Kamikaze and Black Hole to the Family Slide and Elephant Slide, the latter of which are notably more low-key. The pools and lagoons also include three that are specifically for small children, while an on-site spa offers a chance at relaxation and pampering for the adults. In addition, the park is home to a 1,475-foot (450-meter) promenade of cafes, restaurants, bars and bazaars.
Safaga Cruise Port sits in the small town of Safaga, on the shores of the Red Sea. With few attractions to recommend either the port or the town, Safaga Cruise Port is primarily known as a jumping-off point for getting to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luxor, situated some 157 miles (253 kilometers) away.
A resort town in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Sharm el Sheikh offers snorkeling, diving, and desert trips. It's also close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of St. Catherine’s Monastery. Ships dock at the in-town Sharm el Sheikh Port (rather than at a dedicated cruise port), and you may need to tender if another ship is docked.
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