Egypt might be known for its pyramids and ancient artifacts, but its burgeoning beach resorts are what have been bringing in the tourists in recent years. Famous for fantastic diving opportunities and bordered by the wilds of the Red Sea and the relaxation of the Mediterranean, Egypt may be struggling with political upheaval both at home and abroad but its modern beach resorts provide a slice of solace for its tourism industry.
The stunning coastline along the Red Sea is a magnet for sun-worshippers looking for year-round sunshine, whilst the incredible underwater wilds of the reefs attract keen divers from all over the world to sample Egypt’s coastline. Here are the the best beaches in Egypt, so you can discover for yourself the luxury and natural beauty of this amazing country.
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1. Mahmya Island
If you are looking for a scuba diving Shangri La, Mahmya Island in the Giftun Island National Park is the place for you. An adventurous 45-minutes by boat from Hurghada, spend the day here snorkeling among the coral reefs and underwater garden in the most picturesque part of the Red Sea. Visiting the national park and the magnificence of Mahmya is like an exotic escape. Delve into the depths of the water and experience a world of rainbow fish and dolphins. It might get more than a little busy here with tour groups during high season, but the focus is on ecotourism and the support of the Red Sea’s delicate aquatic ecosystem. Visiting the island is experience you won’t forget.
2. Soma Bay
A shiny, new, upmarket resort town, Soma Bay is situated less than an hour from Hurghada Airport. The self-contained resort is completely surrounded by the sea and is well known for having 365 days every year of beautiful sunshine. No wonder that it is fast becoming popular with European travelers looking to escape the cold winters soaking up the sun on the Red Sea. Things have been developing quickly for Soma Bay; the area oozes luxury and money, busy as it is with exclusive resorts and expensive eateries. An ideal location for keen divers and fans of watersports, the reefs just off shore are up there with some of the best in the world. It’s no wonder the once-desert peninsula, which used to be under the ownership of the Egyptian military, is undergoing such rapid development.
3. Agiba Beach, Mersa Matruh
This very iconic Egyptian beach may not be so well known by travelers from outside of the country. Meaning ‘miracle’ in Arabic, Agiba is a small but very dazzling gem on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, 24-kilometers west of Mersa Matruh. The only way to get to the curved slice of beach is down a rock path that leads from the clifftop above. Once on the sand, it is hard not to be impressed by the translucent color of the water as the sun sparkles on the surface.
This is a popular spot, however, and in the height of summer things get rather busy here with people enjoying days out – but for the rest of the year it’s almost empty. The surrounding sea is very rocky and the waves rolling in from the wide ocean are pretty powerful, but also make for some great surfing opportunities a little further along away from the rocks.
4. Sharm El Luli, Marsa Alam
One of those soft, pastel-colored landscapes, where the powdery sands soak seamlessly into the pale blue of the ocean, Sharm El Luli lies 60-kilometers south of Marsa Alam town on the Red Sea and is a nature-lover’s dream. Like a picture of bliss, the area is ideal for keen snorkelers and divers, so make sure you bring your equipment with you – as well as food and drink, because there is absolutely nothing else nearby.
The beach is best reached by an organized trip from your hotel in Marsa Alam, but make sure to spend the day here to fully appreciate the charm of the crystal water and the wealth of wildlife that lives in it.
5. Sahl Hasheesh Beach, Hurghada
One of the best-known diving spots on the Red Sea, Sahl Hasheesh Beach is a premium resort town that is part of tourist-central Hurghada, which stretches for an impressive 40-kilometers along the coast. Known for the vibrancy of its coral and untouched beaches, the area has been steadily developing since the 1980’s to become a burgeoning holiday haven.
Holiday hotels and villages dot the coast along from the beach and are proof of the massive amount of money being poured into the area by investors looking to cash in on the Red Sea resorts. Sahl Hasheesh Beach itself is an attractive spot for water sports enthusiasts, with lots of opportunities to try out windsurfing and yachting as well as diving and snorkeling. It does get hot here, however, with temperatures regularly soaring above 40°C – no wonder most people want to cool down with a refreshing dive!
6. El Gouna
El Gouna, meaning ‘lagoon’ in Arabic, is a chic and stylish beach on the northern Red Sea on Egypt’s eastern coast. A bustling resort town, El Gouna has been attracting wealthy Egyptian holidaymakers and jet-set Europeans with its high-end shopping, diverse dining scene and, of course, a very attractive beach. It’s the kind of place where families and couples like to come to unwind and treat themselves to a few days in a 5-star resort – there are also plenty of activities to enjoy in the area.
El Gouna is well-known in Egypt for its watersports – higher winds mean good conditions for kite-surfing, water-skiing and paragliding, to name just a few. The picturesque natural seascape is laced by a network of canals and lagoons, with sandy islands set in the middle. Staying in El Gouna means days spent relaxing on white sandy beaches or playing at the area’s famous golf course, and evening drinking in cocktail bars.
7. Ras Um Sid, Sharm El Sheikh
The best beach in Sharm El Sheikh, Ras Um Sid is an attractive beach filled with a variety of things to do. Boasting incredible views of the Red Sea, this well-known holiday resort is also very popular with divers, who want to explore the wealth of life beneath the waves. The setting, at the very top of a peninsula, means the area is a little more laid back and quiet compared to other, more busy beaches in the area.
Close to the old souk – an insight into the traditions and heritage of the local people – there is plenty of accommodation close by that’s very popular with families. The beach itself is a place where divers who visit Egypt can’t help but be entranced by the beauty of the colors of the coral. Rare fish flit and hide in the incredible formations, which can also be seen simply by snorkeling and is a great way for children to learn about the ocean.
Nuweiba was once a thriving beach resort in the 1970’s, and was on the up until politics and relations with Israel meant that the beautiful beach was left to slide into decline. The beach is now a simple, low-key place, with the most interesting part home to a Bedouin village.
Located on the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba, Nuweiba city may pale in comparison to developed resorts like Sharm El Sheikh, but its lack of infrastructure also adds to the charm. Now a popular stop-off on the Egyptian backpacking trail, the seven-kilometer long stretch of sand translates as ‘bubbling springs’ in Arabic. It is a pleasant spot to spend a few days soaking up traditional culture and exploring the natural beauty of the area. South Cove, a short drive away, is a great little spot for diving, and treks to the Coloured Canyon can be arranged through the Bedouin village.
9. Ras Abu Galoum, Dahab
If you are looking for a stunning spot to do some snorkeling or diving, then Ras Abu Galoum is a brilliant choice. Situated close to a traditional Bedouin settlement – around 15-kilometers from the small coastal town of Dahab on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula – is this sparklingly blue patch of ocean.
This desert diving paradise is a feast for the eyes; the stunning seascape contrasts brilliantly with the arid rocky land and makes for a very special spot to visit. Arrive across the desert on camel-back before diving into the depths of the Red Sea, and experience for yourself the magnificence of its underwater landscape. Hard and soft coral create the perfect environment for angelfish, parrotfish and Picasso fish, amongst others, so make sure to bring your underwater camera.
10. Fjord Bay, Taba
Located around 15-kilometers away from the small Egyptian town of Taba, near the border with neighboring Eilat in Israel, is a piece of picture-perfect paradise. Fjord Bay is the ideal location for diving, whether you have hundreds of hours of diving experience under your belt or you fancy giving it a go for the first time.
The reason this place is such an amazing spot to dive in is down to the massive bed of coral that lies at the bottom of the fjord. An impressive 24-meters in depth, it’s hard to believe the sheer amount of fish and the diversity of marine life that lives among the reef. It’s nice to know that a healthy reef is an indication of clean water and good ecological balance. The fjord itself is a deep blue cove that is protected on three sides by a mountain range, which is great for hiking and taking in panoramic views over the fjord.