When you think of Egypt, chances are, the last thing you envision are crystal waters, tropical fish and vibrant coral reefs. And while the Caribbean, Mexico and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef seem to get all the attention when it comes to experiencing some of the ocean’s most astounding underwater attractions, many will argue that Egypt’s Red Sea hosts some of the top snorkeling experiences in the world.
With water temperatures hovering in the mid-80s during the summer months and excellent visibility, more than 1,000 unique species of fish, 200 species of coral and a famously large population of endemic ocean species, Egypt’s Red Sea is sure to spoil any other snorkeling experience. Sharks, dolphins, gorgonian fans and feather stars are also not uncommon sights in Egyptian waters, drawing a broad range of underwater enthusiasts, from beginning snorkelers to experienced divers.
Places To Go
After Cairo, Egypt’s capital, Hurghada is one of the most visited cities in the country. The beach resort town, set along Egypt’s coast, is well known for its snorkeling and diving, as well as its vibrant nightlife and shopping destinations. However, what is now a booming, populated city was once a small fishing village, and it is this ocean-steeped heritage which seems to have remained despite the modernization. Meanwhile, nearby enclaves such as Sharm El Naga, Makadi Bay and Soma Bay also offer sandy beaches, reef cliffs and premium resort experiences.
Another popular destination for snorkeling is Marsa Alam, located on the western shore of the Red Sea. The Coraya dive base situated inside the city is considered a pioneer in the diving world for the extensive equipment and instruction it provides. The center’s instructors offer valuable guidance for both beginning, intermediate and even professional snorkelers and divers. The center also organizes day trips to spots appropriate for all levels of underwater adventure seekers. The Dolphin House is one such day trip location and provides swimmers the unique chance to see some of the oldest red coral formations and swim alongside porpoises. Elphinstone—an area for more advanced divers and snorkelers—is known as one of the best locations in the world to see sharks.
Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea, is also a major seaside stop with its expansive, sandy shores and clear waters. The nearby Ras Muhammad National Park, which overlooks the Gulf of Suez and Gulf of Aqaba, draws a wide range of divers, snorkelers and swimmers for the beauty of its underwater landscapes. Boat tours, available out of Sharm el-Sheikh, take swimmers out to the park’s reef where swimmers are treated to a vibrant array of coral, more than 1,000 species of fish, starfish, urchins and sea turtles.