Things to Do in Red Sea
Located on Egypt’s Red Sea coast, the port of Safaga has a small but lively tourism industry, primarily centered on scuba diving and surfing. For most cruise passengers, the port will serve as an entry way to visit Luxor several hours away. It is also a port for ferries to and from Saudi Arabia, just across the Red Sea.
Luxor is about a three and a half hour drive from Safaga, so you will likely visit as part of an organized shore excursion, often one that includes an overnight stay in Luxor. If you prefer to go independently, a taxi may run as much as $100 each way and must be arranged in advance. Either way, you will travel as part of a police-escorted convoy through the desert to Luxor.
Most shore excursions will include Luxor’s three must-see sights: Luxor Temple, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings. Visiting all three will easily fill up your entire day.
A forest of white masts poke up from the aquamarine waters along the redeveloped waterfront in Hurghada. While Hurghada has always been a bustling marine port, it wasn’t until 2008 that the city redesigned the Hurghada Marina as a place for locals and visitors to stroll in the sun, get some fresh air or grab a bite to eat with views of the sea.
The marina itself has 200 berths for sail boats and mega yachts, while the waterfront Hurghada Marine Boulevard is home to cafes, restaurants, shop and stylish bars, many hosting live music most nights of the week. Visitors can shop in a recreated Souk, dance the night away at a beach bar or board a glass-bottom boat to explore the colorful corals just offshore. Insider’s Tip: The Hurghada Marina hosts special events and festivals throughout the year. Check their Facebook page for the latest.
World-famous coral reefs, wreck diving, fantastic snorkeling and a rich array of marine life are protected by Egypt's Ras Mohammed Marine National Park, attracting avid scuba divers from around the planet.
Plunge into the park's waters and you have the chance to spot more than 220 species of coral, over 1,000 species of fish, dozens of varieties of star fish and sea urchins, and several kinds of sea turtles. Popular diving sites include Sha'ab Mahmoud, Beacon Rock, Jackfish Alley, Yolanda Reef, Old Quay and the wreck of the SS Thistlegorm.
The Giftun Islands are a popular excursion from Hurghada, offering snorkeling, diving, sunbathing and a welcome retreat from the mainland bustle.
Offshore reefs provide spectacular drop-offs for experienced divers, hiding moray eels and fish in amongst the corals. Closer to shore, the coral reef snorkeling is superb.
The islands are famous for their pristine protected beaches, and a resort on the larger island provides all the facilities you need for a day by the sea, along with tours and windsurfing.
This legendary Greek Orthodox St. Catherine Monastery is one of the oldest places of worship in the world. Founded in the 4th century, the monastery stands on the site where Moses saw the burning bush. When you visit, it’s possible to see a living descendant of that very bush.
The walled monastery complex includes a fortress, chapel, the 6th century Church of the Transfiguration and monastic buildings. The monastery was never attacked, so its famous library of rare manuscripts, priceless icons, reliquaries and artworks is complete.
Towering 2,285 meters (7,495 feet) above the monastery is Mount Sinai. For many, the trek to the summit is a highlight of a visit to the monastery, either by following the camel trail or climbing the Steps of Repentance. At the top you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views, plus the knowledge that you are standing on the spot where Moses received the Ten Commandments.
For many visitors to St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai, the trek to the mountain's 2,285 meter (7,495 foot) summit is a highlight of their visit.
There is a chapel at the top, reached by either following the camel trail or climbing the 3,750 Steps of Repentance. Whichever way you visit, the final stretch is a grueling 750 rocky steps to the top, where you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views, plus the knowledge that you are standing on the spot where Moses received the Ten Commandments.
Most visitors climb the mountain before dawn, arriving in time to catch the sight of the sun rising over the desert and surrounding peaks. To make things easier on your thigh and calf muscles, take the path on the way up, and the steps on the way down.
Wreck diving is popular off Tiran Island, surrounded by coral reefs and snorkeling lagoons in the Red Sea.
The wreck of the Sangria can be clearly seen here, its doomed hull rising above the surface of the sea.
The lagoons surrounding Tiran are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving, and the island is a popular destination for Red Sea excursions and diving tours.
There’s much more to Hurghada than modern resorts and tourist facilities.
North of the resorts, you’ll find Old Hurghada, or Ad-Dahar. Most locals live in Ad-Dahar, and it’s here that you’ll find the most authentic restaurants and hotels.
The highlight of the old town is the souk, or market. It’s easy to while away several hours here, browsing the local produce and spices, and shopping for take-home souvenirs like rugs, water pipes and traditional clothing.
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.
More Things to Do in Red Sea
This 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.
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 Monaem Read 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.
Sharm el Sheikh lies on the tip of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where the Gulfs of Aqaba and Suez meet the Red Sea. Rapidly growing in popularity with tourists, it is one of the most extraordinary diving destinations in the world. In addition to cruise ships, the port welcomes private yachts and sailboats and regular ferries to and from Aqaba and Hurghada.
The port is located on the southern side of town, about 4 kilometers from Old Sharm and 10 kilometers from the tourist hotspot Na’ama Bay. No public transportation connects the port with the city and taxis may not always be available, so the best option to get into town may be a shore excursion or other transportation offered by your cruise ship.
Diving is the primary attraction in Sharm el Sheikh, but there is plenty to occupy the non-diver. Possible activities include snorkeling, horseback riding, quad bike riding, parasailing and camel trekking.
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