Sharm el Sheikh is Egypt’s most popular destination and also one of the finest diving destinations in the world. Situated on the Sinai Peninsula near the sparkling clear waters of the Red Sea, Sharm el Sheikh has grown from a tiny fishing village to a sophisticated, thriving, all-year-round resort in just a few short years.
What brings visitors here in their hundreds of thousands are the superb dive sites that surround Sharm, and they are helped by the growing number of cheap holidays to Egypt that have made the Red Sea region affordable and accessible.
A world of wonder underwater
The dive sites of the Red Sea are a riot of colour and marine life. Below the serene surface of the ocean are extraordinary reef formations that are among the most bio-diverse anywhere in the world and run for an amazing 1,200 miles. With more than 1,100 species of fish living in these waters alongside turtles, dolphins and sharks dashing in among brightly coloured coral reefs, the Red Sea provides inviting and intoxicating dive sites.
The region is ideal for both the experienced and the novice diver with plenty of quieter reefs that are suitable for beginners. There are lots of dive schools that will offer tuition and give novices the ideal introduction to the activity.
More experienced and intermediate divers are well served with a large number of challenging dive sites, including the wreck of the SS Thistlegorm, around four hours from Sharm. This vessel is still filled with the cargo it was carrying when it was sunk during the Second World War, including tanks, motorbikes and ammunition.
Today this spooky wreck is alive only with barracudas – and, of course, divers! As one of the most popular spots around Sharm el Sheikh, the wreck attracts hundreds of divers every day.
Closer to Sharm, around two hours by boat from the resort, are the reefs at Tiran and Ras Mohammed Marine Park, each considered among the best places for diving in the world. Look for an amazing amount of marine life swarming all over the reef, including sharks and rays.
On dry land
Sharm el Sheikh not only has superb dive sites that are the envy of the world, but it is also a superb resort for other outdoor activities. Even if you’re not inclined to go diving, few holidaymakers will be able to resist the clear blue waters of the Red Sea for swimming, snorkelling, kite surfing or parasailing.
And the desert is an adventure that is hard to surpass. Camel trekking is the traditional way to traverse an area that is little changed in thousands of years, but maybe you’d prefer to climb aboard a quad bike or take a jeep safari for a much more modern way to see the desert. Midnight treks are a wonderful way to go stargazing in the moonlight and historic sites such as Mount Sinai are also well worth the visit, particularly for the Monastery of St Catherine, which has recently been restored.