Dahab and the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt

AWESOMENESS!Our relative measure of how cool this place is. COST$ = cheap $$$$$ = resort TRAVEL TIMEEstimate of how long a round trip here from California would take TRAVEL DIFFICULTYHow much effort to get here? "Low" is hop on a plane and the resort picks you up. "High" is hitchiking in a foreign language DIVINGIf there is diving here, how good is it?
good $$ 2 days easy good

Dahab is an unexpected oasis of diversity and comfort in the desert sands. Without a doubt, it is the place to hide from Egypt without leaving earshot of Cairo's mosques. OK, that's not exactly true. In fact, one of the greatest attractions of Dahab is that there isn't an early morning prayer call in the downtown hotel area.
The joy of Dahab is its eclectic mix of culture, western comfort and SCUBA in the middle of the East. The Red Sea diving is good, the people are shockingly friendly and the food is wonderfully diverse. We had just survived Ramadan fasting in Jordan and were ecstatic to find a great variety food and drink served around the clock in Dahab. Suffice it to say, the Pillars of Islam are on vacation here and the locals who live amongst the tourists would be more at home in Jamaica than Cairo. I'm embarrased to say we even found ourselves in a game of beer pong in a waterfront bar.
Sharm el Sheik at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula is a couple hours closer to Cairo. It is a tourist mecca in the negative sense, but it does host a larger selection of dive sites and is port for overnight trips to dive the incredible HMS Thistlegorm wreck.
In a nutshell, the Thistlegorm wreck all by itself is enough to draw me back to Egypt. The diving around Sharm el Sheik is good enough for a side trip if you're already in or near Egypt. And Dahab is a welcome decompression stop from the stresses of Egypt travel if you can spare the time.


Dahab itself sprawls along the coast with hotels of all levels running along a beachside promenade. There are several resorts and nicer hotels at the edge of town, but we preferred the more casual dive lodges near the center of town. Most of the hotels on the promenade have comfy cafes or restaurants just off the water. We loved the breakfasts at Penguin Village Hotel and a hole in the wall falafel joint just down the street. There's also plenty of good seafood further into town.

SCUBA Diving

Scuba diving in the Red Sea offers a good diversity of animal life, topography and possibly the best wreck dive in the world. It's also the cheapest diving we had anywhere during our travels. Dahab itself had generally good conditions and life. The big draws are the Blue Hole and Bells/Canyons dives with more wall and less fish. The Blue Hole is frequented by tech divers who like to explore its depths. There's a cliff adjacent to it with markers for some of the estimated 100+ divers who have died here.
It seems like the animal life gets more diverse as you head south in the Red Sea. In Sharm el Sheik's Ras Mohammed National Park we came across monster moray eels and a field of ceramic toilets from the Jolanda wreck. The Thistlegorm is an overnight boat ride from Sharm and is on my short list of all-time favorite dives.

Practical Matters

Getting There

From Cairo, you can take a 9-12 hour bus or fly to Sharm el Sheik and bus a couple hours from there. Coming in from Jordan, you'll bus or taxi into Dahab after taking the ferry from Aqaba to Nuweiba.

Staying There:

Dahab is an easy place to find a hotel by showing up and walking around. We tried out two dive lodges during our stay and I recommend either one. We started along the promenade at Penguin Village Hotel. The breakfasts on the beach here are to die for. One of the downsides of staying so close to the beach is that you get brine flavored showers. We had a good stay here, but moved just across the street after a few days to Octopus Garden Resort for cleaner water.

Nearby Attractions

Petra, Jordan

It's a bit of a trek from the Sinai, but well worth the effort. It can be done easily on your own or as a package from a hotel in Dahab or Sharm el Sheik.

St. Catherine's Monastery

Day trip or spend the night to watch sunrise from atop Mount Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments.