Dahab Travel Guide

Travel to Dahab

Once a humble Bedouin encampment, Dahab has since staked is claim as one of the leading independent travel hubs in Egypt. Its name means ‘gold’ in Arabic – a tribute to the sands that blanket the coast.

“Green fields and golden sands
Are all I need; are all I want
Let the wind blow hard, I don’t mind”
– Yusuf Islam

Dahab offers the best of both worlds. Deep down, it still feels like a Bedouin village, with a strong family values and a heartfelt sense of hospitality. The resort’s low-rise profile strikes a chord of contrast to the high-rises of Sharm El-Sheikh. But all the modern infrastructure travellers desire is here – bars, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues.

Of course, you’re only a camel ride away from Bedouin-style excursions in the desert. Treks through the interior or even up Mt. Sinai are all part of the experience. If you’d rather stay close to sea, you’ve come to the right Egyptian resort. Dahab is famous for its reefs, with a couple of internationally touted diving sites. Infrastructure is better than ever, and there has never been a better time to charter a tour of the local reefs

Dahab offers some of the best diving in Egypt – hands down. It stands on the Gulf of Aqaba, with some of the Red Sea’s deepest waters. It plunges to a soul-searching 1,800 metres in some areas. While you won’t be plumbing those depths, there’s a dazzling concerto of marine life to explore in shallower waters. A few flip of the fins will take beyond the fringing reef to bustling aquatic metropolis.

Diving’s good year-round at Dahab, and there’s something here to suit every skill level. The resort can arrange diving excursions to all the main sites:

Blue Hole
Located just 12 km north of Dahab, this is one of the most famous dive sites in the Red Sea. It’s also one of the most dangerous – at least at its deepest. An area known as the Saddle is about six metres deep and is safe beginners. However, the Blue Hole plunges to a depth of 130 metres, with a 26-metre-long tunnel called the Arch. This is highly technical diving, and even adventure-seeking professionals think twice before tackling this challenge.

The Canyon
Another world-famous dive site, The Canyon was formed through ancient volcanic activity. A fissure formed and was later overgrown with coral – both of the hard and soft varieties. The fissure begins in relatively shallow waters and then slopes to a depth of about 54 metres. Divers may encounter juvenile barracudas and butterfly fish. There’s also a saddle at the westernmost point, which offers access to the open sea. The coral garden in this area features snappers, pufferfish, coral groupers, Red Sea anthias and basslets.

Eel Garden
It doesn’t require much imagination to figure out where the name for this dive site came from. This shallow reef is overgrown with stony and soft coral, which hosts a thriving community of eels. Parrotfish, groupers, damsels, lionfish and scorpion fish are also in the mix. Bring your camera for this one.

Napoleon Reef
South of Dahab is a lagoon closed off by a broad tongue of coral. This is a perfect dive site for beginners, because the waters are shallow, and the reef culminates in a thick pinnacle that plays host to swirling schools of tropical fish. It’s named for the Napoleon fish, but you’ll also see plenty of scorpion fish and stingrays.

The Islands
A rich reef of hard coral produces a natural labyrinth that divers can navigate at this popular site. The name actually comes from a hard coral island that you can reach via a sandy, underwater road. Expect to see boxfish, crocodile fish, barracudas and trevallies.

Visit this reef at night for the best show. The Lighthouse is a spectacular reef with pinnacles draped in colourful corals. Thousands of reef fish teem here. An adjacent area of turtle grass plays host to moray eels, lionfish, seahorses, frogfish and stone fish. If you’re really lucky, you may even see a sea turtle or two munching on the grass.

Golden Blocks
Named for two coral towers covered in anthias, this dive site includes coral gardens and pleasant sandy areas. This is another place where you’ll be happy you brought a waterproof camera.

Moray Gardens
This relaxed dive site begins with a sandy slope that leads down to a colourful coral formation. This is followed by an underwater prairie of sea grass, where drivers often spot hawksbill turtles. North of here is a reef with sandy alleys and black coral at a depth of 30 metres. You may even see an octopus here.

Three Pools
Three natural pools are formed by this reef. They each bottom out at around four metres with a mix of sea grass and sand. Head past the third pool for open water, where you can watch butterfly fish, trigger fish, pufferfish and more. This area is shallow enough to suit snorkelers, too.

The Caves
Located on the southern coat of Dahab before Gabr El Bint National Park, this site is based around two shallow, open caverns. They undercut a reef table close to the shore and are covered with sponges, black coral and soft coral. Morays slither in and out of crevices, with more than a few enormous pufferfish strutting past.

Dahab Beaches are pristine and well-equipped to cater for water-sport enthusiasts. It’s a particularly fine place for windsurfing, with an average of 300 days a year with winds exceeding force 4. The bay is sheltered, which keeps the waters relatively calm, while a consistent breeze keeps dinghies and boards in motion. Pedal boats, glass-bottom boats, canoes and catamarans are also available. 

Water sports are most popular in the winter months, when the weather is warm and comfortable. During the summer, temperatures can rise to 40°C, but the humidity remains comfortably low. With that in mind, summer can be a good season for sun worshipers and wind surfers who like private-beach experience. There’s nothing quite as luxurious as charting your own course and cruising solo on the Red Sea.