Marsa Alam, a serene town located in the Red Sea Governorate of Egypt, is a treasure trove of untouched natural beauty. It’s a world away from the bustling cities of Cairo or Sharm El Sheikh, offering a tranquil escape into the heart of the Red Sea’s aquatic splendor.
This quaint town has evolved from a small fishing village into a must-visit destination on the trip of any intrepid traveler seeking to explore the lesser-known corners of Egypt.
Unforgettable Marine Life
One of the most captivating reasons to visit Marsa Alam, Egypt, is the opportunity to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. The warm water teems with vibrant colored fish, majestic sea turtles, playful dolphins, and even the endangered dugong, also known as the sea cow.
The marine life in Marsa Alam is a testament to the richness of the region, making it an underwater paradise for divers and snorkelers alike.
Snorkeling and Diving Experiences
Marsa Alam is home to a plethora of diving sites, each offering a unique perspective of the underwater world. The Elphinstone Reef, for instance, is a perfect place for advanced divers to explore. Known for its beautiful coral reefs and potential shark sightings, it is a dive site that thrills and amazes in equal measure.
For those who prefer snorkeling, the Dolphin House (also known as the Satayh Dolphin Reef) is a must-visit. This protected area is a natural habitat for a large pod of spinner dolphins.
A snorkeling trip here offers a chance to swim alongside these intelligent creatures, observing them in their natural environment. The shallow waters of the Dolphin House are also home to a plethora of vibrant coral reefs, making it a snorkeler’s paradise.
Sea Turtles and Dugongs at Abu Dabab Bay
Abu Dabab Bay is another highlight of Marsa Alam. This sandy beach is not just a perfect spot to relax and soak up the sun, but it’s also a protected bay where green turtles and the elusive dugong (sea cows) can be spotted.
These gentle sea mammals are a sight to behold as they graze peacefully on the sea bed, undeterred by the presence of snorkelers around them. The bay’s shallow water makes it an excellent spot for families and novice snorkelers.
Wadi El Gemal National Park
If you can tear yourself away from the captivating underwater world, Marsa Alam offers equally enchanting experiences on land. The Wadi El Gemal National Park is a testament to the region’s terrestrial biodiversity, offering a stark contrast to the marine life that Marsa Alam is so famous for. This protected area encompasses desert plains, mountain ranges, and coastal mangroves, providing a habitat for a variety of flora and fauna.
Exploring the Wilderness
A trip to the Wadi El Gemal National Park is incomplete without a desert safari. Hop on a quad bike or take a traditional camel ride to explore the rugged beauty of the Eastern Desert. Along the way, you might spot some of the park’s inhabitants such as gazelles, ospreys, and even hyenas. As the sun sets, savor a cup of traditional Bedouin tea, a perfect end to an adventurous day.
El Qulan Mangrove Forest
Within the national park, the El Qulan Mangrove Forest is a sight to behold. These mangrove trees, standing tall in the shallow waters of the Red Sea, create a unique ecosystem that supports various bird species. The forest also forms a natural pool, offering a secluded spot for a refreshing swim.
The Hamata Islands and Port Ghalib
Further south from Marsa Alam, the Hamata National Park and its islands are a diver’s dream come true. The islands are surrounded by some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world, teeming with marine life. A boat trip to these islands offers divers and snorkelers a chance to explore untouched reefs and swim with schools of vibrant fish.
In contrast to the tranquility of Marsa Alam and the Hamata Islands, Port Ghalib is a bustling marina town. It offers a variety of outdoor activities, including water parks and super safaris. In addition, the town’s vibrant nightlife and gourmet dining options provide a delightful contrast to the natural tranquility that Marsa Alam is known for.
Marsa Mubarak and Marsa Shoona
Just a short boat ride away from Marsa Alam, you’ll find Marsa Mubarak and Marsa Shoona, two of the most popular dive sites in the Red Sea. Both of these sites are renowned for their warm water, shallow depths, and calm conditions, making them ideal for beginner divers and snorkelers.
Diving in Marsa Mubarak
Marsa Mubarak is arguably one of the most diverse and vibrant diving sites in the Marsa Alam region. It’s a haven for an array of marine life, including the endangered dugong, giant sea turtles, and a myriad of colored fish. The dive site is also home to a beautiful coral reef system, which thrives in the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea.
Snorkeling in Marsa Shoona
Marsa Shoona, on the other hand, is a snorkeling paradise. The shallow waters of this protected bay are teeming with marine life, including large schools of goatfish, moray eels, and lionfish. The bay’s sandy bottom is dotted with seagrass beds, which attract a variety of sea creatures, providing snorkelers with an unforgettable underwater spectacle.
Sharm El Luli: The Egyptian Maldives
Sharm El Luli, often referred to as the “Egyptian Maldives,” is a pristine beach located south of Marsa Alam. This secluded sandy beach, with its crystal clear waters and untouched natural beauty, is reminiscent of the Maldives, hence the nickname.
Swimming and Snorkeling in Sharm El Luli
The beach is perfect for a day trip, offering visitors the opportunity to swim in the shallow waters, snorkel around the coral reefs, or simply relax on the white sandy beach. The coral reefs here are home to a variety of marine life, including clownfish, butterflyfish, and even the occasional dolphin. Snorkeling equipment is readily available for rent, allowing visitors to explore the underwater world at their leisure.
Exploring the Natural Pool
One of the unique features of Sharm El Luli is its natural pool, formed by a coral reef barrier. This protected area is perfect for a relaxing swim, with the calm, shallow waters providing a safe environment for children and novice swimmers.
The Off-Beaten Path: Bedouin Village and Eastern Desert
For those looking to venture off the beaten path, a trip to a traditional Bedouin village in the Eastern Desert is a must. This experience offers a glimpse into the nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouin people, their culture, and their traditions.
Camel Ride and Bedouin Tea
A camel ride through the desert is an experience like no other, offering breathtaking views of the barren landscape contrasted against the clear blue sky. After the ride, visitors are invited to enjoy Bedouin tea, a traditional drink made from a blend of herbs and spices. This refreshing beverage is a perfect way to end a day of exploration in the desert.
Super Safari: Quad Biking and Star Gazing
For adrenaline junkies, a super safari on a quad bike across the Eastern Desert is an exhilarating experience. The safari ends with a peaceful evening under the star-studded sky, offering a chance to gaze at the Milky Way far from the city lights.
Marsa Alam is a hidden gem in Egypt’s Red Sea Governorate, offering a unique blend of marine and terrestrial experiences. Whether you’re diving with sea turtles, snorkeling with dolphins, exploring national parks, or simply soaking up the sun on a sandy beach, Marsa Alam is a perfect place for a tranquil escape. It’s not just a destination; it’s a doorway into a world of natural wonders, waiting to be explored.
FAQ about What To Do In Marsa Alam
What does Marsa Alam mean?
Marsa Alam, translated from Classical Arabic as ‘Anchorage Mountain,’ is a serene town positioned in the southeastern part of Egypt along the western coast of the Red Sea.
Which is a better holiday destination, Hurghada or Sharm El Sheikh?
The choice between Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh largely depends on your holiday preferences. Hurghada is ideal for thrill-seekers, offering a plethora of activities and excursions, while Sharm El Sheikh offers a quieter holiday experience, with a focus on diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea.
When is the ideal time to visit Marsa Alam?
Although Marsa Alam welcomes visitors throughout the year, the months of June and July offer the best climate conditions, making them the most favorable time for a trip to this Egyptian gem.
What is the annual weather like in Marsa Alam?
Marsa Alam boasts a dry, desert climate with virtually no rainfall throughout the year. The average annual temperature is a comfortable 25.4 °C (77.8 °F), making it a perfect destination for sun lovers.
Is it worth visiting Hurghada Town?
Absolutely! Hurghada, located in Egypt’s Red Sea region, offers a wide range of attractions and experiences, making it a worthwhile destination for any traveler.
Are flights available to Easter Island?
LAN Airlines is the only carrier that operates flights to Easter Island, offering occasional services from Santiago de Chile, Tahiti, and Lima, Peru.
Why don’t planes fly directly from America to Australia?
The primary reason for this is that curved routes are shorter than straight ones due to the Earth’s spherical shape. Therefore, flying over the Pacific Ocean does not offer the shortest distance between the two locations.
How far is Marsa Alam from Hurghada?
Marsa Alam is situated approximately 280 kilometers south of Hurghada Airport, along the western coast of the Red Sea. Despite its tranquil ambiance, it’s easily accessible from the bustling city of Hurghada.
What is the climate like in Marsa Alam in September?
September in Marsa Alam is typically hot, with average temperatures hovering around 30°C (86°F), making it an excellent time for water activities and exploring the marine life of the Red Sea.
What is the primary language spoken in Marsa Alam?
The main language spoken in Marsa Alam is Egyptian Arabic. However, English and other European languages are widely used in the tourism sector.
Why have LATAM flights to Easter Island been canceled?
LATAM has suspended its passenger operations to/from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) due to the island’s official closure according to government regulations.
How many days should one spend in Hurghada?
A three-day stay in Hurghada provides ample time to experience the city’s attractions, the natural wonders of the Red Sea, and even venture farther afield with trips to Cairo or Luxor.
Have flights resumed to Easter Island?
The resumption of flights to Easter Island would depend on the current travel advisories and airline schedules, which may change based on the prevailing conditions.
What is Marsa Alam famous for?
Marsa Alam is renowned for its exceptional diving and fishing opportunities. It’s one of the fastest-growing holiday resorts in Egypt, popular among wind surfers, divers, and those seeking to explore the nearby Wadi El Gemal National Park.
Is Marsa Alam or Hurghada a better vacation spot?
While Hurghada offers a bustling holiday experience, Marsa Alam provides a more laid-back atmosphere. With its pristine sea life, desert excursions, and the nearby Wadi El Gemal National Park, Marsa Alam is a perfect choice for nature lovers and diving enthusiasts.
What is the winter weather like in Marsa Alam?
Winter in Marsa Alam offers mild and pleasant weather, with daily high temperatures around 74°F and lows around 64°F, providing a comfortable climate for outdoor exploration.
How many days are recommended for a visit to Marsa Alam?
To fully appreciate Marsa Alam’s natural beauty and attractions, a stay of at least five days is recommended.
What state is Marsa Alam located in?
Marsa Alam is located in the Red Sea Governorate, one of the 27 governorates of Egypt, situated between the Nile and the Red Sea in the southeastern part of the country.