Marsa Alam is a new and upcoming resort on Egypt’s southern Red Sea Riviera. It is named after a small coastal town (population in 2013 of around 10,000) which only twenty years ago was still a tiny fishing village. The opening of an international airport 60km to the north of the town in 2001, transformed the situation almost overnight.
It fast became a favourite holiday destination. Why ?
- First, its’ legendary and diverse sea life. Dugong sea cows, sea turtles and dolphins are the most popular attractions but there are hundreds of fascinating fish species that can easily be encountered by snorkelers while shipwrecks and offshore reefs attract more adventurous divers ( see our diving page ).
- Second, its’ proximity to the inland historical sites of ancient Egypt (see our excursions page ). It is closer to them than any other Egyptian resort.
- Third, almost guaranteed sunshine on your hotel beach with a year round dry warm climate which does not suffer the same extremes of temperature as inland cities – with the lowest minimum temperature ever recorded of 9 degrees while the maximum rarely exceeds 40 whereas in Luxor, Aswan and Cairo the temperatures can be more extreme ( see our weather page. ).
- Fourth, at a time when Egypt is going through an historic transition to democracy, its’ remote location far from the big cities has proved reassuring for those with families.
For those wishing to find it on a map, Marsa Alam is located in south eastern Egypt – a three hour drive south from the city of Hurghada and only 210 km ( 135 miles ) north of the tropic of Cancer. This means that in summer the noon sun is almost directly overhead while even in winter the temperatures are similar to a north European summer.
Few people realise that Marsa Alam enjoys probably the warmest year round sea temperatures of ANY international resort in the world. In August the average sea temperature at Marsa Alam is 29 degrees but even in January it is still a pleasant 23 degrees. This together with the regions’ extensive coastal coral reefs make it a great place for diving and snorkeling. Visitors can expect to see many fish types and turtles and also have a good chance of seeing a dugong sea cow, dolphins, moray eels and other exotic creatures. Divers can also often swim with sharks if they visit the off shore coral reefs in deeper waters (see our diving guide).
Those looking for sandy beeches should check our hotels section to see what their chosen hotel beech is like – or arrange a visit to Abu Dabbab or Sharm El Luli with Steven’s taxi service. These are two beautiful and usually safe sandy beeches where you can wade in barefoot from the shore and also enjoy great snorkeling.
Marsa Alam now has some 69 hotels (compared to just one fifteen years ago) with another 11 close by to the north around El Quseir and another three hotels to the south near Hamata and Berenice. These hotels are all located by the sea and are mostly of four and five star rating though a few are three star (see our hotels’ guide). It is already very popular with German, Swiss, Austrian and Italian tourists and is becoming increasingly popular with British, Russian, Belgian, French, Polish and other nationalities.
The government in collaboration with environmental activists have done much to preserve the region’s wildlife and its’ precious marine and coastal ecosystems. The area contains two of Egypt’s foremost nature reserves – theWadi El Gamal National Park with its’ bedouin culture, mountain goats and ancient Roman emerald mine as well asGebel Elba further to the south famed for its’ acacia trees, deer and rumoured to harbour Egypt’s last surviving leopards – although this is disputed. Unfortunately however while the Wadi El Gamal Park is open, Gebel Elba is only occasionally accessible to tourists with the correct permits. However you will not be disappointed as most hotels as well as independent agents, such as Steven’s limousine, offer numerous desert safari excursions as well as diving trips to the most exciting of the region’s famous reefs.