A Travel Guide to Dahab, Egypt
By: Caroline Umphlet / Arab America Contributing Writer
Egypt’s Paradise on Earth: Dahab
Egypt has a deeply rich culture and fascinating history, but it is certainly not known for its bright blue water and golden beaches. It might surprise some that Dahab, Egypt is a hidden gem beach vacation spot for many Arabs, Eastern Europeans, and others. Dahab is a quaint city located on the Eastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula on the Red Sea, which means “gold” in Arabic. The Scuba diving spots and relaxing atmosphere will be sure to make you want to return. This travel guide will give you a brief overview of what Dahab has to offer.
There are multiple options on how to physically travel to Dahab. Firstly, there are various bus companies that offer very low-priced tickets for a ride that drops you right in the center of Dahab. The Sinai Peninsula does unfortunately, see conflict closer to the North-Eastern border, but it is very safe to travel to Dahab. Consequently, you will need your passport with you as there are multiple police checkpoints along the route. The officers might have you exit the bus and search your bags or just walk through the bus and check passengers’ passports. Due to the larger amount of people’s luggage and passports to check on a bus, the ride becomes a couple of hours longer than renting a car and driving the 8 hours from Cairo.
Secondly, there are constant flights out from Cairo to a close-by city, Sharm El-Sheikh, where one would need to find a driver for the hour-long ride to Dahab.
Lastly, there is the option to take a ferry across the Red Sea from Aqaba, Jordan to Nuweiba. While they are in the region, travelers often like to visit the various sites in Jordan and make their way to Egypt. It will then be about an hour car ride to Dahab. Finding a driver is quite easy, but they might try to overcharge you so do not be shy to negotiate a price. Although Egypt uses cash only in many establishments, Dahab has various 24-hour ATMs to withdraw money once you arrive.
The area of Dahab is very walkable, so there is no need for a car. Some prefer to rent a bicycle rather than walking.
Activities in Dahab
Fun Under the Water
The main activity that is a must-do in Dahab is scuba diving or free diving. This city is a world-class scuba diving spot, known for its colorful corals and clear water. The most popular spot, the “Blue Hole,” has divers from all over the world coming to visit. It is 100 meters deep and some claim it to be the “Deadliest Dive Site in the World,” but divers still take their chances. However, there are many other spots to try out most are easily accessible from the shore, but some only by boat.
You can also rent or buy snorkeling gear to enjoy the views from the top of the water all day. Some people even take the adventure over to the Blue Lagoon to the stunning snorkeling spots.
Another enjoyable day in Dahab could entail strolling along the boardwalk on the coast. There are many shops and stands to look through clothes, trinkets, and souvenirs for a fairly low cost.
A popular attraction when visiting Dahab is to drive about 2 hours to some amazing hiking trails. The Saint Catherine’s hike offers an incredible view, and visitors tend to start the journey at night so they can reach the summit around sunrise. The hike is around 5 hours, of course depending on the person or group, and relatively easy.
Another captivating view is from the top of Mount Sinai- the two hikes are often confused because the St. Catherine’s Monastery is located at the bottom of Mount Sinai.
There are countless restaurants along the sea with an incredible variety of cuisines: Egyptian, Indian, Japanese, Italian, and more. Most of the restaurants have around the same pricing and are a little more expensive than what you would find in Cairo. However, the view is worth it and a 250 EGP meal instead of the average 130 EGP is still only around $13.
Where to Eat
A short list of recommendations:
- The Vegan Lab- a little on the pricey side, but the food is excellent with a great atmosphere.
- Shark Restaurant- located on the water.
- Yalla Bar- has a great variety of options of food, coffee, and juice, located on the water where you can lay out and swim after you eat.
- Bayside Eatery- amazing healthy breakfast or lunch options.
- Tim’s Munch- rooftop restaurant with a beautiful view, great prices and food.
Where to Stay
Dahab has a wide selection of hotels and hostels. Depending on a visitor’s budget and what level of comfort they are looking for, hotels can range from $6 a night per person all the way up to $400. Most accommodations will also provide services to plan trips so you don’t have to. They go scuba diving, boat out to different diving spots, or even take you on the St. Catherine’s or Mount Sinai hikes. The locals have very good English and are very patient with practicing Arabic with you.
Dahab is certainly an amazing vacation spot if one is looking for a relaxing time in the sun and a cheaper option than typical destinations. The experience could not be replicated anywhere else in the world.
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