The Red Sea coastline is fast becoming a popular destination for sun worshipers and water sports enthusiasts.
With some of the warmest waters in the world, locals boast that taking a bath here is like taking a relaxing bath. Many health experts suggest that the high levels of sea salt also offer benefits, such as improving blood circulation and reducing inflammation of the skin.
On the east coast of Egypt, a vacation spot has grown out of the desert over the past three decades. Taking its name from the dazzling sun, the town of “El Gouna” has only 24,000 inhabitants. It is located 25 kilometers north of Hurghada and only a four hour flight from major European capitals.
Whether you’re backpacking or looking for a luxury VIP getaway, there are plenty of ways to experience the Red Sea.
Here are some of the most popular for travelers.
Along with Sipadan Island in Malaysia and Cocos Island in Costa Rica, Egypt’s coastline is often ranked as the best place in the world to dive.
Below the surface, it is home to over 1,200 species of fish, including 44 species of sharks. A fifth of them are only found in this body of water. This flourishing biodiversity is mainly due to the ecosystem of the coral reefs of the sea, which stretches for 1,995 kilometers along the coast.
But you don’t have to be a master diver to enjoy what’s on display in these turquoise waters, says Emad Emad, a master diver from Scuba World in El Gouna,
“We welcome all levels of divers. For beginners, we start in a shallow pool or lagoon to build the confidence of the divers. After that, we dive deeper around the corals to see the marine life.”
There are many PADI dive schools in El Gouna, and like Scuba World, they are all aimed at beginners as well as experienced divers.
“We have a unique dive where we are exploring a recent wreck,” Emad said, adding:
“One of Scuba World’s divers remembers the ship when it was afloat. Before exploring the interior of the sunken ship, he tells divers the story of the dramatic day it sank. You can expect to see plenty of items inside, such as plates, playing cards, and more.
Further off the coast in the Red Sea, the SS Thistlegorm (a British Merchant Navy vessel) can be found. Built in 1940, she sank during World War II. Since then, it has been retrieved by an array of colorful fish and corals.
A single dive costs around 35 €.
The shallow lagoons of El Gouna and the offshore winds create ideal conditions for kitesurfing. At any time of the day, you can expect to see lots of kitesurfers on the water.
Every year the global kitesurfing community comes to El Gouna for the ‘Kite Mania’ water sports festival. Spectators can watch some of the world’s best surfers take to the air and compete on the waves.
There are many kitesurfing schools in El Gouna that offer courses for complete beginners, most of which also have equipment for hire.
Cable Park slide
For water sports enthusiasts who prefer not to rely on the windy conditions, there is Sliders Cable Park – one of the largest Olympic-standard cable parks in the world. Spanning over 90,000 square meters, it has cables both clockwise and counterclockwise.
Aleksandra Lach manages the park and told Euronews: “Wakeboarding is a very popular water sport in Europe. However, due to the seasonality there, people can wakeboard for around four to six months of the year.
“We chose El Gouna because it offers good weather conditions all year round. He has lived in us for many years. We have observed how quickly it has grown and become a well-known tourist destination, especially popular among kitesurfers. Wakeboarding and kitesurfing are similar sports, however, kitesurfing requires wind to pull you. Being located in El Gouna has marked us as one of the few Cable Parks open all year round and a great alternative to windless days for kiters, ”he added.
A full day at the park costs € 37, which includes a life jacket and helmet.
Sail the Red Sea
To enjoy the beauty of the Red Sea at a relaxed pace, boarding a catamaran sailboat is a good option. Traveling the Egyptian coast with nothing but the sound of the wind is a refreshing experience.
“The catamaran’s hull is very stable, which helps those prone to seasickness. It also allows the sailboat to glide over shallow reefs before dropping anchor at world-class snorkeling sites.” said Tarek Abdon, the captain of Ocean Diva.
Dolphins and whale sharks, which are usually found in the deeper waters of the Red Sea, can often be spotted.
For families, a glass-bottom boat or submarine excursion is the perfect opportunity to see the coral.
The Sindbad submarine departs from El Gouna Marina and can dive to a depth of 22 meters. On board, the whole family can explore the seabed without the need for diving equipment.
The majority of tour operators offer free hotel pickup and drop-off.
Tour guide and native of Germany, Natascha Samusch, said her favorite place was Lel Dera. This popular spot is a shallow coral reef located about 20 minutes by boat from El Gouna Marina.
“It’s colorful with an abundance of fish. You can forget about the outside world, ”she told Euronews Travel.
For those who wish to bring out their interior A-lister, relaxing in luxury is made possible by the many superyachts available for charter. They vary in size, with some reaching 40 meters that can accommodate 14 people in large suites.
“If you come to the Red Sea, you must see the coral reef and the fish that surround it. There aren’t many places in the world that have this, ”says Hans Joachim Bliss, a German tourist visiting the area.