Sharm El Sheikh is
located at the most southern tip of the Sinai dessert, between the African
mainland and the Middle East, close to Israel,
Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Most of the Sinai is not sand, but rock.
The Sinai dessert has been occupied by the Israeli's for several years, after the six-day war.
When the Israëli's arrived in Sharm in 1967, they soon discovered the coral reefs and were quick to realize the potential of the Sinai's coastline. The set up dive-centers in Dahab and Naama Bay.
Within a few years the area had achieved popularity. Most diving was conducted from the beaches, with divers lugging their equipment with them. In de 1970's the first dive-clubs were established and some of them still exist, like Colona and Sinai Divers. The big boom in diving came in 1982 when the Sinai, as a result of the Camp David Agreement, became Egyptian territory again.
Since then, an UN peacekeeping force
is stationed in the Sinai (the MFO).Sharm el Sheikh is an Egyptian naval base now, and home to the boats of de MFO.
It is the official port of entry serving the entire area, with it's own customs and passport control
Naama Bay is the center of diving. It has become a ultra modern diving place the last few years. Luxury hotels, restaurants and shopping malls were established.
The developing in Naama Bay has been very rapid, and hopefully it will not become 'Ibiza in the Red Sea'.
Here are some statistics about the Red Sea:
438000 square Km
Species of Fish
Species of Endemic Fish
Species of Coral
Species of Endemic Coral
The Red Sea climate
is hot and dry. The average temperature ranges from 22° to 30° C, but can be
as high as 45° in July-August.
The coldest months are January and February, but it never gets colder than 15°. The average humidity is quite low, after all it is a dessert, and changes from summer to winter (see below). The average water temperature is about 24°, but also varies in summer and winter.
When diving, you can use a shorty during the summer months, during winter a 5 mm will do.
How to get there
airlines serve Sharm El Sheikh. The airport is a 15 minute drive from Naama
Bay (about 20 Km). There is domestic air service between Cairo, Alexandria,
Aswan, Luxor, Hurghada, Sharm and the New Valley. Bus service is available to
Cairo, Suez, Alexandria, Dahab and Israel. Taxis are often shared with other
customers. Settle on a price before entering a taxi. The taxi fare in Sharm
(Naama Bay) is 10 Egyptian Pounds (see below at 'Money' for exchange rates).
For info on available flights, surf to www.flights.com
What to do?
When you visit the
Sharm El Sheikh you have a choice from a variety of activities. First of all
of course, there's the excellent diving. In addition to watersports like diving
and snorkeling, you can now go windsurfing, sailing, water-skiing, paddleboating,
jetskiing, etc. Also numerous on-land activities have become available, like
quad-biking in the dessert. You can arrange to take a safari around the geographical
and ecological features of the region. As well, many of the local hotels and
sports centers host games and sports, such as aerobics, bowling, tennis, golf,
and bicycling. And finally, 'a not-to-be-missed opportunity' in the Sinai are
the tours on horseback and camelback.
Sharm is becoming a full-blown tourist place the last few years. Some like it, some not.
Camel Hotel &
Bar - http://www.cameldive.com
Ghazala Gardens - http://www.ghazalagardens.com
Hilton Sharm Dreams Resort - http://www.hilton.com
Hyatt Regency Hotel - http://sharm.hyatt.com/sharm/index.html
Iberotel - http://www.iberotel-eg.com
Marriot - http://www.marriotthotels.com/SSHEG/
Mövenpick Hotel - http://www.moevenpick.com
Novotel - http://www.accorhotels.com
Oonas Hotel - http://oonasdiveclub.com
Sanafir - http://www.sanafirhotel.com
Sheraton - http://www.sheraton.com
Sofitel - http://www.accorhotels.com
Sonesta Beach Resort (next to Oonas) - http://www.sonesta.com/egypt_sharmresort/
Not all the hotels have a website, for a complete list of Hotels in Sharm go to: http://ww3.interoz.com/hotels/toursearch.ihtml
Mobile phones and telephone service is good and international direct dialing is available. Most of the Dutch providers (like KPN, Libertel, Telfort) and European providers have a roaming-agreement with the Egyptian providers. Using your mobile phone in Egypt is expensive, better use SMS. Telegrams can be sent from the hotels, and telex service is available.
The currency of Egypt
is the Egyptian Pound (LE). Egyptian Pounds come in notes of 100, 50, 20, 10,
5 and 1 pound. There are also notes of 50 and 25 piaster. The exchange
rate to the Sterling is about 0.17. The exchange-rate to the Dutch guilder is
about 0.65 cents for 1 LE. To find the actual exchange-rate and take a look
at the bank notes, follow the link to this website: http://touregypt.net/money/
There are several ATM's in Sharm where you can get money on your Bankcard. The one's that are quite reliable are the one at the Sanafir Hotel (on the street, close to Camel Bar, the one at the Egyptian British Bank (next to McDonalds) and the one in the Mövenpick Hotel.
You can also get money on your Mastercard of Visa at Thomas Cook, but there is a charge of 10 LE for that.
Lots of good places
to eat in Sharm. Almost all of the restaurants are located in the center of
Naama bay, or in the Hotels along the beach
We have eaten in all the places listed here, so it's by own experience..
The Hilton - great
Italian buffet, as much as you can eat
Marriot Hotel - has an Italian restaurant, the usual stuff here, but good quality
Indian Restaurant at Camel Hotel - excellent Indian food
Dananeer Restaurant (above Benneton) - go for the fish here, you get a plate that looks like a modern art sculpture, very nice.
Vino's - the best steakes in town, very good
Al Dente - Italian, the usual stuff, good
Pirates Bar - they have a buffet for free with the drinks you order, the chicken- and pasta buffet were ok.
Korean Restaurant (can't remember the exact name), next to Cherry Supermarket, nice Oriental food.
Peking Restaurant (chinese food) - above the photo shop and the Lebanese restaurant, nice.
Lebanese Restaurant - if you like Arabian food, try the Houmous, very nice
Andreas - ask for the 'Andreas Special', a table full of small dishes with excellent chicken, very good
Tam Tam - Egyptian food, good and nice atmosphere
For lunch, go eat at Oonas Restaurant (at Oonas Dive Club), very nice beef- and cheese burgers etc.
For who likes fast
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Potatoes & Steaks
Almost all the diving in Sharm is boat-diving. Some dive-clubs have a house-reef in the bay, but the real interesting stuff is on the reefs. A day diving means 2 boat dives and a lunch on-board. Usually you leave the divecenter between 8 en 9 and you will drive to either the jetty in Naama Bay (local sites & Tiran) or the jetty at Sharm Marina (Ras Mohammed). You can stuff all your equipment in a plastic box, which will stay on-board during the night if you are diving for more than one day. Usually you dive with a group of 10-12 persons, depending on the size of the boat. Diving is allways with a dive-master.
Maximum diving depth
in Egypt is 30 meters. You make 1 dive in the morning, have luch (great food, 25
LE for food, softdrinks, coffe, tea), have a rest for a while and then you make
a second dive in the afternoon. Night diving can be arranged on request. All the
boats are Egyptian made, which means, wooden boats with a diveplatform at the
back. The crews are usually very helpfull.
Most days you will be back at the divecenter at around 17.00 (beer-o'clock).
For more info on the divesites, go to the 'Divesites' page.
There is a
hyperbaric medical facility in Sharm. When you dive in Sharm, the dive-clubs
will charge you 1$ per diving day to support the hyperbaric center.
For more information, follow this link: http://www.danegypt.org/