Snorkeling in Egypt – Complete “Where to go” guide

Egypt is a popular holiday destination, a real paradise for snorkelers and divers. The Red Sea is one of the few places on the world where you can find untouched coral reefs. The country lost of its popularity in the past few years due to regrettable terror attacks, but tourists from all over the world slowly return to this magical place. The main tourist cities have different characteristic and atmosphere, but all of them are perfect for exploring the unique marine life. If you also want to see how healthy coral ecosystems look like, we highly recommend snorkeling in Egypt! Read our general “Where to snorkel in Egypt” guide and find the best place that suits your needs the most!

Perfect conditions all year round for snorkeling in Egypt

What is the best time to travel to Egypt? This is an easy question! Egypt is really a year-round destination! You might often face the problem that many holiday destinations have monsoon or trade-wind seasons, or just low sea temperatures make swimming or snorkeling impossible. These will not happen in Egypt!

The conditions for snorkeling in Egypt are more than perfect, the water temperature can reach 29-30 °C in the summer months (July-August). The water is the coldest in December and January (20-21 °C), we recommend to wear 3 mm wetsuit for your comfort, although some people swim without suit too.

Red Sea - Aerial Photo
Red Sea

For snorkeling in Egypt the best periods are the late spring-early summer and autumn months! During these times, the water is pleasantly warm but the air temperature is not too high. If you would like to take historic excursions as well like visiting the Pyramids, best to go in winter or spring. If you plan just snorkeling in Egypt, the best periods are from May till end of June, and from mid-September until November! In these times the air temperature is 30-35 °C, the sea temperature is 26-28 °C, perfect conditions for snorkeling in Egypt! The summer months, July and August are for heat-lovers, the air temperature can reach 40-44 °C. In Egypt, the sun is really strong, always take care of UV Protection and use reef safe sunscreen!

Where to go snorkeling in Egypt?

You already decided to go snorkeling in Egypt but are unsure which city to pick up? The tourist cities are all different but share a common feature: the unique marine life. We visit the country at least once a year (we are real Egypt fans!) so here is a little comparison of the main destinations to help you to decide.

Hurghada – where tradition meets the sea

Popular tourist destination in Egypt, visited by thousands of holiday makers every year. Hurghada was a small fishing village, nowadays is one of the biggest tourism centers in Egypt. It has some modern areas with 5 star hotels, but the city center is rather “old-style”. You find traditional bazars selling perfumes, papyrus, local spices, but recently finished modern complexes like the Marina or Aquarium too. Visiting Cairo, the Pyramids is the best and easiest from Hurghada.

Makadi Bay - Hurghada
Hurghada Makadi Bay

If the main reason of your holiday is not the nightlife rather snorkeling, be careful when choosing your hotel. Many hotels have sandy beaches only, especially in the city center. On these places you will find little marine life and you might be disappointed. But there are places with abundant coral reefs: book your holiday in the Makadi Bay, Sahl Hasheesh or Soma Bay for having house reef!

The Makadi Bay is the most famous area and one of the best spots for snorkeling in Egypt! Hurghada’s coral reefs are shallow without steep drop-offs. Visibility is excellent all year round, wind might be strong sometimes. It is easy to take boat excursion from Hurghada and explore other great snorkel spots like Saab Sabina Reef or Sharm el Naga. Book a Mahmya Island trip for some Caribbean feeling! You also have chance to swim with wild dolphins around Hurghada. (You will be offered Dolphinarium tours for sure, but please don’t go, don’t support these activities. Look for an excursion that takes you to swim with free dolphins on the open sea.)

Sharm el Sheikh – the modern snorkel paradise

A newer city, much more European than Hurghada. Some people say this is an advantage, others see this as a downside because they do not feel the real Arabic atmosphere. You find here recently built bazars and shopping complexes. The city has different character and so the shoreline. There are only a few sandy beaches but amazing reefs covered with colorful, vibrant corals. Moray eels, eagle rays, octopus and turtles are daily visitors on the reefs, but if you are lucky enough you will see manta ray or even a whale shark! If you are interested in history don’t miss out the Million Hope Shipwreck snorkeling trip!

Tiran Island - Sharm El Sheikh - Egypt
Sharm El Sheikh Tiran Island

Naama Bay is the city center, the sea is good for swimming but there are less corals. If you are in Sharm, take a trip to the Ras Mohamed National Park to observe untouched reefs! On this trip, you have a good chance to meet dolphins too!

The best snorkel spots in Sharm el Sheikh are the Ras Nasrani and the Ras um el Sid. Sharm is less windy than other cities, but if you want to be 100% sure that the wind won’t disturb your activity, choose a hotel in Ras um el Sid which lies is a sheltered, wind-protected bay.

Ras Nasrani - Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh – Ras Nasrani

Read our Sharm El Sheikh Hotel reviews:

Marsa Alam – untouched reef, unforgotteable encounters

It is the perfect choice if you would like a peaceful holiday far from the noise and grey weekdays. Just relax and enjoy the beauty of the underwater world. Many people who visited Marsa Alam say that’s the best place for snorkeling in Egypt! The marine life is more untouched, corals are healthier. You have the chance here to see big turtles, dugongs (sea cows) and sometimes sharks too. Don’t miss out the Abu Dabbab Dugong Bay which is a sheltered bay visited by dugongs and home to turtles! There is a good chance to see dugong in Marsa Mubarak Bay too. Take a day trip to the Sataya Reef which is one of the best spots to swim with wild dolphins in Egypt!

Snorkeling in Egypt - Marsa Alam
Marsa Alam

Marsa Alam is a remote location, the hotels are situated far from the city and also from each other, so do not expect busy nightlife here. This is the place to enjoy the nature and disconnect! The area could be windy sometimes, it is recommended to book a hotel that lies in a wind protected bay. If you would like to be close to facilities, choose Port Ghalib. This is a resort community with international luxury hotel chains, spas, shops, hospital.

Marsa Alam - Aerial Photo
Marsa Alam – Aerial Photo

Read our Marsa Alam Hotel review:

Dahab – a hidden gem

A former fishing village featuring Bedouin lifestyle, vibrant reefs and stunning marine life. Dahab, the Golden City is considered to be one of Sinai’s most treasured diving, snorkeling destinations. It lies approx. 80 kilometers northeast from Sharm el Sheikh, one hour drive from the Sharm el Sheikh International Airport. This hippie style location has a lot to offer for those who like tradition and vibrant underwater life.

Blue Hole - Dahab, Egypt
Blue Hole – Dahab

Dahab is rather a traditional village than a tourist city. Although it lies on the Sinai Peninsula, it is considered safer than bigger cities. You find only a few big hotels here, most accommodations adapted their service to the needs of divers, snorkelers and freedivers. The center of the village is a wide, open area with long promenade where you can freely walk around.

You find here snorkeling opportunities for snorkelers at all level. Dahab best snorkel places can be found all around the village, but all are free and easily accessible.

Visit Ras Abu Galum Bedouin Village to learn how the Bedouins live in the desert! The place is a marine protected area, so don’t forget to take your snorkel set! The most visited snorkel spot in Dahab is the Blue Hole, which offers one of the most unique, spectacular snorkeling in Egypt.

Snorkeling in Egypt has a great price value for money! The Red Sea has a lot of things to see, the weather conditions are almost always perfect. We highly recommend all sea-lovers to visit one of these wonderful cities (or all of them!). We hope our comparison helped you to decide on your holiday plans. Read our detailed post of the locations for more info and photos, or contact us if you have any questions!

Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

7 thoughts on “Snorkeling in Egypt – Complete “Where to go” guide

    • 2016-04-13 at 07:36

      Cool video, thanks for sharing.

  • 2019-10-01 at 13:08

    We really want to visit Masa Alam but cannot find transport there from Luxor or Hurghada, only Cairo. How do you normally get there? Thanks

    • 2019-10-07 at 18:23

      Hi Sasha,

      Yes, you are right, there are not too many direct flight to Marsa Alam due to its remote location (we were flying from Vienna, but it was a charter flight and everything was organized by a tour agency). Usually people fly to Hurghada, than take a taxi to Marsa Alam (the trip takes about 3 hours, depending on your hotel’s location). The best and safest way is to ask your hotel to arrange the driver for you (they have to register your ride due to security reasons in advance). Or alternatively, you can book it through the Hoppa transfer site. We used it once in Egypt and everything was OK.
      Hope this helps,
      BR, Anett

  • 2020-03-14 at 18:47

    Dear Anett
    I have not been to Egypt but hear wonderful things. My wife and I would like to rent a cottage or apartment near a great snorkel area. We don’t want a big commercial area but somewhere with nice local shops and resturants. We would like to rent a car and visit other nearby snorkel areas and cool places to visit-we are NOT 5star kind of people

    • 2020-03-21 at 00:17

      Hi Stacey,
      Yes, Egypt is definitely a wonderful place to stay and the marine life is just amazing! However, it is not that developed that most Caribbean or Mediterranean destinations, therefore most tourists use to stay at hotels rather than apartments to make it easy (an all-inclusive package is not expensive at all). Of course, there are some apartments to rent, but it might be difficult to find a good supermarket nearby and you might be far from the sea. Moreover, most beaches are private hotel beaches, public beaches are not that well-kept and often don’t have a jetty to get into the deeper water where the nicest corals are. Regarding renting a car, it is not that simple in Egypt, because you need different permits, but taxis are very cheap. To make it short, if it is your first time there, I would choose a hotel with a nice house reef and easy water access. If you stick to an apartment, make sure it has security and shops close-by. Reg the location, the Makadi in Hurghada, or the Ras Nasrani or El Farana in Sharm el Sheikh are my recommendations.
      Hope this helps,
      Br, Anett

  • 2020-03-24 at 16:34

    wow-thank you very much


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