Dahab is a hidden gem in Egypt. This former fishing village has a lot to offer: get lost in this traditional Egyptian fishing village, feel the local atmosphere, and discover Dahab snorkeling places! Vibrant coral reefs with stunning marine life are guaranteed!
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Why visit Dahab snorkeling places?
Egypt never disappoints us! We love swimming with dugong in Marsa Alam and discover the vibrant coral reefs in Sharm el Sheikh, but Dahab offers an atmosphere that no other cities do. It is considered the Sinai’s most treasured diving and snorkeling destination and we absolutely agree on this!
Dahab means gold in Egyptian Arabic, which is a reference to the geographic locality. Gold was washed down from the desert mountains that accumulated on the alluvial floodplain, this was the place where Dahab was built. Moreover, it also refers to the color of the sand. The city has a special vibe, but our opinion is that the real treasure lies under the waves featuring stunning coral reefs full of life!
Fortunately, Dahab, the „Golden City” didn’t become a huge, artificial holiday destination. It is either a piece of paradise where you can enjoy the good “old times”. Take a walk in the small “city center”, meet the locals, discover the surrounding historical and natural spots like The St. Catherine’s Monastery, Moses Mountain and the Coloured Canyon.
Where to stay
Dahab lies approx. 80 kilometers northeast from Sharm el Sheikh which is an approx. 1-hour drive from the Sharm el Sheikh International Airport. The area was visited only by backpackers for a long time who wanted to avoid mass tourism and stay mostly at local guesthouses. Nowadays this small city meets everyone’s expectations and you find international hotel chains with 5-star resorts as well as lovely B&B’s. Dahab became a mecca for freedivers and kitesurfers too thanks to the ideal water and wind conditions, so budget accommodations like sports camps are also very common.
If you are looking for a luxurious place away from the crowded part of the town, check out the Le Meridien Dahab or the Jaz Dahabeya. Should you stay in the center at a good hotel, the El Primo could be a good choice!
Tip: always book your taxi in advance. There are several check-points on the roads to protect the tourists. Your driver shall report your name/passport details when you arrive or leave. Use reliable tour operators, or ask your hotel to arrange your transfer.
Best time to visit
Egypt is an all-year-round destination. Most people schedule their Red Sea snorkeling holiday for late spring or early autumn when the climate is the best with warm water and pleasant air temperatures, but an Egypt winter break trip is also a good idea! Air/water temperature rarely drops under 20-22 C during the winter months making Egypt the perfect place to escape from grey, cold European winter. Average air temperature is around 35-38 C in the hottest summer months, 23-25 C in winter. The sea temperature reaches 28-29 C in summer and drops gradually back to 22 C by January. It’s around 26 C in late spring, 27 C in late September and in October.
Dahab snorkeling places can be visited all year round, but we think the best months for snorkeling are May-June and from September to early November. The air is not so hot, the sea is nice warm in these periods. Guaranteed sunshine almost every day with rainy days less than 10 per year. Technically there is zero chance for rain from June till September.
The best Dahab snorkeling places
Dahab is most known of the Blue Hole. Well, Blue Hole is a must-see and most of the visitors (divers, freedivers, snorkelers) come here to see the iconic hole. But don’t think this is the only spot that worth a visit! Dahab snorkeling places are among the Red Sea’ top snorkel spots and now we list one-by-one what to go to see the best corals and marine life!
The Canyon lies outside Dahab, about 1.5 kilometers south of the Blue Hole. Although the Canyon itself is a diving spot, the surrounding reefs are perfect for snorkelers too. The Canyon is an open underwater cave at 22-14 meters below the surface. Wide enough for divers to swim through, but they have to follow the marked entry-exit points. By good visibility, and calm weather conditions even snorkelers might enjoy its unique view from the surface. To get to the Canyon, you can enter the water through a sandy lagoon. Snorkelers can follow the reef on the left side where anemone, butterfly, unicorn, pufferfish can be found as well as octopus and blue spotted rays.
Definitely the most visited spot of Dahab snorkeling places. The Blue Hole is a worldwide known place and it’s on many divers and snorkelers’ bucket lists. This interesting, unique place lies 12 km north of Dahab. Best is to enter the water at the Bells, and swim towards the Blue Hole because the currents run from north to south. The reef is truly amazing at the Saddle, The Blue Hole’s outer ring. Read more information and see more photos in our Blue Hole snorkeling post!
Ras Abu Galum
A place to be and snorkel! The Ras Abu Galum marine protected area is a peaceful spot for those who want to enjoy the amazing sea and relax surrounded by red mountains. Moreover, Abu Galum is a Bedouin village where you can discover how the Bedouins live their traditional life.
It is also possible to spend the night here in traditional Bedouin tents. The easiest way the get there is by boat. There are camel trips starting from Blue Hole to Abu Galum. Another option is to trek along the camel path. It takes approx. 1,5-2 hours from the hole, so bring enough water if you decide to choose this option. Once you get there, you will find yourself next to a sandy lagoon in front of the visitor center.
Most people usually snorkel here but we recommend you to walk approx. 500-800 meters along the coast because the coral are much nicer there. Find a safe spot to enter the water. Don’t worry, locals or other snorkelers will help you to find safe entry points. The reef next to the ’boats’ lagoon’ is damaged, but a bit further it is lively, full of life. Abu Galum is usually protected from strong winds. No doubt, this is a hot-spot amongst Dahab snorkeling places! You can see big schools of Red Sea fish, turtles, rays and octopus!
A snorkeling spot in the city center just a few minutes walk from Dahab promenade. Eel Garden is home to Dahab’s largest colony of garden eels. It is reachable from the shore through a small canyon. The garden eels can be spotted on the sandy bottom. These interesting creatures are swimming synchronized with each other and with the waves. They vanish in a second if you approach them then slowly pop out from the sand again. Observing them is like watching National Geographic!
The corals are also nice here, wide range of soft and hard corals as well as different types of reef fish to see. Keep your eyes open because eagle rays are also common! Snorkelers may follow the reef on the right, it takes you to the next spot on the Dahab snorkeling places map, the Lighthouse Reef!
Tip: For best light and color, come early morning or late afternoon. The Eel Garden can be snorkeled only by calm weather conditions! Currents can be dangerous on windy days, always check the weather forecast!
The Lighthouse Reef is situated also in the center of Dahab. It is one of the most popular of Dahab snorkeling places due to easy beach access and lively corals. The shallow wall of a fringing reef plate is perfect for snorkelers. A wide variety of corals and fish, often turtles can be spotted here as well as blue spotted rays.
The Islands reef is 30 minutes walk from Dahab center, north of the Lighthouse Reef. Alternatively, you can take a taxi too. There is a sign at the entry point which says The ISALNDS Dive Site (yes, exactly like this :)). The Islands is a coral maze featuring the Red Sea corals with a wide variety. Three giant pinnacles have grown together forming valleys and lagoons. With majestic coral formations and plenty of fish, this site never disappoints snorkelers and divers!
Our favorite spot amongst Dahab snorkeling places! The Napoleon Reef is on the left side of the kitesurfer’s Lagoon with easy access from the shore. You need to swim circa 400 meters to reach the reef. It features great visibility and amazing marine life. We saw here huge grey stingrays, turtles, eagle rays, eels and almost all types of Red Sea fish and vibrant, healthy corals including soft corals. But be careful with fishing nets in the water, and pay attention to kite surfers! The lagoon nearby is kite surfers’ training spot and they might cross over in this area too, therefore always carry a marker buoy!
Gabr el Bint
As it can only be reached by camel or boat roughly 20 km south of Dahab. Gabr el Bint is less visited but ranks amongst the most attractive ones of Dahab snorkeling places. Consequently, corals are healthy and the sea life is rich. Snorkelers can discover the shallow lagoon, which is full of colorful marine life, while divers can go for interesting deep dives. Many species of reef fish, hard, soft corals are visible. Visits by large pelagic species are common here.
Golden Blocks, Three Pools, Moray Garden
I’d like to mention these snorkel spots together because they are very close to each other on the southern part of Dahab. There is a hotel nearby “Happy Life Village” and there are local cafes on the spot.
We went to this place on a windy day so the visibility was not soo good and it made our experience not so enjoyable. Our recommendation is visiting this area when the sea is completely calm. We could snorkel only in the shallow water where the corals were not so nice, and the amount is fish was less than at other Dahab snorkeling places. I would recommend visiting Golden Blocks, Three Pools, Moray garden for beginner snorkelers only. Advanced snorkelers, or those who are more keen on marine life, would be disappointed.