You probably know that we are obsessed with the vibrant coral reefs of the Red Sea. We truly believe that Egypt is one of the best places in the world for snorkeling! Shallow fringing reef systems extend along the about 2000 km of shoreline making all coastline tourist cities perfect for an Egypt snorkeling holiday! Most reefs grow directly from shore which means snorkeling or diving is easy from the beach or entering the water from a jetty. Thanks to these characteristics, most Red Sea hotels feature excellent house reefs that attract tourists to adore the beauty of the underwater world. In this review, we guide you in the Cyrene Grand Hotel and show you why Sharm el Sheikh snorkeling has to be on your bucket list!
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Ras Nasrani Sharm el Sheikh hotels – Cyrene Grand Hotel review
As mentioned above, you find excellent coral reefs all over the Red Sea, but let us explain to you why we love snorkeling in Sharm el Sheikh! Thanks to its locations and rich currents, the reefs are so vibrant here not to mention that comparing to other coastline cities we found Sharm the less windy! These are the main reasons why always we return year after year!
On our latest Egypt snorkel trip, we visited two hotels in Sharm el Sheikh. The first 5 days we spent in the Jaz Fanara Resort at Ras Um Sid reef, and then 5 nights we stayed in the Cyrene Grand Hotel in the Ras Nasrani. These two areas are considered as the 2 Top snorkeling places in Sharm. In our Jaz Fanara review you can get information and see photos of snorkeling at Ras Um Sid and now we talk about the Cyrene Grand Hotel and its house reef!
Tip: if you never visited Egypt before make sure you read our Egypt safety travel tips where we collected all the things you need to pay attention to in order to get the best beach holiday experience!
Staying in Ras Nasrani Sharm el Sheikh
The name “Ras Nasrani” means Christian’s Head in Arabic and refers not only to a diving/snorkeling spot but to the whole geographic area at the same time. By searching accommodation for your Egypt holiday, the options here you can check by typing Ras Nasrani hotels.
The area is not recommended for party people since there are no clubs, restaurants around. It is rather a relaxed place for families and couples who want to disconnect and enjoy diving or snorkeling. Although the city center, Soho Square, and Naama Bay are easily available with a short taxi ride. A huge advantage is that the airport is very close, the transfer time is just 15 minutes! You won’t waste your valuable holiday time with sitting in a taxi.
Best 5 star hotels in Ras Nasrani
- Coral Sea Sensatori Price range: $$
- Baron Resort Sharm el Sheikh Price range: $$
- Cyrene Hotel Sharm Price range: $
- Further options in the area are the Coral Beach Montazah and Melton Beach Resort.
Cyrene Grand Hotel Sharm el Sheikh (ex Melia Sharm) review
With stunning view of the Tiran Island, Cyrene Grand Hotel is a medium sized 5 star hotel. (Please note that standards are different in Egypt, therefore, I would say this is 4 star with European standards). After the recent management changes, it was renamed to Cyrene Grand Hotel instead of Melia Sharm. You will still find some accessories in the room with Melia Sharm marking, but they managed to change the logo almost everywhere to Cyrene Grand.
The word “grand” suits the place pretty well! The lobby area, the garden, and the pool system are grandiose! Only the restaurant we found a little bit small since we always needed to wait to get table in the evenings. (To avoid this, go late!)
You can choose standard, deluxe or superior rooms with garden, side-sea, and sea view family suites are also available. Grand Cyrene Hotel all-inclusive package includes 3 meals in the main restaurant (buffet system). Italian Restaurant and Grill Restaurant also available after reservation. There 3 bars at the property, one at the beach, one at the pool, and the main lobby bar which is open 24/7. The long, sandy beach offers enough sunbeds and umbrellas even at full occupancy. To cut it short, we think Cyrene Grand Hotel Sharm is a mid-scale Egyptian hotel with nice garden, average service level. Perfect for those who seek a lazy beach holiday.
- excellent house reef
- good location, 15 minutes from the airport
- well maintained garden
- helpful front desk staff
- free WIFI in the lobby bar and around
- jetty is closed by windy weather, swimming prohibited
- restaurant sometimes get crowded, you need to wait for table
- there is an abandoned (never finished) hotel on the left side which is just not nice
- no “all inclusive” beverages list in the bar, you don’t know what you can drink and always have to ask
- some tourists are standing and walking on the reef, beach staff doesn’t care (same problem like in Jaz Fanara Resort)
Top notch shore snorkeling Egypt – Cyrene Grand Hotel house reef
The long fringing reef at the Cyrene Grand Hotel with its rich marine life and majestic underwater formations offers excellent snorkeling and diving. Divers can observe wide variety of Red Sea corals in the deep. Shallow areas perfect for snorkelers to observe this colorful underwater garden.
Cyrene Grand Hotel Sharm is located directly in the middle of the Ras Nasrani. Easy access to the water from a floating jetty. By high tide, you might just walk in from the shore and swim over the reef, but we recommend using the jetty. This is the safest, easiest way to get into the water without damaging the reef coupled with protecting yourself from accidentally shallow water injuries like stepping on sea urchins and coral cuts.
Once in the water, you can snorkel both to the left and right side too! The whole reef is public therefore it depends only on you how far you swim. Of course, the longer you swim the more you will see from the reef. But watch out of currents and wind! Stay at a safe distance so you will be able to swim back to your hotel’s jetty. If you are tired or have any difficulties in the water, you might use other jetties too and walk back to Cyrene Grand Hotel Sharm.
Tip: the most pristine part of the reef is a shallow corner in front of Melton Beach. To reach this place, you need to swim about 500 meters right from Cyrene Grand Hotel’s jetty. If you have time, go snorkeling in front of the Baron Resort and Coral Sea Sensatori Resort! You won’t regret it (spot known as Ras Ghamila)!
Red Sea coral and fish species
It is incredible to know that more than 1000 fish species recorded in the Red Sea. The marine life is characterized by high endemism which means many species found nowhere else in the world! The coral biodiversity is comparable to the Maldives and Seychelles, the Egyptian coast alone supports more than 200 species.
Main hard coral species that you will see while snorkeling or diving
- Brain coral
- Finger coral
- Yellow hard scroll coral
- Fire coral
- Table “Acropora” coral
Moreover, there are different soft corals including leather, bubble and tree coral species. If it’s your first Red Sea snorkeling experience, you will quickly fall in love with the variety of fish life! Most common species are Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, Sergeant Majors, Picasso Triggerfish, Butterfly and Angelfish, big shoals of Bannerfish and of course Sea Goldies just to mention a few. We were lucky to encounter turtles and eagle rays too! The house reef is an ideal spot to find giant sea clams in different colors being the area with the highest population density in the Red Sea.
Sharm el Sheikh snorkeling holiday summary
Over the past 4 years, this was our third visit in Sharm and we can say that the Red Sea reefs are still in a relatively healthy condition. According to marine biologists, the reefs here developed an usually high tolerance to extreme weather conditions like high temperatures, salinity or turbidity (info from coral-reef-info.com). But unfortunately, they are powerless against human cause effects.
After the sad terror attacks, tourism just started to recover and we already noticed the increase if it comes to number of tourists, boats on the sea. From one side this means work and money for the locals, but more impact on the ocean as a result. Luckily, there are more and more organizations that put a lot of effort in drawing attention to conservation projects, but there is a big room for improvement! Authorities need to come up with strict regulations and also tourists have to pay more attention! Corals need our help! If we all collaborate, we might have a chance to save the reefs and marine life for future generations! Be a responsible snorkeler!