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You probably know by now that I am obsessed with the vibrant underwater world of the Red Sea and I am always looking for places and hotels where the coral reef is exceptionally beautiful. Therefore, I am a returning visitor of the Ras Nasrani snorkeling site in Al Montazah in Sharm el Sheikh which offers some of the liveliest marine life not only in Egypt, but probably in the whole world. In this article, I will summarize all the information you need to know about this area such as what can you see here and what hotels are the best to stay at.
Why you should go snorkeling at the Ras Nasrani
The fringing reef systems along the coast of Shark el Sheikh make this destination the perfect choice to go snorkeling in Egypt. The corals grow directly from the shore which means snorkeling or diving is easy from the shore and at most places, you can enter the water directly from a floating or wooden jetty. Thanks to these characteristics, the Ras Nasrani’s hotels in the Al Montazah area feature excellent house reefs that attract tourists from all over the world.
Another reason why I use to recommend visiting Sharm el Sheikh’s snorkeling places over other Egyptian regions is that Sharm is not too windy. Although I love the laid-back vibes of Dahab and the rare marine species you can encounter only in Marsa Alam (this is where you can see dugong in Egypt), but it often happens at these places that the hotels prohibit water entry due to strong winds. Therefore, Sharm el Sheikh is a good choice where strong winds probably won’t ruin your long waited snorkeling vacation.
Tip: this article showcases the Ras Nasrani area. If you have already visited this place and want to stay somewhere else, read my Ras Um Sid article where I introduce another fantastic snorkel spot in Sharm and the Jaz Fanara Resort.
Where to stay in the Ras Nasrani
The best thing I like about this location is that it lies just 15 minutes’ drive away from the Sharm el Sheikh International Airport so you won’t waste your valuable holiday time with a long transfer!
The area (locally known as Montazah) does not have loud clubs or busy restaurants, so it is not recommended for those who like to party, but is excellent for families and couples who want to disconnect and enjoy diving or snorkeling. However, the city center, Soho Square, and Naama Bay are reachable with a short taxi ride so if you want to taste the local culture, you can do it easily.
In terms of accommodations, there is a wide variety of hotels available in the area. You can check the options by typing Ras Nasrani hotels, or see here my recommendations:
Best 5-star hotels in Ras Nasrani Al Montazah:
- Coral Sea Sensatori
- Baron Resort Sharm el Sheikh
- Albatros Palace Sharm (Ex Grand Cyrene Resort)
- Sunrise Remal Beach Resort (Ex Melton Beach Resort Melia Sinai)
Tip: if you never visited Egypt before make sure to read my Egypt safety travel tips where I collected all the things you need to pay attention to in order to get the best experience!
Albatros Palace Sharm (ex Cyrene Grand Hotel) review
During my last visit to Sharm el Sheikh I’ve chosen to stay at the Albatros Palace Resort because of its prime waterfront location and direct jetty access to the fantastic coral reef of the Ras Nasrani. This is the former Cyrene Grand Hotel but it went through a refurbishment and was taken over by the Pickalbatros Hotels Group that is specialized in the development and management of hotels and tourist attractions for more than 20 years.
The hotel is simple grandiose with a huge lobby area, garden and pool system! Only the main restaurant we found a little bit small since we always needed to wait to get a table in the evenings. (To avoid this, go to have dinner later, not straight when the restaurant opens or book a table in the a la carte restaurant.)
You can choose standard, deluxe or superior rooms, all are available with garden, side-sea, and sea view, moreover there are family suites too. During the refurbishment, the hotel got a new aqua park which makes it a good choice for families. The long, sandy beach offers enough sunbeds and umbrellas even at full occupancy.
All in all, I think that the Albatros Palace is a mid-range Egyptian hotel with nice garden and average service level. It is excellent for solo travelers, couples and families who seek a decent, but budget-friendly resort with top-notch snorkeling and diving opportunities. Those who want to stay at a more luxurious property should check the nearby Baron Resort and Coral Sea Sensatori.
- excellent house reef
- good location, 15 minutes from the airport
- well maintained garden
- spacious garden and beach
- aqua park
- restaurant sometimes gets crowded; you need to wait for a table
- there is an abandoned (never finished) hotel on the left side which is just not nice
- lifeguards do not warn careless tourists who are standing and walking on the reef
Note: Keep in mind that hotel standards are different in Egypt; the local 5-star rating is like the European 4-star level.
Ras Nasrani – Albatros Palace house reef insights
The long fringing reef of the Ras Nasrani features extremely rich marine life and majestic underwater formations that make it one of the most wonderful snorkel spots in Sharm el Sheikh. Essentially, the actual site lies between the Sunrise Remal Beach and Albatros Palace Resorts but can be snorkeled all the way up to the Coral Sea Sensatori Resort where another fantastic dive and snorkel area, Ras Ghamila begins.
The jetty of the Albatros Palace provides easy shore access to the reef. By high tide, you might just walk into the water from the shore and swim over the reef, but we recommend using the jetty since it is unpredictable if you can swim over the reef. Entering the sea from the jetty is always the safest way to get into the water without damaging the reef. Like this, you will also avoid common shallow water injuries like stepping on sea urchins or accidental coral cuts.
Once in the water, you can snorkel both to the left and right side too! The whole reef is a public area 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 know your limits; beginners or those who are not confident swimming long distances or in deep water should stay within a safe distance to the jetty so in case of any difficulty, it will be quick and easy to leave the water.
If you get tired while snorkeling and can’t swim beach to your hotels’ jetty, you can use other jetties too to leave the water and walk back on the seaside promenade.
Tip: the most pristine part of the reef is a shallow corner in front of Sunrise Remal Beach (ex Melton Beach) Resort. To reach this place, you need to swim about 500 meters to the right from the Albatros’ jetty.
Species to see while snorkeling
It is incredible to know that more than 1000 fish species are known to live in the Red Sea. Egypt’s marine life is characterized by high endemism which means many species are found nowhere else in the world!
The coral biodiversity of the area is comparable to the Maldives and Seychelles so expect to see a wide variety of hard corals such as brain, finger, fire and table corals as well as different soft corals including leather, bubble and tree coral species.
If it’s your first snorkeling experience in Egypt, I am sure you will instantly fall in love with the variety of fish life! You can observe many different colorful species including Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, Sergeant Majors, Picasso Triggerfish, Anemonefish aka Nemo, Butterfly and Angelfish, big shoals of Bannerfish and of course Sea Goldies just to mention a few.
This reef is an ideal spot to find giant sea clams in different colors and if you are lucky, you will encounter turtles, blue spotted stingrays and eagle rays too! Sometimes even whale sharks visit the Ras Nasrani thanks to the area’s nutrient-rich currents, but so far, I was not lucky enough to see one here.
Ras Nasrani snorkeling summary
I am always happy to come to the Montazah area’s snorkeling sites in Sharm el Sheikh because the condition of the reef and the water clarity is exceptional. No matter how many times I’ve visited this location over the past years, I return whenever I can because the Ras Nasrani always has something new to show.
However, there is one aspect that makes me worried, and I’d like to draw attention to it. According to marine biologists, the Red Sea corals developed a usual high tolerance to extreme weather conditions like high temperatures, salinity or turbidity, but unfortunately, these features don’t protect them against human carelessness.
The past years worldwide happenings kept the number of tourists visiting the country at moderate levels. This was, of course, not good for the economy, but let the reefs recover a bit. With the restart of tourism, the number of snorkelers and divers as well as the number of boats crossing the area are increasing rapidly which can have a devastating effect on the health of the corals.
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 tourists must pay more attention too!
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 and protect the reefs when visiting the Ras Nasrani or any other snorkeling destination in the world.
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