Coral fish and underwater world of Red Sea

Things to do in  Red Sea

Egypt’s tropical playground

Ten countries hug the shores of the Red Sea, the world’s northernmost tropical sea, but Egypt has by far the most resorts. Between desert adventures and underwater life, there are plenty of things to do on Egypt’s Red Sea. West Coast highlights include brash Hurghada, mellower Marsa Alam, the Safaga port, and Ain Sukhna, the closest beach resort to Cairo. Lively Sharm el Sheikh and laid-back Dahab are the main destinations on the Sinai peninsula, where the Taba border town offers ferries to Jordan and road access to Israel’s Eilat.

Top 15 attractions in Red Sea

Ras Mohammed National Park

On the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Ras Mohammed National Park is home to Sharm el Sheikh’s best diving, notably Shark Reef, Yolanda Reef, and Jackfish Alley. Besides the pristine coral that awaits offshore, the land delivers empty beaches, rugged cliffs, and desert, plus mangrove swamps, salt marshes, and diverse birdlife.More

Hurghada Marina

Opened in 2008, Hurghada Marina is the recreational hub of the Red Sea resort. Centered on a 200-berth harbour and bordered by the Marina Boulevard—a walkway flanked by palms, parks, and ochre-painted shops and residential blocks—the marina boasts an abundance of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.More

Giftun Islands

The two Giftun Islands—Giftun Kebir and Giftun Sughayer—are some of the closest to Egypt’s resort town of Hurghada and comprise part of a marine reserve in the Red Sea with spectacular coral reefs and drop-offs teeming with life. Day-trippers come for snorkeling, diving, and sunbathing on the pair of islands’ pristine, protected beaches.More

Careless Reef

The corals of Careless Reef, set in the open waters of the Red Sea about an hour from Hurghada, are flourishing again as it recovers from the crown-of-thorns seastar’s predation. With excellent visibility, shallow pinnacles, and a steep wall with caves and overhangs, it offers something for every diver, including the chance of big pelagics.More

St. Catherine's Monastery

Set beneath a mountain many believe to be the Biblical Mt. Sinai, St. Catherine’s Monastery has a heritage dating back to the fourth century AD and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Still a working monastery, St. Catherine’s has defensive walls that house chapels, a library museum, and what is claimed to be a descendant of the Biblical burning bush.More

Mt. Sinai

Mt. Sinai rises a lofty 7,497 feet (2,285 meters) above sea level and is an important religious pilgrimage site, where the prophet Moses is said to have received the 10 Commandments directly from God. Visit the site’s ancient monastery or hike to the summit for panoramic views of Egypt’s mountainous Sinai Peninsula.More

Hurghada Grand Aquarium

The Hurghada Grand Aquarium focuses on the the aquatic wonderland lying offshore. Whether you’re a keen snorkeler or merely want to learn more about the world’s rare coral reefs, the aquarium can expand your perspective on the Red Sea’s ecological environment, including all the animals, like sharks and turtles, that call it home.More

Safaga Cruise Port

Safaga Cruise Port sits in the small town of Safaga, on the shores of the Red Sea. With few attractions to recommend either the port or the town, Safaga Cruise Port is primarily known as a jumping-off point for getting to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luxor, situated some 157 miles (253 kilometers) away.More

Mahmya Island

Despite the name, Mahmya Island is not actually an island: it’s one section of Big Giftun Island in the Giftun Islands, off Hurghada’s Red Sea coast. Lounge on the sandy beaches; snorkel the coral reef from the beach or a boat; rent a “Sea-Spi’ glass-bottom watercraft; or eat and drink at the restaurants.More

Tiran Island

Just 4 miles (6 kilometers) off the Sinai coast, Tiran Island technically belongs to Saudi Arabia—yet its waters are part of Egypt’s Ras Mohammed National Park. The challenging diving around the Straits of Tiran is some of Egypt’s best, while the island is a mecca for snorkelers who appreciate its crystal waters and unspoiled coral reef.More

Na'ama Bay

Sun-worshiping crowds give way to energetic nightlife when the sun sets at Na’ama Bay, where resorts, clubs, and bars share Sharm el Sheikh’s most happening shorefront. Whether you’re exploring the undersea world, hopping a ride on a parasail, or keeping the party going back on land, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.More

Makadi Water World

In the Makadi Bay resort area south of Hurghada, Makadi Water World is one of Egypt’s biggest water parks. Fifty different rides and slides include 25 adult-centered experiences such as Twister, Kamikaze, Space Boat, Black Hole, and Turbo Tunnel, and 25 kid-friendly rides. There’s also a surf simulator, wave pool, and lazy river.More

Hollywood Sharm el Sheikh

With dancing fountains, live performances, a 7D cinema, shops, and eateries, Hollywood Sharm el Sheikh is part theme park, part shopping mall. Kids generally adore the dinosaurs, the animated hosting team, and the cinema, while adults value the choice of restaurants.More

El Dahar (Hurghada Old Town)

North of Hurghada’s luxury resorts lies the Old Town of El Dahar, where you’ll find the city’s most authentic restaurants and shops. A highlight of the area is a traditional Egyptian souk that’s crammed with shops selling leather, copper, papyrus, spices, and shisha pipes.More
Red Sea

Red Sea

The Red Sea channel draws tendrils of Indian Ocean water up through Africa and Arabia to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. Divers and snorkelers appreciate the Red Sea’s clear waters and colorful coral and marine life, while sandy beaches lure sun worshippers from around the world.More

Top activities in Red Sea

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All about Red Sea

When to visit

Egypt’s Red Sea resorts are popular summer vacation destinations, but temperatures can be oppressively hot in July and August, making desert trips a test of endurance. Fall (September–November) is a great time to visit, with warm seas, sunny days, cooler nights, and fewer crowds. April and May, despite cooler seas, are also good options for sun without the scorch.

Getting around

Intercity buses connect the Red Sea resort towns, but what public transit there is tends to take the form of fixed-route minibusses. These are hard to access unless you speak Arabic. Uber and Middle East rideshare app Careem operate in Hurghada, while some travelers explore Dahab by bike. Elsewhere most visitors rely on taxis, tours, and private drivers. Self-driving is rarely cost-effective and can be risky.

Traveler tips

Clear waters and colorful marine life make the Red Sea a spectacular scuba destination, but Egyptian safety standards could be better. Untrained divers should look for structured experiences in tiny groups, such as PADI’s Discover Scuba Diving and SSI’s Try Scuba.

Travelers who fly into Sharm el Sheikh get a free entry permission stamp. But this only covers Sinai tourist areas, so if you want to see the Giza Pyramids or Luxor, you’ll need a visa.


People Also Ask

What can you do if you go to the Red Sea?

The Red Sea, the world’s northernmost tropical sea, offers epic diving and snorkeling, with vibrant marine life and great visibility. Desert safaris are a top choice in all the resort areas. Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh have all the attractions you’d expect of big international resorts, such as water parks.

Is it worth visiting the Red Sea?

Yes. If you’re interested in water sports or jonesing for beach time, a trip to the Red Sea is a must. Red Sea resorts can also provide a great break from ancient sites. Hurghada is about a 4-hour drive from Luxor, home of the Valley of the Kings.

Why is the Red Sea a tourist attraction?

Year-round sunshine, blue skies, and sandy beaches make the Red Sea a top destination for a beach vacation, particularly for Europeans. Scuba divers flock to sites like the Straits of Tiran, Ras Mohammed National Park, the SS Thistlegorm wreck, and the Dahab Blue Hole, while there’s snorkeling and free diving too.

Can you swim in the Red Sea?

Yes. Unlike the Dead Sea, with which it’s sometimes confused, the Red Sea is very much alive. Temperatures range between 70–82°F (21–28°C) depending on the time of year. There are the usual tropical hazards, including sharks and poisonous critters, but statistically, you’re more likely to be killed by a cow.

Is the Red Sea safe for tourists?

Yes. There have been a few well-publicized Red Sea shark attacks, while poisonous wildlife includes stonefish and lionfish, but most snorkeling and dive trips are trouble-free. The Red Sea resorts are safe, but the UK FCO advises against travel to parts of inland Sinai for fear of terrorism.

What country owns the Red Sea?

Most of the Red Sea is classified as international waters, meaning no country owns it. But the 10 nations bordering the Red Sea divide its coastal waters and islands between them. These countries are Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, Djibouti, and Somalia.

Frequently Asked Questions
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