Marsa Alam has transformed from a humble fishing village to a popular diving destination and renowned seaside resort. The city has gained international recognition, welcoming visitors from around the globe. Additionally, the Marsa Alam Airport, situated in the northern part of the city, has facilitated the arrival of European and domestic flights, contributing to the city’s development. Despite this growth, the villages of Marsa Alam have remained pristine, with their beaches and natural splendour well preserved. Below are some top activities one can experience while visiting Marsa Alam.
Marsa Alam, also known as “Anchorage Mountain” in Classical Arabic, is a popular tourist destination following the opening of Marsa Alam International Airport in 2003. Marsa Alam is renowned for its stunning white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, earning it the “Egyptian Maldives” nickname. The Abu Dabab beach is among the most famous beaches in the area, with turtles frequently seen in the water. There are crocodile fish and octopuses for those seeking to explore marine wildlife.
In addition to its beautiful beaches, Marsa Alam is a world-class kitesurfing destination and a starting point for safaris. Inland attractions like the Emerald Mines and the Temple of Seti I at Khanais also exist.
- Location of Marsa Alam City
- Marsa Shagara
- Marsa Nakari
- Wadi Lahmi
- Marsa Alam Airport
- Places to Visit in Marsa Alam
- Marsa Alam Activities
Location of Marsa Alam City
Located in the Al-Bahr Al-Ahmar governorate in Egypt, Marsa Alam City spans approximately 540 kilometres along the beautiful shoreline of the Red Sea. It is far from the nearest governorate in the Nile Valley, Aswan, at a distance of 325 km, while Luxor is 365 km away. The town is bordered by Al-Quseir in the north, Sudanese borders in the South, the Red Sea coast in the east, and the Aswan governorate in the west.
This popular resort is located 135 km south of Al-Qusseir and 270 km south of Hurghada and is connected to Edfu by a 289 Km long desert road. Due to the proximity of Luxor and the shrine of Abu AI-Hassan AI-Shazli and its beautiful beaches, it has become a big tourist centre.
If you’re looking for a nature-based retreat in the Southern Red Sea, Marsa Shagra should be at the top of your list. This location was founded as a diving camp over thirty years ago and has one of the most stunning House Reefs in the area. While the village has evolved over the years, the overall atmosphere and concept remain the same, giving guests ample opportunity to explore the natural resources of the Red Sea, both above and below the water’s surface.
Marsa Shagra is ideally situated for those who wish to explore the various natural attractions in Marsa Alam, including El Nayzak Beach, Qulaan Lagoon, Wadi El Gemal National Park, Sharm el Luli, and Ras Hankorab. Our founder, Mr Hossam Helmy, created a sustainable tourism model in 1990 with limited access to Marsa Shagra to protect the house reef from overcrowding.
We offer a range of accommodation options, including traditional tents on the beach and our new Superior Deluxe Chalets with en-suite bathrooms and breathtaking sea and mountain views. Our buffet restaurant caters to all tastes, with additional a la carte options. You can also relax at our Bawadi Bedouin Cafe, sipping traditional Gabana or beer with your friends.
Scuba divers and snorkelers have unlimited access to our house reef, which can be reached via a sheltered and convenient entry point. Certified divers can dive independently and unguided, allowing them to create their diving plans. Our house reef stretches over 2km and can be explored with the assistance of zodiacs during daylight hours. Popular dive sites like Elphinstone and Abu Dabab are also nearby. Marsa Shagra is a paradise for free divers, with depths of over 40m at the fringing reef and rich marine life. Development sessions with our AIDA instructor or joining one of our freediving excursions are also available.
Marsa Shagra offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life, allowing guests to immerse themselves fully in nature. If you’re looking for an authentic nature-based experience in the southern Red Sea, Marsa Shagra is the perfect destination for you. It’s the ultimate diving adventure! Enjoy the relaxed, laid-back atmosphere of Marsa Shagra, a unique location you won’t find anywhere else. Marsa Shagra offers an unlimited diving concept where you can dive as much or as little as you want.
Marsa Shagra was discovered by Hossam Helmy and his Red Sea Diving Safari team over 20 years ago while exploring the fringe reef on the Egyptian coastline between Safaga and Sudan. Marsa Nakari Village and Wadi Lahami Village put the region of Marsa Alam on the map.
Hossam has always promoted sustainable tourism and eco-diving, and his educational diving programmes continue his desire to ensure the area’s long-term future. In addition to unlimited access to Marsa Shagra’s extensive and diverse house reef, this unique tour gives divers exclusive access to many other outstanding reefs, including Elphinstone, Dolphin House Reef (Samadai), and Abu Dabbab, where you might be lucky enough to spot the elusive Dugong.
Our guests say these villages offer the best value and all-round diving experience in the Red Sea. With the hyperbaric chamber and medical centre on-site, it’s the perfect location for divers.
Marsa Shagra is the largest of the villages and is suitable for all levels of qualification, from non-divers to instructors – there’s something for everyone. We can also offer Technical Diving Courses at Marsa Shagra.
The Oonasdivers team have extensive knowledge of all three villages and can help you decide which of these stunning villages is best for you.
It’s also possible to combine Marsa Shagra, Marsa Nakari, and Wadi Lahami in one trip, spending time at two or even all three locations.
Marsa Shagra Village is a unique concept, superbly located to provide the best diving in this southern area. As a guest, you’re free to dive at leisure and relax in one of the most peaceful environments on the planet.
On-site facilities include BARO Medical Hyperbaric Center, WiFi, International Calls/Fax, Laundry Service, Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Massage, Kayaking, Kids Playground, and Mosque.
Nearby facilities include ATMs, Kahramana Swimming Pool and Aqua Park, supermarkets, Pharmacies, and Kite Surfing in Wadi Lahami.
Marsa Nakari, located 18km South of Marsa Alam city, is a beautiful village that offers a rustic charm and a natural feel, allowing guests to appreciate the beauty of the Red Sea’s natural resources away from mass tourism. This exclusive village is a perfect base for exploring popular attractions such as El Nayzak Beach, Qulaan Lagoon, Sharm el Luli, and Ras Hankorab. The development of Marsa Nakari is based on the Red Sea Diving Safari’s sustainable tourism model, and access to the village is limited to the carrying capacity of the house reef.
Shaab Samadai, also known as Dolphin House, is a protected marine area where visitors can encounter spinner dolphins in the wild. The environment is regulated and controlled to protect the dolphin population and ensure a safe encounter for snorkelers and divers. The coral reef system of this off-shore reef and the dolphins that inhabit its lagoon are popular attractions in the southern Red Sea. Our operation offers exclusive access to this beautiful site by speedboat in just 20 minutes.
Marsa Nakari has a rich history dating back to Roman times, and the remains of its ruins are still present atop a hill towards the southern end of the bay. The nearby Wadi el Gemal National Park covers over 7450 square kilometres of marine and terrestrial areas, including large patches of mangroves, seagrass beds, and islands breeding grounds for birds and turtles. The park also features archaeological sites, such as Ptolemaic and Roman ruins, and mining sites from ancient Egypt. The area is home to wild animals such as birds, camels, gazelles, foxes, and Ibex.
Divers, snorkelers, and free divers have unlimited access to our house reef, accessible from the beach by a comprehensive and convenient entry point. The coral reef starts directly from the shoreline and stretches North and South, offering six different diving or snorkelling profiles. The marine life at Marsa Nakari is diverse, and macro lovers enjoy the nudibranchs, shrimps, velvetfish, ghost pipefish, sea moths, and other inhabitants. Turtles and dolphins are not uncommon, and a school of open-mouthed Indian Mackerel patrol the inside of the bay constantly. Marsa Nakari is also the first PADI IDC Resort in the region, offering recreational and professional courses all year round.
The quality of the reefs accessible by boat and car from Marsa Nakari is surprising, with an astounding diversity of fish and coral life despite their proximity to the shore. The variety of landscapes, such as pinnacles, swim-throughs, canyons, drop-offs, hard and soft coral gardens, and seagrass beds, offers something for everyone. It is also possible to dive into the wreck of the Hamada at Abu Ghusoun.
Accommodation options at Marsa Nakari range from traditional tents on the beach to Deluxe Chalets with air conditioning, en-suite bathrooms, and views of the desert landscape and house reef. Our buffet restaurant serves meals catering to all tastes and requirements.
Local excursions with carefully selected partners include trips into the National Park to see the archaeological sites, wildlife, and ancient rock art or to ride a camel through its natural habitat. Guests can also experience a traditional dinner cooked by the Ababda bedouin under the stars.
With a maximum of 120 guests, the team at Marsa Nakari is dedicated to providing a personalised service that allows visitors to experience Marsa Alam’s true heritage away from mass tourism.
Located 10km South of Hamata village, Wadi Lahami is one of the last signs of civilisation before the border to Sudan, which lies approximately 300km further South. It is the smallest of the Red Sea Diving Safari lodges and offers a unique way to experience the beauty of the terrestrial and marine wildlife of the region. It has been developed following the same sustainable tourism model as our other villages, allowing only a limited number of guests and guaranteeing exclusivity of the facilities and services.
Wadi Lahami is secluded and straightforward but comfortable, with a warm team waiting to welcome you. Experience all your favourite activities in the most natural environment: kite surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, bird watching, or simply relaxing close to nature.
Wadi Lahami lies on the doorstep of Fury Shoals, where you will find the most pristine dive sites in the whole of the Red Sea. The hard coral formations of this enormous reef complex are believed to be some of the best examples worldwide and will take your breath away no matter how many times you visit. One of the unique aspects of the reef system is the variety of different types of dive sites. There is something to suit all levels and tastes, from canyons and swim-throughs to wrecks, coral gardens and drop-offs. Many dive sites are on the classic Deep South liveaboard/safari route, such as Shaab Claudia, Abu Galawa, Maksour, Angel and Satayah. Still, many remain off the main safari boat routes, hardly even known about, let alone dive. The reefs in the region are shallow and sheltered, making them ideal for divers of all levels, snorkelers, and free divers. As a PADI 5* Dive Resort, we offer the full range of PADI courses, support for scuba diving activities, and rental equipment for those who need it. We are also a member of Green Fins in recognition of our efforts to run our operation in an environmentally friendly way.
Satayah Reef (Dolphin Reef) is a 3-mile long, world-famous reef, less than an hour’s boat ride from Wadi Lahami. It is regularly visited by spinner dolphins who use its shallow lagoons as a sheltered area to rest during the day after a long night hunting for food. It is not uncommon for 80-100 dolphins or more in the pod, and they are usually content to share their space with snorkelers and free divers as long as guests are respectful and quiet in their approach. An encounter with the dolphins at Satayah Reef is extraordinary, providing memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Kite surfing at Wadi Lahami is unlike anywhere else. The Red Sea is famous for its perfect kite surfing conditions – shallow lagoons and year-round wind make it the ideal playground for experienced kiters and an excellent learning space for beginners. However, while some of the more well-known spots have become overcrowded, Wadi Lahami Kitesurfing Center remains intimate and welcoming with no shortage of space on the water. The bay is large but quiet and private, with a sandy-bottomed lagoon in front of the beach.
The protected mangrove area to the north of the village is one of the largest in the Middle East. It is home to many species of birdlife, both waders and shore birds, which roost and nest in the mangrove swamp areas. It is common to see nesting Ospreys, herons and sometimes the Spoonbill, and smaller birds such as swallows, stone chats, pipits, wagtails and kingfishers. It is a birdwatcher’s paradise, particularly in the months of migration. Mangroves are protected along the Red Sea coastline due to the rich and varied wildlife they provide shelter to, and the area here is no exception.
Wadi Lahami is a truly unique place which must be experienced to be believed.
Marsa Alam has become a top destination for diving enthusiasts since the opening of its international airport in 2001. The town boasts a variety of accommodations, from upscale comfort establishments to eco-lodges. Experienced divers will find some of the most attractive dive sites in Marsa Alam, Red Sea, with healthy coral reefs and a range of underwater wildlife. In-shore coral reefs also offer hours of marine wildlife watching for less experienced divers.
The new Port Ghalib Marina adds an exclusive touch to the location, with luxurious hotels, resorts, and berthing space for about 1000 yachts. The marina offers some of the best relaxation and entertainment options on the Red Sea coast, including gourmet restaurants and tantalising Spas.
The International Convention Centre, the only state-of-the-art centre of its size on the Red Sea, is also housed in the resort. Marsa Alam is a world-renowned kite surfing destination and an ideal starting point for safaris and wilderness exploration. Visitors can also explore ancient mines where gold and emeralds were mined during Ancient Egypt.
The nearby National Parks of Gebel Elba and Wadi al Gimal are home to various birds and desert animals. Marsal Alam is also known as a therapeutic destination, making it an ideal vacation spot.
With its pleasant climate, you can enjoy a vacation all year round. Whether you’re interested in the beach, the desert, the reefs, or a combination of sightseeing and activities, Marsa Alam has something for everyone.
Marsa Alam Airport
Marsa Alam International Airport is crucial in creating a comfortable and enjoyable city living, business and vacation experience. Both domestic and international travellers can easily access the airport and rely on the professional airport team for full service and assistance.
As the sole privately owned and operated international commercial airport in Egypt, we pride ourselves on ensuring complete satisfaction for all passengers.
Places to Visit in Marsa Alam
Ottman Castle in El Quseir
The Ministry of Antiquities and the Tourism Promotion Authority have agreed to open an Ottoman-era fort in the town of El Quseir to tourists. The fort was initially constructed in 1517 under the rule of Sultan Selim I as a means of protecting Egypt’s most important port on the Red Sea. Its strategic location allowed for easy access to Mecca and was a vital entry point for Egypt’s trade with Arabia and Asia. The town’s strategic importance comes from its proximity to an ancient route from the Red Sea to Luxor via the Wadi el Hammamat. This twisting path cuts through the valley into Egypt’s Eastern Desert mountains.
Historically, the fort played a vital role in the journeys of Haj pilgrims, who would leave their camels and horses at the castle before embarking by ship for Mecca. In the late sixteenth century, the town centre of El Quseir was moved to its current location near the harbour. In 1799, the French seized the fort under the command of General Napoleon, who added several cannons and widened the ramparts. The fort’s enhanced defences withstood a three-day assault by two British 32-gun frigates, HMS Daedalus and HMS Fox, but suffered significant wall breaches.
Ottman Fort is a cultural and historical site open daily from 09.00 to 17.00. Visitors can purchase a ticket at the main gate, which grants them access to the entire citadel and several small exhibits showcasing the area’s history, shipbuilding, phosphate mining, and Bedouin life and traditions.
Wadi El Gemal National Park
Wadi El Gemal National Park is a protected area in Egypt, covering 7,450 square kilometres, 4,770 square kilometres of land and 2,100 square kilometres of marine space. The park has a diverse range of marine life, including over 1200 fish and 450 species of coral. The area is also a bird habitat, with five islands providing breeding grounds for several bird species. The coast of Wadi el Gemal features picturesque beaches and mangrove habitats and is home to charismatic spinner dolphins. Desert-specialised species inhabit the inland area, including aoudad, Dorcas gazelle, jerboa, and the Nubian Ibex. The park is also the site of prehistoric rock art and Ptolemaic and Roman ruins. Wadi El Gemal is an IUCN Category II park established in 2003.
Marsa Alam Activities
If you’re looking for a relaxing and serene vacation, Marsa Alam is the perfect destination. Whether on a budget or looking for luxury, exclusive resorts and standard hotels cater to all needs. The city is also renowned for its top-notch diving sites, making it a paradise for divers.
The town boasts an array of marine life, including sea turtles and dugongs, alongside warm waters and coral reef gardens. Travel to Egypt company has already arranged a package that includes the highlights of Cairo and Marsa Alam. If interested, check out the Cairo and Marsa Alam budget holiday.
We understand that the red sea cities are a summer paradise, so we have included them in our Egypt budget tours and Egypt tours categories to meet our clients’ demands. We strive to provide our clients with the best possible experience, and we believe that these packages will help create unforgettable memories.
- History Related/Sightseeing in Marsa Alam.
- Snorkeling in Marsa Alam.
- Also, Diving in Marsa Alam.
History-Related and Sightseeing Activities
Snorkelling Activities in Marsa Alam
One of the most enjoyable places in Marsa Alam is Staya Island, also known as Dolphin House. This island is perfect for families with children. Your day trip will begin early morning with a private A\C bus. The ride will take you to the island in about two hours. Once you arrive, you will sail to an area where dolphin sightings are common. These friendly creatures usually stay away from crowded spots with boats and people. You will have an unforgettable experience swimming with the dolphins in their natural environment. The day trip typically includes lunch on board and boat staff at your service during the trip. On your way back to your resort, you can also capture the beauty of coral reefs and colourful fish. Alternatively, you can sail to snorkelling and diving areas to spot even more expansive gardens of coral reefs.
- Snorkeling Trip to Marsa Mubarak from Marsa Alam.
- Also, Sea trip to Dolphin Reef Sataya from Marsa Alam.
Take a boat to Qulaan Islands
The Qulaan Islands, also called Hamata Islands, are a group of four islands nestled in a protected bay off of Wadi el Gemal. These secluded islands are graced with beautiful mangrove trees and a thriving ecosystem that revolves around them. The marine life here is abundant and a haven for bird-watching enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for a serene escape, consider taking a boat to these islands. You can spend a few hours basking in the sun, enjoying a lovely picnic, and swimming or snorkelling in crystal-clear waters. It’s truly a breathtaking experience that you won’t forget.
Fishing Trips in Marsa Alam
Marsa Alam City is the perfect destination if you’re looking for a peaceful beach to enjoy fishing or kite surfing. To fully enjoy kite surfing, choosing a quiet beach on the edge of the Marsa desert, away from mass tourism, is best. Luckily, the city is known for its paradise-like beaches, so finding a suitable spot won’t be difficult. Kite surfing is a great activity for beginners, as it only requires following a few easy basics for a cheerful experience. Alternatively, you can opt for a sea fishing excursion and enjoy the warm, calm waters of Marsa Alam, full of fish all year round. Unlike other seas, there’s no seasonal variation here.
Explore and swim in Nayzak
Located in a quiet and secluded area along the coast, Nayzak is a true hidden treasure in Marsa Alam. The locals have long cherished this natural pool of water, which resembles an eye and is surrounded by majestic rock formations. Although geologists have unfortunately debunked the belief that a meteorite formed it, the allure of Nayzak as a unique and beautiful swimming spot remains unchanged. Even though there aren’t any other activities to engage in, the sheer marvel of Nayzak makes it a must-see destination.
Snorkeling at Sharm el Luli (Ras Hankorab)
Sharm el Luli (known by locals as Ras Hankorab) is known for being the most beautiful beach in Wadi el Gemal, and people can spend the day there and then drive back to Marsa Alam at night.
It’s undeveloped, meaning there are no restaurants, bars or even bathrooms – this stunning white sand lagoon and virgin reef are untouched. Even during Marsa Alam’s high season, Sharm el Luli never gets as crowded as other Marsa Alam beaches.
Desert Safari Tours
Experience the thrill of quad biking through Marsa Alam’s dunes and picturesque desert while enjoying the stunning sunset. Take a trip to a Bedouin village to learn about the nomadic groups’ way of life in Egypt’s desert. Savour a BBQ dinner and enjoy a traditional folklore show in the town. Some day trips provide the option to stay overnight in a Bedouin tent, while others return you to the resort based on the day’s schedule. Don’t miss the little pleasures of your Bedouin safari, such as the Bedouin tea and coffee or the chance to ride a camel with one of the Bedouin men.
Day trip to Wadi el Gemal
Located just a short drive south of Marsa Alam, Wadi el Gemal (also known as Valley of the Camels) is a national park in Egypt that features a unique blend of desert and sea. This breathtaking park is home to a diverse range of large mammals, reptiles, birds, plants, and marine life, making it one of the most remarkable places in Egypt. The coastal area of the park is particularly stunning. It boasts over 450 species of coral and more than 1,200 fish species.
With such a vast expanse of land to explore, a guide can help visitors make the most of their visit. Visitors can spend the day relaxing on the gorgeous beaches or venture inland to explore the world’s oldest emerald mines, “Cleopatra’s Mines.” The remains of the ancient Roman mining settlement, Sikait, can still be seen today. It was known as Mons Smaragdus, meaning “Emerald Mountain.”
We highly recommend indulging in some retail therapy at the markets of Marsa Alam. The most popular shops and souvenir stores can be found in Port Ghalib, which is 5 km away from the city’s international airport. Many gift shops and bazaars sell Egyptian products and Bedouin-style materials here. You can purchase Egyptian cotton, small statues, pharaonic antiques, and Arabic-style jewellery. During your shopping tour, take a break and rest at local cafes to enjoy Arabian coffee and shisha. We also suggest visiting El Quseir, a historical town that dates back to the pharaohs and boasts a tourist area full of bazaars.