RED SEA RESORT GUIDE
The once barren desert-scape of Marsa Alam has emerged as one of the Red Sea’s main diving destinations, following a mass investment in tourist development. The new international airport and billion-dollar development of Port Ghalib created a highly attractive option for divers in search of uncrowded and virtually untouched stretches of Red Sea reefs but with all the comforts available on land.
Marsa Alam lies approximately 260km to the south of the major destination of Hurghada and close to the Tropic of Cancer.
While many divers flock here to board liveaboards to visit the remote reefs of the south, this area is also a much-celebrated land-based dive spot. Healthy reefs, large pelagic visitors, life-encrusted pinnacles, high-energy drop offs, an interesting network of caves and coral blanketed wrecks, Marsa Alam’s 100km-long stretch of coast offers incredible variety and promise for underwater visitors of all levels. This is where the Red Sea dugong is more likely to be encountered than anywhere else.
It is also possible for divers to enjoy some of the Red Sea’s best reefs, which were traditionally only available to those making the journey by liveaboard. The famous Elphinstone Reef is easily accessible by dayboat.
Strong currents ever-present in this exposed offshore area demand a good skill level. To dive Elphinstone, dive centres generally require proof of a minimum of 50 logged dives. Packed with all types of marine life, its sheer, coral-encrusted walls are famed for attracting sharks, particularly oceanic whitetips. Divers here also commonly spot hammerhead, grey reef and silky sharks around the deep drop offs. The eastern and western walls of Elphinstone reef are blanketed in soft coral.
On shore, accommodation options are diverse. Divers can still opt to stay within the traditional desert camps – a signature of early adventure dives of the Egyptian Red Sea. Those, not so keen on the old school experience, have the choice of a range of hotels and resorts, with the most plush and modern situated within the mini-Venice styled town of Port Ghalib, Here a series of restaurants, shops and resorts are interlinked by a network of small bridges and accessed by water taxis.