The Sinai peninsula between Africa and Asia
The scarred desert landscape of Sinai is home to the Bedouins. Originally nomadic people, they have changed with the times and now many of live in and around Dahab. The Bedouins in the Dahab area are called Muzeina and are an important part of the area. The Bedouins give Dahab much of its unique, relaxed atmosphere. Dahab is a famous dive resort that has managed to keep its small-town, hippy feel, unlike the larger centres of Sharm el Sheik and Hurgada.
Dahab is one of the oldest and most famous dive areas in the Red Sea offering some of the most exciting and spectacular diving in Sinai. Dahab, which means ‘gold’ in Arabic, was named after its golden beaches, lying on the east coast of the Sinai Peninsula on the Gulf of Aqaba. The journey from the airport in the more touristy Sharm is an hour’s drive through the magnificent desert and mountains.
Dahab’s atmosphere can’t be compared to Sharm; Sharm is a typical built-up holiday resort, while Dahab is smaller and quieter, and still attracts a more ‘alternative’ and younger crowd.
The bars, restaurants, and cafes line the beach of the small bay – everywhere offers relaxed seating, ‘Bedouin-style’, on cushions and low sofas, enabling you to enjoy the sun, overlooking the sea, do some quality people watching, playing backgammon or smoking a shesha (the traditional Arabic water pipe).
Dahab now has a good selection of bars and clubs, which are well worth a visit in the afternoons and evenings. Sinai is warm the whole year round – water temperatures range from 21 degrees to 27 in the summer. Dahab is neither as hot nor as crowded as Sharm.
The Red Sea
The Red Sea is known the world over as a first class diving area. Here you can find some of the most exciting and beautiful underwater landscapes of any of our oceans.
The corals are one of the world’s natural phenomena with their colours and species, as well as being home to thousands of species of fish including manta rays, turtles, moray eel, tropical coral fish, clown fish (remember Finding Nemo?), loads of skate and sharks (for example, whale sharks and hammer heads), dolphins and whales.
The Red Sea itself is very narrow but about 2350 km long (350 km at it’s widest point). In the south of the Red Sea there is a narrow Strait called Bab el Mandeb (which literally means the ‘Gate of Tears’), only 29km across which connects it to the Gulf of Aden.
Dahab lies on the east coast of the Sinai Peninsula, directly on the Gulf of Aqaba, which reaches a depth of almost 2000m. Most reefs in Dahab are shore dives, making diving simple – you just walk into the sea from the beach, keeping Dahab’s waters free from exhaust and noise pollution from dive boats.
The Red Sea was created over 40 million years ago and is one of the most fascinating off-shoots of our oceans. Its name comes originally from a type of algae (trichodesmium erythraeum), which creates a red sheen across the surface when it blooms. However, you could be mistaken for thinking the name comes from the surrounding mountains, which also turn a stunning rosy, rusty red at dawn and sunset, reflecting their colours on the water.
The Red Sea doesn’t have any fresh water inlets and the limited flow of water to and from the Indian Ocean is compensated for by the high levels of evaporation. This gives the Red Sea a relatively high salt content compared to other waters, in fact it is one of the highest on the planet.
Volcanic activity below the surface of the sea remains high due to the high water temperatures in the Red Sea. For example, the Indian Ocean typically measures just 6-7 degrees at 1000m, while the Red Sea remains an amazing 21 degrees at the same depth. It is therefore the warmest and saltiest sea on each, making it therefore the only place where you will see many species of fish, crustaceans, invertebrate and other such underwater wildlife.
The Bedouin culture
The Bedouin way of life is very different from the dominant Arabic-Islamic cultures in Egypt. For example the Bedouins here take their culture back through the generations to Ishmael in the Bible.
The Bedouins are a proud people with a strong sense of identity, having preserved their sense of community and their excellent hospitality, which many of Dahab’s visitors enjoy. As a minority, the various ‘tribes’ manage their land and culture relatively independent of Egyptian society.
It is extremely important to the Bedouins to maintain their original traditions and ways of life; for instance they usually still wear their colourful traditional dress, the ‘galibia’.
If you’re in Dahab you should definitely take the opportunity to go for a Bedouin dinner and music in the wadis (small valleys) in the Sinai mountains. The Bedouin dinner under a clear, star-studded sky deep in the desert is a truly special unforgettable experience.
The main aim of the Dahab.net is to ensure that you get the best out of your diving, eating out and accommodation. You will experience the remarkable variety of the Red Sea, and the real culture of one of the oldest and most interesting countries. You will truly relax in Dahab as you discover the peace of the desert and enjoy the hospitality of the Bedouins.
You are guaranteed to have an amazing, memorable holiday in Dahab full of interesting people and experiences!
Sara teaches Kundalini Yoga in Dahab, where, thanks to the sun, endless views over the Red Sea and the deep peace of the desert, you will be able to truly relax. Kundalini offers a combination of physical exercises, meditation, relaxation and a lot of fun, and is great for beginners and more advanced yoga students. You’ll be able to forget your worries, and learn how to deal with stress more effectively once you return home.
Relax, rejuvenate and laugh – yoga in sunshine – it doesn’t get any better than this!
Massage is not only a real treat, but it’s also important for our health. Allow stressed and tight muscles to be warmed and softened again, the toxins from city living to be worked out of your cells, and your mind finally to become still. From gentle relaxation, to deep tissue massage – pamper your body and soul on holiday.
Waterskiing, wakeboarding, banana boat, fishing and more…
If you fancy waterskiing, wakeboarding, a ride on a banana boat, snorkeling, or even a trip on a glass-bottomed boat, then head down to the laguna, where it’s all happening!
Luggage and dive gear
Divers or surfers may well want to bring their own equipment with them. Please bear in mind that there is normally a 20 kg per person limit on luggage. Most airlines will push that up to 30kg if you let them know in advance you’ll be travelling with sports equipment. So make sure you give them a call and also pack sports gear in a separate bag. Dive torches must have their bulbs removed.
You can buy most of your holiday accessories in Dahab, but there are some vital items you should make sure you don’t forget:
- Sun glasses
- Sun hat
- Sun cream,
- Mosquito spray or cream (Autan)
- Warm clothing for the evenings
Visa and documentation
You’ll be given a landing card on the plane so pack a pen in your hand luggage to fill this out. You should also remember these for your return journey home. You can buy your visa at the Egyptian embassy in your country before you leave, however it’s far easier to buy it on arrival at the airport. It costs about 15 Euros – you simply go to the bank counter in the arrivals hall where you’ll be given two stamps to stick in your passport. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least another six months. The visa you’ll receive is ‘All Egypt’, allowing you to travel beyond Sinai if you want to explore the rest of the country. If you’re only planning to stay in Dahab, you can buy a ‘Sinai only’ visa, which is normally free and you won’t need stamps for your passport. If you want a ‘Sinai only’ visa, remember to write this on your landing card. But remember if you change your mind and want to explore further afield, getting an ‘All Egypt’ visa once you’ve left the airport is a little more complicated.
There are no requirements for vaccinations when travelling to Egypt at the moment. However, it is advised that you’re vaccinated against polio, hepatitis A and tetanus.
Tips for divers
Make sure you’re fit and healthy before diving. IF you want to do a PASI dive course then you’ll need to fill out a PADI health check form (download). If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions you are advised to get medical approval before you dive, and bring this with you.