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Water sports

The Sinai Peninsula is surrounded by sea on three sides: the Mediterranean in the north, and the Red Sea, split into the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba, in the south. The coast and the coral reef along the Gulf of Aqaba, stretching from Sharm el Sheikh to Taba, is a world class tourist destination offering a pleasant climate all year round and excellent diving. Called sometimes the Red Sea Riviera or the Sinai Riviera, you find a wide range of water sports apart from diving and snorkelling.

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.”
– Jacques Yves Cousteau

See map of and read about the Red Sea beaches and diving spots.

Scuba diving

Scuba diving is one of the reason why many people visit Sinai, as it has some of the best diving in the world. Coral reefs line the Gulf of Aqaba coast, home to a very diverse marine life, and you also find several ship-wrecks to explore. Many internationally recognised operators exist, offering accredited courses for beginners, as well as dives for the more experienced. Some hotels have their own house reef for diving, and excursions are organised to all the other sites either on land or sea.

Offshore diving / Liveaboard

Shorter and longer boat trips are organised from the Red Sea resorts to dive sites found off the shore. The ultimate diving adventure is living aboard a yacht and being out at sea for days, but day-trips are also a great option for those who wish to return to their hotel rooms every night. Many of the attractions are further off the coast, such as the wreck of the Thistlegorm, but there is plenty of other great diving spots within easier reach. It is up for the individual to decide if he or she would prefer the comfort of the city or the adventure of living aboard a ship, but either case there is a lot to discover.

Snorkelling and free-diving

Diving without an oxigen bottle is also very popular and you can still see a lot. Snorkeling is recommended for everyone and with parental supervision quite small kids are able to snorkel. While snorkeling is a leasurely activity free-diving is a sport with people diving impressive depths.

“Care should be taken to avoid damaging the coral, use designated entry points only. You should also be aware that there are hazards since some of the fish life is poisonous if touched and you can injure yourself on the coral if you get too close.

Free Diving is very popular in Dahab due to its proximity to the Blue Hole where many of the worlds top freedivers train, compete and attempt world records. You can undertake training to improve your free diving skills and experience the underwater world in a new way."

Windsurfing and kitesurfing

There are excellent windsurfing locations in South Sinai, both along the Gulf of Aqaba, between Sharm el-Sheikh and Taba, and the Gulf of Suez. While most foreigners visit the first, the coast around the town of Ras Sudr is popular with people from Cairo. Kitesurfing, a sport involving a surf board and a small parachute sail, is becoming increasingly popular, and you’ll find operators training and renting equipment in all coastal tourist destinations. Prestigious competitions of both sports are often held along the coast of the Red Sea resorts of Egypt.

Around town

Apart from water sports, restaurants and bars, there are other activities visitors can enjoy in the coastal tourist cities. These include camel and horse riding, riding beach buggies, quads and bikes, taking short 4×4 safaris, Bedouin dinner parties, sand boarding, star gazing, bouldering, rock climbing, and nature walks. Excursions to nearby attractions, or further such as Cairo, Luxor or the Holy Land, are also offered by operators.

Camel and horse riding

Camel and horse riding are popular in the resort towns, and they can last from a very short time to many hours or even a full day. Many hotels and operators offer camel rides to popular destinations such as the Blue Hole, or include short camel rides in their other programs. You can also ride camels at some of the oases and canyons, as well as at Mt. Sinai. Camels are either led on a lead or tied together. Although it is not a real safari, it might be quite an adventure for someone who has never ridden a camel before.

Beach buggies, quads and bikes

These machines are strong, they are noisy, they are fun… Off-road adventures of this type are popular on the outskirts of the resort cities of Sinai. However, some insurance companies do not cover activities such as quad-riding, so check your policy carefully. Some of the tours venture inside a National Park or Matural Protectorate – if that’s the case, please obey the rules and warn others if necessary!

As an environmentally friendly alternative, you can consider renting a push-bike or taking a bicycle tour!


Sandboarding is a fun activity, an adventure that many people love. There are suitable dunes near the red Sea resort towns, but to get to the biggest slopes one needs to take a 4×4 vehicle and head off to the desert. Not too many operators exist who offer sandboarding, but if you have an equipment you might also be able to use other safari operators to take you to the dunes. Good places for sandboarding include the Dune of el-Safra near Wadi Arada and the Nawamis settlement, or the Haduda sand dune near the Nawamis settlement and Ras Ghazala.

Bedouin dinner party

Having a Bedouin dinner in the desert followed by a party is a must for many visitors, and it is an activity virtually every operator, hotel and camp offers. However, the authencity of the event might vary a lot: while in some cases it is purely a tourist entertainment stunt, a dinner party organised by Bedouin operators tend to be more authentic. Music and singing into the night is how the Bedouin celebrate their various social events, and the atmosphere around the campfire under the stars is an unforgetable experience.

For an authentic experience we suggest to use a Bedouin operator or one that works closely with Bedouins.

4x4 safaris

South Sinai is a great off-roading destination and many people visit at least a couple of sights in the desert – usually the Coloured Canyon and the lovely oasis of Ein Khudra with the adjoining White Canyon. However, to experience the magic of the desert at least an overnight tour is recommended. 4×4 safaris can last from 2 days to 2 weeks – there is enough to see in the interior.

Although often called Jeep safari, the other most popular 4×4 vehicle is the Toyota Landruiser. Jeeps are usually used for smaller groups and/or short distances, while Landcruisers for bigger groups and/or longer distances. Either way, a 4×4 safari is a memorable experience in the desert and highly recommended.

Popular destinations include the Coloured Canyon, Ein Khudra oasis and the White Canyon, Jebel Makharum, Arada Canyon and Serabit el Khadim. Read more.

Walking and camel safaris

The real safari, the way the Bedouin have done for at least a couple of thousand years, is on camel and foot. Camel riding safaris include walks and most people are happy for a change time to time. You can also do the whole distance on foot, using the camel only to carry bags, food and water. Camel safaris involve camping in the desert, one of the highlights of the experience. They can last from a couple of days for up to two weeks or more.

Safaris are usually all inclusive, that is all food, hot drinks, water, mattress and blankets are provided apart from transfers, the camel and guide. Camels are tied together or led on a lead in most cases.

Popular destinations include the Coloured Canyon, Ein Khudra oasis and the White Canyon, Jebel Makharum, Arada Canyon and Serabit el Khadim.

Mount Sinai hike

Many operators offer the Mt. Sinai sunrise excursion that includes transport from the coast to St. Catherine and back, food, guide, and perhaps a few hours sleep in a hotel. You can do the climb independently as well. Guides and camels are available at the Monastery – a guide per group is compulsory and camels are optional. They cost 125 LE. Although the sunrise is more popular, the sunset arguably offers better colours, and more importantly, peace and quiet. There are a few operators now who offer the sunset hike, but you still not likely to get more than a dozen people, if at all, on the top, as compared to up to a thousand at sunrise. Read more about the usual route.

Those who are not in a hurry can discover an amazing world just a few steps off the main tourist path. The interconnected secluded basins atop the range harbour intact and ruined chapels, hermit cells, gardens, and lead to look-out points at the top of steep gullies with views on different areas of the surroundings, including a picture-perfect bird-eye view of the Monastery of St Katherine. You can easily spend a full day discovering the range before climbing to the summit of Mt Sinai for sunset. You could then either descend back to town before total darkness sets in, or sleep on the top to see the sunrise too. The contrast between the peace of the sunset and the noise of sunrise will be shocking, but sleeping on the top is an interesting experience. Cafeterias offer free accommodation, as long as you hire a blanket and/or do some purchases, and there is also a comfortable cave managed by Bedouins. Some operators provide camp in Elijah’s Basin.

Hiking and trekking (High Mountains)

The Sinai High Mountain Region, found within the circular dyke around the town of St. Catherine, is a fantastic yet little-known trekking destination. Egypt’s highest peak, Mt. Katherine is an impressive mountain, and even the climb to Mt. Sinai is a demanding one. The region has a colder climate then the rest of Sinai, and even snow is not uncommon in winter. In the high mountain wadis there is considerable more water than in the desert, feeding water pools and sustaing hundreds of orchards. The high mountains extend all the way to the coastal plain in the west and south, with two of the most impressive peaks, Jebel Umm Shaumar and Jebel Serbal on the perimeter.

Treks start from the town of St. Catherine and can be organized on the spot overnight, although booking in advance does make sense. Camels are often needed to carry bags, food and mineral water, if you don’t rely on local water, but it is possible to do many treks without camels, carrying all your stuff yourself. The treks are usually all inclusive, that is guide, camel (if needed), all food, hot drinks, water, mattress and blankets are provided. Sometimes accommodation in garden is to be paid on top.

Popular destinations in the high mountains include Mt. Sinai, Mt. Katherine, Mt. Abbas Basha, Galt el Azraq, Bab el Donya, Kharazet el Shaq, and further away Jebel Umm Shomar and Jebel Serbal.

The High Mountain Region is home to the Jabaleya tribe, and hikes in the area, with the exception of Mt Sinai, have to go through the tribal operator, Sheikh Mousa (Mountains Tours Office). Guides and camels are assigned according to a rotating system, which provides work to all the families of the tribe. The system, called ‘dor’, has positive and negative sides, both for the visitor and the community – read more about the tribal laws. You can also find independent Bedouin guides and tour operators who offer treks to the high mountain region, sorting the tribal issues themselves.

Adventure sports

The Sinai offers high adrenaline adventure sports in the interior, such as rock climbing, bouldering, mountain and desert biking. A few cases of paragliding were mentioned by locals, but although the terrain is perfect for it, the activity never really took off, and there isn’t any operator offering air sports of any kind.

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing” – Helen Keller

Rock climbing and bouldering

There are still only a handful of operators who offer services in the region, but rock climbing is getting discovered – and very rightly so. You find rock faces for climbers of all levels, from the beginner to the most experienced. Sometimes professional climbers with own equipment do climbs independently, although in most cases they still need a Bedouin guide and possibly camels to carry the gear. Bouldering is a relatively new phenomena, and there are many great boulders within easy reach whichever city you stay in. Those who are interested in the later activity can find the new book titled “A Dahab Bouldering Guide” useful.

Desert and mountain biking

Bicycle are quite popular in the resort towns and you can go for smaller rides to nearby places yourself, but further off to the desert or to the mountains you need more planning. There are only a couple of operators who offer this type of activities, although it might be possible to organise a program independently too. For a longer expedition in the desert a support car is needed anyhow, so one with his or her bike and a lot of determination can find operators who can understand and provide what is needed, and help in planning the adventure.

Thumbnail photo and story of a coast-to-coast desert cycling adventure:

Body, mind, spirit

The Sinai is a holy land and many people come as genuine pilgrims. Apart from Mt. Sinai there are many other religious places. It is also an ideal location for other spiritual and nature based activities, to relax, clear your mind.

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays” – Confucius

Yoga, reiki, meditation…

There is an increasing number of operators who provide yoga on resort premises or out in the Sinai nature. The setting is perfect either case, be it by the beach, in the desert or the mountains. There are other activities to revitalise your body, mind and spirit, such as reiki, meditation, fasting and more. Apart from specialty operators, quite a few Bedouin guides understand what the visitor needs are and can organise nature retreats. In the mountains people usually stay in lovely Bedouin gardens, while in the desert in traditional Bedouin tent.

Religious tours

Sinai is a Biblical land and many visitors come for this sole reason. The Monastery of Saint Katherine welcomes pilgrims of the Orthodox fate, and Mt Sinai – Mount Horeb or Gebel Musa – is a peak holy to all three Abrahamic religions. There is a small number of operators who specialise in organising religious tours, although excursions to the main attractions, including Mt Sinai, the Monastery of Saint Katherine, and possibly to the Convent in Wadi Feiran, are offered by most mainstream tour operators too.

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